Today is the final day of 2014 and what a year it was. As we enter 2015 hockey tournaments are in fill force throughout the world, the NHL has resumed after their Christmas break and the NHL’s Winter Classic is amongst us. We’ve seen epic comebacks, trials and tribulations and in some cases we have seen epic failure (read: Edmonton Oilers). Regardless 2014 was an exciting year to be a hockey fan. Here is a look back at some of the top stories from 2014.
Top 14 Hockey Stories of 2014
- The Passing of Jean Beliveau – famed Montreal Canadien Jean Beliveau passed away on December 2, 2014. Tributes and memories of one of the games greatest players continue to pour in. Jean Believeau was rated #10 in out top hockey players of all-time perhaps he should be higher on the list for his contributions to the game of hockey. A winner of 10 Stanley Cup trophies, Mr. Beliveau was an even greater gentleman than he was a hockey player. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a hockey historian himself, issued a statement and offered his condolences. “Mr. Béliveau will be remembered as a hockey giant who inspired a nation with his outstanding skill, humility and pure love of the game… His legacy lives on in the records he set, the legions of hockey players that he inspired, and the deep love he shared with his home province of Quebec.” A true gentleman of the game on and off of the ice. CBC Tribute.
- Canada wins Double Olympic Gold in Sochi, Russia – both the men’s and women’s team won Olympic Gold at the Winter Olympics in Russia in February. The Women’s team did in in very impressive manner as they beat the favored team from the US.
- The Los Angeles Kings win their second Stanley Cup in three years – The Kings came back down three games to zero in the first round vs. the San Jose Sharks and never looked back. They needed two more Game 7 wins (against Anaheim in the second round and Chicago in the Western Conference Final) before moving on to the Stanley Cup Final where they won their second Stanley Cup in a three-year stretch in 2014 when they defeated the New York Rangers on an Alec Martinez Game 5 overtime goal.
- The utter collapse of the Edmonton Oilers – since losing in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals in 2006, the Oilers have missed the post season for 8 straight years and with only 8 wins this season will miss the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season. This team is in disarray having fired yet another coach in Dallas Eakins. There is a lot of talent being trained to lose. What is wrong with the Edmonton Oilers? Too many things to mention as we evaluated here.
- NHL Broadcasts in Canada switch to Rogers – in a move that made many hockey fans cringe, Rogers Sportnet basically owns hockey viewership in Canada after Rogers acquired rights to all NHL hockey broadcasts in Canada. In November 2013 the League announced a landmark 12-year, $5.2-billion national broadcast rights and multimedia agreement in Canada with Rogers Communications. The deal includes all national rights to NHL games on all platforms in all languages, marking the first time in history a North American professional sports league has granted all of its national rights to one company long-term. Hockey Night in Canada remains a shell of its former self. It’s just not fan coming from this hockey fan.
- The Retirement of Teemu Selanne – The Finnish Flash finished his last NHL season in 2014. Teemu Selanne retired sitting 15th with 1,457 points and 11th with 684 goals.
- Ex-NHLers continue lawsuit against NHL over concussions – what started in 2014 continued this past year as ten former National Hockey League players, including All-Star forward Gary Leeman, claimed in a class-action lawsuit that the league hasn’t done enough to protect players from concussions.
- The retirement of Saku Koivu – sad to see a player of this calibre retire as Saku Koivu retired this past season after 18 years in the NHL.
- The Retirement of Ryan Smyth – I must admit a few tears were shed over this one as Edmonton Oiler great Ryan Smyth announced his retirement from the game. Oilers management did not do much to make Smyth’s last games memorable as the Oilers woes continued in 2014. Possibly the greatest Edmonton Oiler of all time.
- Finland wins 2014 WJHC – Finland defeated host team Sweden in the final 3–2 in overtime and won their first gold medal since 1998.
- Vancouver ends their goaltending debacle – Remember when the Vancouver Canucks had themselves a goaltending problem with too much good goaltending in Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo? What a botched job Mike Gillis had on his hands. Gillis then pulled off a shocker at the 2013 NHL Draft by trading Cory Schneider, not Roberto Luongo, to the New Jersey Devils. Luongo and his seemingly unmoveable contract was set to play out the rest of his career with the Canucks. Luongo even stated that his “contract sucks”. Gillis would shock the hockey world once again at the 2014 trade deadline by trading Luongo (and Steven Anthony) to the Florida Panthers for forward Shawn Matthias and goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Then via free agency the Canucks picked up Ryan Miller who has performed remarkably for the Canucks this season.
- The issue of diving gets more attention – The Nashville Predators’ James Neal was the first NHL player to be fined and publicly named for diving — but there’s a good chance he won’t be the last. In an effort to eliminate diving from hockey, the league revised its protocol when it comes to punishment. As per the recently revised rule, players will receive a warning along with a $1,000 fine for their first diving offence. Any further cases will be met with a $2,000 fine as well as the player’s name being released. Diving is big news.
- Mumps Outbreak in the NHL – a number of players including the Penguins Sidney Crosby have contacted the mumps in an early season outbreak.
- The Edmonton Oil Kings win the Memorial Cup – well at least there was some hockey supremacy in Edmonton this season. The Edmonton Oil Kings win their first Memorial Cup in modern franchise history with a dramatic 6-3 win over Guelph. Edmonton was playing two days after winning the longest game in Memorial Cup history, needing three overtimes to beat the Val-d’Or Foreurs in the semifinal Friday. Guelph led 2-1 after one period, but Edmonton scored three times in the second to take a 4-2 lead and won 6-3 over the OHL representative.
As a bonus here is a look at some of the Gross Moments from the NHL courtesy of Sportsnet. Check this out for some memorable moments.
Some great moments and some truly sad moments made 2014 a year to remember in the hockey world.