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Top 10 Hockey Stories of 2011-12

by on 02/19/2012

10. NHL All-Concussion Team

Below is a list of NHL players who are still suffering or have suffered a concussion, post-concussion and concussion-like symptoms this season. The list may not include every NHL player that suffered a concussion this season.

Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Milan Michalek, Jeff Skinner, Mike Richards, Nathan Gerbe, Peter Mueller, Brayden Schenn, Andy McDonald, Jay Beagle, Marcel Goc, Nino Niederreiter, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, MarcSavard, Evander Kane, Nathan Horton, Jochen Hecht, Colby Armstrong, Guillaume Latendresse, Nicklas Backstrom, Jesse Winchester, Ian Laperriere, James van Riemsdyk, Alex Steen

Chris Pronger, Kris Letang, Zbynek Michalek, Marc Staal, Joni Pitkanen, Marek Zidlickey , Shea Weber, Sami Salo, Keith Ballard, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Radek Martinek, Mike Mottau, Michael Sauer, Kurt Sauer

Ryan Miller, James Reimer, Dwayne Roloson

9. The New Sheriff, Brendan Shanahan

Shanahan’s rookie season as the NHL’s chief player disciplinarian has been pretty parallel to that of first overall Ryan Nugent-Hopkins rookie season. Both came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, Shanny was handing out suspensions left, right and center, and had everyone loving him with his NHL videos explaining suspensions and non-suspensions. Then they both cooled off, RNH with an injury, Shanny put the ‘shanaban’ hammer away only handing out fines. RNH cooled off because of an injury, what’s your excuse Shanny?

8. Mr. Humongous Big, Ilya Bryzgalov

Let’s go over what’s happened to Mr. Humongous Big this season. Bryzgalov signed a 10 year $51 M contract with the Philadelphia Flyers, starred in the HBO 24/7 series, got benched during the Winter Classic, got lost in the woods, became the most quotable NHL goalie currently in the league and has allowed 4 goals or more in 14 of his 37 starts. He’s currently looking for inner peace so he may play in Philadelphia.

7. “Mid-season” Coaching changes

Hired: Bruce Boudreau, Kirk Mueller, Ken Hitchcock, Randy Cunneyworth(Interim), Todd Richards(Interim), Darryl Sutter and Dale Hunter

Fired: Randy Carlye, Paul Maurice, Davis Payne, Jacques Martin, Scott Arniel, Terry Murray and Bruce Boudreau

The only two coach to make a significant impact with their teams are Ken Hitchcock with the St. Louis Blues and Bruce Boudreau and the Anaheim Ducks. Columbus,  Carolina and Montreal are still horrible and won’t be making the playoffs this year and Washington has tons of talent but are destined to lose. LA couldn’t score when they were under Terry Murray and they still can’t score under Darryl Sutter.

6. Calgary still “going for it”

GM Jay Feaster made it official that the Flames are “going for it” after making a trade for Mike Cammalleri. Which makes no sense to anyone in the hockey world. They have valuable veterans that could net them some very good prospects and high draft picks. Iginla himself would fetch a Rick Nash-like ransom. Teams looking for a second line center would be willing to pay high on Olli Jokinen given the season he’s had and teams would love to have Mark Giordano’s physicality for a deep playoff run. They need to blow it up, they should blow it up, why they don’t is ridiculous. I guess they are waiting for Edmonton to become a contender again then they’ll start their rebuild.

5. Expensive off-season pays little dividends

With an increase salary cap, teams were driving up the price on all free agents. Players like Joel Ward, Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff were gifted contracts above their value and their play this season has shown that. Brad Richards, the big off-season prize, failed to generate any chemistry with Marian Gaborik and has been relegated to be a second line center behind sophomore center, Derek Stepan. While James Wisneiwski in Columbus fails to step up as a number one defender. and of course, the biggest flop of them all, Ilya Bryzgalov is either out lost in the woods or looking for inner peace.

4. Stanley Cup hangovers

The 4 teams to reach the Stanley Cup Conference Finals last year started slow out of the gate, 3 of those 4 teams started turning their seasons around in November. Only Tampa Bay failed to turn their season around and that’s why their in a position for a lottery pick.

3. The rise and fall of Minnesota

At the 1/3 mark of the season, Minnesota was the best team in the ENTIRE NHL. By Christmas break, they were one point ahead of the Vancouver Canucks for the Northwest lead. They now trail the Canucks by 21 for the divisional lead and are 12th in the West. I will admit, the Wild fooled me, I thought they were the real deal and would be in the playoff picture all season long but then they imploded after Mikko Koivu and PM Bouchard went down with injuries.

2. Columbus still horrible

Columbus acquired Jeff Carter from Philadelphia for Jakub Voracek and a 1st round pick, which turned out to be Sean Couturier and signed James Wisniewski to a huge contract. Not addressing their need for a number 1 goaltender and to no ones surprise they are the worst time in the league. They are so bad this season, that the Blue Jackets are having a liquidation sale, everything must go, including Rick Nash. The apparent asking price is James van Riemsdyk, Sergei Bobrovsky, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier, if they didn’t trade for Carter, they would already have Couturier. Is Howson going to be fired at the end of this season? He REALLY needs to be.

1. Emergence of the St.Louis Blues

The Blues were playing .500 hockey and since hiring Ken Hitchcock have been one of the best teams in the NHL. They have no star players and no 60 point scorer yet they are 4th in the league in points and wins, and 5th in goal differential. So how are they doing it? Well, first and foremost, the Blues have a really talented and young team that boast the likes of Oshie, Pietrangelo, Backes and Perron, on top of their core of young players they’ve added veterans who know how to win in Jason Arnott and Jamie Lagenbrunner and are getting other-worldly goaltending from Halak and Elliott. The Blues just needed someone to put it all together and that came in the form of Ken Hitchcock. Hitchcock has been the perfect coach for the Blues, a team that needed some guidance and direction. The Blues emergence has made the Central division, the toughest division in the NHL.

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