Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks on Greeting the New York Islanders, the National Hockey League Champions

May 24, 1983

The President. Well, I think we know why we're gathered here, and that's to congratulate the Islanders from New York who won the Stanley Cup. [Pointing to a table next to the podium] And that's the Cup. And they have won it four times consecutively, four times in a row. The record, held by the Canadiens, a Montreal team, is five times in a row. And it would be awfully difficult for me to wish you the good luck of breaking the record when, in order to do that, you would have to beat the Washington Caps again. [Laughter] And there are two representatives of the Caps here with us.

But I do want to congratulate all of you on that and express my appreciation for your coming here to be congratulated. And would you please convey those congratulations, also, to your teammates, because I know they're not all here. But we're delighted to have you here as our guests. Sorry that we haven't got ice. [Laughter]

Team member. We've had enough. [Laughter]

Mr. Torrey. Mr. President, on behalf of the team, I'd like to give you this rug that was handmade by an Eskimo woman in Canada and given to the team.

The President. Made by an Eskimo woman in Canada?

Mr. Torrey. Yes.

The President. Handmade. Hey, I'm delighted.

Mr. Torrey. We'd like to have you show that prominently, particularly when your friend Sonny Werblin comes to visit you. [Laughter] We want to be sure he sees this. [Laughter]

The President. As a matter of fact, I'll just ask him to sit down with me on the rug— [laughter]—and we'll talk things over.

Mr. Torrey. Thank you very much.

The President. All right. Thank you very much.

Mr. Torrey. My pleasure.

The President. I'm pleased to have it.

Mr. Smith. [Presenting the President with an autographed hockey stick] Here's a little something from our teammates that I want to give you. And they say, if you have any trouble with Congress, feel free to use it on them. [Laughter]

The President. There are some here who are on the way to a vote, and I hope that they're going to vote right. [Laughter]

And I understand that you're the one who has the motto, being the goalie, that "The puck stops here." [Laughter]

Mr. Smith. Well, sometimes, not all the time.

The President. [Laughing] I accept this, but I'll remind you of something. Maybe you already know that years ago, when Notre Dame's football teams were really at the top of the list all the time under the great Knute Rockne, there was a Carnegie investigation as to the overemphasis on athletics. And at one of the hearings where Rockne was defending football, one of the professors on the commission asked him if it was necessary to have and make so important a game so violent as football. And Rockne asked him what he would suggest. And the professor said, "Well, what about hockey?" [Laughter] And Rockne said that he had once suggested that at Notre Dame, but the president of Notre Dame said that "Notre Dame would never adopt a game that put a club in the hands of an Irishman." [Laughter]

And you have done so— [laughter] —right now.

Well, I thank you all again. And congratulations. It's wonderful to have you here. Thank you very much.

And to those Congressmen.—

Reporter. Are you going to win the vote on MX?

The President. Hopeful.

Q. Are you going to come talk to us afterwards?

The President. Well, I don't know. We'll have to see what takes place. You know, I have to look at the schedule.

Q. If you win, you will; if you lose, you won't? [Laughter]

The President. I just want to know that all the Congressmen who are here are hurrying back, because I understand that the vote is due, very quickly now.

Q. Shoot the puck.

The President. What?

Q. You wouldn't turn down our invitation to come talk to us, would you, Mr. President?

The President. If I can choose the subjects, no. [Laughter]

Q. Shoot the puck.

The President. I'm the goalie. The puck stops here. [Laughter]

Q. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 4:39 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. Bill Torrey is the team's general manager, and Bill Smith is the goaltender for the Islanders.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks on Greeting the New York Islanders, the National Hockey League Champions Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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