Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby declines White House invite with strong statement

Braden Holtby will not be in attendance for the Capitals’ Stanley Cup celebration at the White House on Monday, he announced Friday with a strong statement.

The goaltender explained he “respectfully declines” the offer because he wants to “stay true” to his values.

“For me, it’s just a personal thing. I believe in what I believe in, and in order to stick to those values, I think I have to do what I feel is right, but that doesn’t make a difference on everyone else’s decision. We stick by every single teammate we have and their decision,” Holtby said Friday after his team’s morning skate, via the Washington Post

“My family and myself, we believe in a world where humans are treated with respect regardless of your stature, what you’re born into. You’re asked to choose what side you’re on, and I think it’s pretty clear what side I’m on.”

Holtby went on to explain that it was an easy decision for him to make based on his beliefs, though it will be hard for him to not be there with his teammates. 

“In the end, I never really came up with a situation where I’d feel comfortable going,” Holtby said. “But the toughest part is I’ve always tried to live my life and my career that the team sticks together. … Trying to make a stand this way, I don’t think it does the most in terms of creating change. In the future, I just want to stick by what I believe in and trying to push toward a world where people are created equal.”

“I’ve been a little more outspoken on my views than everyone else so I feel like it’s important for me to stand by that. But in the long run it’s not going to affect our team at all. We’re a close-knit group in here and those things don’t affect us as a team.”

While most of the Capitals have indicated they plan on making the trip to the White House, forward Brett Connolly and right wing Devante Smith-Pelly have also publicly turned down their invitations. Smith-Pelly was waived in February and sent down to the American Hockey League, but he was a part of the 2018 championship-winning team and all members have the option to attend.

Despite the decision to skip the event from Holtby, Connolly and Smith-Pelly, coach Todd Reirden expressed Friday that he supports his players — no matter what they decide. 

“I speak personally on this one to start with. I think it’s an amazing opportunity. Something for the last five years you drive to the rink, you see this, you hear about it, you think about it,” Reirden said. “I was really excited about the invitation and will be going and be happy to be going. In that respect, I get it. I understand our players and their decisions, and I respect it. They’re allowed to make their own decisions. It’s important that we support them in whatever decision that they make.”