- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Alert Robert Mueller’s investigative team: The president is meeting Monday with several high-profile Russians.

Actually, this might be one Trump meeting the special prosecutor takes a pass on. Washington Capitals‘ star Alex Ovechkin and several of his Russian teammates on the Stanley Cup champions will be part of the contingent heading to the White House Monday.

The Capitals will follow in the tradition of championship-winning sports franchises visiting the country’s highest office. Generally, NHL champs have not waited this late into the season to arrange the visit, but the Capitals and the White House were working to find a mutually agreeable date.

The government shutdown in December and January also likely put a delay in those proceedings.

A few Capitals players — Devante Smith-Pelly and Brett Connolly — said last summer that they wouldn’t go to the White House if the team were invited.

“For me, I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Connolly told Canada’s SportsNet. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I think there’ll be a few guys not going, too. Like I said, it has nothing to do with politics. It’s about what’s right and wrong. And we’ll leave it at that.”

Smith-Pelly, who characterized some of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric as “racist and sexist,” is still in the Capitals organization but currently plays for the minor-league Hershey Bears.

Most of the Capitals, though, are expected to attend, and team leaders like Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie have said they look forward to visiting the president.

“I can’t wait,” Ovechkin said in June. “I never been there. I want to take pictures around it. It will be fun.”

“I’m not going to get into this discussion that a lot of the other athletes have been talking about,” Oshie added at the time. “I think the building is pretty cool and I think it’s an honor if the president invites you.”

The Capitals were the first Washington franchise in the major four sports to win a championship since the Redskins’ last Super Bowl win in January 1992. They’ll be able to take a quick 6-mile drive from their practice facility in Arlington to the White House.

In January, the college football champion Clemson Tigers visited the White House amid the shutdown, and with most of the White House kitchen staff on furlough, Trump treated his visitors to fast food from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Domino’s.

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