BostonBruins.com – The Boston Bruins historic Stanley Cup run and festivities came to an unofficial end Monday when the team was invited to join President Obama at the White House.
The championship team, including Mark Recchi, Shane Hnidy and Tomas Kaberle, stood proudly on the stage in the East room while President Obama gave a speech entailing the Bruins successes on and off the ice.
“This actually may be the conclusion of our Stanley Cup celebration and while it’s great, this is the end I think,” General Manager Peter Chiarelli said.
But nonetheless, the day ranks high on Chiarelli’s list and he was impressed by Obama’s headquarters.
“It may be the top of the list as far as meeting someone who makes such important decisions every minute of his life almost. On Thursday, I was at the UN in New York and I met the secretary general –so I guess [I get] to say in four days I met the secretary general and the President of the United States.
“There’s a lot of history, obviously a lot of significance. You see it in movies, you read it in books, you see it in magazines, newspapers – all over the media.
"But to actually come here and see the enormity of it and the significance of it was pretty impressive,” he said.
Head Coach Claude Julien was nearly speechless after the ceremony, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
"It’s hard to describe because you use the same words over and over again,” he said. “Honor is at the top of the list, privilege is another one – humbling. You can go on and on about this it’s unbelievable.
“You just have to look back many many years and probably never imaging yourself to get that opportunity and when you do, you have to cherish every moment of it. So I really enjoyed it, speaking to [President Obama] on the phone after winning the Cup was a big honor for me and it was an even bigger one today to meet him in person and shake his hand.”
And Julien wasn’t nervous about meeting the President of the United States either, he was rather ecstatic.
“To see the President of the United States walk into the room, the presence that he had or that he gives out is just amazing and shaking his hand is without a doubt the highlight of my day today,” Julien said. “If you’re nervous you’re not doing the right things. You got to be excited, you got to control yourself and for me, it’s not a nerve racking day, but an exciting day for me.”
Along with congratulating the Bruins on their Stanley Cup season, President Obama recognized the team for their community service and applauded the seven million dollars that has been raised and donated through the Boston Bruins Foundation.
Team President Cam Neely, who said he enjoyed viewing the White House and all the different rooms, took great pride in the compliment.
“I’m proud of our players, not just what they do on the ice but off the ice,” Neely said. “They’re great gentlemen, they do a lot in the community – our Bruins foundation does so much for so many great children and charities throughout New England.
“That tone has been set years ago by former Bruins players, and it’s great to see our guys are still carrying on the tradition. They have to carry on that tradition, they need to carry on that tradition and it’s nice – not that they look for recognition off the ice – but it certainly doesn’t go unnoticed as we witnessed today with President Obama’s remarks about it.”
President Obama also highlighted some of the Cup’s adventures after the victory, including captain Zdeno Chara’s celebration with his mailman and wheeling it around town in a baby carriage.
The President also said that there was no greater image of the Bruins dominance than Chara hoisting the Cup, and the B’s defenseman was humbled by his comments.
“Meeting the President and being on the stage at the podium with your name mentioned in the speech – that’s a great feeling,” Chara said. “It was great to be recognized as a team and then obviously as an individual. It’s an honor and a privilege to be in that kind of speech.”
While everybody enjoyed the day at the White House and meeting the President, after all the pictures were taken, it was back to business for the hard-working Bruins.
“We’re focusing on this year, we’re focusing on our game Tuesday night and that’s just the way we operate,” Neely said. “We don’t want to look too far ahead, and it’s nice to have the memories of what happened in the past, but we’re focusing on today.”
--- Anthony Gulizia