As you know, Puck Daddy has been running top 10 lists that chronicle anything and everything in the world of hockey in 2015.
But some things can’t be categorized. Or, in some cases, there are multiple candidates for year-end awards.
Thus, we bring you the Alternative Year in Hockey Awards. You can check out 2014’s here.
We begin, as we always do, with the REAL team of the year…
Team of the Year
The Toronto Maple Leafs.
Picture the most fertile farmland in the world, with amber waves of grain undulating as far as the eye can see. Now replace “waves of grain” with “blog posts” and you might understand why the Leafs are my team of the year.
Dave Nonis, defending the indefensible. Phil Kessel feuding with the media. The media giving Phil Kessel a hot-dogging as he’s traded. Leafs jerseys thrown in protest, and then fans getting charged for it. Everyone getting fired.
And then … Mike Babcock landing his ego in Toronto. Lou Lamoriello shocking the hockey world. Palpable hopes and dreams, including flights of Steven Stamkos fancy that aren’t that crazy, despite denials!
And that’s not even mentioning the greatest trade in recent history.
Team of the year. Sorry, Blackhawks.
Player of the Year
Jake Anderson, sophomore goalie for the University of Virginia’s club hockey team, who carried a shutout through two periods against in-state rival Virginia Commonwealth but was ejected from the game after slamming a can of Keystone Light during a timeout in the third period, which had been tossed to him by his Chi Phi fraternity brothers in the stands.
Yes, this is indeed the player of the year.
Coach of the Year
Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning coach and vintage Michael Keaton doppelgänger. The coolest guy in the room for most of the year, including the aggressive style he had the Lightning play en route to the Stanley Cup Final. What other NHL coach can claim to have had his restaurant tab covered by an opposing fan, and that opposing fan being Vince Vaughn?
Racial Harmony of the Year
After the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, WGN sent out a reporter for people-on-the-street interviews. And what he found from one gentlemen was an example of how a championship team can bring a city together.
“You know how awesome the Hawks are?” he said. “It sounds messed up but it’s true: They got black people lovin’ hockey. Ain’t that something?”
Twitter Hero of the Year
Twitter Villain of the Year
Former Toronto Maple Leafs CEO Richard Peddie, who for some unknown reason decided to take to social media and accuse Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars of partying all night and not cleaning up his trash in Yorkville, Ont. Seguin was actually not in town when the party happened.
Quote of the Year
Daughter of the Year
Jordyn Leopold is the 11-year-old daughter of Jordan Leopold, a defenseman who played for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. In January, she wrote a letter to the Minnesota Wild front office asking the team to trade for her father, a University of Minnesota product who was born in Golden Valley, Minnesota. And they did: The Minnesota Wild traded defenseman Justin Falk and a fifth-round pick for Jordyn Leopold’s dad.
Game of the Year
The 2015 NHL All-Star Game, a 17-12 giant steaming pile of elephant dung that forced the league to scrap its format for the next edition and broke the Columbus cannon.
Fans of the Year
Latvians. The beer-swilling human party machines flooded the *NHL All-Star Game balloting and cast 1,574,896 votes for countryman Zemgus Girgensons of the Buffalo Sabres, who led all players. Did he belong? Of course not. But Latvians shall not be denied.
* We should specify that was the 2015 All-Star Game, so as not to be confused with the John Scott miracle occurring now.
Bloody Commitment of the Year
Chicago Blackhawks fan Alexis Bovard was attending her first NHL game on Friday night, and had pretty sweet seats – right by the glass. But here’s the thing about the glass: Sometimes it’ll get dislodged on a big hit. Like the one Benoit Pouliot of the Edmonton Oilers laid on Niklas Hjalmarsson of the Hawks early in the first period. The glass fell out onto a cameraman, and then changed direction and toppled onto Bovard’s head.
Did she sprint for the exit? No. She bled and watched the game. “I was hoping my brain wasn’t everywhere,” she said.
Broadcasters of the Year
The Nashville Predators broadcast on Fox Sports Tennessee.
Specifically for the game that had the audio of a hardcore pornographic video playing underneath the play-by-play.
Blog Of The Year
Pension Plan Puppets, which has combined great coverage of the Leafs with some incredible writing on the Patrick Kane case and other social issues in hockey. But let’s be honest: Breaking the Steve Simmons hot dog debunking is their Watergate.
Dentistry of the Year
We saw players ripping out their own teeth this year, but the award goes to Alex, 6, whose parents helped remove a tooth by tying it to a puck and then firing it at the goal.
Worst Comeback of the Year
The return of the Glendale City Council vs. Arizona Coyotes fans, a.k.a. an episode of “Parks and Rec” come to life. Their arena lease battle seems to have a cease fire for now, but please just get the Coyotes the hell away from Glendale.
Smart Marks of the Year
Winnipeg Jets fans, who once again showed brilliance in their chant trolling with this one against the San Jose Sharks: “Who’s Your Captain?” This as the Sharks had, like, four of them under Todd McLellan.
Frustration of the year
Mike Weber of the Buffalo Sabres, who got all boo-boo faced about fans embracing the tank and cheering a loss to the Arizona Coyotes in the race to the bottom. “I’ve always spoken extremely high of our fans. I don’t even know if disappointed is the word. They score that first one and our fans are cheering. Late penalty, they cheer. They cheer when they score to win the game,” he said. “I don’t even know what to say. This is extremely frustrating for us.”
Then again, this is what you get when you incentivize losing.
Sportsmanship of the Year
A Valentine’s Day game (of course) in Kazan, Russia, ended with players born in 2006 turning going from handshakes to helmet shots, as the game officials tried to restore order.
Creative Marketing Tie-In of the Year
Terminix, for having the temerity to offer the next player that scored on Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask free extermination services for a year. Why? Because Rask had the bizarre honor of having a species of wasp named for him in Kenya – Thaumatodryinus tuukkaraski – as the team that discovered the insects had a Bruins fan among them.
The winner? Martin Erat. Yes, E-“Rat” gets extermination services.
Worst STAR WARS Moment of the Year
Surprisingly, not that part of the THE FORCE AWAKENS with the CGI monsters.
Max The Lion is the mascot for the Manchester Monarchs, the Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate. He had a birthday party in March, and like so many boys turning 14 he decided to have a “Star Wars” theme. What a thrill to be accompanied onto the ice by the Dark Lord of Sith himself, Darth Vader!
Until Vader bit it.
Rookie of the Year
Emma Nichols, 11, who went viral thanks to a highlight reel of her acrobatic and outstanding saves as a goalie in the U.K., even getting a nod from the local pro team. The NWHL and CWHL beckon.
Romance of the Year
Justin Sawyer of the ECHL Elmira Jackals, a pugilistic defenseman with 66 penalty minutes in 16 games, surprised his girlfriend Morgan Porta by proposing on the ice – on one knee – during the first period intermission of a game in January against the Reading Royals. According to her Twitter, it was the first time she had a chance to see Sawyer and the Jackals in person.
Jersey of the Year
The Bakersfield Condors’ “50 Shades of Grey” jerseys, the only hockey sweater to honor both S&M and horrible prose.
Unofficial Mascot of the Year
Barclays Center had a few issues in the New York Islanders’ first season there – like, for example, seats in which you couldn’t see a third of the ice – but one of the main ones was all the empty space they had to fill where the seating cut off. Enter the White SUV, visible during every Islander home game and owner of its own Twitter parody feed.
Hockey Writer of the Year
Mark Lazerus, Chicago Sun-Times. Along with great coverage of the Hawks through another Stanley Cup-winning season, Lazerus was also an important local voice in the Patrick Kane saga, writing pieces that were divisive before and after the investigation.
Three-Sport Athlete of the Year
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was invited to participate in the Florida Everblades’ game in February. But he didn’t play hockey – he played dodgeball. How did he do? Well, let’s just say someone could use a few lessons dodging wrenches from Patches O’Houlihan …
Analyst of the Year
ESPN’s Nate Silver, who deemed Las Vegas a bad market for NHL expansion with some amazingly insightful analytics: Taking the metro population for each city, and then using how many people searched the term “NHL” on Google to extrapolate the “NHL fan population.” Stick to exit polls, sir.
Face of the Year
TSN Headache of the Year
Surprisingly, not “life without the NHL.” But in a year in which the Canadian sports network had to deal with taking a retired player off trade deadline coverage because of a rape joke and taking a retired player off panel work because of a domestic violence charge, we’ll go with having to make an on-air apology after airing a Twitter joke alleging an adulterous relationship between Toronto Maple Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul and actress Elisha Cuthbert, the wife of teammate Dion Phaneuf.
Jumbotron of the Year
The Dallas Stars are to Jumbotrons as the Los Angeles Kings are to Twitter. It was a strong year for the Stars snarksters, although it’s tough to top this Blue Jays snipe
The Brown Paper Bag Award (NSFW – GROSS)
Linesman Mike Leggo, who vomited on the ice during a Penguins vs. Lightning game, delaying the game and amusing Brandon Sutter.
And finally …
Referee of the Year
You never really want to make yourself part of the story, but sometimes the story asks you to go to a pub and smooth things over and take a photo of doing a tequila shot and post it to Twitter. And then the story gets suspended for his next game, and then he’s not allowed to work the playoffs, and then you’re left with the fact that it’s actually a nice story in real life that’s still not exactly great at its job.
Cheers, everyone. Happy New Year.
Tomorrow: Top 10 goals of 2015
Previously on the Year in Hockey 2015:
– Top 10 players of 2015
– Top 10 hockey people of 2015
– Top 10 social media moments of 2015
– Top 10 most shocking transactions of 2015
– Top 10 most heinous on-ice acts of 2015
– Top 10 images of 2015
– Top 10 biggest busts of 2015
– Top 10 best pop culture hockey moments of 2015
– Top 10 best shootout goals of 2015
– Top 10 most controversial people of 2015
– Top 10 hockey fights of 2015
– Top 10 heartwarming moments of 2015
– Top 10 Jersey Fouls of 2015
– Top 10 saves of 2015
– Top 10 fan moments of 2015
– Top 10 games of 2015
- Ice Hockey
- Sports & Recreation
- Jordan Leopold
- Phil Kessel
- Buffalo Sabres
- Minnesota Wild
- Tyler Seguin