Hockey Hugs is a feature that celebrates the best in hugging from around the NHL, because who doesn't love a good hug now and then? Seen a particularly good hug photo lately? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @HarrisonMooney.
"Drew. I know we just met, but I love ya. You're already number one in my heart."
In the days leading up to Darryl Sutter taking the job as the coach of the Los Angeles Kings, we heard plenty about what a hardass he was, and how he'd bring a nasty edge to the culture in Los Angeles.
But thus far, it's been all creepy snuggling, as evidenced above.
That said, it still isn't the creepiest Kings embrace of the last two weeks. That goes to the personal space violation following the hug to your right between Drew Doughty and Jarret Stoll.
If you're wondering why it didn't make it higher up on this list, the answer is simple: this is Hockey Hugs, not Hockey Junk Pats. There's a difference.
This feature celebrates the innocence of the hockey embrace. The moment beanbags are squeezed, that innocence is lessened.
Hopefully you understand. If you don't, um, stay indoors. And finally, I assure you: no beanbags were squeezed in the making of this list.
Onward to your final Hockey Hugs of 2011!
No. 5: Boston Bruins
Great hug here by the Boston Bruins, who boast a plus-55 hug differential (same as their goal differential), which is pretty incredible. But the real star of this photo is Tomas Kopecky, who transcends the common hockey photo trope of the upset opponent outside the hug by being captured mid-wail.
The jury is out on whether Kopecky is upset because he allowed the hug or because he's not Dennis Seidenberg.
No. 4: Washington Capitals
In which Alexes Ovechkin and Semin play appropriately, and their mothers cheer them on in approval. It's pretty much the same scene you can observe at any daycare.
"You're my favourite Alex, Alex." "Right back atcha, Alex."
No. 3: St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks
It's a four-way three-way third place tie! I tried to pick just one among these four hugs, but they're all pretty great.
The Blues are huddled together, imagining a glorious future in which David Backes is king. Shea Weber is bragging to Martin Erat about having more friends. Alex Burrows and Daniel Sedin are both way into Henrik. And Anton Stralman appears to be drunk.
No. 2: Winnipeg Jets
This week's runner-up is this joyous embrace between Dustin Byfuglien and Bryan Little. Why so happy? Well, he just had a baby girl, so maybe it's that. Or maybe it's just a just-because-cuddle?
Sometimes a big man needs a little hug...
No. 1: Pittsburgh Penguins
But this week's winner, without a doubt, is Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin's tribute to classic Harvey Comics character Baby Huey. I give you: Baby Malky:
"BABY MALKY WANT MILKY."
Meanwhile, Tyler Kennedy should be a children's photographer. Look how quickly he gets Baby Malky to stop crying and pose for this classic family photo: