Trump Calls Stanley Cup Champion Penguins 'Incredible Patriots'

ESPN located the Penguins' top competitors as they chase their third consecutive Stanley Cup and the Columbus Blue Jackets are up there. He singled out the achievements of playoff MVP Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, among others.

Trump made a point of singling out the teams that have come to the White House at his invitation: the New England Patriots, the Chicago Cubs and the Clemson Tigers.

The Penguins, who had insisted all along this visit was not politically motivated in the slightest, stuck to their guns and had what turned out to be a good-natured, cordial visit with President Donald Trump that pretty much stuck to hockey. "And I know why".

He joked that Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle should help him renegotiate NAFTA but avoided any talk about other sports. "Are they tough?" Trump asked. "They shouldn't be. Don't be a politician".

Last month, it was announced that Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto would skip the appearance at the White House, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald joined Peduto in taking a knee for the team's visit.

"Just last week the Pens pledged two donations of $25,000 each toward relief efforts in Puerto Rico and in support of the victims and first responders of the bad attack in Las Vegas", Trump said during a press conference featuring the Pittsburgh professional hockey team.

The last time the Penguins won back-to-back championships was in 1991 and 1992. Crosby and six others are Canadian, two are Swedish, one is Russian and one is Finnish.

June's victory against the Nashville Predators marked the Penguins' fifth Stanley Cup, and second back-to-back. He said he expected the Penguins to be back at the White House next year.

"You are true, true champions and incredible patriots", Trump told the players as first lady Melania Trump stood behind the president. "That's what they are".

Since then, Trump has gone on several angry Twitter rants about American football players, and suggested the league should pay more taxes if protesting players don't stand during the national anthem.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said after the East Room ceremony that players, including his own, have the right to express their beliefs in ways that suit them.

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