The Chicago Blackhawks broke a 49-year Stanley Cup drought when they beat the Philadelphia Flyers in six games on Patrick Kane's championship-clinching goal in overtime. Check out more of the best of 2010
Bright future for top picks
Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin went Nos. 1 and 2 respectively in the NHL Entry Draft held in Los Angeles in June. Hall, selected by the the Edmonton Oilers, and Seguin, picked by the Boston Bruins, went on to make their respective rosters and have shown the skill that made them top prospects during their brief NHl careers to this point.
Phaneuf moves to T.O.
Dion Phaneuf was traded from the Calgary Flames to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 31, 2010. During the offseason, Phaneuf was named the 18th captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs on June 14, 2010, succeeding Mats Sundin, who had retired after the 2007-08 season. The Leafs spent the following two seasons without naming a captain.
Avs on the rise
Goaltender Craig Anderson helped the Colorado Avalanche move back into NHL relevance in 2009-10. The team enjoyed a 26-point improvement in the standings to 95 points, good enough for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, their playoff run ended quickly with a first-round loss to the San Jose Sharks.
Despite seeing its franchise go into bankruptcy the previous offseason and with the NHL, who now owned the team, battling in courts over potential buyers, the Phoenix Coyotes clinched a playoff spot in 2000-10, their first playoff spot since the 2001-2002 season, and in the process, reached the 100-point mark for the first time in franchise history. However, the team lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs.
Thomas turns back the clock
Two seasons ago, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best netminder. Last season, Thomas battled injuries and was replaced as starter by Tuukka Rask. But the 2010-11 season saw Thomas return to his Vezina-winning form in a stunning turnaround from the previous year.
Return of the Kings
The Los Angeles Kings ended a six-season playoff drought after entering the year with low expectations, only to fall in the first round to a loaded Vancouver Canucks team. Led by a young nucleus including forwards Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Norris Trophy finalist defenseman Drew Doughty, the Kings continued to be a success in the early part of the 2010-11 season, picking up where they left off the previous season.
Halak leads the Habs
Goaltender Jaroslav Halak came seemingly out of nowhere to lead the Montreal Canadiens to playoff upsets of the President's Trophy-winning Washington Capitals and the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. But the Canadiens lost in the Eastern Conference finals to the Philadelphia Flyers, and Halak was later allowed to leave Montreal as a free agent of the summer when he signed with the St. Louis Blues.
The Kovalchuk saga
First, Ilya Kovalchuk was traded to the New Jersey Devils after spending his first eight NHL seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers. Then, after the season, Kovalchuk became the NHL's top free agent in the summer. After flirting with the L.A. Kings, Kovalchuk re-upped with the Devils. But his orignial 17-year, $102 million deal was deemed too over-the-top by the league, since it was designed to circumvent the salary cap. But it accepted the Devils' second attempt, a 15-year, $100 million contract. But Kovalchuk spent the rest of 2010 disappointing Devils fans with his lackluster play.
Canada wins gold on home ice
Sidney Crosby's overtime goal gave Team Canada the gold medal, beating Team USA in a classic final game of the Winter Olympic tournament in Vancouver.