09.10.2009 / 8:10 PM
It took a little extra time but the wait for President Obama was certainly worth it.
The president apologized for delaying the ceremony by about 30 minutes, but, well, he's a pretty busy guy. He did say, however, "This is one of the most fun things I get to do."
President Obama singled out a few members of the Penguins, starting with owner Mario Lemieux, saying, "It's a real honor that Mario Lemieux is here. He's a pretty big deal. He won a few of these things as a player, but this is his first as an owner. And he's still got a pretty big smile on his face."
Next the president mentioned Willie O'Ree, the director of the NHL's diversity program and the first black man to play in the League. Obama congratulated him for helping bring hockey to places and people who might not otherwise be exposed to the sport, and the life skills kids can learn through the game. Along with O'Ree, he also saluted some of the children from the Fort Dupont Ice Rink and the Hockey in the Hood program from Pittsburgh who were on hand for the ceremony.
Obama also singled out Sidney Crosby for being the youngest player ever to captain a team to a Stanley Cup, and Evgeni Malkin for winning the Conn Smyth Trophy.
As Obama spoke, Malkin was waving from the stage, and then pulled out his cel phone to snap a picture of Obama from behind. The crowd in the East Room erupted into laughter, and the president was momentarily flustered.
Pens coach Dan Bylsma then moved to the podium, where he thanked the president for hosting the organization today, and he and Crosby presented Obama with a black Penguins No. 44 jersey, with the captain's C stitched on it.
Obama did get a bit of a shot of his own in, on Crosby, saying how the Pens' captain must be fast, because he isn't very big.
More laughter, then the president turned his attention toward the other guest of honor today, the Stanley Cup, which was located to his left.
"There is something special about the Stanley Cup," he said. "Winning it takes a whole new level of sacrifice."
The president then grabbed the Cup and carried it over to the stage for a group picture.
Then the ceremony was over, the president whisked out by Secret Service.
For me, personally, this was an amazing day. Getting a private tour of the White House and being in the East Room, in the president's presence, is something that this hockey writer never expected would happen.
Thanks for following along on this journey. Stay tuned to NHL.com for a full story, pictures and video of the day.
Waiting for the President
09.10.2009 / 5:57 PM
We're all in the East Room waiting on President Obama and then the team will come in. The Stanley Cup is on a platform next to the stage and somewhere there's a No. 44 Pens jersey with Obama stitched on the back.
There's also a sizable media group as well as the kids from Fort Dupont and Hockey in the Hood in Pittsburgh.
The tour of the White House was just amazing. We were split into 3 groups, and our group had Mario Lemieux and his family as well as a few other players and club officials.
More after the ceremony.
At the White House
09.10.2009 / 4:20 PM
Passed through security and now everyone is waiting to start the tour. Not sure if I'll be able to blog the full experience but I'll have a full report when I'm done.
09.10.2009 / 3:05 PM
As much fun as the youngsters had the Pens players enjoyed it just as much.
The kids started shy but by the end they were asking questions and asking for tips and autographs.
Sidney Crosby said the best question of the day was when someone asked if he and Evgeni Malkin were brothers.
"We are close," Crosby said.
"They do look alike," joked Bill Guerin.
The motorcade to the White House is leaving soon and I'm in it. I'll have more in a bit.
On the ice
09.10.2009 / 1:55 PM
The kids are skating with their hockey heroes, turning laps, stretching and doing drills.
The Penguins players look just as thrilled to be out there as the kids.
The Cup is here
09.10.2009 / 1:42 PM
The kids at Fort Dupont got to see the Stanley Cup paraded through the building. Now they're on the ice waiting for Sidney Crosby, Bill Guerin, Marc-Andre Fleury and Brooks Orpik to join them.
09.10.2009 / 1:20 PM
The kids are bouncing off the walls -- literally -- waiting for the Cup to arrive. For these kids this is the greatest moment of their lives.
One though expects this won't be his only experience. Teyshawn Johnson, age 10, expects to make the NHL and win the Cup himself. He's learning French now in case he ever plays for the Canadiens.
O'Ree tells his story
09.10.2009 / 12:30 PM
Willie O'Ree is telling his story to kids from 3 youth hockey groups, the Hockey in The Hood program from Pittsburgh, the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club and the Fort Dupont Kids on Ice program.
The room full of kids ages 9-12 are enraptured.
The day begins
09.10.2009 / 11:20 AM
Greetings from Washington DC. I'll be your tour guide today as the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins enjoy their day here.
First on the list is a visit to Fort Dupont Ice Rink, the only ice rink in the district and the home of the oldest minority hockey program in the nation.
Then it's off to the White House for a private tour and a public event with President Obama.
I'll do my best to keep you updated with all the happenings so keep checking back at NHL.com.