The Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins decided to visit Donald Trump at the White House, in a statement that was released soon after the President uninvited the never-really-invited Golden State Warriors. Former NHL player Georges Laraque, who played for roughly two years in Pittsburgh over a 12-season career, thinks that’s a stupid idea.
From the Canadian Press report, via CBC, on Monday:
“I know hockey’s more conservative than other sports, but this time it’s just wrong,’’ said Laraque, who was a black player in the predominantly white NHL. “I’m surprised the NHL didn’t make a stand.
“To me, it’s an embarrassment that they’re going.”
Laraque, born in Montreal to Haitian immigrant parents, appeared on CBC Tuesday and spoke about the difference between Colin Kaepernick’s original purpose for kneeling and the NFL’s demonstration last weekend, as well as why the Penguins shouldn’t go to the White House. A partial transcript:
You know, it is sad, because the NHL is known as a conservative sport. And obviously, it’s dominant white, so they could have really—it would have been big for them to present in an issue and talk about it, and not just kind of push it aside. You know, hockey, that wants to be more known and more popular—it looks bad when you really don’t have an opinion on a subject. And when I hear the Pittsburgh Penguins saying that they’re gonna go to the White House with the Stanley Cup. The Stanley Cup? You really want to go to the White House, take a picture with a man that is disrespecting women, that is disrespecting America, that his views have been criticized since taking office?
This is not just about taking the knee and the social injustice in America. The stance that the President is taking has been criticized all over the world. How could you say that with the Stanley Cup, it’s gonna be an honor to go in the White House? It’s like, you’re endorsing the president. So to me, it doesn’t make sense. And they look really bad. It makes the league look bad, it makes the team look bad. Maybe they did not think about it when they said that they would go, but if I was them I would rethink about this small thing because this makes them look bad.
Laraque also tweeted a shorter but similar sentiment:
With credit to Winnipeg Jets players Blake Wheeler and Jacob Trouba, it’s funny and sad how predictable the world of hockey has handled Trump. Players like Sidney Crosby, who backed his team’s decision, are afforded the ability not to second-guess themselves or declare that a White House visit can be apolitical. Players like Laraque, Joel Ward, and J.T. Brown don’t have the privilege to ignore this.
Most predictable of all, many hockey fans desperately don’t want politics injected into their sport—whatever that stupid banality even means. The sport isn’t going to suffer if the overwhelmingly white majority of NHL players keep their mouths shut; only their non-white teammates will.