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American Pens Appreciative of White House Visit

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Mike Sullivan is usually a pretty intense, stoic and serious guy. But this morning, the head coach's attire - which included American flag socks - signified just how excited the Massachusetts native was for the day's activities.

He and the rest of the organization made good on the invite President Barack Obama extended to Sullivan on the phone earlier this summer, to have the 2016 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins over to the White House to honor them for their title run.

"I think any time you have an opportunity to interact with the president of the United States, I think it's an honor and a privilege," Sullivan said. "Everything that the office of the president represents, especially for someone like myself that's an American citizen, I think we hold that in high regard. So to have the opportunity to speak with him on the phone and then today meeting in person to shake his hand is quite a thrill."

The American-born players on the team, including Matt Cullen, agreed with that sentiment - although his three boys did not.

"You know, they weren't that impressed, I've got to be honest," laughed Cullen, who was born and raised in Minnesota. "They were like 'oh, you're going to the White House? That's good. See you tonight.' You know how kids are. They've got hockey practice tonight, so they're more into that. But it's fun. Down the road, it's something they'll appreciate more."

It's something that Cullen does appreciate more the second time around, his first coming back in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes.

"You understand how difficult it is to get here and I think we just try to soak it in a little bit more," he said. "It's just fun. It's just really fun to be here in this setting, just kind of celebrate what we did."

And that's certainly what they did today.

"You don't wake up too many days and have the opportunity to interact with the president of the United States," Sullivan said. "I think it was a lot of fun for all of us to be a part of it. This is my first experience of being at the White House. So to have the opportunity to see the history that the White House entails and the portraits on the walls, is a really unique experience for us."

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