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Arnott still hopeful of visiting White House

by Corey Masisak
WASHINGTON -- Patrick Kane stood near the President of the United States on Friday and listened to the leader of this country laud him for scoring an overtime goal to deliver the Stanley Cup to Chicago.

Jason Arnott has also scored a Cup-winning overtime goal, but he's still waiting for his date at the White House.

"We never went," said Arnott, who helped the New Jersey Devils claim the Stanley Cup in 2000 with a goal in the second overtime of Game 6 against Dallas. [General Manager] Lou [Lamoriello] wouldn't fly us special there if it didn't work with our schedule. It is one of the most disappointing things in my life. It was horrible. It was great winning the Cup, but I never got to meet the President.

"I remember [Scott] Niedermayer and I were holding out for a new contract [at the beginning of the 2000-01 season] and I was just praying to God that they didn't go to see the President when we were not playing and they never ended up doing it. The times we were here in Washington the President was never here and [Lamoriello] never wanted to take an extra day and do it on its own."

The Blackhawks have spent the past three days in Washington, and celebrating their first championship in 39 years with President Barack Obama was certainly a highlight of the trip. Kane and his mates will face Arnott and the surging Washington Capitals in a Sunday matinee at Verizon Center as the final item on the agenda.

Both teams were far off their pace from 2009-10 only a few weeks ago, but Chicago and Washington again looks like a potential Stanley Cup Final preview -- just as it did a year ago when the Capitals collected an overtime victory in a wild contest. Chicago held a 3-0 lead and Washington captain Alex Ovechkin was ejected for boarding Brian Campbell, but the Capitals rallied and Nicklas Backstrom won the game at United Center in overtime.

"It was for one team," Boudreau said about last year's 'Cup Final preview.' "I don't want to put the cart before the horse type of thing. I think this will be two good teams going at it, that's for sure. I think they've been here for three days so I think they'll be pretty hungry and it's on national TV. If the game is anywhere near as good as it was last year, which I thought was the best game of the year even though [Ovechkin] ... it was exciting and I hope that type of game gets played tomorrow so people watching will go, 'This is hockey. What a sport. This is great.'"

Arnott, added from New Jersey at the trade deadline, could prove to be a vital component of a potential Cup run for the Capitals. Washington has been searching for a center to slot behind Backstrom since Sergei Fedorov signed with a team in the KHL after the 2008-09 season.

Fedorov was similarly acquired at the 2007-08 trade deadline and quickly became a mentor for the young Russian players and a key leader in the dressing room. Arnott has been a member of the organization for a little less than two weeks, and he's already have a comparable type of impact.

"He's been there and he's won it, but he's also a strong personality," defenseman Scott Hannan said. "He's vocal, and he's a leader and that's a big part of it. He's come in and made a big difference right away."

Added Boudreau: "Being a captain and a leader where he was, you can see he has stepped in right away and grabbed the guys. He's probably been very similar to what [Chris] Pronger meant to the Philly dressing room -- they were a bunch of young guys and Arnott has come in and said, 'Hey, professionalism, etc.' We didn't know we were getting that part of him but we're pretty pleased we did."

Arnott is only one of two players on the Capitals roster who has lifted the Stanley Cup. Mike Knuble is the other, and he did it as a role player early in his career with Detroit. Arnott was a key figure for the Devils in 2000 and tied with Patrik Elias for the team lead with 20 points in 23 postseason contests.

He has 4 points in 6 games for the Capitals, looking like a nice fit on the team's second line with Alexander Semin and either Brooks Laich or Marco Sturm.

"Jason for years has been a tremendous two-way player in the League and a guy I know from playing against has been very tough to play against," Laich said. "For myself personally, my centerman goes from 5-foot-9 to 6-foot-5 overnight. He's a big guy with a big shot and when you add in his 1,200 games of NHL experience and a Stanley Cup, he's come in and been awesome for us so far. We're going to draw on his experience as the playoffs get closer and once we're in the playoffs."

"We never went. [General Manager] Lou [Lamoriello] wouldn't fly us special there if it didn't work with our schedule. It is one of the most disappointing things in my life. It was horrible. It was great winning the Cup, but I never got to meet the President." -- Jason Arnott

Arnott is part of an exclusive club -- active players who have scored a Cup-winning goal. Kane is the newest member of the group, having tallied in overtime of Game 6 against Philadelphia in June.

"To be honest with you it all seems like a blur, even to this day I don't know that it's exactly sunk in that we won the Stanley Cup and I was the one that scored the goal," Kane said. "I don't know if it really has [changed my life]. The summer was a blast. There was a lot to celebrate, lots of great times and memories you'll have for the rest of your life, but I don't know that it has changed me as a person. I feel I'm still the same person, but I guess more people probably want to be your friend now. Your popularity rises after a goal like that."

Added Pittsburgh forward Mike Rupp, who scored the first goal in Game 7 for New Jersey in a 3-0 win against Anaheim in 2003: "It is awesome. It seems like an eternity ago that it happened, but it something that I'll think I'll be able to let set in when I'm done playing the game. Right now, it is all about getting that taste and getting back and getting it again. It was an amazing feeling, but I probably won't appreciate it all the way until I'm done playing."

Arnott's family is a big part of his Cup-clinching memory. His parents had been in New Jersey when the Devils failed to close the series out in Game 5 -- a triple-overtime loss -- and decided they were the jinx so they did not travel to Dallas for Game 6.

"They figured it would be better to stay home and bring us better luck and fortunately they did," Arnott said. "I had my brother [Wade] there, which was really special. He's been a big part of my life and he's my agent now. We've been really close and to have him there and hug him after was an unbelievable feeling.

"You can tell the stories and tell them how emotional it was and how much work it was and little things like that, but for the most part guys have to experience that stuff for themselves. You can do so much to help them, and that is just going out and showing them in the playoffs by working hard and just coming up with little things that could maybe help the team during the playoffs to help us get over that hump."

The Blackhawks weren't alone in the Rose Garden at the White House on Friday. Washington defenseman Mike Green was there, watching from a distance while waiting to meet with the First Lady, Michelle Obama, as part of an event for "Let's Move" -- an initiative that hopes to get America's kids to be more active and eat better.

When asked if Green used the opportunity to get a closer look at Lord Stanley's silver chalice, he immediately bristled at the notion.

"No, no, no, absolutely not -- I stayed as far away as I could from it," Green said. "I wasn't there for that, but it just inspires you to hopefully be there someday. It would be great to see us standing up on that stage and accepting words from him. Why not right now?" Senior Writer Dan Rosen contributed to this story.

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