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Blues use improv skills in White House visit

"Schwartzy's good on his feet. He got put in a tough spot there. He found a way to make it funny," Robert Thomas said of his teammate.

ST. LOUIS — Players have spoken about it for well over a month now, since the start of training camp to be exact, but now — once and for all — they can turn that final page on last season's magical run.

After spending the past 10 days, including playing four games, on the road and attending a ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and presenting the Hall with a Stanley Cup championship ring, the Blues closed the book officially on last season's Stanley Cup title with a visit to the White House and a greet-and-meet with president Donald Trump.

When the Blues arrived home, it was time to finally close the book on the 2018-19 season and move on to 2019-20.

"It is nice," Blues winger David Perron said. "We're extremely proud in here that we were the first championship team. Everyone pulled on the rope so hard for so many years in this organization but even more so guys last year. It was a long process for this city, but it was cool to win it. It takes a little bit of time to turn the page on that, but now, all the stuff is over and in a way, it's a good thing and we can focus on start winning some more.

"I've turned the page a while ago for me, but definitely it's the last step of it. It's nice that it's over just for that part. No one can talk about that stuff anymore and we can just be viewed as the St. Louis Blues playing this year and we're going to try and do it again and build the same process as we did last year."

The Blues (3-1-2) hit the practice ice again on Wednesday in preparation for the Vancouver Canucks and the start of a four-game homestand after a 2-1-1 road trip.

"We knew going into this road trip that there was a lot of stuff going on," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "We were well aware of it and I thought our guys did a pretty good with the trip, handling everything and playing. We got some points, which was good. We would have liked to get that Islander win, but overall I thought getting five out of eight points was pretty good.

"We kept it short today. I think energy's a big thing tomorrow. Long travel and getting back, that first game can be ... you've got to make sure you've got energy for it. That'll be key with the opponent tomorrow."

There were good memories and ones that will last a lifetime for those that got to see The Oval Office and took the tour of the White House for the very first time.

"That was awesome. It's pretty cool," said Blues forward Robert Thomas. "Obviously I'm not American, so for me just to kind of experience that whole thing and be inside, see The Oval Office and meet the president was a pretty cool day for me.

"When you're standing behind [Trump] listening to his press conference, it wasn't just about hockey, it was stuff that we watch on the news every day. Just standing there listening to it firsthand was definitely a different feeling. When he walked in the room, you can just feel his power and presence."

What caught players and even Berube by surprise was Trump summoning them up to say a few words, including Jaden Schwartz, who challenged Trump to a game of golf.

"You know what, that was awesome," Thomas chuckled. "Schwartzy's good on his feet. He got put in a tough spot there. He found a way to make it funny. That was pretty cool."

Berube added: "No, that was a surprise, caught me off-guard a little bit. I probably would have rather known, but it was fine.

"Yeah, it did (catch the players by surprise) for sure. I think it caught everybody off-guard, but it was awesome. I thought that was great of him to bring some guys up there and say a few things. I thought it was a real good day for everybody.

"It was a fun day. He was really good with us. Just to be able to go there, it was great for all the guys to go there and spend the day. Good stuff."

Ryan O'Reilly spoke, as did captain Alex Pietrangelo, who president Trump had trouble pronouncing his name, but then again, that's pretty common around the league.

Perron said he was certainly caught by surprise.

"Did it ever. Guys did a good job to go up there, have fun with it," Perron said. "Obviously being the president of the United States, it's really impressive. I'm sure the guys were nervous to go up there. You have a lot of people watching, but the guys did a good job. He did a good job I think too to keep it light and include the guys."

But when the plane touched down in St. Louis last evening, players were glad to be back home.

"It's crazy," Blues forward Ivan Barbashev said. "I was happy just to be home yesterday. A good time just to enjoy it with my family and dogs. It was great. It was a long road trip. Really tired.

"I don't think we were thinking about it, the celebrations or whatever, the things we had to do. But now, I guess it's all over and we've got to get back at it."

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