Amid the brouhaha caused by his repeated attacks on the NFL and NBA over the weekend, Donald Trump sought support from an unlikely source Sunday evening.
“Please [sic] to inform that the Champion Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL will be joining me at the White House for Ceremony. Great team!” Trump tweeted Sunday.
The Penguins, led by superstar Canadian center Sidney Crosby, beat the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup finals in June by four games to two. The Penguins released a statement Sunday confirming Trump’s tweet, saying they “respect the office of the President.”
“The Pittsburgh Penguins respect the institution of the Office of the President, and the long tradition of championship teams visiting the White House,” the statement read as reported by the Pittsburgh Gazette. “We attended White House ceremonies after previous championships—touring the historic building and visiting briefly with Presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama—and have accepted an invitation to attend again this year.”
“Any agreement or disagreement with a president's politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways. However, we very much respect the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit.”
Trump began his stormy weekend of feuding with the United States’ professional sports organizations at a rally in Alabama Friday, when he called for NFL owners to “fire” players who kneel during the anthem.
Then Trump called out Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors point guard, announcing via Twitter that Curry’s invitation to the White House as part of the Warriors’ NBA Championship-winning team had been rescinded. Curry had already said he would not take up the invitation, while rival NBA star LeBron James called Trump a “bum” for the tweet.
While Trump looks to have turned most of the NFL and NBA against him—Sunday’s NFL games featured widespread gestures of defiance from players in light of his comments—ice hockey and the NHL seem like odd bedfellows for Trump. The Penguins’ roster features 17 players from the United States, par for the course in a sport and league dominated by Canadians and Russians.
A friend in need is a friend indeed, though. Having done his best to alienate football and basketball, Trump could probably do with some support from the neglected half-brother of American sports.
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