Shaved, shorn and suavely suited,
Obama quipped about forward
He also praised the sustained excellence of the Kings and their corporate cousins, the MLS champion Galaxy, who shared the stage Monday. "Now, as a Chicago fan, I'm a little resentful," said Obama, who was given team jerseys, a miniature Stanley Cup and a silver hockey stick engraved with his name and presidential number (44). "You guys have an embarrassment of riches."
Obama praised both teams and singled out the Kings' rally from a 0-3 series deficit against San Jose in the first playoff round. Players reacted with genuine smiles. "They're laughing," Obama said, "because they're thinking, 'Man, let's try to do it easier next time.' "
One point Obama didn't mention: to do it again they'll have to make the playoffs, and the Kings are still outside the top eight in the West.
Although their White House party and tour kept them off the ice Monday, the Kings might benefit from this visit. Seeing the Cup again — which captain
"This is the last of the congratulations and all that," Brown said. "Not that that's a distraction to us as a group. We've been through that before. But to get it all done, to have this behind us, allows us to focus on hockey and what we need to do. We're all well aware what we need to do."
Anze Kopitar agreed Monday's visit should turn the Kings' sights forward.
"This is probably the last thing you can possibly relate to last year," said the Slovenian center, who researched the history of the White House before he arrived. "I know Darryl has been saying a lot of that and we've got to look ahead now and we have to. We've got to put this behind us."
They haven't played badly lately. Their come-from-behind win over Obama's Blackhawks on Wednesday was among their best performances this season, and they were punishingly physical and solid defensively in losing at Boston on Saturday. But not one of their forwards is having a career year, and their offense has sputtered.
Their team bond was jolted last week when center
"We can't afford too many more mistakes," said Luc Robitaille, the Kings' president of business operations. "I think our guys know they've got to get on a run. They've got to get on a run now."
No time like the present, especially since they have no reason to look back anymore.
When the Bruins visited Southern California in early December, they were battered and had lost their identity. They dropped close games to the Ducks and Kings before being routed at San Jose, part of a 1-4-2 slump that left them chasing an East playoff spot. New Bruins Chief Executive Charles Jacobs made it clear he wasn't happy when he assumed that role early last month.
"For us to be a team that's out of the playoffs is absolutely unacceptable," he told reporters. "Everybody in the executive offices is fully aware of how I feel. … It's been an utter disappointment and a failure. A complete failure."
The Bruins' health improved when forward