The year began in spectacular fashion with the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium on Jan. 1.
There were the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game festivities in San Jose, an outdoor game in Philadelphia, and the stunning worst-to-first run by the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
The start of the 2019-20 season saw NHL hockey played outdoors in Regina, Saskatchewan, and indoors across Europe, including regular-season games in Prague, Czech Republic and Stockholm, Sweden.
It was a year that won’t soon be forgotten.
Here are the favorite hockey moments of 2019 from members of the NHL.com staff:
Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
No one believed Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara would play Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins captain had a facial injury, likely a broken jaw, and it was doubtful he could play with that. But doctors gave him the green light and Chara, never one to shy away from a challenge, was in the lineup, despite fractures that needed two plates, some wires and screws to hold it all together. It led to an unbelievable ovation that night from the TD Garden crowd, which showed its appreciation for the lengths Chara went for his team and his teammates. Even though the Bruins wouldn’t win the Cup, that moment stuck with me.
Tim Campbell, staff writer
So many of the best moments each year take place in the presence of the Stanley Cup. One happened in Calahoo, Alberta on July 2, when the Cup paraded down Range Road 275 in the tiny hamlet west of Edmonton. The guest of honor was St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube, who brought the Cup back to his hometown, keeping a longstanding promise. More than 2,000 family, friends and fans flooded into the community, which has a population of 85, lining up at Calahoo Arena to meet Berube and have pictures taken with the Cup.
Nick Cotsonika, columnist
The best moment of 2019 involved Laila Anderson, the 11-year-old battling a rare disease who became part of her beloved St. Louis Blues. You could choose, say, when she found out she was going to Boston to see the Blues play in the Stanley Cup Final, or when she received her own Stanley Cup ring. But for me, it was when she was on the ice in the aftermath of the Blues’ Game 7 win in Boston. Defenseman Colton Parayko helped her hold the Stanley Cup aloft, then grabbed it and lifted it above their heads with a joyous howl. Laila will remember that forever. And so will we.
William Douglas, staff writer
My favorite hockey moment of 2019 was watching Colombia and Jamaica play for the Amerigol LATAM Cup championship at the Florida Panthers practice facility in September. The game was as great as the Jamaican meat patties sold by a food truck outside the rink. The talent on the ice was good, and the people who packed the stands brought an enthusiastic soccer vibe. And you couldn’t have written a better script for the game. Colombia tied it 2-2 late in the third period, and after overtime couldn’t decide it, Jamaica won in a shootout.
Tom Gulitti, staff writer
My favorite memory of 2019 was the scene at PNC Arena after the Carolina Hurricanes completed a sweep of the New York Islanders with a 5-2 win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on May 3. The Hurricanes and their fans had waited a decade for a moment like this. Although the Hurricanes, who had last been in the playoffs in 2009, went on to get swept by the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final, they established a winning foundation they are building on this season, with an eye on taking the next step in the 2020 playoffs.
Mike G. Morreale, staff writer
One of the best hockey moments for me this year was witnessing Jack Hughes and Cole Caufield each establish a record on the same play. It was during the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team’s 12-4 win against Green Bay of the United States Hockey League at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, on March 15. Caufield set the program record for goals with an assist from Hughes, that gave him its points record. Hughes, who would go on to be chosen by the New Jersey Devils with the No. 1 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, had five assists in the game and finished his NTDP career with 228 points to pass Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller (189 points, 2014-16). Caufield, selected No. 15 by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2019 Draft, scored six goals on 10 shots that day and finished his NTDP career with 126 goals to pass Coyotes forward Phil Kessel (104 goals, 2003-05).
Tracey Myers, staff writer
My favorite moment of 2019 was covering the Stanley Cup championship parade for the Blues. Getting to walk the route was a treat. I talked to fans who were grateful for all those World Series titles the St. Louis Cardinals have won, but equally were thrilled to see the Blues win their first Cup. The Blues players did their part, getting out of cars or truck beds to wave Blues flags and slap hands with the hundreds of thousands of fans along the route. It was a great day for the city of St. Louis.
Bill Price, Editor-in-Chief
Nick stole my thunder a bit here. I was standing nearby when Parayko handed the Cup to Anderson after Game 7, and I will never forget the pure joy on each of their faces. Aside from that, the most memorable moment of the year for me involved Gritty, of course. Though the Philadelphia Flyers mascot made his debut in 2018, his coming-out party occurred at the Stadium Series game between the Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field on Feb. 23. Gritty started the show by standing atop the stadium with a light-up LED suit. He then zip-lined down to the field and climbed steps replicating those at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the theme song from the movie “Rocky.” That wasn’t all. Midway through the game, wearing nothing but his helmet and his perpetual smile, he streaked across the field, chased by his personal security people. Gritty, who never disappoints, made what already was an incredible night in Philadelphia, that much more memorable.
Dan Rosen, senior writer
My first thought went to Gritty at the Stadium Series game in Philadelphia. The laughs we had watching his antics. It was fun. It’s supposed to be fun. But Bill stole it. So my next thought went to my time in Columbus during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, specifically after the Blue Jackets lost Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Bruins. The season was over and yet the Blue Jackets stayed on the ice to salute the fans, who stood and roared for their team, chanting “CBJ, CBJ, CBJ.” Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky waved good-bye. It was sad. It was happy. It was the end. But it was a sign of how a great hockey market came together. It made me appreciate Columbus.
Dave Stubbs, columnist
To my pleasant surprise, Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall agreed to live-tweet Game 3 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final from his farm house in Stony Plain, Alberta on June 1. I sat and watched the game with Hall, the first player in St. Louis Blues history, and his son, Pat. Glenn, who would turn 88 on Oct. 3, was observant and witty on my Twitter account, embracing the spirit of social media with 17 tweets from the sofa in his den, hundreds of likes and retweets still coming well past midnight. That his Blues loss 7-2 to the Boston Bruins did little to dull his enthusiasm as he bantered online through my phone. Glenn’s final tweet: “Thanks to all you fans for writing tonight and remembering me. All these years later, I’m humbled.”
Mike Zeisberger, staff writer
To have a Game 7 in any Stanley Cup Playoff series is dramatic enough, but for it to go to double-overtime? As I told esteemed colleague Tracey Myers in the Enterprise Center press box the night of May 7, it doesn’t get much better than that. You want edge-of-your seat theatre? How’s this? The Blues defeat the Dallas Stars 2-1 in the Western Conference Second Round. The winning goal was scored by St. Louis native Patrick Maroon, who immediately pointed to his 10-year-old son, Anthony, in the stands. “I’ve taught him things,” Anthony told us while hugging his dad afterward in the Blues dressing room, which also included the inspirational Laila Anderson and actor Jon Hamm. Down the hall in the family room, Maroon’s mother, Patti, pulled out a prayer card dedicated to St. Anthony in honor of her grandson. “I kept it in my bra for the whole game for luck,” she said. It worked. Cool scene. Cool experience. Cool moment.
Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s
The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.
Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.
Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.
Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.
He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.
Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.
“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.
“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”
Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.
(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)
Be Like the King of the North Division and Develop Skills
It’s been a year unlike no other for Canadian hockey teams, with COVID-19 travel restrictions forcing the creation of a new NHL division made up entirely of Canadian teams. The previous generation of NHL hockey was known as the “Dead Puck Era” because referees tolerated slowing down the game with clutching and grabbing.
The leading scorers today score in jaw-dropping fashion and routinely pull off stickhandling dangles that were unimaginable until only recently. The Canadian team that will win the North Division will be the one with the most skill.
Here are the training aids that will help you develop your skills all year long.
Innovators like HockeyShot Canada make “passers” so that players can develop pinpoint accuracy and the soft hands necessary to cradle and control a pass when it lands on your stick. The high-quality rubber bands return the puck with the same force which passed it, so you can give yourself one-timers or work on accuracy.
Whether you’re on a two-on-one, sending a breakout pass from the defensive zone, or holding down the blue line on the power play, every positional player needs to pass accurately.
A player is lucky to get a few shots on net each game, and they can’t let them go to waste. Until recently, players needed to rent ice in the off-season to practice their shots in realistic game-like conditions.
Now, players can use shooting pads at their home that let pucks glide as they do on real ice. Shooting is perhaps the one skill that requires the most repetition because one inch can be the difference between going bar-down and clanking one wide off the post.
Practice your quick release and accuracy and develop an arsenal of shots, including wrist shots, slapshots, one-timers, and more. The more tools in your tool kit, the deadlier a sniper you’ll be.
Having the puck on your stick is a responsibility, and you don’t want to cough it up to the other team and waste a scoring chance or lose possession. The ability to stickhandle helps you bide time until a teammate is open, so you can pass them the puck and continue attacking.
If you’re on a breakaway, you may want to deke the goalie rather than shoot if your hands are silky enough. Develop stickhandling skills, and you’ll keep goalies and opponents guessing – being unpredictable helps make a sniper’s job easier.
Of course, you also need to handle the puck in your own zone without causing a turnover. Stickhandling is a crucial skill in all areas of the ice.
When the coach sends you over the board, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Maybe you’ll get the puck in the slot or somewhere else, but when it’s playoffs, you always need to be ready. The Kings of the North Division have all of the above skills and more, and you can too if you practice all year.
Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards
Australia broke with tradition to hold its swimming trials just six weeks before the start of the 2020 Olympics and former world champion Giaan Rooney said the move could reap rich rewards in Tokyo after disappointments at London and Rio.
Australia has typically held its trials up to six months before an Olympics but that gap has been drastically cut this year with swimmers vying for Tokyo spots this week in Adelaide.
Rooney, who won individual world titles at Fukuoka and Montreal and a relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said Australia is gearing up for a much improved Games after its swimmers flopped at Rio and London.
“I think we needed to make it work,” she told Reuters. “The shift started about a year ago to bring the trials into line with the rest of the world and qualify five or six weeks before.
“In sport and swimming, six months is a long time,” Rooney added. “From a coaching perspective, it’s much better to know you have chosen the team in form.”
After winning five gold medals at Sydney 2000 and seven in Athens, the Australian team was rocked by accusations of disruptive behaviour by some of its top sprinters at the 2012 Olympics.
Australia won just one gold medal in the London pool and three in Rio five years ago.
Australia knew something had to be done if it was to close the gap on the powerful Americans and moving the trials is part of the strategy.
“I think it’s to make your swimmers more resilient to change,” Rooney said.
“In the USA they get to race every week regardless of illness or breakups and under all circumstances. Nothing rattles them.
“Australia doesn’t have that racing continuity. This is about making sure you are prepared for anything. I think our swimmers are more resilient than they have been in the past decade, COVID is part of this.”
Rooney said there might even be an “upside” for Australia with the Olympics postponed by a year due to the global health crisis, with the emergence of swimmers like teenager Kaylee McKeown, who broke the women’s 100m backstroke world record on Sunday.
“We are now talking about athletes who are not only going to make the Olympics but are medal chances,” Rooney said.
“We wouldn’t have been talking about her this time last year. She might not have been ready for a position on the team. She is now a legitimate gold medal chance in Tokyo once she gets there.”
For all her confidence about Australia’s performance in Tokyo, Rooney was wary of making predictions about a gold rush for her compatriots.
“I think this will be a more successful Olympics for us than Rio in the pool but individual goal medals will still be difficult to come by,” said the 38-year-old.
“The biggest challenge is to make the jump from minor medals to gold.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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