And so it’s over.
The 2008-09 NHL season ends after 251 days, after one of the best playoffs in recent memory, and the Penguins hoisting the Cup. Like any other season, there was the good, bad and ugly. There were moments to cherish (Marc-Andre Fleury stopping Niklas Lidstrom comes to mind) and others to forget (any cheap shots from behind).
All in all, cool stuff. What follows is the ABC’s of this past season and some of the things to come. A
is for Sean Avery, who disappeared, returned, changed teams, opened a restaurant, and returned to old habits in the playoffs. He’ll be fine. Really. Really?
|Martin Brodeur |
is Martin Brodeur, who set a new standard for goalies after returning from injury, becoming the leader in victories for a netminder with 557. His good fortune, however, didn’t carry over into the playoffs. C
is for the Coyotes and for whoever winds up with them and whatever country and city they eventually settle. D
is for Panthers coach Peter DeBoer, who invigorated the team with a more aggressive style and came to within a victory of the playoffs. A promise of better things. E
is for Ray Emery, who returns from exile in Russia for a second shot. F
is for goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, whose big saves on Lidstrom, Ovechkin and Cleary helped the Penguins to the Cup. Was worthy of the Conn Smythe. G
is for 38-year-old Bill Guerin, who left a losing situation in Long Island to lift the Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh. All it took Guerin was 14 years between championships. H
is for Marian Hossa and his decision to leave Pittsburgh for Detroit. Hope someone is making his financial decisions.
|The Pens and the Cup (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) |
is for the increased interest in the NHL playoffs. Friday’s Game 7 final was one of the most viewed NHL telecasts since the Rangers-Canucks Game 7 in 1994. J
is for Olli Jokinen, who finally made it to the post season. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. K
is for Miikka Kiprusoff, who led the league with 45 wins. L
is for Henrik Lundqvist, who became the first goalie in NHL history to win 30 games in each of his first four seasons. M
is for Barry Melrose, who, after you consider what the Lightning did the rest of the season, didn’t do all that bad during his short stint. N
is for the numerous coaching changes (seven) that took place during the regular-season. In the end, only one worked to perfection.
|Alex Ovechkin (AP Photo/Nick Wass) |
is for Alex Ovechkin and his goal celebrations, especially No. 50. Nothing wrong with that kind of excitement and passion in the game. P
is for the Penguins, who fought through a late-season change in coach and what seemed an impossible deficit in the Finals to get Stanley. Q
is for Joel Quenneville for leading the Blackhawks through a series of misfortunes and injuries to their first post-season appearance since 2003-04 R
is for Philly’s Mike Richards for being the first player in NHL history to score three, 5-on-3 shorthanded goals in his career. Plenty of time to add to that number. S
is for Sid the Kid, who knows how to play on the ice and knows how to market the game off the ice. T
is for Bill Torrey. Sixteen years after putting together the league’s most successful expansion franchise, he’s back leading the search for a new GM in Florida. U
is for ubiquitous Jim Balsillie, who continues to be everywhere and anywhere in his pursuit of a seventh NHL team in Canada. V
is for Mike Van Ryn and the hope he stays healthy in 2009-10.
|The Winter Classic. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) |
is for the Winter Classic, a great idea that will continue to engage sports fans come 2010 with a stop at Fenway. X
is for drawing one through all that talk about banning fighting. It’s not going to happen. It shouldn’t happen. End of story. Y
is for all of the league’s outstanding youth, including Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Jordan Staal, Michael Frolik, Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty, Luke Schenn, and the list goes on and on and on. Z
is for Richard Zednik’s comeback and, hopefully, a much-deserving Masterton Trophy later this week.