The Washington Capitals intend to visit the Trump White House to celebrate their Stanley Cup championship. The Caps and the Trump administration are discussing when, not if, that visit will occur.
“There’s been some reach out from the White House and this will be a team decision, I’ve said that from Day One,” Leonsis said on January 31. “They’re in discussions right now but I think that they will have an answer to that soon. Again, it’s our players and coaching staff that will decide and whatever they decide I think that the team would support that.”
“Of course I’ll go there,” Ovechkin said. “The opportunity to visit the White House is very pleasant.”
Kuznetsov agreed he’d go too. “I always thought that sport is outside of politics,” he said. “Everybody needs to take care of their own business. We are simple people, our business is to play hockey, not to declare how to invest the money or where and how to build a wall. And you have to respect the people. It’s not like some kind of Vasya Pupkin [Russian version of Joe Schmo] is inviting you to come by to ChTZ and have a drink with him. I work in the country, and I have to respect its traditions. If I don’t show up, it would be disrespectful.”
Ovechkin had a wish list of what he’d like to accomplish at the White House.
“I would chat with [President Trump] for a little, take a photo.” He began to smile. Then “ask when he’s going to fix the relationship with Russia.”
Popular in both America and Russia, Ovechkin was asked if there was something he could do to bring the two countries closer together. The Capitals captain has a friendly relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“I’m away from politics,” Ovechkin said. “Politics is a separate topic. For me, the most important thing is world peace and health for all people.”
“The things that [Donald Trump] spews are straight-up racist and sexist,” Smith-Pelly said. “I already have my mind made up.”
“For me, I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Connolly said. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I think there’ll be a few guys not going, too. Like I said, it has nothing to do with politics, it’s about what’s right and wrong, and we’ll leave it at that.”
Kuznetsov was supportive of teammates who choose not to attend.
“Every player has his own mentality, his own upbringing, and if somebody for whatever reason decides not to go, I will under no circumstances condemn them,” Kuznetsov said. “It is their right.”
But despite all this talk in the media about the visit happening soon, Kuznetsov said that behind the scenes, the planning is “so far – quiet.”
“At the end of the last year, and the beginning of this year, there was a shutdown of the US government,” Kuznetsov said. “Maybe that is why there still has been no [White House] visit.”
Translations by Igor Kleyner.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong.
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