"I like to be around people who keep expectations low," the president joked.
The Hurricanes weren't picked to do much before the 2005-06 season. They surprised everyone, winning 52 games, posting a 112-point season and winning their first Stanley Cup title in June over the Edmonton Oilers.
Carolina players, owners and coaches were cheered in the East Room by fans and young hockey players who gazed at the massive, silver Stanley Cup displayed next to the president.
Bush said players have taken the trophy overseas, to a mountaintop in Colorado and on a roller-coaster ride at Universal Studios. They have used it as a popcorn holder, a feed trough for a Kentucky Derby winner, a cereal bowl for corn pops, and for a baptism, he said.
"One of the interesting things about this team is they have a - they've got a sign in their locker room that says: It's not about me. It's about the guy in front of me,"' Bush said.
"One of the reasons they're here is because they understand that when you serve something greater than yourself - the team or your community - you become a true champ."