The Pittsburgh Penguins attended the White House on Tuesday to celebrate their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship. If you looked at their social media, and the NHL’s for that matter, you’d have no idea that such a controversial meeting was taking place.
On Twitter, the Penguins were silent for almost the entire day. They had two tweets on Tuesday, one a video recapping their 1-1-1 start to the season so far and the other a news hit on a player recall from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The NHL also fell silent on Twitter about the issue, as they tweeted a few previews for Tuesday night’s games but nothing on the Penguins trip to the White House.
Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook were similarly silent for both sides, despite how active the Penguins and the NHL are normally on those mediums.
In fact, the only official mention of the visit is on NHL.com, where a link in their headlines section leads to a very basic writeup of the press conference by President Donald Trump. The NHL hasn’t been tweeted the article nor put it on Facebook.
If you didn’t know any better, you would have never known about the visit unless you were scrolling through your Twitter timeline and saw the Penguins take their places next to the Stanley Cup.
The tactic by the social media teams of the Penguins and NHL aren’t surprising when you take a step back. They would have done themselves no favors livetweeting the event, when most of their mentions would have been fans combating their decision to go in waves. Social media teams are not the teams themselves, and for all of their sakes the decision to stay silent was likely one made for the benefit of the people facing the brunt of the anger and protests.
Yet, their silence, along with the NHL’s in promoting the event, is extremely deafening even a day removed from the event. Considering the Penguins instance that this visit was anything but political, creating even more backlash to that sentiment, the team and the league were more than ready to put this visit behind them and get back to hockey. Even after the Penguins doubled down on their visit to the White House, the team started to grow tired answering questions about politics.
The NHL has only recently been involved in the world’s current political climate, with J.T. Brown’s silent protest during the anthem the latest reaction to world events. For a sport notorious for cultivating a cyclical team-first mentality, it comes as no surprise the Penguins and the league as a whole were chomping at the bit to get back to what they do best: playing hockey.
At the end of the day, the silence from the Penguins and the NHL over this year’s White House visit will likely be forgotten by many as the season goes on. It likely already has in the minds of some Pittsburghers, and other hockey fans across the league.
For the Penguins and the NHL, however, the visit was clearly over before it really even started.