As we reported last week, an event hosted by President Obama honoring the 2010 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks is planned for 3 PM Eastern today at the White House. Naturally, current players, coaching staff and ownership will be attending the ceremony, which will be followed by a "street hockey workout and clinic" hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and a selection of hockey notables.
But, obviously, the team sitting right now in the fourth seed in the Western Conference (tied at 81 points with the Phoenix Coyotes and the Calgary Flames) is hardly the same squad that went all the way a little less than a year ago. So which former players might we see back in the fold for a brief afternoon of glory?
As far as I can tell, the only former 'Hawks confirmed to appear will be:
- Former goalie Cristobal Huet, who was famously replaced by Antti Niemi last season and eventually placed on waivers by the team on Sept. 25, 2010. He's now
kickin'blockin' it in Switzerland, still pulling down his $5.6 million Blackhawks salary.
- Defenseman Brent Sopel, who was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in June of last year and then traded again to the Montreal Canadiens in February of this year. The Canadiens have the night off, facing off against the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow.
That, of course, leaves a host of other former 'Hawks conspicuously absent. Beloved rapper/forward Kris Versteeg politely declined the team's invite, telling the Toronto Sun, "It’s pretty cool to get the chance to go the White House, but ... I haven’t been on that team for almost a year." He's a member of the Philadelphia Flyers now, folks. Deal with it.
And Antti Niemi? He said ... wait for it ... no to the Blackhawks' invitation, according to this Versus article. No reason is given and his current team, the San Jose Sharks, doesn't play tonight. Perhaps Niemi is still hurting from the failed salary negotiations that eventually led him to northern California.
There are others, of course -- Adam Burish, John Madden, Colin Fraser, Ben Eager. None are expected to attend. But let's close things down with a name you may have forgotten: Dale Tallon. Yes, the architect of that championship team may seem a viable attendee. But, apparently, Blackhawks ownership doesn't see it that way. Tallon, who's now the GM of the Florida Panthers, wasn't invited to the event. "That's fine with me," he told ESPN earlier this week. "I'm a Republican anyway."
Please note: As of this writing, the ceremony appears to still be happening despite the horrific and tragic events in Japan. Should we learn that it's been cancelled, we'll notify you here and via Twitter.