The NHL’s Washington Capitals are scheduled to visit the White House on Monday, following their 2018 Stanley Cup win, but their star goalie won’t be in attendance.
Speaking with reports on Friday, Braden Holtby explained why he decided to “respectfully decline” an invitation to the Trump White House.
“It’s one of those things you’ve got to think about,” Holtby explained. “But me — I’ve got to stay true to my values and I’m gonna respectfully decline the offer.”
Holtby downplayed his decision and expressed conflicted feelings about being forced to make a decision between standing with his team and skipping the visit.
“For me, it’s just a personal thing. I believe in what I believe in,” he added. “And in order to stick to those values, I think I have to do what I feel is right.”
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— Diane Roberts (@DianesTalking) March 22, 2019
Asked whether he was surprised by the attention focused on whether the players will or won’t attend, Holtby said he understood that interest was fueled by past professional athletes declining to visit the White House in the past two years.
Holtby reiterated that his decision was his alone, and he stands by his teammates regardless of what they choose to do.
“Obviously I’ve been a little more outspoken in my views than everyone else, so I feel like it’s important for me to stand by that,” he added of his own decision.
According to the Washington Post, Holtby went on to explain that his advocacy with the LGBTQ community was part of his decision to skip the visit:
“My family and myself, we believe in a world where humans are treated with respect regardless of your stature, what you’re born into,” Holtby said. “You’re asked to choose what side you’re on, and I think it’s pretty clear what side I’m on. I believe that this is the right decision for myself and my family.”
Holtby has twice led the Washington Capitals delegation in the Washington, D.C. Pride Parade:
— NHLPA (@NHLPA) June 12, 2017
Holtby also spoke at the 2018 Human Rights Campaign dinner in Washington and is his team’s ambassador to the NHL’s “You Can Play” project, a campaign committed to ridding homophobia from sports and promoting diversity and inclusion.