And so it ends. A long year of games and nearly two full months of playoffs ends with the Los Angeles Kings being crowned once again, Lord Stanley’s chalice pressed into their loving arms and given whiskery kisses as the fans at the Staples Center scream their approval.
Mike Richards is saying, “Yay, we did it! Do you think I’ll still get bought out?”
It’s been a long and shall we say interesting playoffs, not to mention season. Can you believe the Olympics were only four months ago? It feels like it’s been five years since I watched TJ Oshie take his shootout against Russia. It feels like it’s been ten since Patrick Roy tried to climb the glass to challenge Bruce Boudreau to a fight (that’s what happened, right? Or am I conflating him and John Tortorella?) (this is a joke).
Because I’m feeling nostalgic at the prospect of no hockey until October, I’m going to list my top 10 most memorable events of the 2013-14 season. Ready?
10. Joe Thornton’s Penis
Look, I’m sorry. But when the captain of an NHL team says, “I’d have my cock out if I scored four goals. I’d have my cock out, stroking it,” it’s gonna be a highlight of the year. And the fact that it turned into my single favorite hockey related hashtag, #roosterwatch, just makes it that much better.
For the heck of it, let’s watch Tomas Hertl score four goals!
9. The Sochi Olympics
From Latvia holding off the onslaught of Canada’s offense to the previously mentioned Russia-US shootout to Teemu Selanne’s last Olympic game, it was a thrilling ride. Upsets were upsetted, much dramatics were had, injuries were taken, and finally, finally, Canada could win its first ever gold medal in — oh, sorry, I mean ninth.
8. Women’s Hockey Makes A Splash
Women’s hockey was a hot topic of debate this Olympics, both for reasons I personally think are idiotic (people saying, ‘Get rid of it, it isn’t competitive!’) to the nail-biting gold medal game that had every American fan screaming and ripping out their hair and every Canadian fan patting their chest and swearing they’ll get a tattoo of Marie-Philip Poulin’s face over their heart. Then there were the signings of Noora Raty and Shannon Szabados to men’s teams in Mestis league in Finland and the Southern Professional Hockey League, respectively. There’s Julie Chu and Caroline Ouellette working hard as ambassadors to bring girls to the sport, and now there’s news that possibly the CWHL may be expanding to Minnesota, a market that certainly wouldn’t shy away from more hockey.
7. The Winter Classic
Maybe the two teams involved weren’t the most compelling. Maybe this season of 24/7 was far less interesting than the previous years’. But it can’t be denied that seeing the Big House filled as snow fell in droves was a sight to behold.
I genuinely wonder if any real chirping went on during this game or if it was all just, “I’m so f-ing cold. Are you cold?” “Yeah, I’m f-ing freezing.”
The outdoor games in general were a great part of this season, although I agree that there were too many of them. The Los Angeles-Anaheim game was, to my mind, easily the best of the Stadium Series in sheer appeal, and I really love that it happened. Bring us a Winter Classic, I tell you. Let’s do it.
6. The “Is Sidney Crosby Still The Best Player In the World?” Debate
Short answer: He is.
Long answer: Sidney Crosby was the leading scorer in the regular season. He has the best 5v5 Corsi of any players in the playoffs this year. He just…wasn’t all that lucky this postseason. And maybe some of it is the concussion, because he doesn’t play the same as he did before that, but he’s still an amazing player.
This isn’t the first time this debate has come up — there always seems to be one or two articles floating around, usually when Jonathan Toews is doing something of note, that says Toews has surpassed Crosby as a “hot take” — but it seemed to be particularly loud following the Penguins’ loss to the Rangers. It’ll be interesting to see if the coverage changes in the coming year as change approaches the Penguins in the form of a new general manager and, eventually, a new coach.
5. The Columbus Blue Jackets
Last year was the real memorable run for the Blue Jackets, with the surprise dominance of Sergei Bobrovksy and the until-the-last-minute chase to the playoffs before falling short by a point or two. This year was still notable, however, as they moved east to play in the Metropolitan Division. They earned themselves their second playoff spot since they became a team and, for the first time in their history, won a postseason game. They won two, actually, and the excitement of the players as they celebrated their success was infectious.
Somewhere underneath all that is Matt Calvert.
And it was great to see Columbus’s fanbase ignited with passion. I’m so excited for the All-Star Game to be there next year, although it will be awkward if they still don’t have a captain. Who’ll do the draft? Will all of the alternates just draft together and take turns?
I’m getting sidetracked. In conclusion: how do you not love the Blue Jackets?
4. The Year of Teemu
Teemu Selanne, who turns 44 in July, is (apparently) finally hanging up his skates after 21 seasons in the NHL. Unlike other times, we’re pretty sure he means it this time since he bullied longtime teammate and good friend Paul Kariya into coming to his last regular season game. We saw his last game in Winnipeg, the team with which he first made his mark. We saw his emotional skate around the ice hand-in-hand with J.S. Giguere. And finally we saw this, which should bring tears to all of you who are not barren inside. Farewell, Teemu. Don’t be a stranger.
3. The Kings Reverse Sweep
It seemed like the Sharks were going to overturn the narrative that they choke in the playoffs. They played two dominating games, won a third, and were up 3-0 over the Kings. It seemed like they were destined for the Cup.
And then the Kings won one game. And then another. And then another and then it was Game 7 and everyone wanted to know, How in the heck did we get here? There had only been 3 reverse sweeps before April 30 of this year. The Kings’ win made it the fourth.
The looks on Thornton and Marleau’s faces were heartbreaking. The Sharks seemed stunned. And it just started the Kings’ unofficial tradition for this year of winning Game 7’s in the opposing team’s rink, as if to rub it in that much more.
2. The Journey of Martin St. Louis
Marty St. Louis started out the year as the beloved, petit captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning. When usual linemate Steven Stamkos broke his leg against the goal post in Boston, he became the man pushing his team towards the top of the east.
The most wrenching and gorgeous photos of the season: Steven Stamkos reaches for the hand of teammate Sami Salo as he lies on the ice after breaking his leg.
Then came the Olympic snub, when he was left off the team in favor of Stamkos, who was still rehabbing his leg. It was clear he was unhappy with the decision, which was made doubly awkward by the fact that the General Manager of Team Canada is Steve Yzerman — who is also the GM of Tampa Bay. When it became clear Stamkos wouldn’t be ready for Sochi, St. Louis was brought in as an injury replacement, but the bitterness persisted. And when the Olympics ended, he asked for a trade.
Now, apparently St. Louis had been unhappy in Tampa for a while, but it took many by surprise, especially since Tampa was in a playoff spot and doing quite well. On trade deadline, St. Louis was traded for Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers in the first captain-for-captain trade in NHL history.
He was roundly criticized both for his demand for a trade and the fact that he only wanted to be traded to the Rangers, as well as his struggles with scoring after arriving in New York. Then came the playoffs and halfway through a series it looked like the Rangers would lose against the Penguins, his mother unexpectedly passed away after game four. The Rangers rallied around him for the funeral, and they rallied around each other to pull themselves out of a 3-1 hole against the Penguins to win the series in 7.
If this were a movie, the Rangers would have won the Cup. It was too perfect; twenty years since the last Cup, ten years since Marty and Brad Richards won together in Tampa, and a perfect redemption arc both for St. Louis and Henrik Lundqvist, who was the silver-medallist goalie in Sochi. Real life defies our idyllic narratives, though, and instead St. Louis went home empty-handed, a strange end to a strange season.
1. The Playoffs: No Lead is Safe
In general, these playoffs were just kind of incredible. Lots of overtime, lots of goals, lots of controversy, and lots of emotion. I’ll end with the two montages from NBC and the CBC, both set to Queen. They’re good work, though Tim Thompson’s montage is inarguably better, and I enjoy imagining the video editors sitting ready at their computer, waiting for the final goal and then frantically pasting together clips while the Cup is handed out and passed around so they can be ready to air. Enjoy, and see you next season.
Actually, we will be running in the summer though due to the fact that after the draft and free agents day there isn’t a whole lot of news to cover during the summer, we’re probably going to be posting a lot more opinion and hockey-related articles. Stay tuned and follow us on Twitter if you don’t already!