WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The location for the ceremony was a slight change from the Chicago Blackhawks’ last visit to the White House, a warmer East Room chosen over the South Lawn on a brisk, autumn day.
Otherwise, it was a familiar feeling. That same euphoria was there to celebrate a Stanley Cup triumph with President Barack Obama. The smiles were wide and genuine as Obama heaped as much praise, if not a little more, than their last visit here.
And then, there was the chance to give a Cup-winning goaltender one more ribbing.
“We were originally going to let Corey Crawford say a few words today,” Obama said to loud laughter and applause. “But we’re trying to keep this family friendly.”
Hey, when the commander in chief makes you part of his speech, you probably can do nothing more than laugh along with him.
The Blackhawks had another day of revelry and remembrance on Monday when they took their second Cup-celebrating trip to the White House in the last three years. The team made another trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where they met with veterans and thanked them for their service. Then it was on to the White House, where Obama hosted them in a brief ceremony in the East Room.
Before wrapping up his speech, Obama pleaded for Chicago teams to make more championship-winning trips to see him; soon.
“I am term limited, so you guys have to get moving,” he said. “Championships belong in Chicago.”
There were more returning members of last year’s Cup team to enjoy this ceremony -- former backup goaltender Ray Emery and former forward Jamal Mayers also traveled to Washington to participate. But for those experiencing this for the second time, the feelings were just as strong as that inaugural visit.
“As coach (Joel Quenneville) just said, there’s definitely some Chicago pride in Washington and it’s cool to see that,” Jonathan Toews said. “Obviously to be around President Obama again was special.”
For Patrick Kane, once was great, twice was even better – even if that handshake with Obama was slightly delayed.
“I was next to (owner Rocky Wirtz) and I put my hand out too quick while he was talking to Rocky. So my hand was just out there. It was a pretty funny moment,” he said. “Not many can say they’ve been to the White House twice with championship teams. It’s very special. It’s one of those moments you want to take in, soak up.”
There are some things worth repeating. A few Stanley Cup championships in a relatively short amount of time is special. So are two trips to the White House to celebrate them.