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The 2012-13 NHL season may have skimped on their game output -- especially before the hyphen, when there were none -- but at least it didn't skimp on the love. Even in the lockout-shortened season, there were top-notch hockey hugs aplenty to find and appreciate.
But, just as last year, some hugs were at the toppest of notches, and before we turn the page on this NHL season, it behooves us to take one last look back at the best of the best. What follows are our 10 favourite hockey hugs of the year.
No. 10 - Anaheim Ducks
Corey Perry's great, wide-eyed, cathartic exhalation was his reaction to ending a scoring drought, but out of context, it sort of looks like he's just the first person to notice the roof of the Honda Center has opened up and it's raining Skittles and kittens.
No. 9 - Boston Bruins
Pretty much any time that Zdeno Chara hugs someone, you're wading into the world of classic big-guy-little-guy comedy. But when that little guy is tiny Brad Marchand kicks in his legs and pumping his fist like a kid being taken off against his will, maybe because he was supposed to stay put and he somehow escaped his babysitter and made it onto the ice, well, that's just hilarious.
No. 8 - Carolina Hurricanes
I honestly can't look at this picture without hearing Jordan Staal hissing like the alien from Alien in my head. Someone was kind enough to do the necessary photoshop, with just an added touch of weirdness, and it's pretty much perfect. There's no doubt in my mind that, the day after this hug, Jay Harrison birthed a chestburster.
No. 7, Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin is one of the most intense hockey huggers in the game. The next time someone suggests he doesn't care or that he isn't a team player, I suggest you just show him photo after photo of Ovi leaping into a pile of teammates while screaming his lungs out. In this photo, Mike Green is downright overwhelmed by the intensity of Ovechkin's celebration. He's right to be. Ovechkin throws himself into hugs like he doesn't have a bludgeon in his hands and knives on his feet -- problem is, you know, he does.
No. 6, Anaheim Ducks
Look at Francois Beauchemin's face. LOOK AT FRANCOIS BEAUCHEMIN'S FACE. I have a theory. The moment he placed his hand on Teemu Selanne's helmet, they inadvertently began to drift, like the Jaeger pilots of Pacific Rim, and Beauchemin is currently trying to process the wonders of the supraterrestrial plain Selanne is really from. Just after this photo was taken, he got a nosebleed.
No. 5, Chicago Blackhawks
It's all about form here. Marian Hossa's slightly bent knees. Patrick Kane's fully bent knees. Like a child leaping into the arms of his father. In my mind, this photo wasn't snapped in the aftermath of a goal. Kane just saw a really big spider.
No. 4, Boston Bruins
Speaking of bent knees and form, this hug is pretty much perfect. I like to imagine that, after it was taken, Chara and Bergeron began to spin, faster and faster, until they were going fast enough for their twirling sticks to act as a propeller, and they lifted off the ice, and Chara used his massive right leg to steer them around the ice as everyone looked on in wonder. Sigh.
No. 3, New Jersey Devils
This is a good hug on its own, but Andrej Meszaros's face is what makes it a great hug. I've seen that exact look before: at Target, when I steal somebody's parking spot. Travis Zajac is making the exact same face I make, too.
No. 2, Carolina Hurricanes
This hug is just an incredible cluster. You've got bodies strewn everywhere. Jay Harrison apparently sobbing. Jeff Skinner diving over a body to console him. In the words of a great man, everything is happening. What's actually going on? I don't care. I'm far more interested in what it looks like is going on. Maybe Harrison is having an anxiety attack? Maybe Skinner is about to take a bullet for him? Maybe Harrison is incapable of going more than 10 minutes without a hug or he blacks out, freaks out, knocks everyone out, and then comes to and begins sobbing uncontrollably? I debated long and hard putting this one at number one -- it's just that funny to me.
No. 1, Chicago Blackhawks
But in the end, like the season itself, the Blackhawks are simply the class of this year's Hockey Hugs. Nothing beats The Huggle.
Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney
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