George W. Bush photo

Remarks Honoring the 2002 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings

November 08, 2002

Thank you all for coming. Gosh, we're honored you're here. Thanks for coming, and welcome to the White House.

I am honored to be greeting the mighty Detroit hockey team, winners of the Stanley Cup 3 out of the last 6 years, 10 times winners of the Stanley Cup and the team that made Detroit "Hockeytown."

It's an honor to be with the Ilitches. Mike and Marian are the—who do a really good job of setting the right tone for this club. I knew Mike when he was a Detroit Tiger owner. And this goes to prove it's easier to win in hockey than in baseball, I guess. [Laughter]

We're glad you all are here. Mr. Commissioner, thank you for coming. I appreciate you being here. It's an honor also to be on the stage with a great coach, a man whose name appears on the Stanley Cup 10 times—9 times as a coach. Obviously, he knows what he's doing. [Laughter] He gets all these ruffians skating in the same direction, is a pretty good—[laughter].

But I'm real proud of you, Scotty. I know the people of Detroit love you, and they're going to miss your leadership.

If I hadn't already asked—announced that yesterday the Vice President was going to be my running mate, I was going to— [laughter]—I was thinking about you, anyway. [Laughter]

I appreciate Dave Lewis, Scotty's replacement, being here, and I wish you all the best, Dave—for coming. It's an honor as well to be with the—obviously, one of the true leaders of any sport, the team captain of the—of the Detroit team, captain for 17 years, which is pretty remarkable that Steve could keep the respect of a group of highly skilled professionals for that long a period of time. And I am honored to be able to meet you, and I appreciate the character you've displayed as a real leader.

I'm also pleased to welcome some of Detroit's biggest fans here, including some of the elected officials who are the biggest fans, starting with our Secretary of Energy, Spence Abraham—Mr. Secretary. And we've got the Levin boys here from Michigan, Senator Carl and Congressman Sander. Thank you all for coming. Congressman Mike Rogers and, of course, Congressman Conyers is here as well. We're honored that you all have come, and I know the team is grateful that you've taken time to come and express your support.

Somebody said, "Well, the roster looks like the Hall of Fame ballot." It doesn't look like the Hall of Fame ballot to me; it looks like the United Nations. [Laughter]

We're proud to welcome the team members from all around the globe. It is a remarkable sport that is able to attract star athletes from a lot of different countries and bring them together to play on one team. I think that's a pretty good example for the world to see. I think it is a remarkable feat that you've got all these stars from different parts of the world all aiming in the same direction.

Darren McCarty put it this way. He said, "A lot of us were"—when I say the word "it," it's talking about the Stanley Cup— "A lot of us were fighting to get it back; some guys were fighting to do it for the first time. The bottom line is, we're all fighting to do it together." And I appreciate that spirit. I think it's a good example for a lot of people who live in America, doing something to serve something greater than yourself, in this case, the team. We appreciate that spirit. I don't think you'd have won without the team concept.

I also am appreciative of what you do with the Stanley Cup, the traditions of not only putting the players' names on the cup but taking the cup to different players' hometowns. I think that's a pretty neat idea. And so this cup has been all across the U.S.; of course, it's been all across Canada. [Laughter] It seems like you've got quite a few Canadians on the team there. [Laughter] But it's been to Sweden and Russia and the Czech Republic. I'm fixing to go to the Czech Republic. The cup goes, and then the President goes. [Laughter]

It rode on the back of a Harley with Darren McCarty, went to Wrigley Field with Kris, got a bagpipe reception at Kris Draper's Stanley Cup party, and here it is at the White House. The cup has seen a lot, because the players are people that were proud to show off their accomplishments.

But let me tell you what I'm most impressed with, about how the players and the owners have used this championship victory. It brightened a lot of people's lives. See, that's the most important thing about this championship, as far as I'm concerned.

One afternoon, Steve Yzerman brought the cup to children in three different hospitals across the State of Michigan. The Ilitch family used the cup to raise a lot of money for a local emergency room. The coach made a dream come true for a child with leukemia, who just simply wanted to touch the Stanley Cup.

See, it's one thing to be the champion on the ice; it's another thing to be a champion in living your lives. I think there's a huge responsibility that comes with being a champion. It's a huge responsibility when people put the spotlight on you. You have a responsibility to set the right example and to use your position to help not only serve something greater than yourself, the team, but to serve a society and help heal the hurt and help people who need a little special care.

So not only has this great team proven themselves to be champs on the ice, you've proven yourself to be champs off the ice. And for that, we are really grateful. Welcome to the White House.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:16 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Gary Bettman, commissioner, National Hockey League; Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch; and Red Wings retired coach Scotty Bowman, coach Dave Lewis, right wing Darren McCarty, and centers Kris Draper and Steve Yzerman. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of Mr. Bowman.

George W. Bush, Remarks Honoring the 2002 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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