2022-12-31 · 6 min read · NHL/Hockey
Cale Makar, Phil Kessel and Matthew Tkachuk

USA Today Sports | Derek Leung/Getty Images

With the 2022 on its last legs it seems like the time to take a look back at some of the biggest and best moments in the NHL this past year.
  • On January 1st the year got off to a good start with one of the best Winter Classics we have ever seen. Set in the freezing cold of Minneapolis it was negative 5.7 degrees Fahrenheit (-14.6 Celsius) at puck drop, the coldest NHL outdoor game ever. It was so cold that water bottles had to be filled with chicken broth. The NHL even had to keep insulated blankets on the ice as long as they could, to keep the rink warm enough so it didn't become brittle; literally it was too cold for the ice. The field was staged to look like a pond hockey tournament. Perfect for what the NHL called the "Lake Winter Classic," a fitting nickname since it took place in the state known as "The Land of 10,000 Lakes”. That's not all as the game itself was a wild one, with the visiting St. Louis Blues scoring five goals in the second period, an NHL outdoor game record for goals in a period by one team, in a 6-4 win. The best part may have been how the Blues arrived. All the players were wearing beach attire; they went for the plunge and were rewarded for it. They also seemingly started a new trend as when the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators met on Feb. 26 for the Stadium Series in Nashville they came dressed for the occasion. The Predators dressed in jeans, black rock 'n' roll band T-shirts, custom-made Outlaws-themed leather jackets and trucker hats. The Lightning arrived with an all-denim "Canadian tuxedos" look with jean jackets, shirts and pants.
  • Alexander Ovechkin had a bevy of beautiful moments in 2022, but two seem to stand out. In the span of 10 days Ovechkin became the third player to hit 800 goals and passed Gordie Howe for second in all time NHL goals. On December 13th against the Chicago Blackhawks Ovie found the back of the net three times for his 29th career hat trick and career goals 798, 799 and 800. Then next week on December 23rd the Great Eight touched the twine twice to pick up goals 801 and 802 in a 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets. With 802 Ovie passed legend Gordie Howe for second all time on the NHL goals list, only the great Wayne Gretzky stands above him and not by that much.
  • Speaking of extreme consistency Phil Kessel became the NHL's New Ironman on October 25th against the San Jose Sharks when he played his 990th consecutive NHL game in a row. The Golden Knights Winger broke the record set last year by then Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle, who has since retired. Three weeks later, Kessel became the first NHL player to ever play in 1,000 consecutive games played. His ironman streak hit quadruple digits when he played the Arizona Coyotes, one of his former teams on November 17th. Quite the accomplishment, especially for a player who has been the centre of criticism for his practice habits and diet decisions. Who knew the key to a long and healthy career in the NHL was dedication and hot dogs?
  • There is no discussing the biggest NHL moments of 2022 without acknowledging the 2022 Stanley Cup winning Colorado Avalanche. It took the Avs six games to get it done and stop an impressive Tampa Bay team from completing a three-peat as champions. The Avs had multiple good storylines as in 2016-17 they finished last in the NHL with 48 points. Now, five years later, they were Cup champions. There was Kadri dealing with racism and responding to it with a hat trick against the Blues in game four of the second round. Kadri then became the first Muslim to win a Stanley Cup, which he for the first time ever brought to a mosque. Avs superstar Cale Makar also had a playoff run to remember, scoring 10 points in a first round sweep of the Nashville Predators, a record for defenseman in their first four postseason games. Makar went on to become the third player to win a Conn Smythe and Norris in the same season, joining two of the best defenseman to ever play in Bobby Orr and Niklas Lidstrom
  • The Panthers and Flames had the biggest story of the summer when they completed a blockbuster trade seemingly out of the blue. The Panthers sent forward Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman Mackenzie Weegar, forward Cole Schwindt and a conditional first-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft to the Flames for forward Matthew Tkachuk and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2025. All of the players were coming off career years as Huberdeau had a career-high 115 points and led the NHL with 85 assists. Weegar put up a career-high 44 points (eight goals, 36 assists) with the Panthers. Tkachuk had a career-high 104 points (42 goals, 62 assists) in 82 games with the Flames. However Tkachuk was a restricted free agent who told the Flames he was not going to re-sign. Huberdeau, 29, and Weegar, 28, were each entering the last year of their contracts. All three have since signed eight-year deals with their new teams.
  • 2022 saw women take some major roles in the NHL starting with Emilie Castonguay who became the first woman to be named assistant general manager for an NHL team when Vancouver hired her for the position. Cammi Granato joined Castonguay, who in 2016 became the first certified NHL Players’ Association agent in Canada, in the Canucks front office on Feb. 10. Granato left her position as a scout for the Seattle Kraken to become assistant GM. Soon it was a full-blown trend with The Blackhawks promoting Meghan Hunter to assistant GM on June 22. The Toronto Maple Leafs were next doing the same for four-time Olympic women's hockey gold medalist Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser on July 5. The New Jersey Devils promoted Kate Madigan to assistant GM on July 6, and then the Kraken promoted Alexandra Mandrycky to assistant GM on Sept. 14. In addition, the Washington Capitals promoted Emily Engel-Natzke to video coordinator on July 30, making her the first woman to be a full-time coach in the NHL.
  • 2022 also saw some important Toronto Maple Leafs records change hands. Auston Matthews set a new Leafs team goals record when he became the first NHLer to hit 60 goals in one season, since Stamkos did it during the 2011-12 campaign. Matthews did this in only 73 games, putting up 106 points overall on his way to a Hart, Lindsay, and second straight Rocket Awards. Teammate Mitch Marner also had a 2022 to remember, setting a Maple Leafs record with a 23-game point streak that ended in a 3-1 loss to the Rangers on December 15. It began October 27 and the forward piled up 32 points (11 goals) in the 23 games. Marner's streak crushed the previous Maple Leafs record of 18 games, set by Daryl Sittler in 1977-78 and matched by Eddie Olczyk in 1989-90. Marner had the longest point streak for a player in the NHL since Patrick Kane had a 26 game point streak for the Blackhawks in 2015.
Lastly it seems like a good time to take a moment to acknowledge the NHL legends we lost in 2022. We sadly saw five Hall of Fame members pass away this year in Borje Salming (Nov. 24, 71 years old), Clark Gillies (Jan. 21, 67), Emile Francis (Feb. 19, 95), Mike Bossy (April 15, 65) and Guy Lafleur (April 22, 70).
Let's end on a high note a look at some of the best NHL plays of 2022
Zegras goes full Michigan
McDavid seals a first round victory
Sorokin with a sensational swat
Makar on a dime
Tavares is too slick to quit
Oettinger says no
Thompson undresses Brian Elliot
MacKinnon with no regard for human life
Sports Tree Profile

By: Chase Howard


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