President Biden on Monday welcomed the Tampa Bay Lightning to the White House to celebrate their 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cup championships.
Mr. Biden began his remarks lauding Tampa’s sports teams, which have had a remarkable run of success over the past few years. The Lightning won back-to-back NHL titles, the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2020 and the Rays were the American League champions the same year.
“What’s in the water down there?” Mr. Biden joked.
Lightning Captain Steven Stamkos and defenseman Victor Hedman presented Mr. Biden with a jersey featuring the number 46 and a silver hockey stick during the ceremony on the South Lawn.
Presidents traditionally welcome champion sports teams to the White House to celebrate their victories, however, the events have been curtailed in recent years.
COVID-19 restrictions prevented teams from being honored at the White House over the past two years. And few teams visited the White House during former President Trump’s four years in office with many athletes outspoken critics of the Republican president.
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Defenseman Ryan McDonagh said it was an honor to be celebrated at the White House.
“I never thought I’d be standing here in the White House next to you,” he told Mr. Biden. “So it’s been a surreal experience. It’s something I think all of us will remember for a long time.”
Last July, the Lightning beat the Montreal Canadians to claim back-to-back Stanley Cup titles. The team also won a Stanley Cup in 2004.
“We know exactly why the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win in sports,” said team owner Jeffrey Vinik. “Hopefully, we will be back here next season.”
Mr. Biden also joked about first lady Jill Biden attending a Lightning playoff game last season, calling her the team’s good-luck charm.
“Look, I’m not saying the first lady being there at the arena during the playoffs is why you won, but just saying that she was there during the election season as well,” Mr. Biden said. “She shows up, and people win, just something to think about.”
The NHL playoffs start on May 2, and the Lightning have already clinched a spot. They will likely play the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.