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Obama Calls Ovechkin "Outstanding"

Barack Obama made it through this year's Washington Capitals playoff run without setting foot in Verizon Center, at least when the sheet of ice was down. I don't think we'll be able to say the same thing next spring.

Speaking to students at Moscow's New Economic School this morning, Obama included Alex Ovechkin on his list of great Russians. (See below.)

"As a resident of Washington, D.C., I continue to benefit from the contributions of Russians -- specifically, from Alexander Ovechkin," the President said. "We are very pleased to have him in Washington, D.C."

Of course, Caps fans immediately linked the above three paragraphs together, and threw in a dash of skepticism. Using Ovie to score political points? For shame. "Someone should've asked how many Caps games POTUS has attended," one pointed out.

Luckily, someone did. Here's the transcript of the follow-up question from NBC News chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd--who has previously called out Obama for never attending a hockey game--in a later interview:

Todd: You mentioned Ovechkin in there, our friend in Washington. Do you think should you have been transparent and said you've never been to a hockey game? Are you going to fix this?

Obama: The truth of the matter is is that i have watched this guy play, and he's outstanding. But you know, Chuck, I grew up in Hawaii....

Todd: Don't tell those Blackhawk fans that. You became a Bulls fan!

Obama: We have basketball [in Hawaii]. We didn't have hockey. I love watching hockey.

Ok, so he didn't really answer the "are you going to fix this?" question, but the road map for an agreement has clearly been drawn. Consensus draws nigh. There's no chance another season goes by without Presidential attendance.

Remember, Ted Leonsis has already personally invited the Prez.

He was introduced to me and my wife. We shook hands and all I could say was, "Mr. President - we would love to host you at a playoff game this week. The Caps play on Wednesday and Saturday at Verizon Center."

He laughed, touched me on the arm and said, "I have heard great things about your team and I bet it will be a lot of fun. We will get back to you."

"Back to you" means the Presidential entourage will be visiting the owner's box before the next regular season ends, and will possibly eat one of those six-pound squares of Verizon Center Papa John's pizza. I feel very confident about this. Now we just need to line up the Official Caps Presidential Heckler to mimic Miles Rawls. Goat? Horn Guy?

(Video via HHR)

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 7, 2009; 8:01 AM ET
Categories:  Caps , Media  
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Thanks for your efforts on this Dan and Chuck, but I have to say "deja moo" to this one. (Deja Moo = I've seen this bull before.)

Recall that when he first came to the White House, he asked about the Redskins, the Nats, and the Wizards, and missed the only two winning teams that DC has got: the Caps and DC United.

He's trying to parlay Ovechkin into personal standing with the Russian people, and doesn't know or care a fig about hockey. He might show up to one just to be polite, but I'll eat my shorts if he has a clue what's going on.

Sorry, Dan, I'm not buying this one.

Posted by: kittypawz | July 7, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

@ kittypawz:

Couldn't have said it better myself!

Posted by: ShariLeigh131 | July 7, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse


We don't need POTUS at Verizon. Magnetometers at every entrance no thanks. I still remember vividly the Nats Opening Night in 2005 and I never made it in for the first pitch because of the long long lines to get into RFK due to the POTUS in attendance and the requisite magnetometers.

Let Obama continue to watch on TV if he wants.

Posted by: kthhken | July 7, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

I have always been shocked that all DC stadiums don't have a pre-set secure box for major VIPs. One with bullet proof glass and a escape hatch to a batmobeal type car.

Posted by: alex35332 | July 7, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

"and a escape hatch to a batmobeal type car."

Is that what Harrison Ford drives?

Posted by: WorstSeat | July 7, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

No Harrison Ford, had a plane with a space shuttle underneath

Posted by: alex35332 | July 7, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse


After a couple years of campaigning, maybe now that he's lived in the White House for six months Obama genuinely has become a fan of Ovechkin (like many others in the city who didn't know who Ovie was two years ago.)

The more fans for the Caps and hockey the better.

I agree, though, that the magnetometer thing is not something to look forward to.

Posted by: TheFingerman | July 7, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Noticed the pause between first and last name, perhaps thinking "who wrote this insipid crap?" Transparently political.


Posted by: joemktg1 | July 7, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

"I have always been shocked that all DC stadiums don't have a pre-set secure box for major VIPs. One with bullet proof glass and a escape hatch to a batmobeal type car."

I believe RFK does, if you're on the DC United Loud side (or the outfield of the old baseball setup) it would be the first box to the right of the large baseball press area behind where home plate was.

Posted by: Shiipon | July 7, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

My bet is that Obama has never seen a hockey game in his life, even on TV. And I hope he sticks to the Wiz. The Caps and their fans don't need him.

Posted by: poguesmahone | July 7, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Boy...He makes one little comment and everyone goes nuts...It's all good PR.

Posted by: SA-Town | July 7, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Jeez, I wonder how long it will take Obama to attend a game at Nats Park?

Posted by: VPaterno | July 7, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I am a supporter of the president but think this is one of the dumber PR flubs he's made. It is clear from his cadence and lack of interest in hockey in the past that these comments are designed for cheap political gain in Moscow. He could have mentioned Ovechkin in the context of #8 sparking his interest in hockey or that Ovie is a great ambassador for both his country and the sport. Instead he trips over himself during follow-up questioning. I wish the president would admit he knows little about the sport but looks forward to attending a game next season - would solve the problem and make him look less like a poser.

Posted by: coffeeclutcher | July 7, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

In no other pro-sport would the first reaction be "you're not really a fan, go away!". It's not a club folks; anyone who watches ESPN is exposed to Ovie on a regular basis. Let's drop the litmus tests.

Posted by: jpbryant | July 7, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, I wonder how long it will take Obama to attend a game at Nats Park?

Posted by: VPaterno | July 7, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

When do the white sox come to town?

Posted by: alex35332 | July 7, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

No need for heckling (at least as far as hockey is concerned) unless he comes to see a Blackhawks game.

Posted by: Goat_74 | July 7, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"Now we just need to line up the Official Caps Presidential Heckler to mimic Miles Rawls."

By Dan Steinberg | July 7, 2009; 8:01 AM ET

I can be that guy. In fact, I can think of no person more qualified for this position--other than The Heckler himself (but he's retired). So if you keep us updated as to what game that will be, when the time comes, Barno will proudly take up the role as Official Caps Presidential Heckler.

Posted by: Barno1 | July 7, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

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