It’s that time of year, folks: the listicles are coming. We decided to take a different angle on it this year, given that “Top 10 goals of 2012!” really means “Top 10 goals from the second half of last season!” thanks to the stupid lockout, and that’s just weird. So, I thought we’d look at the best of the best work Backhand Shelf contributors provided this year.

We qualified best not as “most trafficked” (because who wants to see Paulina Gretzky posts re-hashed), but as the ones that generated the most conversation and interest, as noticed by the authors themselves (also important: posts they’re proud of). Without any further ado, I’ll get out of the way – here are the best posts from our wonderful contributors, who I’m very thankful to have.

Jo InnesNobody told Derek Boogaard no

From Jo, on why she chose this post: “It’s a horrible story, but it made me think (and is still making me think) about what I do, and medicine in the NHL in general.”

“Obviously there are plenty of excellent doctors in the NHL. Doctors who care about their players’ minds, bodies, and futures, who stand their ground and refuse to clear someone if they’re not ready, and who lose sleep wondering if they’ve made the right treatment choices. Those aren’t the doctors we hear about, and that’s fine. In medicine the old cliché holds true and no news is good news. The glaring issue is that if every team physician followed the NHL’s injury guidelines to the letter, the NHL would quickly find new doctors.

As much as I’d love to be an NHL doctor I don’t envy them. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be forced to choose between doing the right thing for the player and doing what that player (coaching, management, fans) want, which is to get them back on the ice. I pointed out that “… the medical culture of the NHL is broken” and I’ve been trying to figure out what the fix is since I wrote that in June. Nope, still no ideas.”

Daniel Wagner5 awesomely terrible hockey romance novel titles

Notable passage:

 ”Sex ensues.”

Comment from Wagner: “While I sincerely wish my best post was my philosophical take on Matt Cooke’s transformation from cheap shot artist to upstanding citizen, the one that got the most attention was this post on hockey romance novels.”

Ryan LambertBarry Melrose confused me

“Melrose was downright obsessed with two things in this game: How there wouldn’t be any forechecking and how there would be no shot blocking. There wasn’t a North American amount of either, but any time it did happen, Melrose commented on it in wonder. That is, except when he felt shot blocks weren’t meritorious enough.”

Comment from Lambert: “l8r buttstain” (Seriously.)

Dave CunningInterview with Ken Hitchcock: “In this business, you learn not to hang pictures.”

Comment from Cunning: “I found this quote of particular interest – a Stanley Cup champion and Jack Adams Trophy winner not having all the answers, and still needing to learn.”

“I have a thirst to learn… I know I don’t have all the answers, and I know I don’t have all the experiences, so I seek them out instead… Talking with my peers and watching how my peers practice and play feeds the hunger for learning that I have. I talk with other coaches all the time. As long as you’re in that constant learning path, you stay fresh, you stay energized, and you stay current. The minute you get satisfied, or the minute you lose your flexibility and feel like you don’t have to learn, in our business, I think that’s when you become very stagnant. If you stand still, the game starts to go by you.”

Interview with Mike Danton: “Vick, Tyson, and Heatley all got breaks, where’s my break?”

 ”… It’s just like my first day at university; I had people triple-looking me – forget double-looking, triple-looking me – whispering, ‘that’s the guy that tried to kill somebody…’, and three weeks later, that same person would be sitting with me in the library sharing laughs, pulling pranks, and then saying, ‘Aw man, you’re great! I thought you were going to be this big mean monster guy…’ People have no idea what I’m like. They look at my mugshot that looks like I’ve got a big chew in the side of my mouth, and they see the word ‘murderer’, and they say ‘this guy can’t come in. He’s a criminal…’ and that’s their opinion and they’re free to voice it. I really don’t care.”

Ellen Etchingham: The perfect stick


“Yeah, I saw that.  Keep going.”

“Let’s see how many out of ten I can get in the corner.”

One. Two. Three.  Four goes just wide, but five and six are perfect.  Seven goes in, but low.  Eight, nine, ten.  Eight out of ten, right in the top.  Where momma keeps the cookies and/or peanut butter.

I am literally jumping for joy.  I am dancing barefoot in my living room.  I am 95% sure that this is the greatest thing I have ever done in my life.

“Now try this one.”  He tosses me Crosby.

I try Crosby, and my hands immediately turn back into pumpkins.

Women Who Watch

“So when the CBC decides to throw money at a program that believes it’s ‘breaking new ground’ by bringing the most cliched, generic, traditional gender ideologies into sports… that’s not exactly a thrilling idea. Oh goody, finally, a sports program that gives me the opportunity to talk about important issues like getting grass stains out of pants and how to please my man in bed. Thank fucking God, because, as a woman, I really do not have enough opportunities to hear about these topics already. It’s so sadly neglected, the question of which male celebrity you’d want to be your boyfriend, it absolutely is not exactly the same thing that the culture has been throwing at me since I was eight years old.”

Cam Charron (times four): Picking on Ilya Bryzgalov before it became fashionable

 ”The big-money goaltender, however successful, is no longer a key to a team’s success. A good goalie in the short-term can now be found pumping gas for the AHL affiliate’s bus, if he’s put in the right situation. And Philly have a good team. It’s not like last season they had every element but goaltending, with their starter putting up Dwayne Roloson-esque numbers every night. They had the 9th best team goaltending at even strength last season, earning saves from Bobrovsky (.923), Boucher (.925) and even Michael Leighton (.929) in a goalie-by-committee approach.”

Chiarelli, Burke and Moneypuck

But when you hear that Chiarelli has internalized some data that he hasn’t released to the public, and Burke goes off pretty convincingly against the statistics, (calling much of it “horseshit” and falsely states that “nobody has ever won a championship with Moneyball”) and looking at the position of those two teams in the standings, it’s apparent that there’s at least some value to this.

As a fan, perhaps it takes a little away from a certain magic of the game, but a grasp of a few of the concepts that are explored in hockey’s numerical blogosphere can still create insight on why certain teams make certain trades, or why your favourite team keeps giving ice time to that guy who sucks.”

Holding Rick Nash to the same standard as Alex Semin

“Some of the things said about Alex Semin and not Rick Nash when it comes down to risk. Nash makes more on a longer contract, has never been visible in the NHL playoffs, and has declined in scoring every year since 2009. In the last three seasons, Nash has taken 21 more games to score six more goals.”

The Columbus Blue Jackets are the ‘The Phantom Menace’ of hockey

You know how some people say that Nationwide Arena was built on a Native American burial ground, which is what has led to the franchise being cursed? I prefer to say that the city of Columbus was awarded an NHL franchise on the day that principal photography began on Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.”

Jake Goldsbie: Scott Howson vs. The World

“This is the same reason why Rick Nash (you have no idea how many times I’ve typed “Steve Nash” today accidentally) will never be seen in a San Jose Sharks jersey. The Sharks apparently have a deal on the table for Nash, but they had a deal on the table for Nash at the trade deadline too and Howson demanded Logan Couture be part of the deal. Because the Sharks aren’t run by a team of monkeys (this truly is the blurst of times for the Blue Jackets), they said no. Now, again, one could make the not unreasonable assumption that Howson is overreaching in this trade in demanding the budding star from the Sharks but, again, how can you blame him? How do you sell to your fan base “Ryan Clowe jerseys will be on sale soon!” Nothing against Clowe, but after trading your first and only superstar, it’d be a tough pill to swallow. That being said, I once again completely understand where Howson is coming from and why he is asking for players such as Couture.”

Chris Lund: 15 Years Gone: Remembering the Hartford Whalers

“Find someone who hates the Hartford Whalers and I’ll show you a sad little person, though I’m sure that will illicit many Bruins fan jokes. They — the Whalers — hit all the hallmarks of an inspirational franchise. A small market team with a phenomenal logo, unique color scheme and just enough talent to keep people interested.

Throw in Pucky the Whale and the Brass Bonanza and we’re barely keeping our heads high enough to avoid drowning in how legendary a franchise this was.”

Heather Galindo, AKA Ms. Conduct: The Zen of Losing

“I’m at the point now where the ethereal pleasure of a rare win is quickly replaced by the reminder that in a day or two, they will lose again. And this time, it will hurt a little more simply because this win injected, subconsciously, a foolish glimmer of hope.

Losing, on the other hand, is comfortable and familiar and expected. It can’t get worse, which is sort of a relief.”