Capitals’ Holtby Skipping White House: ‘I Gotta Stay True To My Values’

Braden Holtby of the Capitals
Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

It’s a tradition for championship sports teams to visit the White House in order to celebrate their win with the president, and in the Trump era especially, these visits have led to a great deal of controversy.

The NBA champion Golden State Warriors have skipped their visit to the White House after both of their titles under Trump, while the Philadelphia Eagles were disinvited last spring after they won the Super Bowl. The Clemson Tigers, who won the college football national championship, made the visit — and were served hamburgers by President Trump — while the Boston Red Sox are set to make a White House stop on May 9.

The Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, a rare championship team that’s already based in the nation’s capital, are scheduled to visit the White House Monday.

One Capitals player won’t be joining them. Goalie Braden Holtby announced over the weekend that he will skip the White House visit.

“It’s one of those things you have to think about, but for me, I have to stay true to my values. I’m going to respectfully decline the offer,” Holtby said after a team practice this week, per ESPN.com.

“For me, it’s just a personal thing. I believe in what I believe in,” the goalie continued. “In order to stick to those values, I have to do what I think is right, but that doesn’t make a difference in anyone else’s decision. We stick by every teammate and their decision.”

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The Capitals’ visit, unlike most of championship sports teams, will not include a public ceremony. The players will meet the president and also take a tour of the White House. Capitals ownership allowed players to make their own decision about whether or not to participate in the visit. Capitals wing Brett Connolly also said that he won’t be going.

Holtby is not the first NHL goaltender to skip a White House visit following a Stanley Cup victory. Tim Thomas, the goalie for the 2011 championship Boston Bruins, declined to appear at the White House celebration the following year that was hosted by President Barack Obama.

“I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People,” Thomas said at the time, per Bleacher Report. “This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government. Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House.