TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10 | CNN) – President Joe Biden honored Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday for their Stanley Cup victories in 2020 and 2021, marking the first time a championship-winning National Hockey League team is celebrating in the White House since its inception. Covid-19 pandemic.
The Florida-based team defeated the Dallas Stars in the 2020 Finals in six games, a period in which the NHL and other professional leagues conducted their games in a “bubble” away from fans. They followed up on that championship by beating the Montreal Canadiens in five games in the 2021 finals.
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Biden called the hockey team “one of the most well-rounded teams in recent times.”
“This team joined the Rare Company – one of only eight teams in the last century to win two Stanley Cups in a row,” the president noted during the celebration ceremony at the White House South Lawn. “And I know the two championships are very different.”
Regarding the differences between the 2020 and 2021 championships, Biden said: “In 2020, your fans saw a victory thousands of miles away while competing in the bubble in Edmonton due to the pandemic. But last season you had to deliver something very special – to host the Cup on your home ice in front of Tampa faithful.
The president also credited the team for its community service, including a program that provided “more than $ 25 million in charity.”
“And last year, your hometown also became a lifeline for families in Tampa,” the president added, noting that First Lady Jill Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, came down during the Stanley Cup semifinals “to encourage hockey fans to get vaccinated in your arena.” Biden said the program “helps save lives” and “helps the country and our economy.”
Jeff Vinik, owner of Tampa Bay Lightning, said during the ceremony that the team’s 2020 Stanley Cup Championship was a defined by the extraordinary time of sacrifice on and off the ice, where many of these gentlemen behind me spent 65 days isolated in a bubble away from their family and friends to win the ultimate prize. ” He added that this past season, “after starting … without fans, we ended it with our second Stanley Cup championship in a row in front of a roaring Amalie Arena.”
Ryan McDonagh, a defender for Lightning, told the outdoor crowd that it has been a “historic race” for his team.
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“It was the first time we got the Stanley Cup hoist, an incredible feeling that no one can take from us,” McDonagh said of the victory in 2020. “The second championship also had its challenges. We still had to comply with some restrictions as we traveled from city to city… and also started the year without fans in the buildings. But in the end, we were at Amalie Arena with a chance to win the Stanley Cup, not only in front of family and friends, but in front of a packed arena filled with Bolts Nation fans – an incredible memory. ”
“Under the circumstances (over) the last few years, this was not able to happen. So to be able to get here in the current state that we are in and really get to enjoy the experience – “We also got a chance to go to the oval office with the president. He was so generous with his time with our group. So I know we really appreciate that,” team captain Steven Stamkos told reporters.
Last year, ahead of the Stanley Cup finals, the president made a bet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – a dedicated Canadiens fan.
“Two of the best teams in the NHL are facing right now … how about a friendly effort, @POTUS? #GoHabsGo #StanleyCup,” Trudeau tweeted.
@POTUS replied: “You’re on buddy. #GoBolts.”
After Tampa won, Trudeau tweeted that “a bet is a bet” and that he sent “a pack of Montreal smoked meat sandwiches” to Biden.
The last time a Stanley Cup-winning team visited the White House was in 2019, when then-President Donald Trump honored St. Louis Blues at a rose garden ceremony.
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