Sullivan issues statement about Pens' decision to accept White House invitation

Sullivan on Pens' decision to accept White House invitation

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan issued a strong statement Wednesday about the Penguins’ decision to accept an invitation from the White House to celebrate their Stanley Cup championship.

The Penguins announced their intent to accept the invitation on Sunday, the same day NFL teams participated in various protests against comments made by President Trump regarding National Anthem protests.

Watch 11 News at 5 p.m. for reaction to Sullivan's statement

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The Penguins, and Sidney Crosby in particular have come under scrutiny since the team announced its decision. Wednesday afternoon, Sullivan said this:

“I think that there appears to be a perception out there that because our organization has made a decision to accept the invitation to the White House that we have taken a stance on the issue, when the reality is it’s just the opposite. We haven’t taken any stance. The Penguins, as an organization and our players, have chosen not to use this platform to take a stance. There appears to be a perception that we have and it’s wrong.

"Now that we’re on the subject, the fact that people seem to think that Sid needs to bear this burden of responsibility is unfair. This guy does nothing but come to the rink, help the Penguins win championships and be a good person every day. That’s how we see it. Having said that, we have respect for those that choose to express themselves differently. I wish we would receive the same respect in return, and I wish our captain would as well.

"We have discussed it with our players. Everyone’s well aware of what’s going on. At this point, quite honestly, my focus is on game one. We’re a week away from the regular season, and we’ve spent a week or so answering these types of questions. I’d like, from this point forward, to focus on hockey. That’s what we told our players as well.

"We want to play hockey, our players want to play hockey. That’s what we want to do, that’s what we love to do. From here on out, we’re going to answer questions that revolve around playing hockey, because that’s where our focus needs to be right now, making sure that we’re prepared for  game one.”

The Penguins attended the White House Stanley Cup Celebration for each of their previous four Stanley Cup victories.