Like the Steelers before them, the Penguins are headed to the White House.
President Barack Obama will welcome the Penguins at 6 p.m. Thursday in honor of their Stanley Cup championship.
When the Steelers visited May 21, Obama not only celebrated the team's Super Bowl victory but also put the players to work assembling USO care packages for overseas troops. There is no indication whether the Penguins will be involved in anything similar.
The Penguins' White House visit comes on the same day the Steelers open the 2009 season at home against Tennessee and two days before the Penguins report for training camp as they seek to repeat the title they won by beating Detroit in seven games in the Stanley Cup final in June. The first on-ice sessions will be Sept. 13.
The 1990-91 Penguins -- led by captain Mario Lemieux, now the club's co-owner -- were the first NHL team to visit the White House, invited by President George H.W. Bush in June 1991. During that ceremony to honor the team's Cup victory, Lemieux handed Bush a jersey, and Bush asked, "And you are?"
In addition to players, general manager Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma are expected to attend the event.
Bylsma and Obama go way back -- or at least to June 17, when the president called Bylsma to congratulate him on the Stanley Cup win while the coach was in Las Vegas for the annual NHL awards show.
Before their White House visit, the Penguins will conduct a special clinic for Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., youth at 1:30 p.m. at the Fort Dupont Ice Arena, the only public indoor ice arena in the nation's capital and the only skating facility in that area that provides free or subsidized skating and hockey programs for children.
Shelly Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1721. First Published September 5, 2009 4:00 AM