Friday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted about them:
Congratulations to the Washington Capitals on their GREAT play and winning the Stanley Cup Championship. Alex Ovechkin, the team captain, was spectacular - a true Superstar! D.C. is popping, in many ways. What a time!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2018
The franchise hasn’t said anything publicly about the prospect of visiting Trump at the White House. One player, winger Devante Smith-Pelly, has suggested he wouldn’t accompany the team on any such trip.
Interesting quote here from Devante Smith-Pelly re: visiting the White House:— Michael Traikos (@Michael_Traikos) June 6, 2018
“The things that he spews are straight-up racist and sexist. Some of the things he’s said are pretty gross … It hasn’t come up here, but I think I already have my mind made up.”
There are two big reasons to think the Capitals will take the trip.
- Their arena is a couple of Metro stops away from the White House. They’re within spitting distance, which would make it a yearlong story if the team decided not to show up.
- This is a hockey team. Trump has waged an assault on the dignity of America’s black athletes, but the NHL — an almost totally white league — hasn’t been in his crosshairs at all.
The Penguins went to the White House last year and paid no real price for it other than some criticism at the time for standing alongside a president who had called protesting NFL players “sons of bitches” and disinvited the Golden State Warriors from a White House visit.
LeBron James and Stephen Curry have both indicated they wouldn’t want or take a visit to the White House following this year’s NBA Finals. Only Smith-Pelly has said so in hockey. Trump disinvited the Super Bowl-winning Eagles this week and put on some other thing.
The Capitals’ owner is Ted Leonsis, an AOL mogul who hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Leonsis cited Trump’s immigration stance as his reason for backing Clinton. But if you’re thinking that Leonsis’ politics alone will keep the Capitals out of a White House visit, it’s worth considering that the Penguins’ co-owner is Ron Burkle, a billionaire who raised millions for the Clintons and still showed up to visit Trump in 2017. Burkle had cooled on the Clintons by the time of the election, however.