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Cranberry Township, Pa. — Sidney Crosby is backing the Penguins’ decision to accept a White House invitation from President Donald Trump.

The reigning two-time Stanley Cup champions announced their decision Sunday morning.

“I support it,” Crosby said after the Penguins’ 4-1 loss against the Blues during the annual Hockeyville USA exhibition game Sunday night.

“It’s a great honor for us to be invited there.”

The Penguins’ decision came on a day President Trump’s criticisms of players who kneel during the national anthem sparked a mass increase in such protests around the NFL. President Trump also rebuked NBA star Steph Curry this weekend for saying he wouldn’t attend a White House visit with the league champion Warriors before rescinding the team’s invitation.

The Penguins said they respect the office of the president and “the long tradition of championship teams visiting the White House.” The team also attended White House ceremonies following Stanley Cup championships in 2009 and ‘16, touring the building a visiting briefly with Presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama.

“I think we all really enjoyed it last year, being able to see something that not everyone gets to see, and to be able to experience the White House,” forward Bryan Rust (Pontiac) said. “I think for us, as an organization, we relish the opportunity, and it’s something we get to do because we are champions, and we’re going to make the most of it.”

About 200 NFL players sat, knelt or raised fists in defiance on Sunday.

There were no such protests during the exhibition game between the Penguins and Blues.

The Penguins said the organization respects the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit, but added that any agreement or disagreement with a president’s politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways.

“Everyone’s got the right to go or not to go,” Crosby said. “But we’ve been invited and we accepted the invitation. I don’t think you have to read into it any more than that.”

An assist for Rocket

Canadiens great Maurice “Rocket” Richard is getting an assist added to his career totals.

Six years of poring over scoresheets and summaries of games between 1917 and 1987 by an NHL statistics team has found and fixed more than 6,000 bits of information that were overlooked or miscounted in the league’s early eras.

Among the finds was an assist on Toe Blake’s goal at 10:15 of the second period of the Canadiens’ 6-5 loss to the Bruins on Nov. 4, 1945.

The scoresheet that night, scratched out in handwriting, correctly had Richard with the lone assist. But when it was transcribed into the league’s official ledger, it was mistakenly given to Emile Bouchard.

The restored assist gives Richard 422 in an 18-year career that ended in 1960, and his points total climbs to 966. For the 1945-46 season, one year after he made history as the first to score 50 goals in a season, he now has 27 goals and 22 assists.

The new totals are already entered in Richard’s stats on NHL.com.

It’s a good thing it wasn’t a goal, because Richard’s then-record career total of 544 has become an iconic number. A big deal is often made when an NHL star scores his 544th, such as when Capitals star Alex Ovechkin did it at Montreal on Jan. 10.

In the early 1960s, Richard owned a bar called the 544/9 Tavern, a reference to his goals total and retired jersey number.

Since 1999, the league awards the Richard Trophy to the season’s leading goal-scorer.

Finding little gems of information like the Richard assist was one product of a massive undertaking to update and modernize the league database, which is to be re-launched this week.

NHL head statistician Benny Ercolani said fact-checking alone, such as adding one more game played to Ron Stackhouse’s total, took 2 1/2 years.

“Six thousand little corrections isn’t that high when you consider how many games were entered,” he said.

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