Trump Hosts the Pittsburgh Penguins Amid National Anthem Debate

Getty Images

Getty Images

Still, there was a different feel Tuesday afternoon as Sidney Crosby, his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates, general manager Jim Rutherford, head coach Mike Sullivan and support staff filed into the Oval Office in Washington ahead of team owners Ron Burkle, Mario Lemieux and U.S. President Donald Trump. Nobody's taking a stand.

Of the 18 players who won the Cup last season and are still with the Penguins, seven are American: Kessel, Ian Cole, Brian Dumoulin, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Chad Ruhwedel and Conor Sheary.

Osche, the Republican chairman of the board of commissioners, and her husband Jim were among about 100 political, community and business leaders to be invited to the reception with the Stanley Cup-champion Penguins. Until this past season, the last time it had been done by a team was almost two decades ago, in 1997 and 1998.

Curry flatly told reporters last month that he did not want to go to the White House.

"This is really a truly great group of world champions", Trump said. Peduto said that he would rather "take a knee on this one and stay home".

"Do you know how to win or what", Trump said to Crosby, last year's playoff MVP who seemed content on keeping his distance from president, prompting Trump to say, "Are you shy?"

Sullivan reiterated that the team's attendance at the ceremony does not reflect the Penguins organization's position, nor its players' stance.

There were the usual handshakes, smiles, jokes and one-liners that accompany the reigning Stanley Cup champion's annual visit to the White House.

The celebratory visit came amongst recent feuds Trump has had with the NFL over some players not standing for the national anthem, which Trump has blasted as disrespectful to the flag and the military. Bettman said social issues "are a matter of individual belief and individual choice".

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