Finding nice things to say about the Pittsburgh Penguins doesn't come naturally to Washington Capitals fans, but Stephen Krupin somehow found a way.
Krupin, a diehard Capitals fan and former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, detailed the pain of writing Obama's speech that celebrated Pittsburgh's championship in October in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Thursday.
"I've believed in every leader I wrote for in the White House, State Department and Senate, and never was asked to promote a policy that contradicted my conscience or violated my values," Krupin wrote. "With one exception: Last October I helped President Obama honor the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins."
Krupin had volunteered to write the speech for the Cup champions visit thinking he could laud his beloved Capitals, who were on their way to 120 points and the Presidents' Trophy. But when Pittsburgh defeated Washington in six games in the Eastern Conference Second Round last season, the Penguins' eighth Stanley Cup Playoff series win in nine meetings against the Capitals, it dashed those dreams and further rubbed salt into Krupin's wound.
"No team is more responsible for our inferiority complex than the Penguins," Krupin wrote. "To love the [Capitals], then, is also to hate the [Penguins]."
But while researching for his speech, Krupin was moved by Pittsburgh's benevolent acts, including center Sidney Crosby's gesture to hand the Cup to Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley so his mother Trudy, who was dying of cancer, could see him skate with it.
"I'm a fan, not a monster," Krupin wrote.
After another Presidents' Trophy season, the Capitals are facing the Penguins in the second round again, and trailing the best-of-7 series 1-0, with Game 2 at Verizon Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports). But Krupin may not be as ardently opposed to the Penguins this time around.
"As ever, I'll be pulling for the home team with my whole heart, but knowing what I now know, I'll also be looking for new reasons to hate the Penguins," Krupin wrote. "As I watch Pittsburgh defenseman Ian Cole, I'll try to forget that the first place he took the Stanley Cup was a children's hospital. I'll pretend I don't know center Nick Bonino ate pasta out of it with his nonagenarian grandparents. I'll need to block out the fact that Crosby gave a grieving family a precious memory."
But he didn't exactly feel wonderful about his admiration of the Penguins.
"There isn't a Zamboni in the world that could make me feel clean again," Krupin wrote. "All I can do is pray for the good Lord Stanley's forgiveness."