CHICAGO — President Barack Obama praised the Chicago Blackhawks not just for their prowess on the ice but also their charity work during a Thursday visit to the White House.
Obama, who brought the Blackhawks to the White House for the third time in six years, cracked jokes and told his hometown team their gifts — a parking pass at the United Center, a painting, a Hawks jersey and a mini Stanley Cup replica — were the "best" he'd been given at the White House. He told the team he's played a part in their success, noting they'd been fighting through a decadeslong Stanley Cup drought before he took office.
"Now you've got the hat trick, so I think it's pretty clear the kind of luck I've brought to this team," Obama said jokingly. Later, he added: "I haven't given up on the Bulls, or the White Sox, or the Bears, or heck, I'd even take the Cubs!"
Obama also joked about holding on to the Stanley Cup so he could gloat when Canada's leaders visit and urged Chicago's coaches to grow mustaches, saying facial hair had been a key to success for the Blackhawks' Joel Quenneville, the Bears' Mike Ditka, the White Sox's Ozzie Guillen and the Bulls' Phil Jackson.
Today I shook hands with President Obama. That's pretty surreal! pic.twitter.com/Fucs1vvprw— Viktor Svedberg (@svedberg8) February 18, 2016
The president also noted that the Blackhawks raised more than $2 million for nonprofits last season, and he praised Chicago area native Scott Darling, a goalie, for trying to help a homeless man this season. Darling paid for the man to stay in a hotel for a month so the man could find work and get back on his feet.
"Thank you for the good work that you are doing as an organization on and off the ice," Obama said. "We are all excited for Chicago to host next year's NHL draft.
"Congratulations on your third title. It would be nice to have — just squeeze one more in there — before I leave."
Read Obama's and Coach Q's full remarks: