U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the Pittsburgh Penguins to the White House on Thursday and celebrated the Stanley Cup champions for their performance on and off the ice.
The Penguins, led by captain Sidney Crosby of Cole Harbour, N.S., unseated the defending champion Detroit Red Wings in a thrilling seven-game final to hoist the Stanley Cup for the third time in franchise history.
Crosby, Conn Smythe Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin, rookie head coach Dan Bylsma, majority owner Mario Lemieux and the rest of the Penguins players and coaching staff were given the presidential treatment with a tour of the White House, a private meeting and a photo opportunity with Obama.
The president thanked the players for letting the fans enjoy the trophy during an extended road trip.
"They took it on fishing trips and stopped by neighbourhood barbecues," Obama said. "They visited elementary schools and brightened the days of children recovering in the hospital.
"I think this Cup has even held a baby or two. So this is a team that understands that being a champion doesn't end when you step off the ice."
Before arriving at the White House, the Penguins held a hockey clinic for local children at the Fort Dupont Ice Arena.
Several of those children were in the audience to see Obama hoist the Stanley Cup, accept a Pittsburgh Penguins sweater with his name emblazoned on the back and pose for pictures.With files from The Associated Press