Thursday, June 23, 2011

A look back at some of the moments in 2010-2011 NHL season

This is a list of some of the moments I think made this past hockey season eventful. In no particular order these moments are just a look back at a season that was.

1. Hall vs. Seguin: They were the first and second overall picks in the NHL draft last season and the league is trying to make it a rivalry just like the Ovi vs. Crosby rivalry. Though I haven't seen the rivalry yet these two sure know how to play and win. Seguin helped his team win the Stanley Cup in only his first season.

2. Boston's Thorton gets cut: In a game against Chicago Blackhawks, words were used as well as skates? In a play behind the net, a falling Fernando Pisani cut Shawn Thorton in the face with his skate. This happened in a similar situation last year when Richard Zednik of Florida was cut by his own teammate's skate at a game in Buffalo.

3. HBO series: In what was one of the most anticipated Winter Classic games, HBO and the NHL teamed up to have a four part series on what goes on in the locker rooms of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals along with what makes the rivalry so strong.

4. Up for sale: In this past year we saw the purchase of two teams. The Buffalo Sabres started the trend when former owner Tom Golisano sold the team to Terry Pegula, who will keep the team in Buffalo. The second happened just weeks ago as Michael Gearon sold the Atlanta Thrashers to True North Sports and Entertainment; thus moving the team to Winnipeg.

5. Loss of greats: Though happiness never comes without sadness. This past year the hockey world lost Derek Boogaard and Rick Martin. Boogaard was just 28 when he was found in his apartment. Rick Martin was a god in Buffalo and known throughout the NHL world as a member of the french connection. He died tragically after suffering a heart attack while behind the wheel, he was 59.

6. First time in decades: Boston Bruins win their first Stanley Cup since the 1971-72 season. Another chilling fact: predicted early on in the season that the finals would come down to Vancouver vs. Boston and Boston would prevail.

7. First Timer: Since joining the league in 1998-99 season the Nashville Predators never played more than 82 games in a season until this year. They played Vancouver Canucks in their first playoff series in franchise history. Though they lost in six games, they put up a fight and look to repeat their success next year.

8. Record puts him in high honors: To win as a goaltender it takes a lot of skill. Facing over 30 shots a game, most being well over 90 mph, and stopping all or most to give your team a chance to win is a hard feat to accomplish. For a few goalies they have accomplished this feat over 400 times. One more goalie can be added to that list. Chris Osgood became only the tenth goalie in history to record over 400 wins in his career.

9. The "Great" comes back: Peter Forsberg has been known to many as Peter the Great but injuries in recent years saw him move from NHL to Sweden where he played limited ice time in a Swedish league. It was until this season when he came back to the NHL and signed with the Colorado Avalanche. Though the stint was brief he gave Avs fans something to cheer about. He hung up the skates for good after less than a week of play. He is currently coaching in the Swedish League.

10. Weather plays a factor: In what was made the most anticipated Winter Classic was in fact the worst. Weather played a factor as the ice never looked good. Unusually warm temps for Pittsburgh made the NHL move the time to 8pm. That did not help as you could clearly see puddles in the corners as well as players taking it easy on the ice.

11. Tournament returns to States: In what has been called for years as the Olympics for Juniors; the World Juniors Championship returned to the U.S. and played a two week tournament in Buffalo, NY. It gave fans a chance to see prospects from their teams play and gave another reason to chant "U.S.A" during a Canada vs. U.S. game.

12. Going back to the classics: Many teams went back to the old style jerseys this year. New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres went back to using old style jerseys as their every game jersey style. Where teams like Kings used an older style as an alternate jersey.

13. Players get added support: The NHLPA along with players voted almost unanimously for Donald Fuhr to join the team. This gives the players another voice to help them out.

14. Launch of more hockey: In recent years the NHL has launched a network and an XM station, now they come together on one radio station. The league announced they will have a radio station on the NHL Web site that will play rebroadcasts of some of the shows including old games.

15. He's back!: Devils former coach Jacques Lemaire joined the team again for a second straight year relieving John McLean as coach. Lemaire who brought the Devils to an Atlantic Division title the year prior could not get them close. After the season Lemaire called it quits for good.

16. He keeps on scoring!: Sidney Crosby has always helped out his Penguins but this year was a different story. Crosby cruised to a 27 game scoring streak, it became the longest streak since Mats Sundin went 30 games in the 1992-93 season.

17. Longtime GM makes news: Longtime Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter has been under some heat as of late. Bringing back Olli Jokinen after Sutter said he was a terrible player and would never play in Calgary again was not enough. Sutter unexpectedly resigned from his position as GM.

18. An All-Star first: For the first time in NHL history the league chose to use the fan balloting along with a simplicistic backyard way to pick teams. The league gave two captains the chance to choose who they wanted on their team to win the all-star game.

19. A heartfelt return: Saku Koivu returned to Montreal to play against a team/community that gave him so much. A man who fought on the ice, also had to fight off the ice as he battled cancer. Montreal stuck my his side the entire way through and praised him for beating cancer. I to this day remember watching the first moment he stepped onto that ice in a Montreal uniform as he saluted the fans cheering his name some years ago.

20. This isn't mine, oh well!: In a game featuring Minnasota Wild vs. Anahiem Ducks a bizarre play in the corner turned into a goal for Ducks. Minnasota's Mikko Koivu lost his stick in the corner. Bobby Ryan who had his stick stolen from him picked up the stick and scored a goal on goalie Backstrom.

21.Where is it? Oh noooo!: In Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals Vancouver and San Jose needed overtime to decide who would go for the cup. No one scored in the first overtime and things looked bleak for a winner to be announced during the second overtime until an unexpected play occurred. Daniel Sedin was simply dumping the puck into the corner from the point when the puck took a bounce off a partition and landed in the middle of the ice. Everyone on the ice thought it went off the netting except for one player. Kevin Bieksa one timed the shot through Niemi's legs to give Vancouver the win.

22. Needed extra time in Post season: This post season saw 22 games go into extra time, tying a 2003 record. Making it the third most in NHL Playoff history.

23. Another new rule for extra time in regular season: Years ago the league decided to change the tie rule in the regular season. The rule: if a game is not determined after one overtime period teams would go to sudden death shootout. Now the league has made a bylaw to that rule. At the end of the season to determine who gets a playoff spot if two teams are tied and if the head to head matchup is a tie, then they will look at regulation wins, not shootout wins.

24. You can't pay him that!: Before the 2010-11 season even began a contraversy was bruing between the NHL and the New Jersey Devils. The Devils wanted to give Ilya Kovalchuck the biggest contract that included him getting paid less towards the end of his contract. The league did not approve. Everyone involved in the dispute finally came an agreement and Kovalchuck played for the Devils. Though this year the Devils did not see much out of Kovalchuck to warrent him the big contract maybe next year will be different.

25. I thought you wanted to return?: This past year Evgeni Nabokov was in the news. Nabokov went to the KHL after becoming a free agent but wanted to come back to the NHL. He was picked up by the Detroit Red Wings who needed a goalie at the time. Nabokov did not want to go there, but was able to talk Detroit into putting him on waivers. From there New York Islanders who also had goalie problems picked him up. He still did not want to go there and the money they were going to pay him, he felt he deserved more, so he did not report. In doing so New York came back with a suspension.

26. Cali has ice fever in Spring: For the first time in history every team from the state of California made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

27. His whistle blows one last time: Longtime great Referee Bill McCreary hangs up the whistle after 27 years. He officiated 1,737 games as well as olympic games. He holds the record for most games officiated in the playoffs as well as most Stanley Cup Finals games officiated.

28. They don't go down easy: For only the second time in NHL history seven of the playoff series needed a game 7 to decide who would move on.

29. True escape artist: Zdeno Chara escaped punishment after he drilled Max Pacioretty sending him into the stantion separating the benches. Words were transfered between both teams during that game and fans nearly rioted for a suspension. But this brutal hit went unjustified until Pacioretty spoke out saying he thought the league should have done something. This hit along with a few others have made the league rethink the rules on hits to the head and hits from behind.

30. Reaching a milestone: Jarome Iginla scored his 1,000 point during the season becoming the 77th player in NHL history to hit that feat.

31. Man this Conference is tough: Even with winning 42 games and receiving 95 points in the standings, this was still not enough for Dallas to make it to the playoffs. This marks the first that a team receives that many points but does not make the playoffs.

32. Suspended!: Raffi Torres faced a suspension after nailing Jordan Eberle with a high elbow. This was not the first known headshot Torres gave.

33. NHL finally gets it right: Penguins Matt Cooke was suspended for the rest of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs after a crushing elbow he used on Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers. This was the second suspension for Cooke in the season. He received a four game suspension after hitting Columbus Blue Jackets Fedor Tyutin.

34. He's at 300 already?: Alexander Oveckin became the youngest player in NHL history to score 300 goals.

35. Who's got skills: Players came out in full force to show what skills they have in during the all-star weekend festivities. One of the best things I thought was for the first time they had two goalies race to see who was the fastest.

36. Can't even see that!: Every year during the skills competition there is a hardest shot event. This year was no different except for one thing. This year we saw the hardest shot ever recorded in NHL history. Zdeno Chara ripped a shot that went 105.9 mph. Wow!!!

37. Draft: In the 2010 Entry Level Draft a record was set for American born players. It was the first time in history that 11 American born players were taken in the first round. Though Canada still showed us whose sport it is by having 14 Canadian drafted players, its a good sign that America is coming up with great players.

38. Classic check!: In what has been known as the classic hip check has somewhat gone away from the regular game of hockey. Until Aaron Rome of Vancouver thought differently when he nailed Edmonton's Ladislav Smid and flipped him over.

39. Flashing leather: This a shout out to all the great saves of the season, there were too many great ones to narrow it down to one so here is a video of some great saves.

40. Numbers do not lie: This season the NHL saw record high numbers for viewers throughout the season, as well as an increase in ticket sales. Keep watching hockey, and if this season was great I'm not sure how it will be topped but I know that next season the players will give fans something to cheer about.

That is the list. For more on hockey news stay tuned to this blog. Also follow me on Twitter @WillWodka2133.

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