The Washington Capitals met with Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Monday, where Trump congratulated the team on the 2017-18 Stanley Cup championship win and wished them good luck in the 2018-19 playoffs.
Team owner Ted Leonsis and team captain Alex Ovechkin also said a few words thanking Trump and the the White House for their hospitality. Trump highlighted the play of defenseman John Carlson and nudged Carlson into making a speech as well.
Here is the full text of their comments.
Donald Trump: Well thank you very much, this is a great honor for me because I’m a hockey fan and I’m a Capitals fan and Ted, I’m your fan too, if you want to know the truth. And this guy [Ovechkin] I have no choice but to be his fan. Because he is something special. Look at those hands. Special guy. Special athlete, player, they all are. They won something last year and it’s just, it’s all people wanted to talk about. I couldn’t get them focused on other things that we deal with, which are very important. They were all about the Capitals. I guess you have six more games and you go back and then you go back into the playoffs and I think you’re going to do fantastically well, Alex. I know you’ll do great.
Today we welcome to the White House the 2018 Stanley Cup champions, the Washington Capitals. It’s really a special team and they have a special owner, a man who’s been a great success over his lifetime—you’ve got your son here with you—so thank you very much. Your new head coach, Todd Reirden, Todd thank you very much, good luck in the playoffs, that’s going to be starting very soon. And we welcome most importantly the entire Capitals team. They’re winners, they know how to win and I think you’re going to see that starting in a little while.
You had a truly incredible season, last season, defending against your arch rivals and two-time reigning champions the Pittsburgh Penguins—how are they doing, Ted?—they’re never easy, right? They’re never easy, but let’s see how it all works out.
You were led to victory by a very special athlete, a great player. Captain, team captain, Alex Ovechkin. And—where’s Ivanka? She was back there, she’s a friend and she’s a tremendous fan. Alexander the Great, they call him, has spent his entire 13 year NHL career with the Washington Capitals and his hard work and loyalty has paid off last season. He outscored every player in the league. Wow, that’s not bad right? With 64 goals—It’s like Babe Ruth—he had more than every player in the league. 64 goals, 114 points, and was named the playoff MVP and that was easy. No one did more to deserve the Conn Smythe trophy, and Alex congratulations and we’re all going to be watching you in a couple of weeks. And I have no doubt your team is going to do great.
And we also have Gary Bettman, where’s Gary? He’s around here someplace. Gary, you mean you didn’t make the team, ok come over here for a second. Commissioner of the NHL and you have done a great job, I have to say. You have done a—I knew you before, right? I knew you in a different league and you did a great thing, so congratulations. Great job, have a great playoffs.
So after coming up short the first game, in the first game of the series, the team never quit. It looked like they were in trouble. Defenseman John Carlson… where’s John?
Is he good? He’s pretty good, right? John Carlson repeatedly found the back of the net earning a franchise record as a defenseman with 20 points in the postseason. Wow, that’s pretty good, huh? That’s really good. You know there used to be a man, Bobby Orr. Right, I used to watch him play the Rangers, Bobby Orr. And he was a great offensive defenseman, right?
John Carlson: Yeah, he’s a lot better than me.
Donald Trump: Including an impressive goal in Game Four, which was a very important one and Evgeny–Where’s Evgeny? Where is he?
Ted Leonsis: Right there. Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Donald Trump: Wow, you’re a young guy. Look at this guy. And I think everybody knows Kuznetsov tied a league record with four assists in a single finals game, that’s fantastic. It’s was really a team. Great team you put together, Ted.
So you brought the Stanley Cup home, thousands of adoring fans greeted you, they were all over the place and I have a feeling you’re going to be doing it again. You’re champions, you have a champion’s heart, your owner’s been so fantastic, he’s kept this team together and you pretty much have the same team as you had last year, for the most part? And I just want to wish you a lot of luck. In Washington, that’s what they want to talk about, they don’t want to talk about anything else, I can’t get the subject onto anything else. So you got to win quickly, ok? Because we have to get back to work, normal work. But I think you’re going to do really fantastically well. I want to just say, it’s an honor to have the Caps with us. It’s an honor to have the Washington Capitals here. You’re winners in the highest sense. It’s very tough to win, it’s very tough to go through all those teams. And I really tell you, I think you’re going to have an awfully good chance of doing it again. We don’t want to put too much pressure, a lot of time you’re better off saying “ah, it doesn’t matter,” it takes the pressure off. But you have no pressure, you won, and that makes it easier. Would you say that’s true, Gary? Makes it a little bit easier.
Gary Bettman: We just want excitement.
Donald Trump: So Ted, maybe I’d ask you to say a couple of words to your fans out there? Because you have a lot of them.
Ted Leonsis: Thank you, it’s an honor to be here in the Oval Office. The team is very, very respectful to the process and what it takes to win. We hope to make the community and Washington DC proud and try to do it again this year. Thank you very much for all of your hospitality here in the White House. It’s a true thrill for all of the players and the organization and it’s a great honor, thank you, sir.
Donald Trump: Well we have great respect for what you’ve done on this team. How about you, MVP, do you want to say a couple of words?
Alex Ovechkin: My speech is going to be much easier than it was at the parade. Thank you very much for having us. It’s a huge honor for us to be here, to meet you personally. And we’re going to try to do it again. We have the same team, experienced team, very good group of guys and we’re going to try to do it again.
Donald Trump: I think you’re going to be successful. Very proud of you, we’re going to be watching. Get that same number of goals. And we do say Bobby Orr, right? I think you’re going to do fantastic. Say a few words, go ahead. They never let the defensemen talk.
John Carlson: Thanks for having us, it’s an honor to be here. I think all of us look very much forward it. So it’s great, great honor.
Headline photo: ABC
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