Blackhawks White House visit 'icing on the cake'

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Blackhawks White House visit 'icing on the cake'

Friday, March 11, 2011
Posted 6:47 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. Patrick Kane was taking in the whole White House experience, from the tour to the kids street hockey game to President Barack Obamas speech.

WATCH: President Obama's speech

I was happy with his speech. I got mentioned three times in his speech, Kane said laughing, as he played hockey with kids on the south lawn. I dont know who was counting but somebody told me.

The Chicago Blackhawks enjoyed their final congratulatory moment of their Stanley Cup season when they visited the White House on a chilly Friday afternoon. The Blackhawks took a tour of the White House before being honored in front of a few hundred guests and media on the south lawn.

It was really cool, really elegant, Kane said of the White House. It goes back a long while obviously. I guess the first (president) to live there was (John) Adams. It was pretty cool to be part of that history, to walk through that house.

Introductions between Obama and players apparently yielded a few funny moments.

Everyone was introducing themselves, first and last name, and Hjalmarsson just said, Im Nick, Kane said. So it was funny to hear that.

While the Blackhawks who werent part of the Cup team were part of the lawn audience, the Cup members including visiting Brent Sopel and Cristobal Huet -- stood behind Obama during the festivities.

Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz called the visit the icing on the cake.

Obama gave about a six-minute speech congratulating his home-town Blackhawks championship and recognizing team ownership and specific players namely Jonathan Toews great work, Duncan Keiths postseason tooth loss and Kanes playoff mullet I thought it was pretty sharp.

Obama received a Blackhawks sweater and also got a chance to try on the Blackhawks championship ring that's what you call some bling, right there, Obama said.

We have a proud tradition in Chicago of believing that no matter how long it takes, how much we have to endure its only a matter of time before our team finally wins it all, Obama said to laughs. The waiting builds character. We have a lot of character.

During the playoffs, even the Michael Jordan statue had a Blackhawks uniform on. And when the Hawks visited Wrigley Field during the Crosstown Classic, they did something even tougher than winning the Cup -- they got 40,000 Sox fans and Cubs fans to stand up and cheer at the same team, Obama said. (Thats) never happened before.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville enjoyed meeting Obama.

Hes real genuine, a regular guy with a great attitude, he said. He was pretty excited. I had the pleasure to speak with him after we won the championship and he was excited then. One of the most amazing things was how excited the city was, and that was across the board. He was excited about it then and today as well.

The Blackhawks have enjoyed a lot of celebrations for that Cup victory, the most prestigious coming on Friday. While they keep moving forward trying to make the playoffs again this season, they enjoyed one last look at the past, presidential style.

He was very eloquent, very kind about the Blackhawks, team president John McDonough said of Obama. He really did his homework. He really gave Patrick Kane a lot of love.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Alexandre Fortin signs three-year deal with Blackhawks

Alexandre Fortin signs three-year deal with Blackhawks

After earning a couple of invites from the Blackhawks this offseason, Alexandre Fortin earned a contract on Sunday.

Fortin agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Blackhawks, who had invited him to prospect and training camp. The 19-year-old, who was passed over in two NHL drafts, was hoping to latch onto the Blackhawks’ organization.

“You know, it’s a nice day for me. I’ve been working on that since I was young, so now it’s just Step 1 and I’m very excited for the future,” Fortin said following Sunday’s training camp sessions. “I have to thank the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s the first team that really believed in me. It’s awesome.”

Indeed, Fortin was just looking for a chance and he could get it here eventually.

“I think it’s a real plus,” Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen said. “I think he earned a contract. Right from the start, he stepped up and played. He’s been very consistent in every scrimmage. He’s been a threat to score out on the ice. I think he’s done a terrific job. He’s got to be very, very happy about the whole situation. It’s great for the organization: get a free agent who comes in and earns a three-year entry-level contract.”

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The most likely scenario is he’ll head back to his Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, after logging some training camp time with the Blackhawks. He could get into a preseason game, too. But the future definitely looks bright for Fortin.

“It’s, for sure, just Step 1. My real goal is to play pro,” Fortin said. “So I’ll keep learning, keep doing what coaches want, I’ll watch (the players) who I have to be like and keep working on that every day until my real dream comes true.”

Keith doing fine

Duncan Keith participated in one of the Blackhawks’ two practices again on Sunday, and Kitchen said Keith did just fine.

“The first day, Duncs, he got through the practice no problem. He didn’t have any issues. Talked to him the next day, the festival game day, and he said he was fine. Today was a little tougher day for defensemen, so we were asking a lot of them. There was a lot of 1-on-1, 2-on-1s, 2-on-2s. Duncs said after practice the forwards had it off and the D had the work day today. But he responded well afterwards,” Kitchen said. “He even asked if he could come out for the other practice, but we said no.”

Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen appreciates interview opportunities

Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen appreciates interview opportunities

Kevin Dineen is back with the Blackhawks but there were times this summer you wondered if another team would take him away.

The Blackhawks’ assistant coach was a major candidate for the Colorado Avalanche head coaching job, according to the Denver Post, following Patrick Roy’s surprising departure. There were probably other inquiries, too.

“It’s always nice to go through a process of talking about the way you do your business. It’s also a reflection of where you are,” said Dineen following the Blackhawks’ White-Red scrimmage on Saturday. “No. 1, you have to get permission to do that, and the Blackhawks have been great about giving me the opportunity to go out and do that. But also, when you have success, a lot of people want to get your feedback or whatever it is.”

Dineen’s name will likely come up whenever there’s a coaching vacancy. He coached the Florida Panthers from 2011-13 and coached Team Canada women’s team to a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Dineen will get another opportunity in the NHL but for now, life is good in Chicago.

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“For me, I couldn’t be happier right here,” he said. “I have a great person and hockey mind to work with in Joel [Quenneville]. But you know, down the line, those things play their way out and we’ll see where it goes.”

Arriving soon

Patrick Kane, Ville Pokka and Michal Kempny will join the Blackhawks’ training camp on Tuesday. The three finished up round-robin World Cup of Hockey play with their respective teams on Thursday.

Dineen said there’s a chance one of the defensemen, Pokka or Kempny, play in Wednesday night’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“They’ll get into the swing of things here on Tuesday,” Dineen said. “So that’ll give them a good rest after a long, tough September, and we expect them to hit the ice flying.”

Briefly

  • Duncan Keith will skate during one of the Blackhawks’ practices on Sunday and Monday.
     
  • Team White defeated Team Red 4-3 in Saturday’s scrimmage at the United Center. Spencer Abbott led Team White with two goals.