The NHL is quite the contradiction within itself. No other sport combined such grace as skating on ice, with the toughness of being checked into the boards or being taken off your feet by a big hit. We watch this sport to be amazed by the toughness, the skills and the athleticism of the players on ice, because more so that with any other big four sport here in North America these athletes are performing acts we just cannot do on a nightly basis.
To many of us, the mere idea of skating backwards on ice at speed seems impossible. Now add to that scenario the best attackers in the world bearing down on your goal and you have to not only keep your feet and your balance, but you also have to find some way to stop them scoring. If that task seems to be an impossibility, well we better not talk about trying to stop a tiny puck travelling at over 100 mph which is upon you in the blink of an eye.
Having said all that though, after marveling at everything these players do so well, it is still just as much fun to see them mess things up.
Greatness may be found by playing the balance of a career with supreme skill at the highest level, but even the best hockey players in the world will occasionally have moments they wish they could take back. The beauty of this is that in today’s world where every game is televised in the team’s local market at least, then every last blooper is caught on camera. When you then add social media and YouTube to the mix, a player’s blooper can be seen worldwide mere moments after it occurred.
With that being said here is a look at the top 10 bloopers from the NHL during the 2014-15 season regular season.
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10 Advertising in the NHL
Just looking at sports leagues around the world you can see how much revenue can be generated from jersey sponsorship. American sports are really yet to break into this lucrative field, which is surprising on many levels, but Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings gave it a trial run anyway this past January. Zetterberg somehow managed to get part of the advertising boards attached to his jersey, then proceeded to play out his shift anyway unaware he was carrying around the offending material. One day we will see Zetterberg as a pioneer of sports advertising, today though he is just another blooper on the list.
9 Corey Crawford stick save fail
Corey Crawford is a normally a terrific goaltender. On this play however he committed an error that you would be unlikely to see at a grade school level game. In this game against the Colorado Avalanche, Crawford is about to deal with a puck that is dumped harmlessly toward his net. The problem here is that Crawford gets ahead of himself and instead of dealing with the danger, however minimal that is, he tries too quickly to launch a counter attack against an Avalanche team which is taking a bad line change. The result is one of the slowest long range goals of all time as the puck slips almost apologetically under his stick and into the goal.
8 Goalie falls over…..himself
Tricky business this hockey goaltending. In addition to dealing with those 100 mph shots and having the reflexes of a cat, you also have to attempt to skate every now and again wielding an oversized stick and approximately 289 pounds of gear. This extra weight must make for one very unbalanced situation as that is the only conclusion one can draw when seeing Calgary Flames goaltender Jonas Hiller fail spectacularly when skating to the side of the rink to play the puck. It is about as ungraceful a fall as you will ever see on the ice, but luckily for Hiller there were no attackers in the area and he got away with nothing more than a bruised ego.
7 Roberto Luongo bouncing puck mistake
I have plenty of sympathy for Roberto Luongo here, which is why this blooper isn’t higher on the list. Part of the deal when playing on ice is that you expect the puck to slide in a pretty consistent and true fashion, give or take a couple of imperfections on the ice sheet. What you do not expect is for the puck to be hit toward goal in such a way that it careens and bounces and moves and generally acts in a whole bunch of unreasonable and unpredictable motions. Luongo does as most would when faced by this demon puck. He tries to save it only to see it bounce mockingly over his leg and into the net.
6 Petrovic boards himself
Any hockey blooper list worth its salt has to have a blooper featuring a player missing a check and ending up somewhere in the bench area. Alex Petrovic of the Florida Panthers is the man for this list as he lines up Vernon Fiddler of the Dallas Stars for a SportsCenter Top 10 style hit right at center ice. Unfortunately for Petrovic, Fiddler has these things called eyes which allow him to see the Panther coming in at full speed. Fiddler then channels his inner Reggie Bush (USC Bush, not NFL Bush) stops on a dime and the closest Petrovic gets to a check is on analyst Bill Lindsay as he flies over the boards in a hilariously ineffective manner.
5 Braden Holtby magic trick
Those pucks just get everywhere these days. Following a save by Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby there was a delay of over a minute where Holtby and the officials struggled to work out exactly where the puck had gone. Holtby stripped off multiple layers of gear, searched long and hard inside his pads and in his jersey, but still the little black disc was nowhere to be found. The officials, who were at first loathe to start the play again in case the second puck suddenly reappeared, seemed about to let things go when a fully kitted back up Holtby had the puck fall from his equipment like a chicken laying an egg. It provided the biggest cheer of the night.
4 (OHL Bonus) Brandon Halverson own goal
Not the NHL, but this is as spectacular an own goal as you are ever likely to see in any sport. The guilty party here is goaltender Brandon Halverson who is an 18-year-old currently plying his trade for the Saul Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League. Halverson was picked with the New York Rangers first selection of the 2014 NHL draft, so presumably he doesn’t mess up like this often. In this clip though Halverson appears to be trying to pass the puck to one of his teammates behind the net when he gets his angles wrong in the most hilarious way possible. The result is a sharp wrist shot into the corner of his own goal and a thousand questions from his teammates.
3 Stick in the helmet
One of the joys of hockey is that just when you think you have seen every possible combination of player and equipment tie-ups, something happens that you have never seen before. In this blooper the stick of Rangers forward Kevin Hayes somehow ends up stuck inside the ear hole, yes the EAR HOLE, of Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier’s helmet. It defies both logic and physics and for a moment you worry that Hayes is going to be dragging Lecavalier around by his helmet for the remainder of the shift. Instead he lets go and Lecavalier fights for a moment to get the stick out. Then, in true hockey fashion, he decides to forget it, throws the helmet to the ice, and just continues to play.
2 Mitchell Skiba leaving the ice fall
This is not an NHL blooper exactly, but the sheer brilliance of the fail means it just has to find a place somewhere on this list. Mitchell Skiba is a junior hockey player for the Alpena Flyers up in Michigan. After recently being ejected from a game, Skiba has the seemingly simple task of passing through a door to get off the ice. Inexplicably Skiba decided to randomly flip his stick sideways just as he was leaving the ice. This would be fine if he was about to pass through a door which was six or seven feet wide. Unfortunately the door was only about half that width and the result was the stick clotheslining Skiba to the floor with the force of WWE Superstar Brock Lesnar. Ouch.
1 Flames score on themselves
Pulling the goaltender on a delayed penalty is a hockey staple. As soon as you go six-on-five the team has the ability to create an open shot somewhere on the ice. What you probably shouldn’t do in this situation however is lose control of the puck in such a way that it slides all the way back down the ice and into your own goal. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Flames managed to score this way on themselves when the game was still scoreless, giving the Vancouver Canucks a 1-0 lead. There is plenty of bad luck in the way that the pass kisses the boards at just the right angle to go into the net, but a length of the ice own goal has to take the top spot on this list. Hopefully the Flames study this thoroughly before their first-round tilt with the Canucks.
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