Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby will not be joining many of his teammates at the White House on Monday when President Donald Trump honors the team for its Stanley Cup championship last season.
"It's one of those things you have to think about, but for me, I have to stay true to my values," Holby said, per Greg Wyshynski of ESPN.com. "I'm going to respectfully decline the offer."
"My family, myself, we believe in a world where humans are treated with respect, regardless of your stature or what you're born into," Holtby added. "That's just where it's at with this decision. You're asked to choose what side you're on, and it's pretty clear what side I'm on. I believe this is the right decision for myself and my family."
Holtby won't be the only Capitals player skipping the visit.
Forward Brett Connolly will also be abstaining, "saying it was out of respect for teammate Devante Smith-Pelly," per Wyshynski, after Smith-Pelly previously said he wouldn't visit Trump at the White House because "the things that [the president] spews are straight-up racist and sexist."
Different teams have taken different approaches to visiting Trump. Some, like the 2017 New England Patriots, 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins and 2017 Houston Astros, attended the event. Others have had their visits canceled, like the 2018 Golden State Warriors and the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles, due to Steph Curry being vocally critical of Trump and the majority of the Eagles deciding to not visit the White House.
At least three Boston Red Sox from this past year's championship team won't be joining the team when they visit the White House in May, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network:
Because of Trump's divisive rhetoric and presidency, choosing whether or not to visit the White House to celebrate a championship has become a political statement from athletes, regardless of which side they fall on.
"Once the first team doesn't go, it puts the onus on every other team in professional sports to make a decision, if you're political or not," Holtby said. "Our team is trying to take the most professional way we can. Give every player the right to choose, and stand by each one of us, regardless of what you decide."