With the end of 2014 approaching, the NHL and its fans can look back on a year filled with excitement and surprise as well as embarrassment and grief. With 30 teams sprinkled throughout the continent, storylines concerning superstars or simply superstar personalities can quickly grab headlines. It was not too long ago that fans of the NHL were suffering through prolonged work stoppages and player lockouts so a headline or story that does not include the phrases ‘collective bargaining agreement’, ‘salary cap’ or ‘revenue sharing’ should be received with glee by NHL fans. Before counting down the top 10 NHL stories of 2014, we would be remiss not to make note of a couple important stories that earned honorable mention status.
This year the NHL showed us just how important hockey and sports can be in helping people deal with tragedy. After the terrorist attack in Ottawa claimed the life of a Canadian soldier, the Pittsburgh Penguins organization showed a tremendous amount of class by playing the Canadian national anthem before a game that did not involve a Canadian team. This show of support to a conference rival was very much appreciated and celebrated as was evident by the many “thank you” comments the video received on many news websites throughout Canada.
NHL players also had fun with social media which has come to be expected in the Twitter era and the insatiable appetite that exists for access to players. NHL fans and the media are always eager to get a glimpse into the NHL lifestyle and learn more about the players’ personalities. P.K. Subban, the former Norris Trophy defenseman of the Montreal Canadians, seems to be one player whose flamboyant style on the ice perfectly mimics his off-ice personality. P.K. shared a picture of his Halloween costume this year on social media which showed him as a dead-ringer for Michael Jackson in Thriller. It is difficult to imagine P.K. not adding an award for best costume to his trophy case next to his Norris and Olympic gold medal.
Those two events just missed the cut, now here are the top 10 stories from the NHL for 2014,
10 10. Long live the Kings
9 9. Viva Las Vegas
8 8. Marty’s roller coaster year
7 7. Patrick Roy succeeds behind the bench
6 6. Torts loses it….again
5 5. Goodbye Goon
4 4. From Russia with Love
3 3. Lucic’s handshake faux pas
The year 2014 saw a storied rivalry renew itself once more between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens. The players have changed over the decades, but the ferocity and desperation that is seen when these two teams meet in the playoffs has remained a constant. This latest installment of the battle between the Bruins and Habs was no different with furious action ending with a seven-game Montreal series victory.
2 2. Red Wings reach 23 in a row
1 1. Passing of a Legend
The NHL and hockey world suffered a great loss in 2014 with the passing of the great Montreal Canadien forward Jean Beliveau. It's never easy to see a great player leave the game knowing you will never see them on the ice again, but with the passing of Jean Beliveau this year there was a deeper heartache felt throughout the NHL.
It is difficult to describe just how important and special Jean Beliveau was to those who never saw him play, but a glimpse of it can be found in the voices and faces of those who did see him and the lucky few who got to know him. They called him “Gentleman Jean” and a gentleman is what he was. Opponents, teammates and fans alike admired him for the skill he possessed and the grace in which he played the game. There have been many great players in the NHL but there has never been another player who was as elegant and noble as Jean Beliveau and he will be missed.
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