Caps goaltender Braden Holtby makes no secret about where he stands when it comes to equal rights. The outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community has marched in two Washington, D.C. pride parades, he’s been named by the NHL as Washington’s LGBTQ-inclusion ambassador, and he’s spoken at the HRC National Dinner as one of four representatives from the league.
On Friday, reporters asked Holtby if he’d made a decision about whether he’ll join his Capitals teammates when they visit President Trump at the White House on Monday to observe last June’s Stanley Cup championship. His decision is, he’s not going.
“I gotta stay true to my values and I’m gonna respectfully decline the offer,” he told reporters after Friday’s practice.
“In the end I never really came up with a situation where I would feel comfortable going,” Holtby said. “My family and myself, we believe in a world where humans are treated with respect regardless of your stature, what you’re born into. So I think that’s just where it’s at in terms of this decision. You’re asked to choose which side you’re on and I hope it’s pretty clear what side I’m on.”
Holtby said he had no beef with any of his teammates who took up the offer to visit the White House.
“We stick by every single teammate that we have and their decision,” Holtby said. “I think our team, we’re trying to take the most professional way we can and give every player their right to choose and stand by each and every one of us, regardless of what you decide.”
As USA Today reported, right wing Brett Connolly is the only other member of the Capitals’ current roster announcing he has declined.
Connolly confirmed he would not be joining the team and addressed the media after Tuesday’s game.
Capitals winger Brett Connolly said he will not visit the White House on Monday.— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) March 20, 2019
“I respectfully decline.”
As a D.C. radio station reported, Connolly’s decision was in support of his friend and former teammate Devante Smith-Pelly, who is no longer with the club after being waived in February. Smith-Pelly was asked last June why he would decline any invitation to meet President Trump if the Capitals won the cup.
”The things that he spews are straight-up racist and sexist,” Smith-Pelly told Canada’s National Post. “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.”
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” Connolly said in Friday’s radio appearance. “Our team is extremely close. We have very good chemistry. I don’t know if there’s anything that’s gonna come in between that.”
”I’ll be one of the guys that isn’t going,” he said. “Obviously Smith-Pelly kind of set the tone. He’s obviously not here right now, but everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.
”I’ve said what I needed to say and that’s all I’ll say. But, again, I understand both sides and in life you’ve got to make decisions. I made a decision and that’s how I’m gonna go about it. For the guys that are going, I hope they have fun and have a good memory that lasts a lifetime.”