Holtby declines White House invite: 'I've got to stay true to my values'

Patrick McDermott / National Hockey League / Getty

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby will not be in attendance Monday when his teammates visit the White House as Stanley Cup champions.

"I've got to stay true to my values, and I'm going respectfully decline the offer," Holtby said Friday, according to The Washington Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan.

"In saying that, it's a tough situation for everyone to be in, to be forced to make a decision of that standing," he added. "You're a team and you want to stick together no matter what, so I hope everyone kind of blows it away and that we don't worry about who goes and who doesn't."

Capitals forward Brett Connolly already declined the invitation, citing his support for Devante Smith-Pelly. Smith-Pelly, who played a crucial role in Washington's championship run but is currently with the AHL's Hershey Bears, has previously spoken out against President Donald Trump and will also skip the visit.

“For me, it's just a personal thing," Holtby said. "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 (in) everyone else's decision.

"We stick by every single teammate we have and their decision. That's about it."

Holtby is an active supporter of the LGBTQ community. He's marched in D.C.'s Pride Parade and was the Capitals' "You Can Play" ambassador for the past two seasons. That involvement factored into his decision.

"My family and myself, we believe in a world where humans are treated with respect regardless of your stature, what you're born into," the 29-year-old 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."

The Capitals announced there would be no official ceremony or media availability during their visit. They will receive a tour of the White House and meet President Trump in the Oval Office, reports Khurshudyan.

Holtby declines White House invite: 'I've got to stay true to my values'
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