Penguins coach says visit to White House not political

Pittsburgh Penguins Coach Mike Sullivan insists the franchise’s decision to visit the White House does not mean the team is wading into the increasingly charged intersection of sports and politics.

Sullivan defended the organization’s decision on Wednesday, stressing it did not 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.

“I think there appears to be a perception out there that 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,” Sullivan said. “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 is wrong.”

NHL coaches may want to think twice this season about challenging an offside call.

Under a rule approved Wednesday by the league’s board of governors, teams that challenge unsuccessfully will be assessed a two-minute minor penalty. The number of challenges increased 33 percent last season, without a significant change in the number of overturned calls.

In another rule change, teams will no longer be able call a timeout after icing the puck. The league is also placing emphasis on faceoff violations and slashing penalties.


VONN’S REQUEST: Lindsey Vonn’s request to race against men in a World Cup downhill will be studied again by the International Ski Federation next week.

FIS says the United States team will make the proposal at preseason meetings in Zurich. It is expected to involve a race at Lake Louise, Canada, in the 2018-19 season.

FIS rejected a previous request, in 2012, because its rules bar mixed gender races.

The governing body said Wednesday “this is certainly an anticipated topic that divides the FIS officials.”

Vonn, who turns 33 next month, has a longstanding ambition to race competitively against men before she retires. Of her record 39 World Cup downhill wins, 14 have been at Lake Louise where the men typically race in late-November, one week before the women.


MLS: Kaka had two goals, Yoshimar Yotun and Dominic Dwyer each had a goal and two assists and struggling Orlando City beat short-handed New England 6-1 at home on Wednesday night.

Xavier Kouassi was sent off for the Revolution with a red card in the 11th minute after he fouled Seb Hines. Kouassi won the ball, but his follow through went into Hines’ legs and the referee went to the video to deem the foul serious.

Lee Nguyen scored his 11th goal on a brilliant free kick in first-half stopped time for New England (11-14-5), which has allowed 28 goals in losing its last eight road games.


WUHAN OPEN: Top-ranked Garbine Muguruza advanced to the quarterfinals at Wuhan, China, beating Magda Linette of Poland 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 Wednesday.

Muguruza next faces French Open Champion Jelena Ostapenko, who beat eighth-seeded Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Australian Ashleigh Barty beat her second consecutive top-20 player with a 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 win over ninth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.