What a way to round out 2008 and begin 2009.
First up, we had Canada’s 7-4 triumph over the USA at the World Junior Hockey Championships, and a day later – the 2009 Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field.
Canada showed a lot of heart and a ton of skill in that come-from-behind win and the Red Wings had to battle from behind too on a perfect day at the home of the Chicago Cubs.
The Hawks jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, but over the course of the game it was Detroit grinding out the win in another “classic” outdoor game.
The Wings clawed back with a pair of Jiri Hudler tallies before Pavel Datsyuk broke through the defensive line of Cam Barker and Brian Campbell and went forehand-backhand MESH on Cristobal Huet to put Detroit ahead.
All I can say is that I wish I was there! If you didn’t get a chance to see the game, here’s a really good highlight package:
On May 5th, 2003, the Minnesota Wild embarrassed the Vancouver Canucks 7-2, the Senators disposed of the Flyers and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks advanced to the Western Final with a 4-3 win over Claude Lemieux and the Dallas Stars, Lemieux’s last NHL game.
It’s now five years later, the Mighty Ducks are just the Ducks and the 43-year-old Lemieux is attempting a return to pro hockey with the San Jose Sharks.
Claude Lemieux’s journey back to the NHL started in a pretty unusual place – Shanghai, China – home of the China Sharks, San Jose’s Asia League affiliate.
On November 25th, after five games in China, Lemieux signed an American Hockey League Contract with the Worcester Sharks, bringing him back to North America and a step closer to his ultimate goal.
That dream became all the more real when San Jose signed the four-time Stanley Cup winner to a two-way contract on December 29th. His comeback is really now just an injury and a phone call away from completion.
With the Sharks battling for first overall in the NHL, I don’t see them calling Lemieux up any time soon, but you never know. They’ve got their wily veteran in Jeremy Roenick, but maybe there’s room for two.
For the record, Lemieux has three goals and five assists in 18 AHL games this season.
I wonder who the next guy to stage a comeback attempt will be…
On December 6th, 2008, the Washington Capitals skated into the confines of the Air Canada Centre and beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1, with Canadian blueliner Karl Alzner scoring his first career NHL goal and assisting on Milan Jurcina’s game-winner.
But according to the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, that’s not all that happened that fateful night.
Viktor Kozlov did an interview shortly thereafter accusing referees of favoring the Maple Leafs in games at the ACC!
The interview wasn’t published until a few days before Christmas, but in it, Kozlov says players noticed the “slanted” and “very often biased” officiating in T.O.
Here’s a part of the Citizen article:
“It's not really biased, but helpful," Kozlov told Yahoo. "I don't even know why. Maybe because the NHL has an office in Toronto? They have all video reviews done there. Maybe it is somehow connected."
Cue the “X-Files” music!
Although it would be impossible to prove, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this were true! And it’s not like Kozlov said that after a loss, either.
If it is true, we can all learn a valuable lesson from this:
Even with alleged biased officiating – cheaters clearly never win (ahem…like the 1967 Stanley Cup champions).