PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan insists the franchise's decision to visit the White House doesn't mean the team is wading into the increasingly charged intersection of sports and politics.

Sullivan defended the organization's decision on Wednesday. He stressed it didn't serve as a signal that the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions are picking a side in the increasingly heated debate between President Donald Trump and NFL players who protest during the national anthem.

The Penguins released a statement Sunday indicating they would attend a ceremony at the White House, a tradition for numerous championship teams.

Former NHL player Georges Laraque called Pittsburgh's decision "an embarrassment."