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ANAHEIM — Josh Manson hammered the puck into the right-hand corner from his station just inside the blue line on Monday morning at Honda Center. He skated purposefully from one end of the ice to the other. He followed along with his Ducks teammates as they went through a number of drills.

When it came time for special teams work that called for more physical contact with his teammates, Manson took a seat on the bench. Manson, a veteran defenseman, wasn’t ready for that level of competition, although his first full-speed, full-contact practice could come later this week.

It’s been nearly six weeks since Manson sprained his knee during the Ducks’ loss to the Stars on Oct. 24 at Dallas. Barring a setback, he’s likely to return to their lineup sooner than later. Certainly, he’s right in the window of their original layoff estimate of between five and 10 weeks.

Manson’s return to the lineup can’t come soon enough, as far as the Ducks are concerned. They were mired in seventh place in the Pacific Division with an 11-12-4 record going into Monday night’s game against the eighth-place Kings (11-14-2).

“We’re getting there because I saw him skating around out there with us,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said of anticipating Manson’s return to full-time duty. “When you see those steps that means all that stuff, medically, physically, fitness-wise are progressing well.

“So, him popping out there is a good step. Our fingers are crossed, but there are no guarantees.”

The Ducks have practices scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in preparation for Friday’s game against the Washington Capitals. The Capitals won a Nov. 18 game marred by a spitting incident that resulted in a three-game NHL-imposed suspension to Garnet Hathaway of Washington.

Manson’s return would give the Ducks a physical element that’s been lacking since he was injured while attempting to throw a check against the Stars’ Jason Dickinson. Manson’s injury was met with relief by the Ducks, who feared he had torn a ligament. It turned out to be just a sprain.

“All you have to do is look at our goals-against with him in the lineup and without,” Eakins said, referring to the Ducks’ 2.18 goals-against average before Manson was sidelined and their 3.63 goals-against average while he’s been out. “I think that tells a story right away.”

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Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa have entered the world of podcasting.

The “Kes and Juice Podcast” debuted today, promising to talk about “hockey, life, and other stuff.”

Longtime teammates with both the Vancouver Canucks (10 years) and Anaheim Ducks (3), Kesler and Bieksa have a lot more time on their hands these days. Bieksa, 38, is effectively retired, and hasn’t suited up since the Spengler Cup last year. Kesler, 35, is on long term injury reserve with the Anaheim Ducks and may have already played his last game due to a hip injury.

“It’s a chance to show off our personalities,” Kesler explained, before acknowledging the differences between how he and Bieksa are perceived.

“I think people get you (Bieksa) but a lot of people don’t get me,” Kesler added.

“People are going to like you (Kesler) when they get to hear you,” Bieksa said. “You were guarded [with the media in Vancouver]… When people get to actually listen to you talk, they’re going to understand why we’re friends.”

The pair spent a long time talking about their old team, with Bieksa explaining: “[The Canucks] still have a place in both of our hearts. We spent a lot of time there. We want the team to do well and get back to the playoffs.”

“I know it was a tough break up, but they’ll always have a place in my heart,” said Kesler, whose relationship with the fans in Vancouver soured when he forced a trade to Anaheim in 2014.

“When you touch the puck and you get booed every time, it definitely hurt,” said Kesler.

See also:
Sopel speaks out in support of former Canucks coach Marc Crawford
Kesler says he still isn’t over Canucks’ 2011 Stanley Cup loss in revealing interview
Bieksa shares hilarious old stories with former Canucks teammate Burrows

Kesler and Bieksa spoke about a number of things on their first podcast, discussing issues past and present. It may remind fans of the popular hockey podcast Spittin’ Chiclets, with ex-players talking openly about their playing days, with a bit of swearing mixed in.

On the topic of abusive coaches, Kesler shared his own experience from early in his career, without naming anyone in particular.

“I was kicked, I was verbally assaulted, to the point where I needed to start talking to a sports psychologist,” said Kesler.

Todd Bertuzzi was the duo’s first guest, with the ex-Canucks winger sharing an amazing story about the players partying every night during training camp and showing up to practice hungover.

Before signing off, Bertuzzi offered Kesler and Bieksa some lighthearted encouragement with their new venture: “Good luck with this sh*t. I hope you don’t f*ck it up.”

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Ever since the Philadelphia Flyers victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, the idea of two brothers playing on the same line found its way into my train of thought. The chemistry of having two brothers who have played hockey for most of their life and made it to the professional level worked before. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin were a lethal injection of offense for the Vancouver Canucks. The Flyers have a player who scored his first NHL goal against his own brother’s team. Could acquiring Ondrej Kase via trade work for Philadelphia?

In their final seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin both made $7mil a season over their last four seasons. Currently, Ondrej Kase is making $2.6mil a season with the Anaheim Ducks through 2021. David Kase is making $768,333 a season with the Philadelphia Flyers through 2020. The offensive output between the Sedin’s was a sight to behold. From their 1999 draft class, the Sedin brothers accounted for 20% of the scoring.

The trade idea is to replace an aging player on the Philadelphia Flyers with Ondrej Kase. First, I looked into a straightforward trade between the Anaheim Ducks and the Flyers that included Michael Raffl and Ondrej. That trade just wouldn’t make much sense for Philadelphia because it wouldn’t help them get out of a salary cap purgatory. So, the next contestant in this experiment was James van Riemsdyk. Yes, the Ducks would be getting the more productive player out of the gate, but the thesis here is that a younger tandem would out produce in the long run.

We know how much Ondrej and David Kase are making annually. It’s already a big chunk less in total than what James van Riemsdyk makes alone. JvR is making $7mil this season, then $6mil through 2022, followed by his final season at $4mil. Even at his lowest owed in a season, that’s more than both Kase brothers. Already, the Philadelphia Flyers are alleviating cap space.

If this trade happened today, sending Ondrej Kase to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for James van Riemsdyk to the Anaheim Ducks, the Flyers would open $2.5mil in cap space. If the trade happens at the NHL trade deadline, Philadelphia opens just $1mil. It’s a rash decision to make, but it benefits the team salary cap to make the move sooner rather than later.

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The opening round of the annual Freeway Faceoff got underway at Honda Center last night with the Anaheim Ducks emerging from the Southern California rubble with a 4-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

While the game lacked the physicality we’re used to seeing between the two teams (though there was a fight in the lower bowl amongst fans), there was no shortage of skill and exciting hockey as these rebuilding clubs managed to make the game entertaining.

The Ducks opened the scoring a little more than five minutes into the first period, when Nicolas Deslauriers fired a one-timer up high that hit off a Kings defender in front. Derek Grant, battling for position in front, saw the puck first and pushed it past Jack Campbell for the 1-0 lead and an ever exciting Grit Goal™ from the fourth line.

Anaheim would make it 2-0 on a [checks notes] power play goal? Special teams were reportedly a heavy focus over the last two Ducks practices, and it paid off with vastly improved puck movement as well as a newfound penchant to one-time the puck, culminating in Jakob Silfverberg ripping one into the back of the net off a Hampus Lindholm setup. More of that will be needed if the Ducks want to increase scoring moving forward.

The second period saw the Kings cut the Ducks lead in half when Kurtis MacDermid’s point shot got past Ryan Miller who had the sun blocked out by both Michael Amadio and Erik Gudbranson battling in front of the net.

Just 56 seconds later, however, the Ducks answered right back. Hampus Lindholm dropped down low with the puck and made an incredible saucer feed through a Kings defenders legs, over a stick, and right on to the tape of Carter Rowney in the crease for the layup. Another goal for the fourth line, but after a rough game on Friday against the Winnipeg Jets, Lindholm proved that it doesn’t take long for him to shake off a bad start.

Before the period was out, the Kings made things interesting as the Freeway Faceoff continued to live up to its reputation. Nikolai Prokhorkin took a puck right up the middle of the offensive zone and somehow beat both Korbinian Holzer and Brendan Guhle who had let him skate right past without much of a real fight. Prokhorkin deked backhand-forehand and put it past Miller to make it 3-2 and leave Holzer and Guhle wondering why waiving their sticks at a player didn’t end up being a good defensive strategy.

The third period say the Kings playing mostly in the offensive zone as they furiously tried to even the game. Fortunately, Miller had rebounded from his poor performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning and kept the Ducks lead alive with some great saves and great positioning.

After icing the puck and a couple of failed clears with the Kings net empty, Ryan Getzlaf retrieved the puck and fed it to Derek Grant who chipped it into the empty net for his second multi-goal game of the season and another round of supporters preaching the gospel of the Elite 1C.

With the 4-2 win, the Ducks are just three points out of a playoff spot, though they also still sit eighth from the bottom of the league.

Up next: The Ducks host the Washington Capitals on Friday at 7:00 PM.
Best And Worst

Best: Elite 1C for All Star Game – Derek Grant is currently on a 23 goal pace and is ahead of names like Evgenii Malkin and Tyler Seguin in scoring. Let’s be real here: Grant’s overall shot metrics on the season are not anywhere close to good. But he’s putting up points and contributing more than most bottom six player in the league at the current moment. So, who wants to John Scott him into the All Star Game?

Best: Ryan Miller is back – Miller gave up six goals in his last start against a Lightning team that hasn’t been as potent as usual two weeks ago. Fortunately, he was back on his game tonight and was the number one reason why the Ducks were able to hang on for a victory. He stopped 34 of 36 shots and, for the most part, looked calm and poised in net.

Best: Top line domination – The top line of Devin Shore, Ryan Getzlaf, and Troy Terry pretty much had their way with the Kings. Looking at the shot attempt and expected goal differential charts below, Los Angeles barely got any shots off against this line, let alone quality chances. It would be great to see Dallas Eakins keep this line together for a few more games to see if this was a fluke or if there might be some real chemistry here.

Worst: On their heels – The Ducks were outshot heavily. That’s a fact. And while they did a good job getting high quality chances from the shots they did have as evidenced by the heat map below, there’s only so much a team can take as far as volume is concerned. Don’t expect the Ducks to win these kinds of games often.

Worst: Holzer’s struggles – Korbinian Holzer has spent his entire career up until this point as a top AHL defenseman and a good seventh defenseman at the NHL level. This is his first year getting regular playing time, but we’re starting to see why he is best limited in his NHL minutes. This game highlighted how much he struggles with regular playing time at this level, and at this point there might be better options on the blueline like Josh Mahura, Chris Wideman, or Simon Beniot, who have all excelled in San Diego this season.

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ANAHEIM — The game was only 72 seconds old when Ducks goaltender John Gibson went down and couldn’t rise to his feet. He had absorbed a blistering shot to the body from the right wing, then gloved another from the left while lying in a prone position.

Athletic trainer Joe Huff hustled off the bench on his way to check on Gibson.

Ducks fans went silent. Would this be another one of those nights?

Gibson stayed in the game and made 26 saves for his first shutout of the season and the 19th of his career. Ryan Getzlaf and Cam Fowler each had a goal and an assist and the Ducks ended the New York Islanders’ 17-game point streak with a 3-0 victory Monday night at Honda Center.

After a harrowing start that included Gibson requiring medical attention, the Ducks rallied smartly. Getzlaf scored the only goal they would need on a scramble play midway through the second period, and Fowler and Ondrej Kase added insurance goals in the third.

The Ducks (11-11-3) limited the Islanders (16-4-2) to only 10 shots over the final two periods. New York’s Mathew Barzal went into the game with a team-leading nine goals and 20 points, but the Ducks held him without a shot. Barzal also was on the ice for all three Ducks goals.

“I thought we did OK against them,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said, understating the obvious. “Getting us through that first period, ‘Gibby’ was excellent. We got our feet underneath us and started to battle back. I was really proud of our guys with how they played and stuck with the game plan.”

Gibson set the tone early, turning away each of the 16 shots he faced in the first period. The Ducks, and especially Getzlaf, picked him up over the next two periods. Getzlaf was credited with a goal that New York’s Jordan Eberle tapped into his own net at 10:26 of the second.

Getzlaf then fed a trailing Fowler for a third-period goal that made it 2-0 at 13:13 of the final period. Fowler earned an assist on Ondrej Kase’s game-clinching goal only 71 seconds later, helping to end the Ducks’ three-game losing streak (0-2-1) and giving them only their second win in 10 games (2-5-3).

It was a statement game from Getzlaf, who called out the Ducks after Saturday’s 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, when he said they “quit” after giving up the tiebreaking goal in the second period. Getzlaf was the best player on the ice Monday.

“That’s definitely the response we wanted,” said Getzlaf, the Ducks co-leader with nine goals. “We talked a little bit as a group and some things were said. It was necessary to respond as a group, and I thought we did a good job of that, playing 60 minutes.”

Above all, the Ducks improved as the game progressed, a departure from their losses to the Lightning on Saturday and to the Florida Panthers on Thursday, when they squandered a four-goal lead en route to a 5-4 overtime loss. On Monday, they took the Islanders’ best shot and kept skating.

“I just felt like we didn’t let up,” Getzlaf said. “Throughout the game, we sustained what we wanted to do. (There were) a lot less turnovers at their blue line. We kept the puck moving forward and we got rewarded for it. … Our ‘D’ did a great job tonight. Again, responding.

“That’s a big part of moving forward and building as a group, being able to take criticism.”

In the wake of the losing streak, Eakins shuffled his defense pairs Monday, teaming Hampus Lindholm with fellow Swede Jacob Larsson and Fowler with Erik Gudbranson while keeping Brendan Guhle and Korbinian Holzer together for the second consecutive game.

“Well, it’s obviously a great challenge,” Fowler said of blanking the Islanders. “They’re one of the hottest or the hottest team in the league, so easy game for us to get up for. We believe we can compete with anybody if we play consistently for 60 minutes, and we did that tonight.”

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Michael Del Zotto hit a once-in-a-lifetime shot Saturday. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t result in a goal.

The Anaheim Ducks defenseman accidentally flipped a puck into referee Francis Charron’s pocket during the third period of their game against the New York Islanders.

Del Zotto was in his own zone and tried to move the puck to one of his teammates. Instead he tossed a backhand pass into the right-front pocket of Charron’s pants, forcing a stoppage in play.

You can read Charron’s lips as he says, “It was in my pocket,” and fear not, no officials were hurt during this remarkable play. But it did make for a good laugh once the mystery of the disappearing puck was solved.

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — During an awfully sluggish start by Minnesota, the Anaheim Ducks took full advantage.

They capitalized on a finish by the Wild that left plenty to be desired, too.

Rickard Rickell and Max Comtois scored in the shootout, and the Ducks fended off the Wild 3-2 on Tuesday night for their first win in their last six road games.

“We’ve been in a lot of close games lately and coming out on top of this one, it’s a huge deal for us,” Rakell said. “Just the environment, the feeling in the room.”

Rakell and Cam Fowler scored for the Ducks in a dominant first period during which they had a 14-1 advantage in shots on goal and Minnesota lost center Eric Staal to an injury. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, whose team started 3-7, declared that their worst 20 minutes of the season.

“It’s pretty embarrassing, and I told the guys that,” Boudreau said, adding: “Every time there was a competition for a puck, they came up with it.”

Ryan Hartman put the Wild on the board in the second. Ryan Donato tied the game early in third, when Zach Parise hustled behind the net to knock Ducks defenseman Josh Manson off the puck and set up his teammate in front of goalie John Gibson.

Donato had a breakaway early in overtime that Ryan Getzlaf thwarted with a tripping penalty, but the Wild failed to convert on the power play for the fifth time in the game and fell to 0 for 12 in their last four. The Ducks were even down a broken stick during the 4-on-3, but the Wild only put one shot on net.

“It doesn’t happen too often, but I think it’s something maybe we need to look at a little more to find our options a little bit,” Parise said.

Boudreau wouldn’t buy that.

“Yeah, we need to practice it more, but there are things that happen 10 times a night that you have to be better at,” he said. “It’s not like, quite frankly, there was a first-year player on the ice.”

Gibson, who is 6-3-1 in 11 career starts against Minnesota, denied Parise in the shootout. Kevin Fiala went wide right with his attempt.

“We showed a lot of character in the third. I think we could have pulled out the win in overtime, but we stuck with it,” Comtois said.

The Wild started a three-game homestand that is their longest to date this season, after playing 20 of their first 30 games on the road, the most in the NHL in that span in 14 years. They are 7-1-3 at Xcel Energy Center, giving them confidence in a continuation of their recent surge once the schedule begins to balance out. Until losing 6-2 at Carolina on Saturday, the Wild went 8-0-3 in their previous 11 games for the second-longest point streak in franchise history.

The Ducks, in their first season under coach Dallas Eakins, were 3-8-4 in their previous 15 games. Their latest setback was a knee injury Friday to left wing Nick Ritchie that could keep him out for two months or more, though Manson returned from a 19-game absence due to a knee injury.

After losing consecutive 3-2 games to league-leading Washington on Friday and at Winnipeg on Sunday, the Ducks seized the lead barely three minutes in. Jakob Silfverberg snagged a rebound from Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen and slipped it across the crease to Rackell for his ninth goal of the season. Then about seven minutes later on a power play, Fowler zipped a one-timer through traffic that Kahkonen, screened by Ducks center Adam Henrique, did not appear to see. The Wild have given up a power-play goal in nine of their last 10 games.

The evening began with a tribute to Wild captain Mikko Koivu for playing in his 1,000th career game on Dec. 1, pushing the faceoff back by about 10 minutes.

“These things can work for you and against you, when you have those ceremonies before the game,” Eakins said, adding: “Our guys were certainly ready to go.”

Staal, who’s tied for the team lead with 21 points, collided headfirst with linesman David Brisebois after chasing the puck along the boards and was down on the ice for a few minutes before slowly leaving with assistance for examination. The Wild were already missing three key players in Koivu, goalie Devan Dubnyk, and defenseman Jared Spurgeon.

NOTES: The Wild brought back former teammates Niklas Backstrom, Kyle Brodziak, Marian Gaborik and Nick Schultz for the ceremony as a surprise to the 36-year-old captain and center. Koivu’s parents, wife and three children were also on the ice as Gaborik, who leads Koivu by 16 goals on the franchise list, presented him the traditional silver stick. … Fowler tied Rakell and Marty McInnis for ninth place on the franchise list with 25 career power-play goals. … Rakell has six goals and six assists in his last 15 games. … Donato has four goals and one assist in his last eight games. … Wild rookie defenseman Brennan Menell made his NHL debut, with one blocked shot in 10:23 of ice time.

UP NEXT

Ducks: Return home to face Los Angeles on Thursday. Anaheim hosted its Southern California rival just 10 days ago, winning 4-2. The Kings are the only team behind the Ducks in the Western Conference standings.

Wild: Host Edmonton on Thursday. They beat the Oilers 3-0 at home on Oct. 22.

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Troy Loney won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins and played 12 NHL seasons before retiring in 1995.

Now, almost two decades later, he’s about to get into a different side of the hockey business.

Loney and his wife Aafke will be announced as partial owners of the Youngstown (Ohio) Phantoms junior hockey team on Thursday morning, a source familiar with the situation told City of Champions.
Troy Loney helped the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and ’92. (Photo: Pittsburgh Penguins)

The Phantoms are in the midst of their fifth season in the United States Hockey League, which is considered the top-tier junior-level circuit in America. The USHL differentiates itself from the Canadian major-junior leagues (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) by allowing its players to maintain NCAA eligibility.

Phantom Fireworks founder Bruce Zoldan has served as owner and CEO of the Phantoms since their inception as a North American Hockey League franchise in 2003. The team stepped up to the USHL as an expansion team for the 2009-10 season, making Youngstown’s Covelli Centre its home.

According to the source, the Loneys will also take over day-to-day operations of the franchise, duties that have previously been under the control of Zoldan and his subordinates.

The Loneys’ Phantoms connection began in 2010, when their son Ty joined the team late in its first USHL campaign. Ty, now a junior forward at the University of Denver, played 71 games for Youngstown before moving on to college hockey.

Troy, 50, was selected by the Penguins in the third round of the 1982 NHL Draft. He went on to play 624 regular-season NHL games – 533 of which with Pittsburgh – scoring 197 points in the process. Loney played in every game of the 1991 and ’92 Stanley Cup playoffs, serving in a checking-line role as the Pens claimed back-to-back titles.

Loney was picked up by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the 1993 expansion draft, then finished his playing career in 1995 with the Rangers and Islanders.

It’s on a much smaller scale, but Loney joins old Penguins teammate Mario Lemieux as players-turned-owners.

UPDATE (10:15 a.m.) – The Loneys met the Youngstown-area press Thursday morning at the Covelli Centre.

Troy alluded to the Penguins’ grassroots efforts in western Pennsylvania and the Tri-State Area in describing the possible impact of his family managing the Phantoms.

“The Penguins are very excited about this,” Troy said. “They’re looking to grow hockey in the surrounding area.”

The Phantoms are still seeking a new long-term lease with the Covelli Centre, but Troy reiterated that he and his wife intend to pour every effort into helping junior hockey stick in the Mahoning Valley region.

“I’m looking forward to a long-term partnership,” he said. “We’re committed to this town, and growing the fan base here.”

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If you’re looking for the biggest stories in the hockey world over the past decade, you’ll have to look beyond the ice. Far beyond it. While the 2010s produced some of the most eye-popping and dynamic talent the game has ever seen, much of what we’ll remember about it the most happened away from the rink. Here are the top stories of the past 10 years:

10. 2012-13 Lockout
For the third time in NHL history, a season was disrupted when the owners locked the players out after failing to reach a collective bargaining agreement. The NHL, as always, was the big winner in the standoff, reducing the players’ share of revenues from 57 to 50 percent, and eliminated the ridiculously front-loaded contracts. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said five-year term limits was, “the hill we will die on,” and didn’t get it. The players failed to enshrine Olympic participation as part of the deal, which paved the way for the league to pull out of the 2018 Games against the players’ wishes.

9. Return of the Winnipeg Jets
When the NHL needed an NHL-ready landing spot for the Atlanta Thrashers in the summer of 2011, it chose Winnipeg, a market without an NHL team since the original Jets left for Phoenix 15 years prior. Since then, the Jets have built a model franchise, accumulating assets through the draft and doing a good job of convincing them to stay on the Prairies. There has not been a ton of on-ice success and, despite being picked by The Hockey News to win the Stanley Cup in 2019, lost in the first round of the playoffs.

8. Alex Ovechkin
No player has even come within the same area code of the 425 goals (through games of Dec. 21) scored in the decade. He scored 50 goals four times – and could be on his way to another 50-goal campaign this season – and picked up six Rocket Richard Trophies to go along with his Hart Trophy in 2012-13 and his Ted Lindsay Award in 2010. But it was in 2017-18 that Ovechkin finally realized his dream and proved to the hockey world that he could win when it mattered. Not only did the Capitals win the Cup in 2018, but they did it behind the inspired play of Ovechkin, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy. Could Ovechkin passing Wayne Gretzky for all-time goals be the story of the 2020s? It’s still a longshot, but it’s remarkable we’re even having the conversation.

7. The NHL’s gamble pays off
Aided by the most generous rules in expansion draft history, the Vegas Golden Knights put together the best first season of any team in professional sports. Five days before the Golden Knights played their first-ever game, a gunman opened fire on a crowd at a music festival, killing 58 people in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The franchise responded by reaching out to the victims and their families as well as the first responders. The ‘Golden Misfits’ won six of their first seven home games and crafted an unbelievable season that culminated in a berth in the Stanley Cup final.

6. Blackhawks Up
After decades of languishing as one of the league’s most moribund and neglected franchises, the Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years in 2010, starting a run that qualifies them as a modern-day dynasty. They followed that up with Cups in 2013 and 2015 and sold out every one of their home games in the decade (as of Dec. 22). The end of the decade brought the predictable ebb in fortunes that comes after a team has a run of success, but there more than two dozen franchises in the NHL that would trade this decade with the Blackhawks in a heartbeat.

5. Connor McSavior
He first entered the consciousness of the hockey world while playing minor hockey in Toronto and even before he played a game with the Erie Otters as an exceptional player, Connor McDavid was being labeled a generational talent. And so far in his NHL career he has done nothing to suggest the label was overhyped. If anything, perhaps the hype wasn’t even large enough. The NHL has never, ever seen a player with the gifts McDavid has. By the end of the decade, McDavid had established himself as the best player in the world. The only thing that has eluded him is playoff success. That should come in the next decade as the Edmonton Oilers, after so many attempts, finally look as though they’re starting to get it right.

4. Sid’s golden goal
Prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics, the game had never been played at a higher level than the 1987 Canada Cup when Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux performed their magic. From start to finish, the 2010 tournament was a spectacular display of the game at its best, on the biggest stage in the world. And it was capped off by an overtime goal by a 22-year-old Sidney Crosby at 7:40 of the extra frame. Down by two goals in the second period, Team USA fought back, tying the score with just 24.4 seconds remaining. It was the most-watched hockey game in the U.S. since the Miracle on Ice in 1980 and half of Canada watched the game in its entirety.

3. Matt Cooke and Rule 48
In a game on March 7, 2010 in a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins, Cooke delivered a blow to the head of Marc Savard that knocked Savard out of the lineup for two months. And the hit was perfectly legal at the time. Responding to outrage that Cooke had not been suspended, within 17 days the league did something almost unprecedented, invoking an in-season rule. This one was Rule 48, and while it came short of invoking a complete ban on blows to the head, it did begin to seriously penalize hits such as the one Cooke put on Savard.

2. Concussions, premature deaths and CTE
The NHL lost former enforcers Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak, Rick Rypien and Todd Ewen, all of whom took their own lives. The deaths brought to light the role of enforcers in the game and how the league dealt with the health problems brought on by repeated concussions. It ultimately led to a concussion lawsuit on behalf of more than 300 former players. The two sides settled six years after the lawsuit was launched, with plaintiffs receiving up to $22,000 and up to $75,000 worth of treatment. To this day, commissioner Gary Bettman has dismissed a direct link between concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a disorder that can only be diagnosed after death.

1. Humboldt Broncos bus crash
On the afternoon of April 6, 2018, 13 people were killed and another 16 injured when a semi-trailer truck collided with a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos to a playoff game in nearby Nipawin. The worst tragedy in Canadian sports history rocked the hockey world to its core. A GoFundMe campaign raised a record $15 million for the families of the dead and injured. The driver of the truck was charged with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and received concurrent sentences of eight years. The families have lobbied for stricter guidelines around training and governing truck drivers and installing seatbelts on buses, but change has been slow.

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Chuck Fletcher was somewhat judicious and reticent when asked for his thoughts on the NHL Department of Player Safety’s three-game suspension given to Joel Farabee.

Alain Vigneault did not hold back.

Farabee, a 19-year-old rookie, was handed a game misconduct for interference on Mathieu Perreault during the Flyers’ 7-3 defeat last Sunday to the Jets. Moments before he delivered his hard hit, Farabee was crosschecked from behind in front of Winnipeg’s net. His check came after Perreault passed the puck up the boards.

During the Flyers’ 4-3 win over the Senators on Dec. 7, Travis Konecny was drilled in open ice by 30-year-old Mark Borowiecki, a player with a history of suspensions. No penalty was called on the play and Borowiecki did not receive supplemental discipline.

Vigneault was left confounded after comparing both hits. When asked Tuesday if he was surprised by the number of games the NHL handed down on Farabee, the Flyers’ head coach said bluntly: “Yes.”

And he explained why:

“Initially on that play, if you watch it and if you listen to the explanation of the NHL, they say [Farabee] was pushed from behind. He was crosschecked from behind,” Vigneault said. “It should have been a penalty, we should have been going on the power play. The time between the puck being passed and the hit I think is 1.34 seconds, which is late. But T.K.’s one just a few days before that was 1.04. There’s .3-something seconds difference. One is nothing, one is a three-game suspension to a young man that has no history.

“Sometimes things are hard to figure out. You’ve just got to roll with it and deal with it. That’s the best explanation that I can give you.”

The Flyers, who were already undermanned at forward because of injuries, will miss Farabee all week — Tuesday vs. the Ducks (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP), Thursday vs. the Sabres (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Saturday at the Senators (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

“I’ve been in this game a long time, I’m not meaning this to sound flippant or anything, I don’t have an opinion. I don’t know,” Fletcher said. “[Head of the NHL Department of Player Safety George Parros] and his staff work hard, they look at these things and have the experience to know previous hits. I don’t spend the time to the level he does to really comment. Obviously it’s a blow for us. If anything, I think this road trip showed how competitive [Farabee] is. Certainly might be as competitive a hockey player as we have — a 175-pound 19-year-old kid.

“He certainly earned the respect of everybody in that room and from us. … That’s a blow for us to lose him for three games, but that’s hockey.”

On Tuesday night, the Flyers will at least see the return of Konecny, who missed the club’s 0-3-0 road trip with a concussion suffered on the hit from Borowiecki.

“I had the puck on my stick and he hit me,” Konecny, the Flyers’ leading scorer, said. “I wasn’t watching, I should know who’s on the ice at all times, you know that he’s definitely a player that’s going to take advantage of guys not looking. It’s my fault, I didn’t have my head up.

“Joel’s hit, it’s tough, it’s the NHL’s decision to make those calls. I feel like those two hits were a little different. I can’t really compare them.”