Top 10 most heartwarming moments of 2014 (Puck Daddy Year in Review)


(Puck Daddy presents its annual look back at the year in hockey. Check back every day through the New Year for our many lists and hot takes.)

There’s a lot to be angry at in the world today. You can’t go a day without seeing something make you sad or upset in the news. But with that despair there are those moments that make you smile, make your heart warm up, and change your attitude completely.

We’ve compiled 10 moments from the past year that brought smiles and tears to many faces.

Here are our top 10 heartwarming moments of 2014:

10. Rick Jeanneret beats cancer, returns to broadcasting.

The long-time Buffalo Sabres play-by-play man was diagnosed with throat cancer over the summer. In November, he returned to the broadcast booth doing a period at a time, a week after the Sabres honored him and fellow cancer survivor Jim Kelly during the team’s Hockey Fights Cancer Night.

9. Federal Hockey League goalie makes wish come true for paralyzed fan.

The Hockey News
The Hockey News

Brenda St. Clair battles spinal bifida and relies on a motorized wheelchair to get around. She’s also a big hockey fan, and after striking up a friendship with a goaltender Eric Vogel, who was drafted by the FHL’s Southwestern Pennsylvania Magic last June. After Vogel sent St. Clair and her husband an invite to come to the rink where he learned to skate, she asked the goaltender and his friends to take some shots on her. That quickly turned into a 3-on-3 scrimmage where St. Clair faced real live action for the first time.

8. Alex Ovechkin’s adorable sushi date with 10-year old.

Ann Schaab is a 10-year old who while attending a hockey camp with the Washington Ice Dogs, a hockey team for developmentally disabled individuals, asked Alex Ovechkin out on a sushi date; one the Capitals captain took her up on.

7. Tim Bozon returns to hockey after beating meningitis.

The Montreal Canadiens prospect was hospitalzed in March after it was discovered he was battling meningitis. He would spent the next three months there before lacing up the skates again in June. He would eventually re-join the Kootenay Ice and his skills haven’t been affected by his ailment. Through 20 games Bozon has 13 goals and 27 points, third on the team.

6. Sergeant surprises family at Ducks game, meets 17-month old son for first time.

These never disappoint. Sergeant First Class Robert Vandenberg Jr. surprised his family and met his newborn son for the first time during a Ducks game in November. There was no shortage of tears in Honda Center after this.

5. Fans chant Gino Odjick’s outside of hospital.

The former Vancouver Canuck revealed in June that his time on this Earth was running out as he battles a rare terminal disease called AL amyloidosis, one that causes protein deposits to form around and harden his heart. In a letter to fans Odjick thanked them and said, “Your 'Gino, Gino' cheers were my favourite. I wish I could hear them again.” He got his wish.

4. Matt Stajan scores on penalty shot days after new-born son dies.

Stajan and his wife, Katie, suffered an unthinkable tragedy when their son, Emerson, died shortly after being born. In his first game back with the Calgary Flames, Stajan helped his teammates win that edition of the “Battle of Albert” with an emotional penalty shot goal during an 8-1 rout. "That one means a lot. It's obviously not been easy," said Stajan afterward. "That ones for the little guy. We'll move on now, but I'll remember that one forever."

3. Senators, Maple Leafs pay tribute to fallen soldiers.

In a coordinated effort, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators held tributes inside Air Canada Centre and Canadian Tire Centre, respectively, to honor the lives of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Canadian Warrant Office Patrice Vincent, who were killed two days apart in late-October.

2. Little Bruins fan fistbumps team.

Liam Fitzgerald, who has Down Syndrome, beat Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia after being diagnosed with the disease at age four. Now 8, Liam is a huge Bruins fan, even dressing up as Adam McQuaid for Halloween. In November, he was given the opportunity to fist bump his heroes as they left the ice, and he didn’t disappoint.

1. Canadiens honor the life of Jean Beliveau.

The hockey world suffered a loss earlier this month after Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau passed away at the age of 83. Tributes came from all over the globe, but none were as heartwarming as the one held on Dec. 9 at Bell Centre. The Canadiens honored Beliveau with a pre-game video before a spotline shone on his widow, Elise, and their family. The emotional scene got the best of her at first, but the cheers inside Bell Centre allowed her to return the love being sent her way.

- - - - - - -

Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy