Holtby noted that he wanted to "stay true to my values."
Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby will not visit the White House.
Speaking with reporters after Friday's morning skate, Holtby said he was "respectfully declining" the invitation to travel with the team on their trip to the White House in celebration of their 2018 Stanley Cup win on Monday and noted that he wanted to "stay true to my values."
"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."
Holtby has been an outspoken advocate of LGBTQ rights throughout his career. He marched in two of Washington D.C.'s pride parades and spoke at the Human Right's Campaign's National Dinner earlier this season.
Holtby added that while the decision was not hard for him to make from a belief standpoint, it was difficult to choose to not to be with the majority of the team. Besides Holtby, only forward Brett Connolly publicly turned down the invitation.
"I respectfully decline,” Connolly said on Monday, according to The Athletic. “That’s all I’ll say about it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It’s obviously a big deal and it gains a lot of attention. I’ve been in full support of an old teammate that I’m really good friends with and who I agreed with, and a guy who will be back here I’m sure at the end of the year. That’s all I’ll say.”
The player Connolly was referring to is forward Devante Smith-Pelly, a black Canadian who told the National Post last June that he wouldn’t go because some statements by Trump “are straight-up racist and sexist.”
Holtby said that, despite different opinions among the team, he doesn't believe players' decisions will impact the unity of the group moving forward.
"Our team, we're trying to take the most professional way we can and give every player the right to choose and stand by each and every one of us regardless of what you decide," Holtby said. "Obviously 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. In the long run, it's not going to effect our team at all."
The Capitals are Washington's first champions in the four major North American sports leagues since the NFL's 1992 Redskins, also the last hometown pro team to visit the White House.