(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.)
Without fans there would be no NHL. Here we celebrate our fellow puck heads that love the game as much as we do … or maybe a little too much.
10. Kevin Spacey the newest, most excited Florida Panthers fan
The ‘Spacey in Space’ sweatshirt donned by the Florida Panthers became a league-wide phenomena in the 2015-16 season. Even Kevin Spacey, whose likeness is on the sweatshirt, got in on the fun by sending videos to play on the jumbotron during games.
He finally attended a game in Sunrise in March. The crowd was outfitted with Spacey’s face on a stick and the actor donned one too until the big reveal.
For a decorated actor such as Spacey, this appeared to be one of the most joyous moments of his life.
9. The Puppy Challenge
Sweeping the NHL in early 2016 was something we affectionately called ‘The Puppy Challenge.’
The steps are simple:
1. Adorable young fan with amazing seats makes a sign informing a specific player that his or her parents will get them a puppy if that player scores a goal.
2. Player sees that sign, and is thus motivated to do the 2016 version of Babe Ruth hitting a home run for a child in a hospital bed, which is scoring a goal to get a privileged young person a gift from his or her parents.
3. Player scores a goal. A puppy finds a home. Heart-eyes emoji.
It started with Bobby Ryan. The Ottawa Senators forward netted his 17th goal of the game after the Jansen family posted the “BOBBY DAD SAID IF YOU SCORE WE GET A PUPPY!” sign during warmups.
A few weeks later, the Jansens adopted a husky mix and named him ‘Bobby.’
Next up was Cam Atkinson of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Standard ‘puppy challenge’ guidelines were followed. Lucky for the little girl’s parents, Atkinson scoring A goal would allow for their daughter to get A puppy. Had it been one puppy for every goal scored by Atkinson, the little one would have ended up with three as Atkinson netted the hat trick that night.
Looks like we’re going puppy shopping. Thanks @CamAtkinson13 pic.twitter.com/ZV8svd5xT2
— Brian Wright (@cubbiesfan71) January 26, 2016
Atkinson was stoked he could help the nine-year-old get her dog. So much so he paid for all the adoption fees of the three-year-old pup named Wrigley and any other expenses the family had as they settled Wrigley in.
Note to parents, don’t pick goal scorers if trying to get out of getting a puppy for the kids.
If you go to a hockey game and don’t want to get a puppy for your kid, just tell them to hold up a sign asking Ryan Getzlaf to score.
— Brian McCarthy (@brianmccarthy1) January 26, 2016
8. Jake Guentzel’s family reaction to goal
On his first shot in his first NHL game for the Penguins, Jake Guentzel scored. While that’s a great moment for the player, his family is what made it spectacular.
Mom, dad and brother absolutely cannot believe what they just saw.
7. Tracksuit night in Winnipeg
Evander Kane’s return to Winnipeg was given an unofficial theme by the fans – tracksuit night.
One of the reported many reasons Kane was shipped from the Jets to the Buffalo Sabres was a run in between the forward and then-teammate Dustin Byfuglien. Allegedly, Byfuglien threw Kane’s tracksuit in the shower and Kane stormed off only to miss that night’s game. Based on that incident, tracksuit night was born.
Jets fans young and old did not disappoint. They brought out their poly-blend best and money phones to ‘welcome’ Kane back to the True North. Check out our gallery from the night to see some of the best.
Kane ended up with the better night. He helped teammate Sam Reinhart get his first NHL hat trick and the Sabres a 4-2 win.
6. Kings fans excited they won the 2016 Stanley Cup
Two months after the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup, the Los Angeles-based Jimmy Kimmel Live took their ‘Lie Witness News’ segment directly the the LA Kings faithful and congratulated THEM on their team’s win. Gord bless ’em.
Congrats to this guy who is our ‘idiot fan of the year.’
As he probably told his friends (after getting out of the drunk tank?), he had the ‘best night ever’ at the Guelph Storm versus Mississauga Steelheads game. He climbed the glass and paraded around the ice like he had nary a care in the world.
The funniest part is that no one really tried to stop him. They let him have his moment. That and it was a 7-2 hockey game in the second period. Might as well give the paying attendees some sort of show.
Aside from children masterfully using hockey players as pawns to get puppies, we saw a ton of moments from kids this year that even the most hardened curmudgeon has to chuckle at. Instead of picking just one, here are some of our favorites from the littlest puck heads.
This little guy had to get fist bumps from the players as they made their way out of the locker room. He made like a spider monkey (with a help from an adult) risking life and limb to accomplish his goal.
Then there is Colorado Avalanche fan Joey who tells Jeremy Roenick to ‘hit the gym.’
Young Mason riled up the faithful in Detroit to the point the fans were booing when he wasn’t on the Jumbotron. The Red Wings played along by making him their honorary first star of the game.
The Red Wings won – but this little kid won the hearts of every person at Joe Louis Arena. WATCH: Hilarious response from the fans. pic.twitter.com/FlpTFbfbCp
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) December 18, 2016
These two little Montreal Canadiens fans look like they won the lottery after getting pucks from their favorite team during warmups.
The same kid gave Brendan Gallagher a hilarious ‘heyyyy what’s da big idea?!’ after he scared him by tapping his stick on the glass.
Gallagher putting the fear of God into that happy child cc @THWMark pic.twitter.com/HZ7GrfJ7s4
— Stephanie (@myregularface) January 27, 2016
Calvin Pickard gave this Avs fan a puck and made his entire young life. Even his mom can tell how much it means to the kid as she appears to get teared up embracing her overjoyed kiddo.
Us puck heads can be downright superstitious when it comes to our jerseys.
This Pittsburgh Penguins fan must not have parted with her Sidney Crosby jersey since the team won the Cup and refuses to allow it out of her possession.
@penguins Young one has her priorities in line!! #crosby #87 #jersey #notyoursmine #sidneycrosby pic.twitter.com/Y4emK00dIb
— Cory Hill (@CoryMichaelHill) December 6, 2016
We’ll close with Obadiah Gamble.
Not only does he have an awesome name, he is the most enthusiastic Minnesota Wild fan ever. Watch him give the ceremonial ‘Let’s play hockey’ and then flip out when the Wild score while he’s being interviewed.
3. Bra throwin’, raunchy interviewing givin’ elderly Philadelphia Flyers fan
After Brayden Schenn scored a hat trick, Anne, an 80-year-old Flyers fan who didn’t have a hat, tossed her leopard print brazier onto the ice.
Did you see this? You won’t believe what this woman threw on the ice after @Bschenn_10 had a hat trick on Monday. pic.twitter.com/Ll8THdLVm2
— Breakfast on Broad (@BOBonTCN) March 2, 2016
The following Monday, Anne was invited on Breakfast on Broad for an interview. What resulted was a jaw-dropping NSFW interview with the fan on topics that ranged from the Harlem Globetrotters and their *ahem* balls to an offer to Bernie Parent after he hurt his arm.
Here’s the Parent part of the interview. Again, NSFW and probably not something you want to watch if you’ve just had a meal.
Our friends at Awful Announcing have the full interview. You’ve been warned.
2. Tony X.
Anthony Homes is best known to hockey fans Tony X or @soloucity on the Twitter machine.
The newest St. Louis Blues fan became a viral sensation after sending out a series of tweets during Game 7 between the Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Some of the highlights include:
“Yo deadass this the first time I’ve ever watched hockey and this [crap] has been LIT for these first 45 seconds.”
“White people been hiding hockey from us for years bruh. This [crap] lit.”
He continued to espouse on hockey as the Blues moved on through the next round. Tony X even drew the attention of @Strombone1 (Roberto Luongo)
@soIoucity don’t google 2011 SCF
— Strombone (@strombone1) April 28, 2016
The Blues embraced Tony X. as he continued to draw national attention.
In an interview with Good Morning America the Ambassador of Fun, Brett Hull, invited Tony X. to Game 3 of the semifinals against the Dallas Stars for his first hockey game ever.
WATCH: Twitter user @soIoucity goes viral for hockey live-tweets; gets surprise from @StLouisBlues, @HOFBlues16 https://t.co/mTazeDYaB1
— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 28, 2016
He attended the game sitting a row up from the glass, and got a rousing round of applause when he was on the big screen.
Everyone’s new favorite hockey fan, Tony X (@soIoucity) , is at the Blues game tonight. ???? pic.twitter.com/PTSel77qEv
— Hockey Tweets (@HKY_Tweets) May 4, 2016
Tony X used Twitter to chronicle his night. It was really fun to see hockey for the first time through the eyes of a new fan.
Alas, the Blues would not get to the promise land of the Stanley Cup Final. Perhaps they needed Tony X. with them wherever they went.
There was to be one final public celebration of Tony X. at the NHL Awards. Only one problem, the guy never showed up. The NHL integrated the missing star into the show by creating the hashtag #TonyMIA. The show is in Vegas. It was only natural if Tony X. found something better to do. Turns out he missed his original flight and any other flight would have put him in Vegas too close to the start of the show. He was deeply apologetic. We forgive you, Tony X. For you are the one that brought so much joy to us.
1. John Scott the people’s champion
There are some places in North America where the popular vote actually means something. No better is this exemplified than the democratic process that was the 2016 All-Star Game voting and the MVP for Scott at the game itself..
The fans got together and (in some way) stuck it to the NHL by voting Scott into the game. The league, to its credit, didn’t pull some shady shenanigans to keep him from the game; they let the teams do that.
At the game itself, when it was realized that Scott was not among the MVP nominees for the game the Nashville crowd took it upon themselves to air their grievances and boo loudly. Online fans deluged the NHL with #VoteNHLScott despite it not being an option presented.
In the end, the fans won. They chanted ‘MVP’ as Scott was raised to on the shoulders of his teammates.