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Hawks savor visit to White House

by Bob Condor
WASHINGTON­ -- President Barack Obama took a seven-minute shift with the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, delivering a speech with the sort of hop and skip that team's coach, Joel Quenneville, seeks from his skaters.

"I thought the President had a great attitude," said Quenneville, who didn't seem to stop grinning the entire time he was on the South Lawn at the White House to recognize Chicago's first Stanley Cup since 1961 -- when, Obama quipped, a movie cost 69 cents, he was still in diapers and the "legendary" Glenn Hall played with a wooden stick and no mask.

Quenneville and his team had a 20-minute private meeting with the President before the ceremony outside.

"He seemed really genuine, a regular guy, bubbly and enjoyed meeting all the guys," Quenneville said. "Going through and meeting all the players, we had some guys who were bandaged up, some guys missing teeth — we had a tough looking group."

For a subsequent 15 to 20 minutes, Obama worked the South Lawn, filled with Blackhawks family members plus more than 70 local kids on hand to participate the First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" street hockey clinic on the front lawn.

The White House visit appeared to punctuate the dream 2010 Stanley Cup run for a number of prominent Blackhawks players and coaches.

"We're hoping to come back," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "There have been lots of great moments [since the Blackhawks won the Cup on Philadelphia ice in June]. This visit tops it off. Now it's time to win another one."

"It would be unbelievable to do it again," said Patrick Kane, called out by Obama that it was time to grow another "playoff mullet" and come back to the White House next season.

Kane, a 22-year-old Buffal0-area native who manned a Flip-cam for the visit, was suitably awed.

"When it's happening it's kind of surreal that it's really going on," he said. "You don't really believe you're actually meeting the President.

"A lot of us … were saying, 'This is probably one of the cooler things we've done.' "

Chicago's coach gets last word, one leader talking about another leader's inspiring words.

"It makes you want to win the Cup again," Quenneville said. "This was the culmination of the celebration. We should all feel fortunate to be here. But at the same time once you win it, you can't wait to do it again."

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