Hockey Hugs: Sweet Stamkos, leaping Kessel returns, Jovo no robo

Harrison Mooney

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

With all the slashing, fighting, chirping, and Boston Bruins in the NHL, you'd be forgiven for doubting me when I told you that some of the tenderest moments in sports take place during the course of a hockey game. But it's true.

Hockey hugs will warm your heart.

Of course, it's always wise to hug a member of your own team, a lesson Henrik Eriksson recently found out the hard way.

You see, unlike opponents, who are rarely feeling cuddly after you score, your teammates will always welcome you with open arms. See above, as Jiri Tlusty bashfully looks on while Eric Staal and Chad LaRose urge him to come join the bro-snuggle.

They're like, Jiiiiiirriiiiii, get in here you.

And to the left, we have Ryan Kesler with a sneak hug on his captain. Sure, it's unexpected, but how could Henrik Sedin possibly be upset with a little surprise snuggle from the master of the Keslurk?

After all, that's what teammates are for. After the jump, five more sweet, sweet hockey hugs.

No. 5, Phoenix Coyotes: There are two reasons that I love this hug. The first is that there appear to be more people involved in it than sitting in the audience. The second is the creepy lady standing at the glass, pretending she's involved in it, too. Daymond Langkow (#22) appears to have noticed, and is trying not to make eye contact with her.

If this photo is taken a  half-second later, that woman has her eyes closed and both her hands pressed against the glass.

No. 4, Anaheim Ducks: Here's the most masculine hug I've seen all week, as Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf downplay the tenderness of the moment by grimacing. Come on, fellas, don't act like you're not enjoying it.

I like Getzlaf's face the most. Grr! This guy's pretty special to me!

No. 3, Tampa Bay Lightning: Time stands still for Matt Gilroy and Steven Stamkos, who, judging from the emotion in Stammer's face, likely forgot there was a hockey game going on, just for a moment.

I imagine they just finished a really serious discussion about their friendship, and Stamkos is all, This was a good talk.

No. 2: Toronto Maple Leafs: This looks familiar, huh? Phil Kessel returns to the hockey hugs countdown, this time in a mid-air embrace with Tyler Bozak. I like the lone Senators fan that isn't even trying to veil how moved he is by this hug. He's like, Oh man, I'm choked that they scored, but that is a passionate embrace right here.

What is going on in Toronto that these mid-air hug photos keep being taken? I checked to see if it was the same guy both times, but it's not. This photo was taken by Brad White. The one of Kessel and Phaneuf from last month was snapped by Graig Abel. Maybe White got jealous when he saw how much play Abel's photo got?

Oh man, it's a hugging pissing contest. Not to be confused with a pissing hugging contest, which is all kinds of different. And untidy.

No. 1, Florida Panthers: There's not much that could keep a quality mid-air embrace like the one above from the top spot, but today's number one hug goes to Ed Jovanovski, Dmitry Kulikov, and Stephen Weiss. Jovo appears to be breaking down while telling Weiss and Kulikov that he's about to be a grandpa.

He's all, I don't know why I'm crying, I'm just so happy, you guys, thanks for being here. And Weiss is all, You're gonna make a great grandpa, Jovo.