Sal’s Top 5 Sports Stories of 2011

My final post of 2011. It’s been a great year for me personally and I’m looking forward to making 2012 even better. I made a few resolutions for 2011 and I hit them all. I ran my first full marathon, I completed P90X, got a new job and started a blog. I’m having a hard time picking goals for 2012, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out in the next few days. Anyway, enough about me. I’m going to end 2011 with a short review on my top 5 sports stories of the year. I know there have been many stories to choose from, but this is my list and if you have another top 5 feel free to share them in the comments section. Have a safe and happy new year! All the best to you and your families for 2012.

1) Vancouver Canucks Stanley Cup Playoff Run

This many people crammed in a small space...probably a bad idea

There was an unreal buzz in downtown Vancouver during the long Stanley Cup playoff run by the Canucks. I live right in the middle of downtown Vancouver so I experienced the mayhem after each game. I will never forget game 7 against the Blackhawks. The nervousness we all felt watching that game was amazing and the yelling and cheering that lasted all night was incredible. Of course it all ended badly as the Canucks lost game 7 at home and we all know what happened after. I was walking down Granville after game 7 and left just in time before the tear gas started. A dark night, that has forever scarred this city.

2) The St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series

Photo by REUTERS

The Cardinals played the best 3 months of baseball I’ve ever seen. Coming back from a double digit game deficit late in the year to make the playoffs was a ridiculous feat in itself. They followed that up by beating the World Series favourite Phillies on the road against the best pitcher in baseball. The improbable feats continued in the World Series where arguably the best game in playoff history took place in game 6 with the Cardinals coming back twice while being down to their final strike of the season. It was a season that you couldn’t script any better in Hollywood. It was also an end of 2 eras in St. Louis with Tony La Russa riding off into the retirement sunset and Albert Pujols becoming a gazillionaire with the Angles via free agency.

3) Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the NFL

The Packers led by arguably the best QB in football have been dominating the competition in 2011. They started off the year with a Super Bowl win and continued their winning ways in this year’s regular season. They almost went a full year without a loss going undefeated from Dec. 19, 201o to Dec. 18, 2011. Aaron Rodgers has solidified his place among the best QB’s in the game with MVP type numbers: 4643 yards, 45 TD, 6 Int, 68.5% comp. pct and 122.7 QB rating. The Packers are the favourites to win it all again this year and it looks like the only thing that can stop them is themselves.

4) Sidney Crosby and Concussions in the NHL

Will Sid the Kid have to retire early if his concussions continue?

The biggest story in the NHL season is the absence of the best player in the league Sidney Crosby. Crosby was able to return for a few games, but after a seemingly insignificant bump has now found himself in the press box again suffering from lingering concussion symptoms. There is a significant fear in hockey circles that possibly Crosby may permanently be hampered by concussion symptoms. Crosby means so much to the league and having him not playing is a loss for all hockey fans. Crosby may be the best player not playing due to a concussion, but there have been many others that are missing time or have missed time due to concussions: Chris Pronger has been lost for the season and possibly for his career, Shea Weber, Jeff Skinner, Simon Gagne, John Michael Liles, Colby Armstrong, the list goes on. Many people have offered potential solutions to the ever growing problem including the re-addition of the centre red line, bigger ice surface, softer pads, better helmets, more clutching and grabbing, no touch icing, etc. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution.

5) Lokomotiv Plane Crash

(AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

Tragedy struck on September 7 when the entire Lokomotiv KHL hockey team was killed in a plane crash. Several former NHL players were on board including the head coach Brad McCrimmon. I attended a pre-season Canucks game shortly after this crash and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place after an emotional video montage was played highlighting each player killed in the crash. The Lokomotiv team plans on playing in the KHL again in 2012-2013.