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Kings enjoy second White House visit in three years

by Dan Rosen / Los Angeles Kings

WASHINGTON -- The Los Angeles Kings renewed acquaintances with President Barack Obama on Monday at the White House, where they were honored for winning the Stanley Cup championship last year.

The Kings were joined on stage in the East Room and on a pre-ceremony tour and gathering with President Obama by members of the Los Angeles Galaxy, who won the MLS Cup last season. President Obama also honored the Kings and Galaxy for winning their respective league championships on March 26, 2013.

Both franchises are owned by AEG.

"As a Chicago fan I'm a little resentful, you guys have an embarrassment of riches," President Obama said during his seven-minute speech. "Today feels like Groundhog Day. If you're feeling a little déjà vu you're not alone. Two years ago we had the Galaxy and the Kings here together. So if you see Bill Murray playing the piano in the foyer you know something weird is going on, and we're probably going to do this again."

President Obama made a few more cracks about the Kings beating his hometown Chicago Blackhawks along the way to winning the Stanley Cup, but he also noted the Kings accomplishments during their Stanley Cup Playoff run last season.

The president spoke about how the Kings came back from a 3-0 series deficit against the San Jose Sharks, that they won three Game 7s on the road, including in overtime in the Western Conference Final against the Blackhawks, and how they won the Stanley Cup on an overtime winner.

"They're laughing because they're thinking, 'Man, let's try to do it easier next time,'" President Obama said.

The president gave the Kings credit for turning Los Angeles into a hotbed for hockey.

"The Kings have done the unthinkable, they have turned a city with no snow and no ice and no winter into a hockey town complete with an outdoor game in Dodger Stadium," President Obama said. "They've done it with a team that L.A. fans have embraced, guys like goalie Jonathan Quick, playoff MVP Justin Williams, a first line of [Dustin] Brown, [Anze] Kopitar and [Marian] Gaborik. Jeff Carter and his hockey smile, and of course coach [Darryl] Sutter and his one-liners to the press."

Sutter presented President Obama with a silver hockey stick that was engraved on the blade to read "President Obama, No. 44" to represent that he is the 44th president of the United States. They also presented him a Kings black home jersey.

President Obama was particularly impressed with the stick.

"Man look at this, this is what I'm talking about," President Obama said as Sutter presented it to him. "This is even better than a veto pen. This is excellent. You don't want to mess with somebody who has one of these. This will be in the library someday."

While Kings captain Dustin Brown said nothing will top the first visit to the White House two years ago, beating the Blackhawks during the playoffs last season added another layer to this year's visit to President Obama.

"I had a phone call with him after [winning the Cup] and I ribbed him a little about being a Hawks fan," Brown told NHL.com. "It's always nice to go through the president's team."

Kings forwards Gaborik, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson as well as goalie Martin Jones and defensemen Robyn Regehr and Jeff Schultz made their first visit to the White House for the championship ceremony. Conn Smythe Trophy winner Justin Williams made his third visit.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Mike Richards, who was waived by the Kings last week and is now playing with Manchester of the American Hockey League, declined the invitation to attend the ceremony.

"It's a proud moment," said Luc Robitaille, the Kings president of business operations and Hockey Hall of Fame member. "You always talk that when you win a championship you go to the White House. I came here with Detroit. Probably the fact that I've retired now, I don't take those things for granted. When you retire you realize it was special. I know that now, so I make sure I tell the guys to enjoy it because you never know."

The ceremony also served as the final curtain call for the 2013 Stanley Cup champions. They resume their fight to get into the playoffs this season Tuesday at Verizon Center against the Washington Capitals.

The Kings are three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 33 games remaining.

"I think coming here, the whole experience is really cool in itself, but seeing the Stanley Cup in person reminds you as a player what we're all playing for," Brown said. "It still gives you chills when you're right next to it. We need to find a way to get points."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Senior Writer

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