WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama held up his latest gift from the Blackhawks, something that anyone who’s been around the construction-laden United Center lately could appreciate.
A United Center parking pass.
“This is really cool,” the president said to laughs. “I might sell this on eBay.”
The Blackhawks made their third visit to the White House in six years — all during Obama’s administration — to celebrate another Stanley Cup victory. This year’s ceremony was much like that in 2014, the president giving a 10-minute speech to honor the Blackhawks. Current Blackhawks who were not on the team last year also attended, sitting in the audience during the ceremony.
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“I think this one was the best we’ve had so far, the representation; a really historic today,” Blackhawks president John McDonough said. “Just being around the president, his aura, how warm he is with everyone, and to see some of our players who weren’t with us last year experience this and the desire to be part of this going forward.”
The ceremony had its light moments, from that parking pass “gift” to Obama saying the Stanley Cup should probably stick around the White House for a certain upcoming event.
“We have a state dinner with Canada coming up,” he said. “So we may just leave it right in the middle of the room.”
Even Jonathan Toews had to grin at that one.
“Yeah, that’s one of those things I have to let slide,” Toews said after the ceremony. “I didn’t know if I can make a comeback to that one.”
The Blackhawks have enjoyed a remarkable run of success these last few years. It’s a far cry from where this organization was about 10 years ago.
“Maybe the two words that are the most impactful are when they say, ‘Welcome back.’ And now that we’ve been here three times it never gets old, never enough, and we’d love to come back one more time during President Obama’s regime,” McDonough said. “What a classy guy; just so incredibly smooth and easy with people. It’s a great tribute to all of our players, all of our coaches, everyone in our organization. This is just so inspiring to be a part of this today.”
And as for that parking pass, it was owner Rocky Wirtz’s idea.
“I thought it would be fun, keep it lighter,” Wirtz said. “Who else can give the president a parking pass for the United Center?”