For the third time in six years, the Chicago Blackhawks visited the White House and President Barack Obama on Thursday as the reigning Stanley Cup champions.
As a former Illinois senator and Chicago native, President Obama certainly seemed happy to host the Blackhawks once again, per the White House on Twitter:
"For the third time as President, I get to say: Give it up for the Stanley Cup champs – my hometown Chicago Blackhawks!" —@POTUS— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 18, 2016
Via the Blackhawks' official Twitter account, the president was presented with a customary personalized jersey by the organization:
As seen in this photo, courtesy of the team's Instagram, the Blackhawks even brought along the Stanley Cup to serve as a backdrop for President Obama's speech:
According to NHL.com's Adam Kimelman, the iconic trophy was a big hit with the POTUS:
Obama: "the Stanley cup is the best trophy on sports. I was hoping this time they'd give me a day with it."— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) February 18, 2016
While he didn't get a chance to spend the entire day with the Cup, President Obama came away with a nice haul, including a replica Stanley Cup, a painting and a permanent parking pass to the United Center, per the team's Twitter account.
According to Sean Leahy of Yahoo Sports, President Obama was blown away by the organization's generosity: "Can I just say this is the best gift I've ever got at the White House. This is really cool."
Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times shared an image of Obama with the parking pass:
President Obama with his new permanent United Center parking pass.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) February 18, 2016
(AP Photo) pic.twitter.com/Lf3j7Or3RY
The president made mention of several players on the star-studded team, but he took a particular interest in backup goalie Scott Darling.
As reported by Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune, Darling recently helped a homeless man in Arizona by paying for a hotel room for him to stay in for a month and buying him groceries.
President Obama praised Darling, who could hardly believe that he was singled out:
Since the president is a noted sports fan, he also pushed for another Chicago team to win a championship before his term is up and even gave a nod to the Chicago Cubs despite being a Chicago White Sox fan, as seen in this video from ABC News Politics:
Prior to President Obama's address, the players, coaches and front office people got an opportunity to explore the White House for themselves.
That included the key triumvirate of defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook along with forward Andrew Shaw:
Head coach Joel Quenneville appeared to have a great time while speaking with forward Teuvo Teravainen and now-retired defenseman Kimmo Timonen:
Also, the superstar duo of former Conn Smythe Trophy winners Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews took in the scenery:
While visiting the White House has become a fairly regular occurrence for the Blackhawks, Toews discussed the importance of enjoying the situation since a return isn't guaranteed, according to Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune: "You don't know when you'll ever get the chance again, so it's one of those things that it's a special tradition that goes along with winning. It's cool to have been done three times while President Obama has been in the White House."
The Blackhawks entered Thursday in first place in the Western Conference with 81 points. They are once again among the top Stanley Cup contenders in the league, and another championship is very much within reach.
While the next presidential inauguration is set to take place on Jan. 20, 2017, another visit with President Obama isn't out of the question if the White House visit timeline gets moved up in comparison to this year.
Getting back to the White House won't be easy regardless of who the sitting president is, but the Blackhawks have made a habit of doing so. They figure to be the team to beat once again come playoff time.
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