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The Inside Scoop: 2016 White House Visit

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

It has become customary for the President of the United States of America to invite any professional team that wins its league championship to the White House.
 
President Barack Obama continued that tradition by inviting the 2016 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins for a visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Oct. 6 to honor them for their title run.
 
This isn't the first time the Pens have been guests of President Obama at the White House. The Pens also had the privilege of visiting the White House following their previous Stanley Cup championship win in 2009.
 
Fittingly, President Obama welcomed the Pens during his first year as President and now in his final year. The Pens will bookend his tenure with two Stanley Cup titles.
 
Below is a running blog of the Pens' current trip.

ROAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE
The Pens players, coaches, trainers, management and staff gathered for an 8 a.m. flight from Pittsburgh en route to Washington, D.C. It was a quick flight and the team arrived in the nation's capital at roughly 9 a.m.
 
The group then de-boarded the plane and hopped on a bus and with the help of a police escort the Pens weaved their way through traffic. Before arriving at the White House, a quick stop was needed to pick up an old friend -- a holy chalice known as the Stanley Cup.
 
With the hardware in tow, the Pens arrived at the President's confines a little after 10 a.m. The group was given a tour of the White House's East Wing, which featured the Red, Green and Blue Rooms.
 
And then the President arrived. President Obama had a private meeting with the owners, coaches and players before everyone came out to join the rest of the media and attendees.
 
OBAMA ADDRESS
With the Pens players standing behind him, President Obama delivered one of his classic speeches -- articulate, charismatic and funny. Regardless of your politics, the President definitely commands the room.
 
I mean, his opening line was: "We are here to celebrate an extraordinary achievement. Phil Kessel is a Stanley Cup champion."
 
Gauntlet thrown. Things only got better from there. Here are some of his best points.
 
-"This is a nice bookend to my presidency. My first year you guys won the Cup. Now you're coming back for my final year. A lot has changed during the interim. Back in 2009 my hair matched the color of the puck more than the ice. Sid the Kid was actually a kid. And Geno was still snapping pictures with his flip phone."
 
-"GM of the Year Jim Rutherford was smart enough to (hire) Sullivan. He was a member of the Blackhawks organization so he knew Sullivan brought a lot to the table."
 
-"Coach Sullivan started the season coaching the minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. That's Biden Country."
 
-(During a baby crying) "Don't worry. I don't have anymore bad jokes."
 
PENS REAX
Here are some reactions from the Pens on their visit to the White House and meeting with President Obama.
 
-Crosby: "To be able to win and to be able to have this experience, it's a great opportunity coming (to the White House). It's one of those things that after you win it you think of the celebration. But to be able to do this is pretty unique and seems like everyone had a lot of fun with it.
 
"When you win at a young age you don't go through those things that make you understand how difficult it is. This time around I have a different perspective and appreciate it a little bit more."
 
-Sullivan: "It's a unique experience. Anytime you have an opportunity to interact with the President of the United States it's an honor and a privilege.
 
"It was a lot of fun for all of us, to be a part of it. This was my first experience being at the White House. To have the opportunity to see the history that the White House entails, the portraits on the walls, is a really unique experience for us. That's one of the privileges when you win the Stanley Cup, like we have, to visit the White House as a group."
 
-Cullen on if the team talks politics: "Probably this year more than any with everything that's going on. But otherwise, no, not a whole lot."
 
Cullen on the visit: "It's a special experience to have. It's fun, really fun to be here in this setting."
 
In closing, a special thank you to President Obama and his entire White House staff for the hospitality and honor of letting us visit. It truly is a privilege and amazing opportunity.
 
That being said, hopefully we'll be back next year.

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