WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden joked that he ignored Nevada’s declining poll numbers and thanked the NHL. Vegas Golden Knights for their role in helping the city recover from the 2017 mass shooting when he honored them Monday at a White House ceremony for winning the Stanley Cup.
Taking a brief respite from world events, Biden marveled at a hockey team playing in the desert celebrating a championship and shined the spotlight not only on the Golden Knights’ accomplishments on the ice, but also on the work of the organization in the community, especially subsequently. from October 1, 2017, filming on the Las Vegas Strip.
“Introducing yourself to the families of the victims, to the survivors, to the first responders, in fact, your championship ring honors them,” Biden said. “The diamonds on your rings form a star: the same star on the banner you raised that honored 58 people who died that day. You are something else.”
The players said politics never came up during their private meeting with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, adding that most of the conversation was about how they won the franchise’s first title . This visit was the first by an NHL team since Tampa Bay Lightning in April 2022, when they celebrated their consecutive titles won during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
The 2022 champion Colorado Avalanche were unable to visit last season due to scheduling conflicts.
“We hope we can do it again,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “But you never know. Maybe once in your life.”
A few players have already done it: the American defender Alex Martinezwho won the Cup with Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014, was honored by Barack Obama and by the Canadian Alex Pietrangelowho commanded the St. Louis Blues to a title in 2019 and participated in a ceremony with Donald Trump.
Vegas has those players and a large majority of its roster returning from last season and with 12 wins in 15 games, it’s one of the best starts for a defending champion in league history. Cassidy thinks the continuity makes this season feel a bit like an extension of that success, and that more wins add a brighter sheen to the festivities.
‘It makes days like today more enjoyable,’ top playoff scorer Jack Eichel said. “Our season has had a good start. We obviously want to continue that momentum, but yes, it’s a celebration of what we accomplished last year and then we get back to work.”
The Golden Knights actually practiced Monday, a rarity for teams after a visit to the White House. But the schedule set this way given the cross-country trip preceding the start of a five-game road trip that opens with a game against the Washington Capitals Tuesday evening.
It’s also a return to work for Biden, who is campaigning for re-election next year and has joked that Nevada has “some polling data that I don’t pay much attention to.” He is also dealing with the war between Israel and Hamas and is expected to travel to San Francisco for a meeting later this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“Obviously he has a lot more important things to do,” Martinez said. “So to take some time out of their day to allow us to have this experience is pretty special.”
Team captain Marc Pierre, who is Canadian, gave a speech after Biden’s speech, calling Las Vegas the entertainment capital of the world and comparing it to the president’s home state of Delaware. He was emotional at times and shook off the nervousness that overwhelmed someone used to playing hockey in front of a sold-out crowd of 20,000.
“It was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been,” Stone said. “Talking to Vegas (at the parade), I think I’d had a few drinks, so it was a little easier to do that one. But with the president standing a few feet away, it was really quite distressing.”
Biden noted that this was the second visit by a Las Vegas team this fall, after Harris honored the WNBA champion Aces. They’ll be back after winning another title, the NFL’s Raiders have won two games in a row, the region is hosting a Formula 1 race this weekend and a Major League Baseball team is on the way awaiting the approval of the Oakland Athletics’ move to Las Vegas.
“You prove that Vegas sports is one of the best shows in town,” Biden said.