Penguins to visit White House during season

The Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins will visit the White House this year, the team said in a statement on Sunday.

The Penguins said they "respect the institution of the Office of the President."

"Any agreement or disagreement with a president's politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways," the statement read. "However, we very much respect the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit."

It was a decision Penguins star Sidney Crosby supported.

"It's a great honor for us to be invited there,'' Crosby said after the Penguins' 4-1 loss against the St. Louis Blues during the annual Hockeyville USA exhibition game Sunday night.

On Saturday, Donald Trump tweeted that the 2017 NBA champion Golden State Warriors were not welcome to celebrate at the White House because star player "Stephen Curry is hesitating." The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots were the first pro team to visit the White House in the Trump administration.

The Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2017, their third in the past decade. They have previously visited the White House during the presidencies of George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama.

"I think we all really enjoyed it last year, being able to see something that not everyone gets to see, and to be able to experience the White House,'' forward Bryan Rust said. "I think for us, as an organization, we relish the opportunity, and it's something we get to do because we are champions, and we're going to make the most of it.''

There were no protests during the exhibition hockey game between the Penguins and Blues.

"Everyone's got the right to go or not to go,'' Crosby said. "But we've been invited and we accepted the invitation. I don't think you have to read into it any more than that.''

The Associated Press contributed to this report.