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Posted On Friday, 03.11.2011 / 6:37 PM

NHL.com - Blackhawks at the White House

President talks 'bling' with biggest crowd

After his remarks, President Obama got a first-hand look at Chicago's newest championship ring (they don't easily). When offered to put one on, he showed it to a cheering crowd, which veteran White House press corps members said was the largest NHL-related crowd ever gathered for a White House Stanley Cup celebration.

"Oh, absolutely. I've got to try the ring and everything," said Obama. "That's what you call some bling, right there."

Captain Jonathan Toews stepped forward to present the President with a silver replica of the Stanley Cup complete with engravings. 

"Look at this, a mini Stanley. Now, can I say that when I first saw this I thought it so much bigger on TV. But then it turned out it was just a replica. But what a wonderful, wonderful gift this. Thank you so much, team. We are proud of you."
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Posted On Friday, 03.11.2011 / 4:43 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Ontario Hockey League coaches name poll winners

The Ontario Hockey League released the results of its Coaches Poll for the Eastern and Western conferences on Friday.

Among the winners were several 2011 Entry Draft-eligible prospects, including Eastern Conference forward Ryan Strome of the Niagara IceDogs. Strome, is No. 19 among North American skaters in NHL's Central Scouting's mid-term rankings of the top North American skaters available for the draft.

Ryan Strome

Strome received first-place selections in three categories, including Most Improved Player and Best Playmaker, while tying Boston Bruins prospect Ryan Spooner of the Kingston Frontenacs as the Best Stickhandler. Shane Prince of the Ottawa 67's was second to Strome in the Most Improved Player and Best Playmaker categories. Prince, incidentally, is No. 35 on Central Scouting's list.

Strome's teammate, defenseman Dougie Hamilton, also was honored.

Hamilton, No. 7 on the Central Scouting's list, was named the Best Skater and Best Offensive Defenseman, and placed third in the Best Defensive Defenseman category. Overall, the IceDogs had 12 players represented in the top three in 16 categories, followed by the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors with 10 players.

Over in the West
, No. 10 Ryan Murphy of the Kitchener Rangers placed in four categories, including a first-place finish as Best Skater. He was second to Nashville Predators prospect Ryan Ellis of the Windsor Spitfires as Smartest Player and Best Offensive Defenseman, and finished second to Colorado Avalanche prospect Joey Hishon of the Owen Sound Attack as Best Stickhandler.

Ryan Murphy

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds speedster and No. 43-rated Daniel Catenacci, who won the faster skater competition at the Top Prospects Skills Competition in January, finished third in the Best Skater category.

No. 42-ranked Vincent Trocheck of the Saginaw Spirit finished second in the Best on Face-Offs category and the No. 1-rated North American in the mid-term rankings, Gabriel Landeskog of Kitchener, finished second in the Best Body Checker category.

The Rangers and Attack had nine players represented in the top three of the 16 categories to lead all Western Conference clubs.

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Posted On Friday, 03.11.2011 / 3:47 PM

By Bob Condor -  NHL.com Editor-in-Chief /NHL.com - Blackhawks at the White House

President excited to welcome hometown Blackhawks

The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks walked up onto risers on the South Lawn at 2:50 p.m., closely followed by President Barack Obama.

The President fired off a number of quips, like so many Patrick Kane wrist shots:

"This one is a little sweeter. ... It's the first time during my presidency I get to welcome a world champion from my hometown, Chicago."

"We are proud to have members of Congress (from Illinois) here today. You guys had nothing to do with it ... but I know you are big fans."

"I want to congratulate all of the fans. We have a proud tradtion in Chicago of believing that no matter how long it takes, how much we have to endure, it's only a matter of time before our team finally wins it all. (Laughter.) The waiting builds character. We have a lot of character. (More laughter.)

"Now, I have to say, even by Chicago standards, 49 years, that's a pretty long time. To put that in perspective, the last time the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, a movie cost 69 cents. JFK had just moved into the White House. I was still in diapers. And when the legendary Glenn Hall played goalie for the Hawks, he did it with a wooden stick and no mask."

"What the Hawks visited Wrigle Field during the Crosstown Classic, they did something even tougher than winning the Cup–they got 40,000 White Sox and Cubs fans to stand up and cheer at the same time. (Lots of laughs.). That's never happened before."

"It's getting close to the playoffs so I would like to wish the team best of luck. I don't want to jinx anything, but with the Blackhawks having won eight of the last 10, it's about time for Patrick Kane to start growing the playoff mullet. I thought that looked pretty sharp. Because I want to see you back here next year."

The President spoke to an appreciative crowd heavy on player's families and school kids here for the First Lady's "Let's Move" event that directly follows.
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Posted On Friday, 03.11.2011 / 2:21 PM

By Bob Condor -  NHL.com Editor-in-Chief /NHL.com - Blackhawks at the White House

Private time with the President

The Blackhawks players, coaches and front office staffers and their families enjoyed a private tour of the White House during the one o'clock hour. The team then took a private meeting with President Obama at 2. Heady stuff for all of the team, but especially American-born players Patrick Kane and 19-year-old Nick Leddy.

The President's remarks will be coming up soon outside on the South Lawn, and the White House buzz is this championship ceremony is particularly special with any number of Chicagoans working for the Administration.
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Posted On Friday, 03.11.2011 / 1:36 PM

By Bob Condor -  NHL.com Editor-in-Chief /NHL.com - Blackhawks at the White House

Fortunate sons

As NHL executives awaited the Chicago Blackhawks to begin a private tour of the White House early Friday afternoon, the Fago and Waivada families noticed that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was standing near 15th and E streets outside the White House. They ware here for a youth hockey tournament for their Mite-age sons. Tyler Fogu and Brendan Waivada, both Devils fans,  were extra fortunate because they also got photos with former Devils goalie Kevin Weekes.
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Posted On Friday, 03.11.2011 / 8:37 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Sea Dogs establish team record for wins, points

The Saint John Sea Dogs, the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League for 13 straight weeks, established a new team record for wins and points Thursday in pretty dramatic fashion.

2011 Entry Draft-eligible prospects Tomas Jurco and Jonathan Huberdeau each scored in the shootout to give the Sea Dogs a 3-2 victory against the Rimouski Oceanic. Jurco, who has made a name for himself this season with his unbelievable poise and pizzazz in the shootout, scored off a nifty backhand before Huberdeau closed it out with a speed rush and tuck underneath Oceanic goalie Morgan Clark (29 saves).

The club improved to 54-6-1-2, setting a new team record for wins and points (111) and keeping alive hope of establishing a new Quebec Major Junior Hockey League record for wins in a season. With only five games remaining, including Friday's meeting with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the Dogs could best the record of 58 victories set by Sorel Eperviers in 1973-74 and matched by the Trois-Rivieres Draveurs in 1978-79.

Huberdeau scored his team-leading 39th goal -- along with his franchise-record 98th point -- with just 1:50 left in regulation on a deflection in front. Rimouski would square the contest at 2-all with just 21 seconds left in regulation when Patrick Delisle-Houde fired a loose puck through a crowd and past Sea Dogs goalie Mathieu Corbeil (28 saves).

There's a good possibility as many as four players from the Sea Dogs could be selected in the opening round of the 2011 Entry Draft on June 24 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Those players include Huberdeau, the No. 4-ranked North American skater on NHL Central Scouting's mid-term list; No. 9 Nathan Beaulieu; No. 12 Zack Phillips; and No. 24 Tomas Jurco, who is 4-for-5 in shootout attempts this season. Jurco led the QMJHL with 9 shootout goals on 11 chances as a rookie in 2009-10.

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Posted On Friday, 03.11.2011 / 7:46 AM

By Bob Condor -  NHL.com Editor-in-Chief /NHL.com - Blackhawks at the White House

Big day for Blackhawks: Meeting the President

President Barack Obama will honor the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks during a ceremony at The White House on Friday afternoon.

Following the ceremony, First Lady Michelle Obama, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and USA Hockey Executive Director Dave Ogrean will preside over a street hockey workout and clinic on a rink set up near the South Lawn of the White House. The clinic for local youngsters, which will be conducted by, among others, Patrick Sharp of the Blackhawks and Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, is part of a new collaboration between Mrs. Obama's Let's Move! initiative, the NHL and USA Hockey to encourage American children to lead active and healthy lives.

The Blackhawks players, coaching staff and front office executives visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center Thursday afternoon in what team president John McDonough said would be the team’s most important off-day ever and the team was indeed thoroughly inspired by the meeting the service personnel at Walter Reed.

All of the players were deeply engaged with the recovering soldiers, but close observation showed even more extensive efforts by Patrick Kane, John Scott, Corey Crawford and coach Joel Quenneville.

The team’s family members flew into Washington later Thursday, joining the players and coaches who finished a Florida swing this week, earning a point but dropping a shootout against the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night.

That result didn’t dissuade Quenneville from making rounds cheerfully Thursday. He bumped into one soldier who admitted to being a Lightning fan. Quenneville said, “Well, they got us. But it was exciting hockey game, an entertaining hockey game.”

Kane told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen last week that he planned to Flip-cam the event. Kane also recalled the phone call he received from President Obama on the day of the Hawks' Stanley Cup parade.

"We were doing our team photo with the Cup in the middle and we had to interrupt it so I could talk to the President for two minutes. I'll always remember that," Kane told NHL.com. "They had to go through a 10-minute security thing with the call and then I finally got on the phone and he talked to me about the goal, winning the Cup, how happy the city of Chicago was. We talked about my hometown (Buffalo) a little bit and then maybe one day playing basketball against each other because I know we both like to play. It was a pretty cool call."

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Posted On Thursday, 03.10.2011 / 8:56 PM

By Bob Condor -  NHL.com Editor-in-Chief /NHL.com - NHL on Capitol Hill

Kerry named No. 2 star, talks Bruins, big charity check

It's over at Verizon Center. The Lobbyists won a late goal by defenseman Christian Gullet, who executed a tight rush on Lawmaker goalie Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). The Lobbyists added an empty-netter to make the final 5-3 in the third annual Congressional Hockey Challenge.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was named the game's No. 2 star and said he enjoyed his night so much that he is encouraged enough to maybe start playing in adult league more regularly. "There's just something about the game," he said at center ice at game end. "It gets the blood going."

Washington owner Ted Leonsis, who welcomed the crowd of more than 2,500 before Caps stalwart Mike Knuble dropped the ceremonial puck, said he sees Kerry regularly when the Senator's hometown Bruins are in town. Kerry told NHL.com he also likes to see Penguins games--his wife being a Pittsburgher--and that he has to admit the Capitals look like a Cup contender this season. He stills likes Boston's prospects because "they play like a team" every shift.

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), who leads the Congressional Hockey Caucus, looked fresh on his final shifts and helped with forechecking pressure that led to the Lawmakers' tying goal. He was asked about any disappoint with the loss, which featured 30 shots on goal for both teams.

"Well, the Commissioner (Bettman) was on the bench for a disputed goal (the Lobbyists scored with one second left in the second period)," said Quigley, curling into a bit of a smile. "I don't see why he couldn't throw it up to Toronto for review."

The biggest smiles of the night came when Kerry announced post-game that this friendly game raised more than $100,000 for the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club and the Fort Dupont Ice Arena, helping to provide more access to hockey among all kids in the D.C. area. That issue of attracting boys and girls to youth hockey--and upping the access--is how the day started on Capitol Hill.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.10.2011 / 7:33 PM

By Bob Condor -  NHL.com Editor-in-Chief /NHL.com - NHL on Capitol Hill

Congress in session -- on ice

In the third annual Congressional Hockey Challenge, the Lawmakers opened up the scoring. The Lobbyists answered with two goals.

In between the two Lobbyist scores, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) made two big close-in saves to make it close.

After a give-and-take 14-plus minutes, the Lobbyists scored a buzzer-beater at 14:59 to make it 3-1.

Lawmakers co-coach and NHL Network Kevin Weekes insisted his team's "energy was good" and would ready for a third-period rally.

Sen. John Kerry played several solid shifts after cutting his warmups short to talk with Commissioner Gary Bettman on the NHL Hour radio show.

The Lawmakers bench enjoyed a first-period surprise appearnce from Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, who is in town with his Stanley Cup champion teammates to meet President Obama at the White House Friday and play the Capitals here at Verizon Center Sunday.

Five minutes left in third period, the Lawmakers have stormed back with two goals. The tying goal was set up by Kerry.

Guess Weekes knew what he was talking about.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.10.2011 / 5:39 PM

By Bob Condor -  NHL.com Editor-in-Chief /NHL.com - NHL on Capitol Hill

Congressional briefing serves up all-American stats

 The overall theme of Thursday's Congressional Hockey Caucus policy briefing at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill was the blueprint for continuing the growth of youth hockey–and access to youth hockey–in the U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), who founded the Congressional Hockey Caucus in 2009, said he attended a Chicago street hockey staged by the Blackhawks and Chicago Boys and Girls Club that attracted more than 300 kids. 

NHL Commissioner noted the Nashville Predators, playing in "what some might call non-traditional markets" now regularly play a lineup with a defenseman who was born and developed in California (Jonathon Blum) and a left wing born in Florida and grown into a NHL-caliber player in the Nashville area (Blake Geoffrion). He added that 146 Americans were in NHL lineups on opening night this season, representing more than 20 percent of all players.

Congressional Hockey Caucus co-leader Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) talked about the explosion of hockey dreams in Omaha, explaining nothing "is more romantic in sports than a frozen pond." He was on the Omaha city council when the University of Nebraska-Omaha first proposed to start a Division I hockey program, assigned as the "leader in getting ice" for the now thriving UNO team.

Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine told compelling stories about first learning to skate in the St. Louis area–but only after trying as a tyke on double-runners, feeling completely frustrated and throwing his skates in a closet for a year. He tried again and eventually started playing at an organized level when his family moved to Michigan when he was seven years old.

LaFontaine mentioned that Rep. Brian Higgins (D.-NY), the third co-leader of the Congressional Hockey Caucus, grew up with Patrick Kane's father. When the Blackhawks star was young, the elder Kane took Pat to a local outdoor rink once each week when the ice was good enough for skating. During Kane's youth, his dad and others lobbied to put a dome on the rink so kids could skate there more frequently and with better ice conditions. 

"I was talking to the Congressman (Higgins) last night," said LaFontaine. "I said, if not for that dome, maybe Rep. Quigley (a self-proclaimed Blackhawks) wouldn't be standing up here this morning talking about the team as Stanley Cup champions."
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