Obama celebrates hometown hockey champs at White House


McClatchy Washington Bureau

President Barack Obama honored Stanley Cup winners the Chicago Blackhawks at the White House Monday, celebrating the only team from his hometown to win a big league world championship during his presidency.

That’s no small feat, particularly since it was the second time Obama and the ’Hawks have celebrated a National Hockey League championship together.

“Three years ago, the ’Hawks won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years,” Obama said. “And keep in mind, the Cubs have been waiting for 105 – so 49 might have not seemed so bad.”

Obama was impressed by the leadership of team captain Jonathan Toews, 25, who took his team to victory for the second time.

“Now, I don’t remember everything I was doing when I was 25, but I wasn’t doing that,” Obama said.

Defenseman Duncan Keith had an exciting playoff season in more ways than one, the president pointed out. He flew home between games three and four for the birth of his son Colton – who, the president guessed, later became “the youngest person ever to be hoisted by the cup.”

Obama also recognized playoff MVP Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland, whose combined two goals in the last 17 seconds cinched the cup for Chicago, and Andrew Shaw, who auctioned off his game-six-induced stitches and raised $20,000 towards cancer research.

Before the White House, the team went to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where they visited with veterans and wounded warriors to thank them for their service.

“I love all my sports teams, but obviously our best team, our most important team are those folks who every day serve us in uniform and keep us free,” said Obama.

Among the attendees at the ceremony were Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn , Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and House Hockey Caucus co-chair Mike Quigley, D-Ill.

Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz thanked the president with a team jersey, and said that his players are not only gifted athletes but would “go a long way in breaking gridlock if you allow them into Congress.”

Obama joked he should perhaps have given a hockey stick a try during the government shutdown.

He also did not miss the opportunity to put pressure on the rest of his favorite teams.

“To the Bulls, Bears, Cubs, White Sox – I am term-limited, so you guys have got to get moving,” said Obama. “I need to see you here soon. Championships belong in Chicago.”

Email: khelblig@mcclatchydc.com

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