Nearly all Washington Capitals players say that they will go to the White House, if President Trump invites them.
In interviews conducted by the Washington Post, the newly crowned Stanley Cup champs said they would consider it an “honor” to have their accomplishments celebrated by the leader of the free world.
“I’ve thought about it. I think it is an amazing tradition that you do,” Caps forward T.J. Oshie explained. “I realize everyone might have different stands on it, but I think going to the White House, whether people are very political or whether you like Trump or not, just kind of in my opinion, it stands for so much more than that. It is something people have been doing for a long time, with so many different presidents, that I think it would be cool for us to go there. … Any excuse to have the Cup with you I think, at least for me, I want to take advantage of it.”
On that point, Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik backed his teammate up. Orpik was the only player on the Capitals roster who had won a championship and made a previous visit to the White House .
“The time you actually spend with whoever is in office is about two minutes long,” Orpik explained to the Post. “There’s not much interaction with the president, at least from past experience. All of a sudden, four years from now or eight years from now, there is somebody in office who you agree with more or whatever. … You don’t get the opportunity back as a team, I know that.
“Whether teams go or they don’t go, for me, personally, and again a lot of people might disagree with this, it’s not you endorsing whoever is in there or supporting whoever is in there. The White House is a very historical, special place in this country and I think it’s an honor to go to the White House.”
The tradition of inviting professional and collegiate champions to have their achievements celebrated by the president at the White House, stretches back to the Reagan Administration.
Though, in recent times, the practice has become highly controversial with several prominent players like Golden State’s Steph Curry, Cavs forward LeBron James, and many others; saying that they would not attend the ceremony if invited. President Trump was forced to cancel the Philadelphia Eagles visit after the team informed the White House that only Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles would make the trip.
One Capitals player, Devante Smith-Pelly, has said that he will not attend the White House visit. However, he made it clear that he would have no problem with any player who did.
“Everyone can do whatever they want,” he said. “I will still love [Alex Ovechkin] if he goes and the other guys if they go.”
Alex Ovechkin left little doubt about what he plans to do.
Yeah, looking forward,” the Russian star told the Post. “Can’t wait. I’ve never been there. Only taken pictures around it. It will be fun.”
The Capitals have not yet received an official invite to the White House, though one is expected.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn