Goaltender Braden Holtby says he won’t join his team when the Washington Capitals visit the White House to celebrate their Stanley Cup win.
“I’ve got to stay true to my values, and I’m going respectfully decline the offer,” Holtby, a Canadian citizen, said Friday, according to the Washington Post. “In saying that, it’s a tough situation for everyone to be in, to be forced to make a decision of that standing. You’re a team, and you want to stick together no matter what, so I hope everyone kind of blows it away and that we don’t worry about who goes and who doesn’t.
“For me, it’s just a personal thing,” Holtby added. “I believe in what I believe in, and in order to stick to those values, I think I have to do what I feel is right, but that doesn’t make a difference on everyone else’s decision. We stick by every single teammate we have and their decision. That’s about it.”
Holtby has been a longtime advocate for gay rights. He is a frequent participant in gay rights marches, has been a speaker at the Human Rights Campaign national dinner, and a supporter of the LGBTQ community.
“My family and myself, we believe in a world where humans are treated with respect regardless of your stature, what you’re born into,” the player concluded. “You’re asked to choose what side you’re on, and I think it’s pretty clear what side I’m on. I believe that this is the right decision for myself and my family.”
Holtby becomes the third member of the team to refuse to participate in the visit along with Brett Connolly and Devante Smith-Pelly, both of whom are also Canadian citizens.
For his part, Smith-Pelly claimed that President Donald Trump is a “racist.” Last year the player told Canada’s Postmedia, “The things that he spews are straight-up racist and sexist.”
The three dissenters aside, most of the team will attend the White House event, according to team sources.
Indeed, Capitals Coach Todd Reirden said the opportunity was “amazing.”
“I speak personally on this one to start with. I think it’s an amazing opportunity. Something for the last five years you drive to the rink, you see this, you hear about it, you think about it,” Reirden said. “I was really excited about the invitation and will be going and be happy to be going. In that respect, I get it. I understand our players and their decisions, and I respect it. They’re allowed to make their own decisions. It’s important that we support them in whatever decision that they make.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.