As 2014 draws to a close, many of us will take time to reflect on what has taken place over the past twelve months. For some, it might have been the best year of their lives - everything fell into place. For others, it might have been a bit rougher - but the hope of a better 2015 spurs us on.
On the hockey front, it's been quite an interesting year, to say the least. We've witnessed incredible on-ice artistry and similarly brilliant off-ice moments that have captured us and will remain engraved in our mind's eye forever.
It seems like only yesterday that we were sitting down on the first day of 2014 - almost a year ago to the day - to enjoy some old-fashioned outdoor hockey between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings, live from The Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Fast forward to the present, and we're looking ahead to a wild end to a 2014-2015 season that has gotten off to a raucous start, from major moves to big surprises from players and teams we expected nothing from.
The next calendar year projects to be just as wild as this past one, what with the prospect of another wild Stanley Cup Finals, the flurry of activity that will change the face of organizations across the league during the trade deadline and at the Entry Draft - a draft which will most likely produce the sport's next three superstars in Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin.
But before sinking our teeth into a whole new year of hockey, let's take one final trip down memory lane and reminisce on 2014's best moments.
20 Roberto Kardashian?
19 Hall of Fame Class 2014 - The GOAT?
18 NHL Stadium Series - Ducks vs. Kings
Several years ago, when the initial idea of a Winter Classic was starting to gain traction, there were no doubt detractors who thought "professional hockey outdoors? Preposterous." Alas, the NHL got it done, but it's always been in cold, winter climates - until last season. Outdoor hockey in Los Angeles? Outdoor hockey in California?! Pure blasphemy!
17 Rasmus Ristolainen and the Feisty Finns
16 Winter Classic - Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings
15 Biznasty Ice Bucket Challenge
When the ALS Ice Bucket challenge went viral during the summer, you knew that there were at least a few NHLers who would up the ante and put together something ridiculous to really take the concept to a whole new level. Paul "Biznasty" Bissonnette did just that (not surprisingly) - Biznasty's video included himself in what can be best described as a "flashy" speedo, while standing on a glacier - yes, you read that right - and capped off by having the icy water (also from the glacier) dumped on him from a hovering helicopter.
14 "Gino! Gino! Gino!"
While this year had many good memorable moments, it also had several sad ones. One of those moments was the news that Gino Odjick had been diagnosed with a terminal illness that had his days numbered.
The sad moments can often produce something remarkably uplifting, though.
13 Pittsburgh Sings "Oh Canada"
12 Vladimir Tarasenko vs. Vladimir Tarasenko
Usually the goal of the year race is one that remains fairly "open" throughout the entire season. This year, it would appear that the discussion is already over - sort of. We won't know which goal will be crowned goal of the year until season's end, but it's become fairly apparent that it'll be one of the two ridiculous goals Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues scored earlier in the year; the first a solo-effort to beat four Rangers before pulling a Peter Forsberg one-handed deke on helpless Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot (posted above), and the second another remarkable individual showing against the New Jersey Devils, where he beat three Devils players before pulling Cory Schneider out of position and depositing the back in the back of the net (posted below).
11 Teemu's Last Lap
10 The Coordinated National Anthem
9 Alfie Comes Home
8 Canadian Men Recapture Gold
7 Fist-Bumping Bruins Fan
6 Women's Gold Medal Final
5 "T.J. Sochi"
4 The "True Final"
3 Habs Honor Jean Béliveau
2 Sam Tageson Lives His Dream
1 The Kings Are the Kings... Again!
In 2012, the Los Angeles Kings cakewalked to their first ever Stanley Cup Championship. They caught everyone a bit off guard that year, as they were the eighth-seed - but still demolished everyone in their path. This past year was much more difficult - three seven-game series against three Western powerhouses (San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago) before winning it all in spectacular fashion on Alec Martinez's double overtime goal (his second consecutive series clinching overtime goal).
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