President Donald Trump said Friday he expects to welcome the hometown Washington Capitals hockey team to the White House for winning the Stanley Cup. But he adds: "If they don't want to be here, I don't want them."
Trump congratulated the Capitals on his Twitter feed after the team won the NHL title with a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. He singled out series MVP Alex Ovechkin as "a true Superstar" and said the city is "popping" after the Capitals won the team's first Stanley Cup championship.
The president spoke to reporters on the South Lawn days after he canceled a visit by the Philadelphia Eagles to commemorate their Super Bowl victory after most of the players decided to skip the ceremony.
Before departing for an international summit in Canada, Trump said he wouldn't invite either the Golden State Warriors or the Cleveland Cavaliers, the two teams in the NBA Finals, but added, "we have other teams that are coming."
Trump pointed out that he's had several championship teams at the White House, including the NFL's New England Patriots and the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins.
"I think we'll have the Caps. I mean, we'll see," Trump said. "You know, my attitude: If they want to be here, it's the greatest place on Earth, I'm here. If they don't want to be here, I don't want them."
Trump tweeted after the Capitals' victory: "Congratulations to the Washington Capitals on their GREAT play and winning the Stanley Cup Championship. Alex Ovechkin, the team captain, was spectacular - a true Superstar! D.C. is popping, in many ways. What a time!"
Caps player Devante Smith-Pelly said earlier this week that he would not visit the White House.
"The things that he spews are straight-up racist and sexist," Canada's Postmedia quoted Smith-Pelly as saying on Wednesday. "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."