Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in all the emotions that come with the sport of hockey, that you don’t realize all the heart-felt moments. A go-ahead goal has you jumping around, fist-pumping and yelling, or a big save keeps your heart pumping at a rate you can’t handle. Then there’s the moments where millionaire hockey players take the time to realize that a little consideration towards the fans can actually go a long way.
Last year, we saw that when Sam Tageson was given a one-day contract with the San Jose Sharks. The 18-year-old life-time fan, suffering from a life-threatening heart condition, was granted his Make-A-Wish request when he got to spend the day with the Sharks organization, but it didn’t end there. Tageson was granted access to equipment, his own jersey and a pair of skates, and was told to skate out with the team during their pre-game warm-ups. Skating through the mouth of the Shark, Tageson was then recognized as he stood on the bench, receiving thunderous cheers that sent him into an emotional out-burst.
The 2014-15 season brought us some more memorable moments and it’s time to take a look at the five best incidents involving a fan and a player’s (or team’s) intentions of making it a day they’ll never forget. We decided to go with moments that took place on the ice, either during a game or during pre-game warm-ups. This means that Alex Ovechkin granting a girl her wish and PK Subban surprising a group of fans by going undercover both don’t qualify for this list.
Best Fan-Related Moments of the 2014-15 NHL Season
5. December 15th, 2014: Barrett Jackman encounters his littlest foe.
In a game between the Colorado Avalanche and the St. Louis Blues, things got heated and in the moment, Blues defenseman Barrett Jackman took on veteran Jarome Iginla in a spirited fight. Both men are no slouches when it comes to dropping them, and they gave each other quite the battle. On his way to the penalty box, Jackman spotted the littlest fan sitting by rink-side, giving him the evil eye. Jackman played it off, waiving to the girl but then decided to slide over and give the little girl a staring contest. Confused, the little girl turned away, unsure of what to make of the situation. The cute moment was caught on camera and left many awing.
4. March 31st, 2015: Antoine Roussel makes a fan’s day.
It’s common practice for fans to bang the glass when players are nearby, as a way of getting a player’s attention. During the pre-game skate of a Dallas Stars home game, a little boy did just that. 24-year-old Antoine Roussel decided to have some fun, repeatedly elbowing the glass where the kid stood, and turning to him to flash a smile. During warm-ups, you’ll see players getting into the zone, focusing on their match-up and getting a good skate in, so it’s nice to see players taking the time to recognize the young fans and giving them something to remember.
3. March 14th, 2015: Carey Price takes a selfie with a fan.
Selfies have become quite the craze in today’s society and what better time to do it than when you’re sitting by rink-side and you want to show it off to all your family and friends. For this young Habs fan, it was the selfie seen all around the hockey world. As the Montreal Canadiens were leading the New York Islanders by a score of 2-0, Carey Price was hanging out by the bench during a TV time-out when he noticed the young boy next to the bench, attempting to take a selfie while some of the players were near him. Price, who is usually focused and calm, decided to lean over and get into the frame, making sure the boy’s picture was one he’ll never forget. Days after the wonderful moment, the child wrote a letter to Price, thanking him for taking the time to pose for the picture.
2. October 11th, 2014, November 18th, 2014, January 19th, 2015: #Jerseygate
In what was dubbed as Jerseygate by The National, this event was a protest by fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs who were no longer willing to put up with their team’s shortcomings. It started off in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Down by a score of 5-2 and late in regulation, a fan threw his jersey onto the ice. Again, it happened in a game against the Nashville Predators where they were losing by a score of 8-2. A fan decided to have his anger known by throwing his jersey onto the ice. Unfortunately, no incident was as bad as the January 19th game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Not one, not two, but THREE jerseys were thrown onto the ice. It was so bad, the three individuals were actually charged for their actions. Because there’s nothing worst than a fan showing upset he is than to waste money on a team he is mad at, and throw it all away for nothing.
1. November 7th, 2014: Boston Bruins make a young boy’s dream come true.
If you don’t know the name Liam Fitzgerald, then surely you missed out on the most beautiful stories of the 2014-15 season. Seated on the bench during the Boston Bruins pre-game skate, 8-year-old Liam Fitzgerald held his arm out, fist clenched, waiting to bump fists with the players of the Boston Bruins as they made their way off the ice. All the players noticed him and gave him the gesture he was waiting for, some took more time to give him a pat on the head or an extra slap of the hands. It was a moment that the hockey world loved and the Bruins organization did it one better when they serenaded the young man with a pre-game ceremony, unveiling a custom hockey card and gathering around him, embracing Fitzgerald as part of the Bruins family. In the world of hockey, where players make millions and emotions get heated every game, it was wonderful to get away from that for a moment and show the human side of these grown men.