Obama honors ‘Hawks at White House: ‘A great example of what Chicago is all about’


On Monday, President Obama honored the Chicago Blackhawks for their 2013 Stanley Cup championship over Boston with a formal ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

“Now, since I took office, we’ve hosted a lot of championship teams — from Boston and New York; Pittsburgh and Miami,” Obama said. “But since I’ve been President, only one team has brought a world championship to my hometown of Chicago. And now the Blackhawks have done it twice. Twice!”

Obama also praised the ‘Hawks for their resilience, toughness and off-ice work, mentioning that the team visited wounded warriors at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center prior to visiting the White House.

“This team is a great example of what Chicago is all about,” Obama said. “These are not just good hockey players, they’re good guys.”

Attended by Chicago owner Rocky Wirtz, Congressman Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the ceremony included ‘Hawks captain Jonathan Toews presenting an “OBAMA 13” jersey — the ‘Hawks had to come up with a new idea for the ceremonial sweater this year, after giving Obama a No. 44 jersey following the 2010 Cup win (honoring him as the 44th President of the United States.)

The ceremony also featured several lighthearted moments.

Perhaps the best came at the expense of goalie Corey Crawford in response to his, ahem, “spirited” speech at Grant Park during the Stanley Cup parade:

“Two million Chicago fans came out to Grant Park to celebrate bringing home the Cup,” Obama said. “Speaking of Grant Park, we were originally going to let Corey Crawford say a few words today,  but we thought we’d keep this family event family-friendly.

“You guys have been hanging out with Rahm Emanuel too much.”

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.

Canucks say Markstrom (hamstring) out another week — could it be longer?

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Bit of uncertainty out of Vancouver regarding the health of backup goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Markstrom, a late drop from the Canucks’ 5-1 opening-night win over Calgary, has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for another week, the club announced on Thursday.

With Markstrom out, backup duties will stay with AHL call-up Richard Bachman, who served as Ryan Miller‘s No. 2 on Wednesday.

Now, the focus turns to how long Bachman keeps those duties.

Per a Sportsnet report, Markstrom could miss up to three weeks of action with his injury. If that’s the case, Bachman will almost certainly be called into action; the Canucks will play eight games in 17 nights starting with Saturday’s home-opener against the Flames, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Oct. 12 and 13.

It would be asking a lot of the No. 1, 35-year-old Ryan Miller, to shoulder that entire load.

Bachman does have some NHL experience, with nearly 50 games to his credit. That includes a 3-2-0 record with the Oilers last year, in which he posted a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage.