The Washington Capitals are your 2018 Stanley Cup Champions. They're the kings of the hockey world. It happened just a week ago when they defeated the Vegas Golden Knights to win the final series four games to one. It was party time and man, did they party. It's still going on.
The celebration has been led by the team captain and already an all-time great player, Alexander Ovechkin. This was his thirteenth season in the National Hockey League and he finally reached the holy grail of his sport. It was his first championship. It was the first time he was able to raise the Stanley Cup after years of defeat and failure. You could see the joy and relief in his face as skated around with the Cup.
Then it was time to play!
The Great 8 (that's one of his nicknames) has been living with Stanley for the last week (really, it's only been a week?). After the game, they brought it to the Vegas strip for a tour of the casinos. This was one celebration that happened in Vegas and didn't need to stay there, I think.
Then it was back to D.C. and the party kicked it up a few notches. It's been two decades since the last sports championship in Washington, so Ovi and the team wanted everyone in the area to get involved. The Cup has been to baseball games, bars, schools, bars, businesses, bars, restaurants, bars....did I mention that Stanley visited a few drinking establishments? Yeah, a lot of alcohol was involved. We've even seen Alex sleeping with the Cup....at least I think it's sleeping and he's not passed out but who really knows.
Yes, we've seen this scene before with other winning teams but Ovechkin and the Caps have brought it up to highest level. It may sound like I'm knocking this but far from it. In fact, I'm loving all the photos, videos, celebrations and a little light debauchery. I think watching someone reach the pinnacle of his profession after years of losing is inspiring. Give me more of this kind of story!
But now the celebration is winding down, I think. It's time for a big decision that faces all championship teams these days. Should we go to the White House?
In the Donald Trump presidency era, the decision has become problematic. Trump cancelled the Philadelphia Eagles visit after a lot of their players said they weren't going. Both the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers decided not to accept an invitation before their series was decided (btw, Cavs, you probably need to win at least one game before you start thinking about White House celebration visits). The WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx weren't invited but did community service work while they were in Washington for a game.
A couple of teams have made the trip. The Houston Astros visited after their 2017 World Series win. Two players didn't go. Carlos Correa, who is from Puerto Rico, spent the day gathering supplies to send to his home area. This was more than six months after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Do you think he was making a point that the current administration should be doing more for Puerto Rico? Also, not going was relief pitcher Ken Giles, who is black. He said he had family obligations that day.
The New England Patriots also made it to the White House. Missing was star quarterback Tom Brady. He's been there before so it's not like others who are making their first visit. He's also supposedly a Trump supporter....keyword supposedly...so it's not like he's dissing the president. Naturally Trump took it that way and got more than a little pissed off. Oh well, he gets pissed off about a lot of things and life sort of goes on. SIGH!
But now it's the Capitals turn. According to this Washington Post story, some are unsure but a lot of them say they're going. It makes sense. Most of the team is from foreign countries. Many Canadians, plus players from Russia, Sweden, Germany, and a couple other countries. There are six players from the United States on the team.
One player has already decided he's not going. Devante Smith-Pelly, who is black and Canadian, will be a no show. He did an interview with Canada’s Postmedia:
“The things that [Trump] spews are straight-up racist and sexist. Some of the things he’s said are pretty gross. I’m not too into politics, so I don’t know all his other views, but his rhetoric I definitely don’t agree with. It hasn’t come up here, but I think I already have my mind made up.”
He also said the other players on the team have his back, no matter what.
I understand why players want to go. If you've ever done even the public tour of the White House, you know how cool it is. There's almost two hundred and fifty years of our country's history there. The players get more than the general public. Wouldn't you want to see the places that were off limits to most of us? Of course you would....even if you were diametrically opposed to the current resident of that building. And for most of these athletes, it's their first and possibly only opportunity to do this. It has to make a tough decision tougher.
Yes, I know a lot of us are saying we would never visit the White House while Trump is President (If you're a Trump supporter, fill in Obama). It's easy to say that but none of us are or ever likely to be champions of any professional sport. So what do you think? White House or no White House? Trump or no Trump?
One more thing....there's a tradition that you don't get to lift the Stanley Cup until you've actually won it. Alexander Ovechkin, don't let Donald Trump lift that Cup!!
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