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.
The NHL lockout shifted from a series of secret locations and hotel rooms to the courts of New York yesterday, and anyone that's watched more than one episode of Law & Order knows what happens next: one of the ADAs will begin the prosecution, which will be derailed when a witness is threatened and suddenly changes her testimony on the stand. The bad guy will be acquitted, and just as he's making his smug, triumphant march down the steps of the courthouse, he'll be shot by an aggrieved family member of the victim. Then, you will ponder the moral ambiguity of modern justice in New York.
Okay, it might not happen quite like that but this lockout does bear one major similarity to an episode of Law & Order: it's depressing.
Thankfully, there's Hockey Hugs.
It's been five months since we last took a tour of hockey's finest embraces. I'm sure you can understand why.
Mind you, there are still hugs to be had if you look for them. The sweet little moment up above is from the WHL-Russia Subway Super Series. That's Sam Reinhart (right) and Curtis Lazar (left) of the WHL All-Stars just giggling up a storm. "Ha ha ha", Lazar is saying, as he appears to drive his stick into Reinhart's back.
And to the right, we have members of Team Sweden from the 2012 U18 Four Nations Cup in a group hug. Little-known fact about hugs in Sweden: when three men come together for a hug, the first one to climb to the top wins a jar of Lingonberry jam. As you can see in the photo, number seven is making his move.
Onward to more hugs!
No. 5, Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Evgeni Malkin was a regular on hockey hugs last year as a member of the Penguins, so it only makes sense that his quality hug-making would continue to shine in the KHL. Of course, any league is the KHL if Malkin's in it, if KHL stands for "Kickass Hug League".
"Evgeni, I'm going to tell you a secret. I'm not just Enver Lisin, Metallurg winger. I'm also a genie. Make a wish."
"I wish to be a unicorn with a hockey stick horn!"
"Your wish is granted."
No. 4, Vancouver Giants
The Giants of the WHL, Vancouver's other hockey team, make an appearance at number four with their weird hug where nobody's touching. Either these guys have intimacy issues or no one has ever taught them how to do a group hug.
This hug also gets extra points for the two visible nameplates. "Moar" and "Lotz" are what my cats say when I feed them in the morning.
No 3, Dynamo Moscow
In which Alex Ovechkin and a teammate celebrate a goal with a leaping superhug reminiscent of the hug we crowned the absolute best of last year. My favourite part of this photo is that the goaltender was beaten from the other side. I like to imagine these two weren't even in on the goal. Maybe they started jumping up and down together before it was even scored?
"Hey Ovi, who's your favourite hockey player?"
"No way! You're my favourite player too!"
"Best friends! Best friends! Best friends!"
No. 2, Hannover Scorpions
Maris Jass and Alexander Janzen of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga's Hannover Scoprions celebrate a goal in a game versus EHC Red Bull Muenchen.
No. 1, Vityaz Chekhov
But today's winner is this photo from Vityaz Chekhov, as left winger Georgy Belousov scores a goal, then leaps into the arms of Evgeny Timkin directly in the crease. Normally teams take their celebration out to the dot at least after putting the puck in. Not these two linemates. The wave of emotion comes suddenly, and they can't even be bothered to get to open ice. I imagine they're like this on the subway too.
"The goalie is looking at us, Evgeny.
"Let them look. Let them all look."