Wrapping up their 2013 Stanley Cup Celebration Tour, members of the winning Chicago Blackhawks team traveled to Washington, D.C. Monday.
President Obama and staff honored the team with a partial tour of the White House and a presidential handshake (one that Patrick Kane was a little prematurely ready for.)
“Some of the guys were laughing at me because he was moving pretty quick down the line and I was next to Rocky Wirtz and he shook his hand pretty quick,” Kane said. “I put my hand out too quick while he was still talking to Rocky so my hand was out there waiting for him to shake my hand. It was a pretty funny moment.”
Then, the President shared some of his favorite moments of the run, from the streak, to the close calls, to the sentimental tales.
“Duncan Keith had an interesting first round. He scored a goal in game three. Then he flew home to Chicago to be with his wife for the birth of their son, Colton,” President Obama said. “Then he flew back to Minneapolis the same day, arrived two hours before the drop of the puck, helped lead the team to a win that put them up 3-1 in the series. And about six weeks later, Colton may have become the youngest person ever to be hoisted by the cup.
“That hadn’t happened before.”
Before making it to the White House, the team visited Walter Reed Hospital, spending time with wounded soldiers.
“Whether it’s here or back in Chicago, if we get to share the Stanley Cup with them for a little bit it always reminds you to keep your feet on the ground when people are asking you for your autograph and celebrating the championship you won, knowing that those people are really sacrificing for not only themselves and their families, but sacrificing their lives for the country,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “It puts everything into perspective. It’s a special thing for us to be able to do that.”
President Obama praised the team for their visit.
“This morning, the entire team paid a visit to our wounded warriors at Walter Reed, helping to raise the spirits of men and women who have sacrificed so much for this country,” he said. ” And when I had a chance to have some of our wounded warriors in the room with these guys beforehand, I said, ‘I love the Blackhawks, I love all my sports teams, but obviously our best team, our most important team are those folks who every day serve us in uniform and keep us free.’ So we really just are grateful to them.”
He mentioned Andrew Shaw auctioning his Game 6 stitches off for charity, raising $20,000 for the V Foundation to help cancer research. He commended Toews’ leadership on and off the ice. But he managed to make a few jokes, as well.
“These are not just good hockey players, they’re good guys and that helps explain why 2 million Chicago fans came out to Grant Park to celebrate bringing home the Cup,” President Obama said. “Speaking of Grant Park, we were originally going to let Corey Crawford say a few words today, but we thought we’d keep this family event family-friendly.”
(See Corey Crawford’s not-so-family-friendly victory rally speech here.)
As the players parted ways, several returning to their new teams.
This event is essentially the end of Stanley Cup celebratory ceremonies.
“We know this is a big part of our tradition and we look forward to that,” Toews said. “Everyone’s busy, especially guys who aren’t with us. But to be together as a team, for a second, and remember what we accomplished last year, and enjoy this day, it’s a lot of fun.”
“I guess you could say we’ve turned the page officially.”
And now they’re back in action, playing for another season.
After all, the President said he’d like to see them again. He also put a little pressure on the other Chicago sports teams, in case they happened to be listening.