Chicks’ picks of 2010

This article can be found published on Chicks Who Give a Puck.

By Candice Monhollan and Ally Pelphrey

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With the new year underway, Chicks Who Give a Puck offers up a look back on some of our favorite stories from 2010. From women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame to Ilya Kovalchuk’s overblown media circus, these are the stories that captivated and entertained us in 2010.

Hockey Hall of Fame Makes History

For the first time its history, the Hockey Hall of Fame inducted two women, legends Cammi Granato and Angela James from the United States and Canada.

James, during her playing days, was referred to as the “Wayne Gretzky of women’s hockey.” In 20 games over four women’s world championships, she scored 22 goals and 12 assists. Over her career, she won seven gold medals. James is already in the Ontario Ball Hockey Association Hall of Fame, OCAA Hall of Fame, the Black Hockey and Sports Hall of Fame and the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.

Granato spent 15 years with the U.S. Women’s National Team and became the all-time scoring leader with 186 goals and 157 assists. She ended her career with four gold and 16 silvers medals. Granato is already in the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

USA Hockey a Powerhouse

It’s almost impossible to look at hockey in 2010 without mentioning USA hockey. The United States emerged as a powerful force in the world of ice hockey on all levels throughout the year. In eight different tournaments, the United States walked away with seven medals: three gold and four silver – the most in one year in the 21st century.

The USA dominated the World Juniors Championship men’s tournament, winning gold in the U20, U18 and U17. The win in the U20s was only the second in USA hockey’s history.

The Winter Olympics featured a showdown between USA and Canada for the men’s hockey gold medal. USA pushed the game to overtime, but ultimately fell to Canada.

Not to be outdone were the women’s tournaments. The USA won silver at the World Juniors Championships U18 after a loss in overtime to Canada, an outcome that would be repeated in the 4 Nations Cup.

In the Winter Olympics, the women came home with a silver medal after a 2-0 loss to Canada in the gold medal game.

The only blemish on the USA’s record was at the 2010 IIHF World Championship where the team came in 13th.

The United States also had 11 players drafted in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, breaking the previous record of 10 set in 2006 and 2007.

2010 Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics showcased hockey’s best in both the men’s and women’s tournament.

The gold medal game pitted the home team, Canada, versus the neighboring United States. Excitement for the game extended to even the highest offices. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama made friendly wagers on the game.

It was a fantastic fight and the thrilling game went into overtime where Sidney Crosby, one of the top players in the world, became a hero for Canada with his “golden goal” that won it all in overtime.

According to NBC, the game attracted 27.6 million viewers, the most since the 1980 Olympics. Hockey and non-hockey fans alike gathered to watch this great battle between two rival nations and helped to put hockey in a positive light across the world.

NBC’s Bob Costas stated the gold medal game was “one of the greatest sports events I have ever seen.”

The Eastern Underdogs

2010 proved that you don’t always have to be one of the top teams entering the playoffs to make a long run. The Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers stunned the hockey world by making it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Canadiens entered the playoffs as the eighth seed and faced the President’s Trophy-winning Washington Capitals in the first round and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. Both series went seven games.

It took a shootout in Game 82 for the Flyers to even make the postseason, but they squeaked their way in and secured the seventh seed. They easily finished the first round in five games.

But the biggest task came in the second round against the Boston Bruins. The Flyers were able to overcome a 3-0 series and Game 7 deficit to win, becoming only the fourth team in sports to do so.

For the first time in NHL history, the No. 7 and No. 8-seeded team faced off in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Chicago Blackhawks End 49 Year Drought

The Chicago Blackhawks finally ended the NHL’s current longest Stanley Cup drought of 49 years in June. Patrick Kane scored the Cup-clinching goal in overtime of Game 6 over the resilient Flyers.

The Blackhawks finished the season with 112 points, the most in team history. They won the Central Division and entered the playoffs as the second seed. Credited as their turning point, their overtime win in Game 5 of the first round against the Nashville Predators helped fuel the team to the Finals.

Captain Jonathan Toews became the youngest member of the Triple Gold Club with his Olympic Gold, Stanley Cup and World Championship. He also won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP.

Kovalchuk Kontroversy

Ilya Kovalchuk brought the three ring circus to town during the 2010 off-season in a long drawn-out mess that gave hockey fans something to gawk at for months. It started before the the Olympic Break in February with Kovalchuk’s move from the Atlanta Thrashers, who drafted the star Russian forward, to the New Jersey Devils in a midseason trade after he turned down more than $101 million over 12 years.

After that, Kovalchuk drew league-wide attention as the playoffs started and free agency approached. To the amusement of many, the Devils failed to make it past the first round and Kovalchuk’s proclamations that he had only wanted to go to a winning team became laughable.

Kovalchuk’s free agency gave us all a lesson on the finer points of contract negotiation in a salary cap world, and cemented the Devils as the poster child of what not to do. The NHL shot down a 17-year $102 million contract, later approving a revised 15-year $100 million deal. It demonstrated the full reach of the league’s authority in decisions made by individual franchises. And as we all know, the Devils haven’t quite been the same this season.

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Categories: Ice Hockey, NHL, Sports

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