Hockey Hugs is a feature that celebrates the best in hugging from around the sport of hockey, because who doesn't love a good hug now and then? Have you seen a particularly good hug photo lately? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet it to @HarrisonMooney.
Welcome back to Hockey Hugs, the celebrated Puck Daddy feature that celebrates celebrations.
More specifically, celebrations featuring a healthy dose of dude love. (Not to be confused with Dude Love. He doesn't appear in any of these photos.)
Hockey is back, which means hockey hugs are back. Granted, much like those annoying junior hockey fans that insist "hockey was never gone", hockey hugs, too, managed to make an appearance during the lockout. But I think we can all agree it's not quite the same without the NHL.
As the writer of this feature, I'm happy that NHL hockey has returned, especially because it seems clear from the additional enthusiasm present that the NHLers are as well. Hockey hugging, like fighting, is way up in the early season. These are some quality cuddles.
You've got your tender hugs, like Andrew Ladd and Nik Antropov above. Why so serious? Well, they've been apart for four months. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or maybe that's absinthe? It's one of those.
And then you've got your joyous hugs, like Cal Clutterbuck and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. How can you not love it (unless you're a fan of the team that just got scored on, which is why I assume the young woman to the left in the Colorado Avalanche jersey very clearly does not love it).
But I'm sure she'd be into today's top five.
No. 5, Calgary Flames
Jarome Iginla celebrates too loudly for Mikael Backlund.
"Indoor voice, Jarome. Some of us are Swedish."
No. 4, New Jersey Devils
Maybe it's because he spent the last four months in Russia, but Ilya Kovalchuk's been hugging all week like his Mom just dropped him off at space camp and he's reuniting with the guys he met last year.
"Patrik! What cabin are you in? Me and Andy are in Hemlock.
"No flipping way! This is gonna be the best summer of our lives!"
No. 3, Boston Bruins
Milan Lucic turns on the glower to deter Johnny Boychuk from turning a tender moment into a group hug.
"You get the Hell out of here, Boychuk. I earned this. Do you hear me? I EARNED THIS."
No. 2, Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane is my early pick for MVP through the first week of the season, but he's also my early pick for MVH, which stands for most vivacious hugger. I love the way he jumps into people's arms like a scared Shaggy used to leap into Scooby Doo's.
"Oh my god what's that red light for, Marian?! Is it a terror alert, Marian?! Marian, I'm scared, Marian."
No. 1, New Jersey Devils
But, as much as I love a leaping superhug, nothing can top snuggle-trolling. For this reason, the New Jersey Devils win for Trolololvis Zajac's toothy grin, and the look of annoyance it inspired on the face of Andrej Meszaros.
"Oh hey, Andrej. Didn't see you there. Too busy celebrating with David Clarkson. Celebrating a goal. That we scored. On you. Just now."