(Puck Daddy presents its annual look back at the year in hockey. Check back every day through the New Year for our many lists and hot takes.)
Change brings about hope. And as is often the case in sports, hope is shattered into a million tiny pieces by reality. Relive the moments that made everyone cringe as we take a look back at the top 10 biggest busts of 2015.
Who could forget the illustrious NHL career of Steve Moses? Everyone. Including Steve Moses.
Moses was the scoring leader for the KHL in 2014-15 with 57 points in 60 games. Naturally, his propensity to put the puck in the back of the net (in a league other than the NHL) made him an attractive target for NHL general managers. David Poile emerged victorious, signing the 5-foot-9 forward to a one-year, one-way, $1-million deal.
Then came training camp. Moses failed to impress the Predators brass and was assigned to the team’s AHL affiliate in Milwaukee, land of the Algonquin Indians. In 16 games with the Admirals, the forward posted 7 points in 16 games. Not terrible, but not KHL great.
On December 4, Moses was placed on unconditional waivers and his contract with the Preds was terminated. Moses returned to the KHL where with his new team, SKA St. Petersberg, he is back to his old ways scoring 3 points in 2 games. If he keeps this pace up, he may get another NHL contract out of it.
9. Connor McDavid’s Collarbone
If he really were Hockey Jesus, he wouldn’t have bones that could break.
8. CWHL, NWHL game at Winter Classic.
Technically, this game hasn’t actually been announced yet and therein lies the problem.
Elliotte Friedman announced on Hockey Night in Canada the competing women’s professional hockey leagues would play each other in a game at the Winter Classic site in Foxborough. WOOHOO! Huge win for the leagues and women’s hockey.
Well, you know the saying, “s— only rolls downward?”
Shortly after the announcement, news came out a majority of the representatives from the NWHL would not be participating due to a prior commitment with USA Hockey’s training camp for Worlds. In the days that followed, finger pointing and rumor mongering between the leagues ran high. And here we sit, weeks after Friedman’s initial report without an official announcement of the game despite everyone knowing it’s going to happen.
All parties involved, including the NHL, take blame for making a monumental event in women’s hockey and turning it into a circus.
7. Dougie Hamilton goes to Calgary.
Forgot about that one, eh? That’s an indicator of just how well Hamilton’s time with the Calgary Flames has been thus far.
Prior to this year’s draft, Dougie Hamilton was traded to the Flames from the Boston Bruins. It was a nasty split, with the Bruins throwing most of rotten eggs and Brad Treliving diving in front of them.
Hamilton signed a big six-year, $34.5-million contract and proceeded to do nothing much of consequence thus far for Calgary. His CF% went from 54.9 last season to 49.0 through 33 games. By the grace of Gord, the Flames are only one point out of a play off spot in the horrific Pacific Division but Dougie hasn’t been the impact player they expected.
The winner of the trade of defenseman between the Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins can be summed up in one quote made to Trib Live:
“If I had a chance to make that trade today, as we speak, I wouldn’t make it.”
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford broke the one rule of NHL GM fight club – don’t admit your mistakes.
Somehow, Bob Murray swapped Rutherford’s coffee with warm milk, soothing the elderly Rutherford into the right frame of mind to make this trade. Lovejoy is a fantastic quote and a great person but as a defenseman, his talents have probably peaked. Simon Despres, on the other hand, wasn’t getting a fair shot in Pittsburgh, often relegated to fighting or bottom pair minutes.
As Lovejoy continues to struggle, the solace Rutherford can take is that the Ducks are unable to benefit from Despres as he’s missed a majority of the season with a concussion.
5. Alexander Semin version 3.0.
After being bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes and joining a really good Montreal Canadiens team for peanuts, all Alex Semin had to do was show up and put in at least fourth-line effort to stay in the NHL. He just couldn’t do it. The talent Semin once displayed appeared to all but vanish in just a couple of seasons.
In 15 games with the Habs he had 4 points and was put on waivers. The Canadiens and Semin agreed to mutually part ways so that the forward could go back to Russia and play in the KHL.
4. The promise of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The world appeared to be the Blue Jackets oyster as the team acquired forward Brandon Saad in the off-season to build on a young but potentially lethal base. Add in a healthy former Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky and you’ve got yourself some hope (unrelated to Lebron James) in Ohio.
Ish got real when the season started. Once the team hit 0-4, Bobrovsky said his confidence was shot. At 0-7, head coach Todd Richards got the ax and in came resident crazy person John Tortorella. The team has made marginal gains but at the cost of core players happiness. Scott Hartnell and Ryan Johansen received free admission to the pressbox during games. Now there’s talk Johansen, among others, could be on their way out of Columbus.
3. The 2015 NHL All-Star Game.
The All-Star weekend hit its crescendo on Friday with the drunken awkwardness of the fantasy draft. From that point on, it was all downhill.
This year saw Team Toews beat Team Foligno 8239-5832 (approximately, they stopped keeping score). It was boring and unwatchable crap. With ratings that tanked, the NHL changed the format for the upcoming festivities in Nashville in the hopes it too won’t become unwatchable crap.
2. The NHL’s foray into fancy stats.
Fancy stats are all the rage right now, and naturally, NHL wants in on the action. In February, the league announced a four phase roll out of their version of advanced analytics with new names for the statistical categories and other sparkly toys.
Those in the advanced stats community criticized the NHL and their partnership with SAP on the venture from the get go. It all came to a boiling point when TSN.ca analytics expert Travis Yost wrote a scathing post on Tumblr with examples of the incompetence displayed by the NHL and SAP.
After Yost’s post went viral in the hockey community, he chatted with Puck Daddy and summed up the whole thing:
“As for right now, no, [NHL.com is] not a good source. In fact they are the worst hockey stats source I can ever recall, and it’s not particularly close. There are data integrity issues everywhere. They don’t seem to know what they are scraping. They don’t seem to know what is and isn’t relevant. The visualization is atrocious. They add no value at present time. And sadly they are getting precisely zero help from their business partner in SAP in all of this, who should know better,” he said.
Looks like we’re headed back to Phase 1?
1. The Anaheim Ducks.
Could the thud with which the Anaheim Ducks hit the ground be any louder?
An odds on favorite to at least appear in the Stanley Cup Final this season, the Ducks currently sit tied for LAST PLACE in the NHL (or to put a positive spin on it, tied for first place in the Auston Matthews Sweepstakes).
It’s not like General Manager Bob Murray set the team up for success. He allowed Matt Beleskey and Francois Beauchemin to walk and traded away Kyle Palmieri in the off-season. Those three were a major part of the Ducks success over the past few seasons. Clearly their absence as made a difference in team chemistry as well as secondary scoring.
Ryan Getzlaf has ONE GOAL. Corey Perry has scored a mere 20 points. Carl Hagelin has two goals. At least they have one expected thing: Kevin Bieksa is definitely as terrible as everyone thought he would be.
Bruce Boudreau has not lost his job yet but it hangs perilously over a sheer cliff face. It’s not all his fault. Yet, in the end, he’s going to end up falling on his sword for it.
Tomorrow: Top 10 best pop culture hockey moments of 2015
Previously on the Year in Hockey 2015:
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