President Donald Trump welcomed Alex Ovechkin and the reigning NHL champion Washington Capitals to the Oval Office on Monday to congratulate them for winning the Stanley Cup in June.
Trump said it was an honor to host the team because he is a hockey fan and a Capitals fan. The president called the Capitals “winners” and said there is “an awfully good chance” they will repeat this season.
“You brought the Stanley Cup home,” Trump said. “Thousands of adoring fans greeted you. They were all over the place. And I have a feeling you’re going to be doing it again. You’re champions. You have a champion’s heart.”
Players, coaches and staff members took a private 45-minute tour of the White House and met with Trump in what was a last chance to be around hockey’s sacred trophy as defending champions.
Trump singled out owner Ted Leonsis, Ovechkin and American defenseman John Carlson during his remarks.
Two players on the current roster, Canadians Braden Holtby and Brett Connolly, and Devante Smith-Pelly, who is in the minors, did not attend. The rest of the team was in attendance, along with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
“It’s huge honor for us to be here and meet you personally,” said Ovechkin, the Capitals’ Russian-born captain and playoff MVP. “We’re going to try to (win) again. We have same team, experienced team, very good group of guys and we’re going to try to do it again.”
The Capitals’ White House visit came nine-plus months after their first title in franchise history and with six games left in the regular season before the playoffs begin. Washington is in first place and again is a top contender.
“I think you’re going to be successful,” Trump said. “Very proud of you guys. Good luck. We’re going to be watching.”
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.