TAMPA — It’s been a long time coming, but the Lightning will make their first trip to the White House early next week.
The back-to-back Stanley Cup champions will visit during Monday’s off day as guests of President Joe Biden. An afternoon ceremony recognizing their 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cup championships is planned for the South Lawn.
The Lightning play the Panthers Sunday night in Sunrise, then will travel to Washington Monday morning and return to Tampa following the ceremony. The team will play its final regular-season home game Tuesday against the Blue Jackets.
Though the Lightning have won three Stanley Cups in their 29-season history, this will be their first visit to the White House. A lockout canceled the season following their first title in 2003-04. The team was unable to visit the White House after their 2020 championship due to the pandemic.
In July, the Bucs became the first championship team from Tampa Bay to visit the White House, following their Super Bowl 55 win over the Chiefs. They were unable to visit after winning Super Bowl 37 in 2003, as the United States prepared for a military invasion of Iraq.
The last NHL team to visit the White House was the Blues, on Oct. 15, 2019. Lightning forward Pat Maroon was a member of St. Louis’ 2019 team but did not attend the ceremony because he had left for Tampa Bay, where he won two more Stanley Cup championships.
The Lightning have clinched a playoff berth and will begin their drive for a third straight Cup on May 2 or 3.
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