Penguins handled difficult situation with class, grace lacking in society

Given the way sports and politics have intersected recently, the traditional visit to the White House by the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday had many scrutinizing every word and action from the players, coaches and ownership both leading up to and during the event for any hint of a political statement.

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.

It was starkly abnormal in its normalcy.

Regardless of whether you support Trump, the fact that very little about his presidency, including the normally non-political presidential duties such as these, has been traditional or uneventful cannot be argued.

Even something that had been seen for ages as apolitical — a visit to the White House by the winner of a recent major professional or college sports championship — became anything but when comments critical of the president made by members of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors led to Trump “uninviting” them from a visit similar to what the Penguins just had.

There was pressure on the Penguins from some to also decline their invitation. There was also pressure on the Penguins from others to behave just as they did the prior year when welcomed by President Barack Obama.

The Penguins were literally in a no-win situation — ironic for a team celebrating consecutive championships.

So, given that the visit seemed more or less like any other champion’s visit to the White House, things went about as well as they reasonably could have for the organization.

Comparing that to the botched attempt by one of their city’s fellow teams — the Pittsburgh Steelers — to stay out of the political fray, the Penguins’ management, coaches and players should be commended for showing us all that not every part of society must be inundated with a war of liberal vs. conservative. It’s not always “us vs. them.”

Sometimes, hockey is just hockey.

We congratulate the Penguins, not only for winning two straight Stanley Cup championships, but for also handling a difficult situation with class and grace that is missing far too often from the public sphere today.