WASHINGTON – He smiled as he raised the Galaxy soccer jersey with his name and the No. 1 on the back. But if it was a gift-giving war between two Los Angeles teams,the Kings took the crown as they bestowed President Barack Obama with a shiny,silver hockey stick.
“This is even better than the veto pen,” Obama said with a laugh.
The president treated the squads to a White House visit Monday in honor of their 2014 championship seasons. The Galaxy of the MLS and the NHL’s Kings stood side-by-side – every one of them in a black suit – on risers in the East Room as the president dished out a combination of jokes and congratulatory remarks.
Never afraid to show his love for Chicago sports,Obama chided the Kings for knocking out his Chicago Blackhawks in last season’s Western Conference finals.
“First of all,in L.A.,there’s not even any ice,really,” Obama said. “So you’d think,like,Chicago,where it’s probably 10 degrees below zero today,at least we’d get some hockey. … The Kings have done the unthinkable – they have turned a city with no snow and no ice and no winter into a hockey town.”
The Galaxy’s Robbie Rogers also received a presidential shout-out for his courage to represent the LGBT community. Rogers was the first openly gay male athlete to compete in one of the country’s major five professional leagues when he came out in 2013.
“I’m proud of who I am and proud of where I’ve come from,” the midfielder said of the moment. “It was a special one for me.” He spoke in an interview after the ceremony
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena,who led the men’s national team from 1998 to 2006,first visited the White House in 1994 after leading the University of Virginia to a national championship – he wasn’t the only repeat on the presidential riser.
Several members of both teams had been a part of similar ceremonies. The Galaxy has finished atop the MLS three of the last four years,while the Kings booked their first meeting with the president after winning the 2012 Stanley Cup.
“The first time was more exciting,” Dustin Brown,captain of the Kings,admitted afterward. “This time it was more sit back and take it all in.”
The Galaxy’s Robbie Keane has also made multiple visits to the White House but disagreed with Brown’s assessment.
“You never get bored when you come here because it means you won a championship,” the Irishman said. “You don’t get bored of winning.”
Reach reporter Joe Mussatto at [email protected] or 202-408-1493. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.