30 January 2020
What a year for the NHL in 2019. We look at everything that happened during this fantastic year.
The end of the year is always an opportunity to reflect on what happened during the previous twelve months. 2019 was an epic year for fans of the game and saw some amazing events take place. We look at what happened during this most memorable of years.
Notre Dame on Ice
The year started with the historic Bridgestone Classic taking place at the famous College Football Stadium Notre Dame. The atmosphere was like that of a classic Saturday football game as the players emerged onto the ice down the tunnel that the football players normally use. The Boston Bruins went on to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2.
Lacrosse on Ice
Forward for the Hurricanes Andrei Svechnikov astonished crowds with an amazing lacrosse style goal against the Calgary Flames. He was behind the goal when he balanced the puck on his hockey stick blade and then reached over and tucked it into the top corner of the net. He was the first player in hockey history to score with a lacrosse style move.
The Blues Have It
Of course, the biggest event of the 2019 season was the St. Louis Blues historic win of the Stanley Cup. The team started the year at the bottom of the league table. Their inspiration to change their season coming from an unlikely source. Several of the players were watching the NFL playoffs and during a commercial break, the DJ played the song ‘Gloria’ by Laurie Branigan. This proved to be addictive to some of the players and when they took their ice, they were singing this song. They went on to win the game 3-0 and thus a new victory song was born. The St. Louise Blues went on to win the Stanley cup becoming the first team in NHL post-expansion history to ever win the Stanley Cup after being in the last place at any point during the season. The teams also scored a historic 123 points during the year and racked up some 59 wins as well equalling the franchise record for wins in a year.
Special for More Than One Reason
The Blue win was particularly special for one superfan. That was 11-year-old Laila Anderson. This young girl suffers from a life-threatening auto-immune disease called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. She had become friends with some of the players after they had visited the hospital in which she was a patient. A video of her emotional response to learning she was fit enough to attend game 3 of the Western Conference Finals went viral. She went on to continue to be fit enough to get to the first 6 games of the Stanley Cup final, and when she found out she would also be attending game seven another video of her crying tears of joy in response went viral again. Following the match, she was invited to join the team down on the ice. There she was even able to kiss the fabled Stanley Cup along with the players and was presented with a championship ring by them.
Push for Social Change
Racism sparked its ugly head in the sport again this year when Aliu tweeted about allegations of racist abuse against Peters. This was backed by other stories from players alleging both racial and physical abuse by Peters and several other coaches. This sparked the NHL to bring forward a plan that it had already been working on to highlight inclusion and culture. The NHL commissioner announced a four-point plan to address the issues and highlight players awareness of abusive practices and create a safe space for them to report issues going forward to eliminate the practice in the future.
In mid-December Philadelphia Flyers player Oskar Lindblom announced that he had been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. This has led to the team wearing purple and black shirts with the OskarStrong message on them ever since. The team will continue to wear these in support of their college for the rest of the season and since that time other teams have requested access to shirts in order to be able to support the player too.
Ovation for Chara
When captain for the Bruins Zdeno Chara broke his jaw in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals it seemed like his chance at seeing the ice again during those finals was done. However, sporting a face shield to protect his damaged jaw Chara took to the ice ahead of Game 5 just three days later. This led to fans and players alike giving him a massive standing ovation. Even though the Bruins didn’t go on to win the Stanley Cup they put up an amazing fight in the face of brave competition.