Stanley Cup Winners Honored at White House
WASHINGTON – With chants of “Let’s go Pens” and a Pittsburgh Steelers towel waving in the air of the White House East Room, President Barack Obama honored the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday for winning the 2016 Stanley Cup, professional ice hockey’s ultimate prize.
Obama said he was proud to be the first president to welcome eight consecutive American Stanley Cup-winning teams to the White House.
“This is a nice bookend to my presidency,” he said.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were honored in 2009 for their third Stanley cup win by Obama during his first year as president.
“A lot has changed since then,” he said. “Back in 2009, my hair matched the color of the puck more than the ice. Sid the Kid was actually a kid and Geno was still snapping pictures with his flip phone,” Obama said.
Obama praised the team for raising awareness about concussions for young athletes and for its charitable work in Pittsburgh.
The team has taken the cup to smiling children at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and some of the players, including defenseman Brian Dumoulin, shared the trophy with patients and their families.
Obama acknowledged the Pittsburgh Penguin Foundation’s “Project PowerPlay,” an initiative to get kids to exercise while building more public hockey spaces around the city.
He also thanked the team for being leaders in the Green Sports Alliance, a non-profit organization that teaches leagues to embrace renewable energy, water efficiency, recycling, safer chemicals and other environmentally preferable practices.
“You guys are champions because you’re persistent, because of your teamwork and the faith you have in each other,” he said. “You set a great example for the city. Keep up the great work on and off the ice.”
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said he was honored to be a guest in the White House.
“You don’t wake up many days and have the opportunity to interact with the president of the United States,” Sullivan said. “For our players to get recognized today by the president of the United States in this formal setting is a real fulfilling experience.”