On Wednesday night, U.S. President Barack Obama surprised viewers of TheTonight Show with Jay Leno by weighing in on the NHL lockout.
While his comments were general in nature, Obama did tell the NHL and its players to figure out a way to “get this done.” It brought to mind other humorous, awkward or even head-scratching moments when the hockey world crossed paths with the political arena.
Here’s a look back:
After capturing the 2009 Stanley Cup, the Pittsburgh Penguins travelled to Washington where they were honoured at the White House by Obama, who congratulated Sidney Crosby for becoming the youngest captain to win hockey’s biggest prize. When Crosby presented Obama with a Penguins jersey, the commander-in-chief took a playful dig at Sid the Kid. “Sidney must be really fast, because there’s some big hockey players and he’s not one of them."
As a Texas resident, former president George H.W. Bush grew up on football and baseball. That’s why it wasn’t a surprise he knew little about hockey when the Pittsburgh Penguins became the first NHL team to visit the White House following their 1991 Stanley Cup title. Still, his brief meeting with Penguins superstar Mario Lemieux wasn’t one of Bush’s finest moments. Presented with a sweater by Lemieux, who had put on one of the most dominating performances in Stanley Cup history that year, Bush turned to Super Mario and asked, “And you are?”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, known for his adventurous appetite for athletic endeavours, laced up his skates in May with other amateurs playing against a team made up of Russian hockey greats. Putin notched a goal and an assist before netting the winner in a shootout. Russia’s leader displayed a nice backhand, but the goaltender for the hockey legends didn’t exactly make the swiftest of moves to stop Putin.
At first glance, pronouncing Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman’s name is not the easiest task for folks who don’t follow hockey. This proved to be true for former U.S. president Bill Clinton. While addressing the crowd in honouring the 1998 Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings, Clinton singled out Yzerman during his congratulatory speech. With no one on Clinton’s staff having prepped their boss, the charismatic Arkansas native announced the Red Wings captain as Steve “Ah-Zerr-Min.”
In early January, it was reported that Prime Minister Stephen Harper would take to the ice on a Canadian team pitted against a Russian squad featuring President Vladimir Putin in two exhibition games leading up to the 40th anniversary of the Canada-U.S.S.R. Summit Series. The report turned out to be false, but it’s fun to speculate what would happen between these two world leaders. Putin just took up hockey about a year ago, but has tried his hand at judo, and as we’ve seen from his shootout prowess, is pretty handy with his stick. Harper, a passionate hockey fan, played only three years in his youth and prefers a pen to a stick where the game is concerned. Advantage, Putin.