Bruins close out Cup party with White House visit

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Bruins close out Cup party with White House visit

WASHINGTON, D.C. Aside from Tim Thomas decision to use the afternoon as a political bully pulpit, the Bruins had a presidentially good time during a Monday afternoon visit to the White House as reigning Stanley Cup champs. The players, coaches, management, ownership and training staff aside from Thomas as the lone absentee from this years team and Michael Ryder due to commitments with the Dallas Stars took in a 45-minute private tour of the presidential home on Pennsylvania Ave. before standing on the stage as the guests of presidential honor in the East Wing.

There have been so many good memories from winning the Cup, but a chance to come to the White House is definitely up there, said Patrice Bergeron. I never thought Id be able to do that. Now Im here. Were all here and we all met the President together just like we all won the Cup together. It was special being able to do that today.

President Barack Obama spoke for a few minutes and covered all the bases with a speech tailored around the Black and Gold just one day before his State of the Union Address: he cracked a joke about the Bs drinking exploits after racking up the gigantic bill tab from Foxwoods last summer, dropped a Brad Marchand nickname into the proceedings with the under-utilized Little Ball of Hate and made reference to the thorough domination of the Boston sports scene.

Last year, this team endured a long season, and an even longer playoff. They are the first team in NHLhistory to win three full seven-game series," said Obama amid a throng of photographers, reporters and onlookers including Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in the East Wing audience. "They had some pretty long playoff beards to show for it. I appreciate them looking a little more clean-cut as they come here today.

"Brad Marchand went into the season on the fourth line, but the Little Ball of Hate shrugged off the rookie jitters -- what's up with that nickname, man?" Obama asked before turning to a red-faced Marchand being nudged on by Zdeno Chara, "and scored five goals in the last five games of the final series.

A couple of other greatest hits from the Obama speech that included references to Marchand, Nathan Horton, Thomas, Mark Recchi and Zdeno Chara:

Nathan Horton went down hard in Game 3 of the Finals but that didnt stop him from doing everything he could to help them win. He even brought some Boston water all the way to Vancouver and poured it on the ice before the decisive Game 7 . . . so Beantown delivered.

There is no better image of the Bruins dominance than the tallest player in NHL history. Ill let you guess which one that is. Zdeno Chara hoisted the Cup high above the ice in Vancouver and Im sure thats the highest that the Stanley Cup has ever been. This Stanley Cup was won as much by defense as it was by offense and Tim Thomas posted two shutouts in the Stanley Cup Finals. He set an all-time record for saves in the postseason and he also had the honor of being only the second American to ever be recognized as the Stanley Cup playoffs MVP.

They overcame injuries and they overcame long odds. The wise old man of the team Mark Recchi summed up the season by saying, We played together, we drank together." Obama couldnt resist asking Well, how much did you drink? before going back to the Rex quote "we lost together and we never wavered.

Obama also gave some love for the Boston Bruins Foundation that raised over 7 million in its charitable endeavors over the years since its inception, and got some well-rounded applause.

It was nearly a perfect turn for the Bruins on an off-day in the nations capital between a Sunday shootout win over the Flyers and a Tuesday night tilt against the Washington Capitals finishing out the pre-All-Star break portion of the schedule. Marchand was genuinely flattered at the attention he received from the Commander in Chief, and many of the Bruins from the Slovakian captain to the Quebecois heart and soul leader of the team appreciated how unique the White House experience turned out to be.

That doesnt happen everyday . . . to have the President single you out. Its a cool thing to have happened, said Marchand. I definitely didnt expect it, but it was very enjoyable and something Ill always remember. They all saw Obama looking around for me and Zee was pretty quick to give me a shove toward him.

It was a little embarrassing at the time, but it was cool. The boys have been all over me because I got a little red-faced especially being there in the front row. Its all in good fun.

Aside from Marchand again providing some comic relief to the formal setting, the January stop at the White House with the Cup in tow also finally, officially closes the book on last years accomplishments. Several times the Bruins have said this is the last time theyll be in the same room with the Cup unless they win it again.

But this is truly the case after visiting with Obama.

Really.

Theyre sure of it.

This actually is the conclusion of our Stanley Cup celebration. While this is great, its also the end, said Chiarelli. We all see the history in this place. I really liked the President. He seems very down to earth. He talked to a bunch of us in the receiving line and he seems like a guy that genuinely loves sports. He just seems like a good guy.

With another once-in-a-lifetime experience now behind them after spending the day relaxing with Obama in the presidents house, the Bruins will move on to the business of being humble hockey players again on Tuesday.

Hightower, Branch will begin training camp on PUP list

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Hightower, Branch will begin training camp on PUP list

The Patriots will be without two of last year's defensive starters when training camp begins later this week. 

Both Dont'a Hightower and Alan Branch were placed on the physically unable to perform list on Monday. They are eligible to come off the list at any time. Once they are removed from the list, they will be eligible to practice fully. Players on PUP count against the 90-man training-camp roster.

Undrafted rookie tackle Andrew Jelks will begin camp on the active/non-football injury list. The Vanderbilt product dealt with knee injuries that kept him off the field each of the last two seasons. 

Neither Hightower, nor Branch, nor Jelks participated in spring practices at Gillette Stadium. Hightower was present for voluntary work, but during practices open to the media he typically did some conditioning off to the side. Branch skipped optional team activities (as he usually does), and though he was in Foxboro for mandatory minicamp, he did not practice during that three-day stretch.

Hightower was limited last season with knee and shoulder injuries. The MMQB.com's Albert Breer said on Sports Sunday that Hightower's health concerns made teams reticent to make him offers that would lure him away from New England. 

Report: Patriots in talks with CB Brandon Flowers

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Report: Patriots in talks with CB Brandon Flowers

In what’s been a somewhat busy offseason for their secondary, veteran cornerback Brandon Flowers is in talks with the Patriots, according to Adam Schefter. 

Flowers, who spent the first six seasons of his career with the Chiefs and last three with the Chargers, was released in March. He is set to meet with the Cardinals this week as well. 

The Pats lost cornerback Logan Ryan this offseason, but landed the top free agent corner on the market in Stephon Gilmore. A potential addition of Flowers might give them an insurance policy if second-year pro Cyrus Jones fails to improve from a dismal rookie season. 

Flowers was limited to just six games last season, as a concussion ended his season in December. He has played in at least 11 games in the rest of his NFL seasons. His lone Pro Bowl nod came in the 2013 season.