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White House celebration closes book on last season

Updated: November 4, 2013 9:17PM



WASHINGTON — First, there was the parade. Then, there was the convention. Next, there was the start of training camp. After that, there was the banner-raising on opening night. Finally, there was the White House visit Monday.

So can we finally put a bow on the Blackhawks’ unforgettable 2013 season?

‘‘Yeah, I feel like we’ve said that five times,’’ captain Jonathan Toews joked. ‘‘We know that this is a big tradition, and it’s something we look forward to. . . . I guess you could say after today we turn the page. Officially.’’

Coach Joel Quenneville has tried to keep things forward-looking since camp opened for the 2013-14 season, but he enjoyed having one last day to reminisce.

‘‘This is like the one moment where you really can reflect back and say, ‘Wow, that was a heck of a year we had,’ and we got to share it with one another,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘We’ll walk that together forever with that group. But this is the one moment where you’re moving forward after this moment.’’

The other Q

Of all the Chicago politicians in town for the ceremony, perhaps none was as excited as Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., who still plays hockey regularly, despite recent leg surgery. Quigley, wearing a dapper suit and a weathered four-feather Hawks cap, spent some time with the Stanley Cup at the office of Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., after the ceremony.

Quigley waxed poetically about waiting 49 years for the Hawks to win the Stanley Cup in 2010, as well as the old days at the Chicago Stadium, where he said you ‘‘could feel’’ the game.

‘‘There’s nothing like hockey,’’ he said.

Wounded warriors

The Hawks visited Walter Reed Medical Center before the ceremony. It was the fourth time they had met with wounded soldiers since their 2011 White House ceremony.

‘‘It always kind of reminds you to keep your feet on the ground when people are asking you for your autograph and celebrating the championship you won,’’ Toews said. ‘‘Knowing that those people are really sacrificing for not only themselves and their families, but sacrificing their lives for their country, it puts everything in perspective.’’

Boon for Bettman

Commissioner Gary Bettman said having the Hawks among the NHL’s elite teams is good for the league, pointing to the outdoor game against the Pittsburgh Penguins set for March 1 at Soldier Field.

“There were some lean years, and it’s frankly astounding, remarkable and exciting to see how Chicago has once again turned into a hockey town,’’ Bettman said. ‘‘It’s a testament to Rocky Wirtz and John McDonough and all the players, coaching staff and the fans.’’

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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