The Season That Almost Wasn’t (NHL Season in Review)

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October is a great sports month for any sports fan as it can be the busiest time of year for the sports world. The National Football League is in the second month of their season, Major League Baseball is in the midst of the playoffs, and the National Basketball Association is just beginning their season. Of course there is another of the big four leagues in North America that starts in October as the National Hockey League begins its march to the Stanley Cup. Except in 2012 the NHL was missing from sport’s biggest month. CBA negotiations would once again stall the NHL as the league looked to prepare for the start of a new season. The Owners, led by Gary Bettman, would not be satisfied with their win in the last negotiations and would ask for more of the pie this time around. With new NHLPA executive Donald Fehr the players would not back down fighting to ensure that they would not lose another negotiation. As a result the stand still would move through the first three months of the season cancelling important games like the Winter Classic. The stand still would go down to the very last moment with the two sides coming to an agreement to start the season on January 19th. The season would be scheduled for 48 games instead of the regular 82 leaving teams to try to get through a crazy shortened season. Two teams would have no problem with the shortened season as the Chicago Blackhawks would earn points in their first 24 games and the Pittsburgh Penguins would win 15 games in a row at one point in the season. The two teams would be the best of the league in the regular season leading many to believe that in a shortened season the cream would rise to the top. Instead there were plenty of other teams that came up and looked to surprise everyone. The Toronto Maple Leafs would earn their first playoff berth in 9 years while the New York Islanders would squeak into the playoffs in the #8 spot thanks in large part to John Tavares. In the West a lot would stay the same although Detroit’s decline was evident after finishing in 7th place. The Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche would remain the worst teams in the league while the Oilers would get out of the basement although not very far finishing 12th. As the season moved through the 48 games there was still a lot left unknown in a season that seemed almost impossible to predict. With Pittsburgh and Chicago taking the top spots they were the best teams but after that any team could have come out of nowhere to win. As the playoffs began it seemed clear that the Blackhawks and Penguins were headed for a Stanley Cup matchup. Then the Penguins would slow down and get swept by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals. Chicago would prove that they were the best team though beating the Bruins in five games to become the first team in 9 years to win two Stanley Cups. It was a condensed season but a thrilling one for everyone involved including the fans. There were the upsets and the dominations through the whole season one team would stand above the rest in the end.

The Blackhawks are champions once again and they won’t have a lot of time to bask in their win as just like the regular season the offseason will be condensed. The NHL Draft and Free Agency are right around the corner leaving only two months until training camps start up for the new season. Players will be looking to get in shape immediately after a brief off period as they look to make their impact in the 2013-14 season. There were plenty who made their impact this year though including a new star goalie, thanks partly to a former Canadian sports broadcaster, in Sergei Bobrovsky. He will go into another season looking to be the new dominant goaltender while Martin Broduer seems to remain ageless playing another great season. Roberto Luongo looked to be another great goaltender this year but with a massive contract could not get traded and ended up as the semi-back up to Cory Schneider. Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, and Sidney Crosby remained the most dangerous players in the league. They were not alone though as the also ageless Martin St. Louis would win the scoring title this year. Rookies like Brandon Saad, Brendan Gallagher, and Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau would all make their impact on the league. Now all of these players will take a brief time to rest before they begin preparing for another campaign. With 2 months until the teams get back to training hockey fans will not go long living without their addiction as another, uninterrupted season, will begin soon. Meanwhile we look back at a season that almost never happened and realize for all of the headaches in October the end result was a great year with plenty to remember and a new champion to put on the cup.

 

NHL Awards

Hart Memorial Trophy:
(League MVP)
Alex Ovechkin, LW (Washington Capitals)

Vezina Trophy:
(Top Goaltender)
Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets)

James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Top Defenceman)
P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens)

Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Top Rookie)
Jonathan Huberdeau, C (Florida Panthers)

Ted Lindsay Award:
(MVP Voted by Players)
Sidney Crosby, C (Pittsburgh Penguins)

Frank J. Selke Trophy:
(Top Defensive Forward)
Jonathan Toews, C (Chicago Blackhawks)

Jack Adams Award:
(Coach of the Year)
Paul McLean (Ottawa Senators)

General Manager of the Year:
Ray Shero (Pittsburgh Penguins)

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Most Sportsmanlike)
Martin St. Louis, RW (Tampa Bay Lightning)

NHL Foundation Award:
(Commitment, Perseverance, and Teamwork)
Henrik Zetterberg, LW (Detroit Red Wings)

King Clancy Memorial Trophy:
(Leadership and Humanitarian Contribution)
Patrice Bergeron, C (Boston Bruins)

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
(Perseverance, Sportsmanship, and Dedication)
Josh Harding, G (Minnesota Wild)

Bridgestone Messier Leadership Award:
(Leadership on and off the Ice)
Daniel Alfredsson, RW (Ottawa Senators)

Maurice Richard Trophy:
(Most Goals)
Alexander Ovechkin, LW (Washington Capitals)

Art Ross Trophy:
(Most Points)
Martin St. Louis, RW (Tampa Bay Lightning)

William Jennings Trophy:
(Top Goaltending Tandem)
Cory Schneider/Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks)

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