Saturday, July 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Penguins visit White House to celebrate Stanley Cup win

WASHINGTON — Matt Cullen's kids weren't impressed.

The Penguins forward awoke in Pittsburgh on Thursday morning and had to catch a flight to some place called the White House in Washington, D.C., he explained to his three hockey-playing boys.

"They said, 'Oh, you're going to the White House. Good. See you tonight,' " Cullen said. "You know how kids are. They have hockey practice, so they were more into that.

"Down the road, it's something they'll appreciate more."

Cullen's boys were among the only ones not impressed with Thursday's proceedings, as President Barack Obama welcomed the Penguins to the White House to celebrate their Stanley Cup win last season.

The Penguins advanced to the Cup final with a seven-game win over the Lightning in the Eastern Conference final and won the Cup in six games over the Sharks.

Obama noted that the Penguins also were the first Cup-winning team he welcomed to the White House — "This is a nice bookend for my presidency" — and that he has been able to celebrate with eight Stanley Cup winners all based in the United States (also Boston, Los Angeles twice and his hometown Chicago Blackhawks three times). He smiled when noting he recently reminded Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of that.

Obama said a lot has changed since the Penguins first visited him in the White House in 2009. Then, the color of his hair was more like that of a hockey puck, and now it more closely resembles the color of the ice, he said. Penguins star Sid "the Kid" Crosby was still a kid then at 22, he said. Crosby turned 29 in August.

About midway through Obama's speech, a baby began crying.

"Don't worry. I don't have any more bad jokes," Obama said. "These are so corny, I know."

When the group posed for the obligatory photo, Obama shoved the podium aside and insisted on the Stanley Cup, a mini-replica with which the Penguins presented him and his No. 44 Obama Penguins jersey all getting in the shot.

"I want the whole thing," Obama said. "I only get to do this for four more months."

Players routinely used words like "unique" and "special" to describe the visit.

"It's one of the perks of winning the Stanley Cup," Crosby said. "You think of winning, you think of the initial celebration, that kind of thing. To be able to do this is pretty unique. I think everyone had a lot of fun."

Said coach Mike Sullivan, who wore U.S. flag socks with this suit, "You don't wake up too many days and have an opportunity to interact with the president of the United States. I think it was a lot of fun for a lot of us to be a part of it. This is my first experience being at the White House. To have the opportunity to see the history that the White House entails, the portraits on the wall, it's a really unique experience for us. I guess that's one of the privileges when you win the Stanley Cup."

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