If you are wondering where I have been the last few days the answer is simple: I took a break from all of my social media outlets. I was tired of all the negativity regarding the Canucks and needed a few days away from the negative commentary that I knew would follow the sweep. I am by no means in denial of the their first round ousting by San Jose, I fully accept that the Canucks season has come to an end. You will hear no complaints or excuses here. Are there things I could complain about or make an excuse about, YES but it would not change the result so it would be fruitless. It is what it is and that is all there is. We may not have got the ending we wanted BUT we are lucky that we got to watch our team play any hockey in May [14 teams were not so lucky!].
Today’s post looks that the season that was and it was full of plenty of excitement beyond the playoff disappointment. Let’s begin at the beginning shall we? You remember back in September when everyone’s favourite NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman threw down the lockout hammer? As soon as the deadline passed and the lockout was enacted, EVERYONE assumed that there would NO NHL season. The NHL and NHLPA had countless meetings and every time progress seemed to occur it was followed by stalling and growing animosity between the two sides. It seemed as though there would be no end to the lockout as both sides seemingly could not come to any sort agreement. The League did not cancel the season out right rather every two weeks saw Bettman announcing the cancellation of blocks of the season including the cancellation of the ever popular Winter Classic. Each new cancellation only added to the anger of the fans. It quickly became a case of Gary vs. Donald Fehr in a war of words and there seemed to be no end in sight. Cue the call for a negotiator to come in! With the aid of the negotiator the two sides were forced into putting some serious time and reflection into their cases and eventually forced to meet together. The lockout came into affect September 15th 2012 and did not come to an end until January 6th 2013. 510 games were lost from the season. It was initially thought that they could put together a 50 game schedule but later was reduced to 48 games.
After a delay of 3 1/2 months, the season finally began January 19th 2013. Teams around the league created initiatives to encourage their loyal fans to return to the rink. The season had many incredible moments league wide:
The Chicago Blackhawks set a new NHL record with their 21-0-3 undefeated in regulation streak which was eventually broken by the Colorado Avalanche. The Blackhawks solidifed themselves as the best team of the regular season winning the President’s trophy for the 2013 season.
Sidney Crosby came back healthy for the first time in almost two years and played like he never lost a beat. Crosby would have won the Art Ross Trophy had it not been for an unfortunate incident in which he suffered a broken jaw and missed the remaining 12 games of the season. It should be noted that Crosby returned for the playoffs and picked up right where he left off before his injury! The Pittsburgh Penguins proved themselves to be the best team in the Eastern Conference when the went on a tear winning 15 games straight!
The Minnesota Wild overcame some early struggles as big name signings Zach Parise and Ryan Suter helped the teams clinch a playoff berth for the first time in a few years. The feel good story of the year perhaps was the incredible journey of goalie Josh Harding who overcame an early diagnosis of MS to play games in both the regular season and the playoffs.
The New York Islanders made the post-season for the first time in 6 years thanks to some incredible young talent and lots of heart from players like John Tavares, Michael Grabner, Frans Neilsen and veteran goalie Evgeni Nabakov. Tavares lead his team by scoring and setting the example that you never give up on a play or your team.
The Washington Capital overcame many growing pains [new coach and early season struggles] to dominate their second half of the season being led by an awakened Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin led his team scoring more than 30 goals to nab yet another Rocket Richard trophy. The Capitals despite early season woes won their division and earned home ice advantage in the first round.
The Toronto Maple Leafs had their share of drama this year, from the firing of Brian Burke to the ever constant goal-tending rumors. Despite the rumors the tandem of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens helped this team earn their first playoff berth in 9 years! Welcome back to the post-season Toronto, enjoy your journey however long it lasts [I’m rooting for you!!].
The Columbus Blue Jackets earn the award for most improved team overall. This is a team that everyone expects to take advantage of and this year they proved to the league that they are competitive. They made every team they played earn every inch of the ice. They beat Detroit 4/5 times! They acquired Marian Gaborik at the trade deadline and he helped them make a Cinderella run in the final stretch. They only missed the post-season by a SINGLE point [had Minnesota lost their final game, it would have been Columbus that played Chicago!].
The Detroit Red Wings entered their first season without the veteran presence of former Captain Niklas Lidstrom. The void he left was a large one and at times you could see Detroit missing his presence on the ice. For the first time in many years their participation in the playoffs was put in question as they had many ups and downs through the year. Their playoff streak in jeopardy and their fate in their hands sent Detroit on a determination mission where they insured that they would be playoff bound. 22 straight years and still going strong!
The Boston Bruins continued to play their Bruin style of hockey despite the loss of Tim Thomas. Tuukka Rask proved that he was up to the task of being number one and helped to lead the team.
The Montreal Canadiens adjusted very nicely to the coaching change and proved that they can be a top contender. They finished their season as division leaders and 2nd overall in the Eastern Conference. Despite missing the early part of the season due to a contract dispute, P.K. Subban lead the Montreal defence and proved to the league that he is an offensive defenseman.
The Edmonton Oilers may not have had the success in the win column that they hoped for BUT they showed that they have a lot of young talent up front that is capable of making a lot of noise in the next few years. With the talents of Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov, & Schultz, don’t be surprised if we see Edmonton return to the post-season next year!
The Ottawa Senators Erik Karlsson picked up where he left off last year as the league’s top defenseman before having his season put on hold when he suffered a severed achilles tendon. Despite losing their best defensive asset, the Senators still found ways to win games and were able to put numerous rookies in their line up. Captain Afredsson lead his team on the way to the post-season. Erik Karlsson did return for the final game of the season despite reports that he would not be back until next year and did so in style scoring a goal! Karlsson’s return helped to spark the Senators in their first round victory, best of luck in the second round Ottawa!
The Vancouver Canucks may have had their post-season ended prematurely but they had some great moments. Captain Henrik Sedin became sole possessor of 1st on the all-points leader surpassing Markus Naslund’s 757 points in his 905th career game February 15th. Daniel Sedin became sole possessor of 2nd on the all-time points list behind his brother also passing Naslund’s previous record in his 905th career game April 22nd. Roberto Luongo proved what many fans already knew that he is more than qualified at helping a team WIN. Jannik Hansen scored some timely goals and played an unlikely hero in some games. The team finished third in the conference and won their 5th straight North West Division title. My favourite 2013 Canuck moment was probably on my birthday when Henrik scored that penalty shot goal against Nashville and the entire arena went absolutely nuts!
See? There were A LOT of good moments this season in a year when everyone told me that there would be no hockey. A LOT of people told me that it was pointless to keep suggesting that we would get a shortened season BUT we did get a shortened season! It may have been short but it was full of incredible moments all around the league.
I took a self-induced break from social media the last few days and it was necessary. The Canucks season is over and despite all the negativity that social media has been full of about them, this a team that I am now and always will be fan of my Canucks. #heartofacanuck. Better luck next year boys!
The playoffs are still underway and many memories are yet to be made.16 teams qualify and by next week only 8 will remain. Prediction: Stanley Cup Final: The Chicago Blackhawks vs. The Pittsburgh Penguins
As always, until next time, nuck said.