Blues and President Trump keep it light during White House visit

WASHINGTON —The Stanley Cup was there. So was Laila. And basically the entire team. And yes, they played that certain song.

It was just another Cup-related event for the St. Louis Blues, except this one was in the White House Rose Garden with President Donald J. Trump presiding.

The president made a few political remarks early on, used the words “Fake News” on one occasion, and even pointed to the assembled media ringing the area, saying they looked friendly but they weren’t. But for the most part, he kept it light. And the Blues were more than able to play along.

Trump talked about Jaden Schwartz’s clutch performance in the playoffs (12 goals), mistakenly referring to him as “Jason” a couple of times. Schwartz came up to the podium and didn’t miss a beat, thanking his linemates first but then shaking Trump’s hand and inviting him to play golf.

Trump talked about goalie Jordan Binnington stopping 32 of 33 shots in Game 7 against Boston, and asked him why he let that one shot go in.

“It’s my bad,” Binnington said of the goal allowed in the 4-1 win.

Trump asked Ryan O’Reilly if he was Irish. O’Reilly replied in the affirmative.

He asked coach Craig Berube if the pressure was off now that the Blues had won the Stanley Cup.

“I don’t know about that,” Berube replied.

“It was a very lighthearted, fun kind of celebration,” Blues chairman Tom Stillman said. “You don’t expect it to be lots of laughs and comfortable —jokes. It was a lot of fun.”

With a Marine Corps band playing —what else? —”Gloria” the Blues marched out to the Rose Garden at about 3:20 p.m. Eastern time, with Colton Parayko first in line and general manager Doug Armstrong bringing up the rear. All of the players were on hand except for new defenseman Justin Faulk, who was acquired in a trade with Carolina just before the start of the regular season, and has not attended any of the team’s Cup-related events.

“I think this team acts as a team in everything they do,” said Stillman, who presented Trump with a “Trump” 45 Blues jersey. “They stick together and I think by and large, I like to keep politics and sports separate.

“This is a matter of a traditional honor by the presidency, and it’s something you do. And I’m really proud of our group for all coming together —and had a good time with it as well.”

The afternoon included a tour of the White House, including the East, Blue, Green and State rooms and Library. The team also spent some time in the Oval Office with the President, but there was no meal. By 4 p.m. Eastern or about 45 minutes after the start of the ceremony, the Blues were back on the team bus, headed to the airport for the flight back to St. Louis.

Thus ended their longest road trip of the season, 10 days, four games, and a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame and then the White House visit. The team returns to action Thursday at Enterprise Center against Vancouver.

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