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Obama honours 2009 Stanley Cup champion Penguins at White House

WASHINGTON - United States President Barack Obama welcomed the 2009 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins to the White House on Thursday, and celebrated the hockey team for its performance on and off the ice.

The Penguins won the best-of-seven series in June, defeating the defending champion Detroit Red Wings. They then took the cup on a road trip to thank their fans, an act that earned the players the thanks of a grateful president.

"They took it on fishing trips and stopped by neighbourhood barbecues. They visited elementary schools and brightened the days of children recovering in the hospital," Obama said during a ceremony that was moved indoors to the East Room because of threatening skies.

"I think this Cup has even held a baby or two. So this is a team that understands that being a champion doesn't end when you step off the ice," Obama added.

Obama's administration is making an effort to encourage volunteerism and public service nationwide.

Before arriving at the White House, the team held a hockey clinic for local children that was part of the administration's United We Serve summer of service. Some of those kids were in the audience to see Obama hoist the large trophy, accept a team jersey and pose for pictures.

"That's what the Stanley Cup is all about. Not just having your names engraved alongside the best players in history, but also giving back to others along the way," the president said. "And this spirit of service helps to strengthen our communities, it strengthens our country, and I know the team gets a lot in return for it as well."

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