If the calendar year 2010 wasn’t the greatest in hockey’s history, it was certainly up there among the most memorable since the game moved indoors on March 3, 1875. International hockey – and domestic hockey played by an array of international stars – flourished thanks to the game’s most important element – the players. Of course, the Olympics lead the way for its memorable games, but other events also share the spotlight. Here, then, is the IIHF’s list of the year’s finest moments for 2010.
1. Crosby OG winner caps greatest OG ever
More than 80 per cent of television sets in Canada were tuned in to watch the gold-medal men’s final on the afternoon of February 28, 2010, and hockey fans around the world were treated to an incredible game. What looked like an impressive 2-1 victory for Canada was erased in the final minute of regulation when Zach Parise tied the game for the United States, but at 7:40 of overtime Sidney Crosby took a quick Jarome Iginla pass along the corner boards and snapped a shot between the pads of Ryan Miller to give Canada a phenomenal 3-2 victory. The game capped what virtually everyone considered was the greatest Olympic hockey tournament ever played.
2. World Hockey Summit
In August in Toronto the hockey world united to discuss the major issues in the sport. From concussions to college and junior hockey to global development and the women’s game, virtually everybody who was a somebody in the sport either spoke, participated, or attended the four-day event. It remains to be seen what tangible results come out of the summit, but its very existence is cause for enthusiasm.
3. Women into HHOF
Canada’s Angela James and Cammi Granato of the United States became the first female hockey players inducted into the mainly NHL Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The IIHF first inducted women two years earlier, but this breakthrough constituted a significant development in both women’s hockey and the evolution of the HHOF to move away from strictly an NHL bias.
4. Jagr inspired Czech gold at the World Championship
The 38-year-old Jaromir Jagr, now a star in the KHL, arrived in Germany for the 2010 World Championship full of vitriol for his countrymen, who declined to participate. He led his team through his words and play on ice, and the Czechs stunned the heavily-favoured Russians in the gold-medal game by winning, 2-1. They scored just 20 seconds after the opening faceoff, added another goal midway through the second period, and then withstood a ferocious assault late in the third period to preserve the win and claim gold.
5. USA scored 6 goals in 12 minutes against Finland in Olympics semis
Canada defeated Slovakia, 3-2, in one thrilling semi-finals in Vancouver, but earlier in the day another excellent matchup was supposed to have taken place. The United States and Finland seemed well matched, but the Americans utterly destroyed that expectation by scoring six goals in the first 12 minutes and 46 seconds of the game, coasting to an easy 6-1 win for a place in the gold-medal game. The Finns were undone by poor preparation, a bit of bad luck, some weak goaltending, and a determined U.S. side.
6. Jordan Eberle’s last-minute heroics undone by Carlson’s U20 gold winner
Although Canada won the gold medal at the 2009 U20 in Ottawa, that tournament was defined by the incredible ending to the Canada-Russia game in the semi-finals. Leading 5-4 in the final minute, Russia looked certain to end Canada’s run of four gold medals in a row. But, a terrible defensive error by Dmitri Kulikov and a brilliant play from Jordan Eberle saw the Canadian tie the game with 5.4 seconds left on the clock. Canada won in a shootout to advance. Eberle did it again in 2010. In the gold medal game, the Americans were coasting along with a 5-3 lead and time running down, but Eberle scored not once but twice in the last two-and-a-half minutes to send another game into OT. No player in U20 history has scored three late-game goals of anywhere near equal importance. His heroics, though, were for naught as John Carlson scored the winner in OT for the Americans.
7. NHL’s incredible youth movement
More than any other season in the NHL’s long and glorious history, the start of the 2010-11 season saw an extraordinary movement to youth, a movement spurred on by an incredible number if talented teens making inroads into the game through confident play that belied their age. Consider these under-20 players who have made an impressive impact in their first or second seasons: Jeff Skinner, Nino Niederreiter, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, John Tavares, Magnus Pääjärvi, Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Braydon Schenn, Kyle Clifford, Evander Kane, Alex Burmistrov, Nick Leddy, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Cam Fowler. The future of the NHL has never looked brighter based on the youthful individual talent now in the game.
8. Toews and Babcock join TGC
What an incredible year for Jonathan Toews. First, he played an integral role in Canada’s Olympic gold-medal victory in February, and then he captained Chicago to the Stanley Cup in June, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy along the way as playoff MVP. These two wins, along with a previous gold at the World Championship, made him the newest member of the IIHF’s Triple Gold Club. The Olympic win also made coach Mike Babcock a TGC member, the only coach in hockey history with such a distinguished resume.
9. Poulin, Szabados lead women to Olympic gold
History might show that Canada’s 2006 Olympic women’s team was the best ever women’s team, such was their dominance in Turin. Canada then won the 2007 World Championship gold, but then lost the 2008 gold to the U.S. by a narrow margin, 4-3, and the 2009 gold by an even wider margin, 4-1. The Americans seemed to be the superior team heading to the gold-medal game in Vancouver, but the play of two Canadians in the gold-medal game proved the difference. Goalie Shannon Szabados emerged from the colossal shadow of Kim St. Pierre to post a shutout on the basis of many game-saving heroics. As well, Marie-Philip Poulin scored the only two goals of the game to provide the necessary offence in a 2-0 win.
10. Henderson’s 72 sweater sells for more than $1 million
Everyone knows the importance of the 1972 Summit Series, and everyone in Canada knows the name Paul Henderson is synonymous with a last-minute victory of the highest importance. But perhaps fewer people knew his sweater from game 8 of that series was in the private hands of an American. He put the sweater up for auction in 2010, and a Canadian bidder repatriated the most significant cloth in Canada’s hockey history with a mind-boggling bid of just over a million dollars, the highest price ever paid for a hockey artifact of any sort.