During their Monday off, the Tampa Bay Lightning were honoured at the White House by U.S. President Joe Biden, a custom that has been extended annually to champions across various major North American professional sports leagues. In many ways, it was a nondescript event for the President, save for one hilarious slip-up.
Biden accidentally referred to commissioner Gary Bettman as "Gary Batman" and continued on without even thinking about correcting himself.
Joe Biden calls NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman “Gary Batman” and one of the players on the Lightning standing behind him starts cracking up.
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) April 25, 2022
We’re all Victor Hedman here, having a laugh at Biden’s expense — evidently, he is not the avid sports fan that past U.S. presidents were. Despite Biden’s error, a good time was seemingly had by all.
“Pretty much everybody was on board, and everybody that could make it — former players and stuff — they all tried to make it here," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "It's just a great tradition that we have: You become part of a championship team, you get to go to the White House and meet the president."
McDonagh, who has played for the United States in several international competitions, spoke on behalf of the Lightning. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lightning were unable to take part in the White House ceremonies as quickly as they’d hoped, a point that wasn’t lost on captain Steven Stamkos.
"It was a long time in the making," Stamkos said. "We weren't sure if we were going to get this opportunity, but it was certainly worth the wait."
For the Lightning, Monday’s visit was a chance to reassess their bid for a third consecutive Stanley Cup win, putting the back-to-back victories in the rear-view mirror.
"The good thing with our group is the hunger's still there," McDonagh said. "We don't need any kind of extra motivation, but certainly this does heighten the excitement, for sure, going into the last week of the regular season and before the start of the playoffs."
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