Obama honors Penguins at White House

President Barack Obama poses with the 2016 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. Front row, from second from left are, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, the president, coach Mike Sullivan, and part owner Ronald Burkle. (AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama honored the Pittsburgh Penguins at the White House on Thursday for completing what he described as one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the history of the National Hockey League as they won their fourth Stanley Cup.

Obama noted that he has now been able to celebrate with eight Stanley Cup winners during his presidency with all of the teams based in the United States. He smiled when noting he recently reminded Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of that achievement.

“This is a nice bookend for my presidency,” Obama said.

The Penguins, led by Sidney Crosby, overcame a tough start to the season with Obama noting that they were closer to last place than first in late December. He credits their persistence and teamwork as critical factors in completing the turnaround.

“What I like best about this team’s victory is that no one thought they could pull it off,” Obama said. “I obviously sympathize with that. They said the same thing about me.”

Obama said a lot has changed since the Penguins first visited him in the White House in 2009. Back then, the color of his hair was more like a hockey puck. Now, it more closely resembled the color of the ice, he said, and Sid “the kid” was still a kid.

Crosby said his second White House visit was even better than the first because he has a greater appreciation of how difficult it is to win the Stanley Cup.

“It doesn’t get old,” Crosby said.