Its been quite a day for former Boston Bruin and Washington Capitals captain Adam Oates. First he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame and now he was named the newest head coach was the Washington Capitals.
Oates has been an assistant coach for the past three seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning and more recently, the Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils.
"We are very pleased to name Adam Oates as the new head coach of the Washington Capitals," said Capitals vice president and general manager George McPhee, "Adam was a highly intelligent player in the NHL for 19 seasons. He has been an assistant coach in our conference for the past three seasons and is prepared to lead our club as head coach."
Oates spent his 19 year career with the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks, and Edmonton Oilers. He scored 341 goals and 1079 assists and only Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, and Mario Lemieux recorded more assists than Oates.
We continue our Year in Review, albeit a bit late, with our look at the Best Sports Moments 0f 2011.
Abby Wambach Keeps US Hopes Alive With Miracle Goal
Remember in the 2010 World Cup when Landon Donovan's goal lifted the US into the knockout round, only to lose to Ghana, GHANA!, and made Americans care about soccer for a hot minute. Well, Abby Wambach's goal in the 2011 Women's World Cup was perhaps bigger than Donovan's. If not for that goal, the US don't make it to the Finals, where they eventually lose to upstart Japan. This goal does not get nearly enough credit like Donovan's did.
Mavericks Defeat Big Three, Nation Rejoices
The Miami Heat have become the villains of the NBA ever since LeBron and Chris Bosh decided that it would just be easier to join a team of superstars to win a title rather than lead one, like Michael Jordan did. So when they reached the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, most of the US, except for a smattering of people in South Florida, were rooting for the Mavs. The Heat finally met their match going up against Dirk Nowitzki and Jason "Jet" Terry as the Mavs won the series in six games. I don't think I've been that happy during an NBA Finals since Jordan pushed off Byron Scott in the '98 Finals to give the Bulls their most recent title.
David Freese Goes From Goat To Hero In One Game
St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese had quite a postseason winning the NLCS MVP and World Series MVP, but Game 6 every baseball fan can agree was quite a roller coaster. Freese had committed an awful error in the 5th inning when he dropped a routine pop up from Michael Young. That error allowed the Rangers to score later in the inning to take a one run lead. Then in the 9th inning, Freese stepped up to the plate with two outs against a young flame throwing closer in Neftali Feliz and hits a bases clearing triple to tie the game.
After the Rangers blew a two run lead in the 11th inning, Freese once again came to the plate against Mark Lowe, perhaps the Rangers weakest reliever, and hit a bomb to dead center field to force a Game 7 that the Cards would eventually win. ESPN's Buster Olney has said that Game 6 was the greatest game in baseball history.
Eric LeGrand Leads His Team On The Field After Spinal Cord Injury
This is perhaps the most inspirational moment of the year. Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand had suffered a severe spinal cord injury while making attempting to make a tackle last season in a game against Army. Doctors said that LeGrand would be paralyzed from the neck down, but in January, LeGrand defied the odds and regained feeling in his shoulders and sensation throughout his entire body. In July, LeGrand was able to stand with some assistance and was gaining feeling back in his arms.
On October 29, Eric LeGrand led his Rutgers teammates onto a snowy field for its game against West Virginia. LeGrand sat in his wheelchair with an ax across his lap symbolizing coach Greg Schiano's message to "Keep Chopping". LeGrand has indeed taken that motto to new heights.
Tim Thomas, Tim Thomas, Tim Thomas
As a Bruins fan, I feel I need to put this down on my list of moments. Without the outstanding goaltending of Thomas, the Bruins don't win the Cup. Hands down. Sure the Bruins have great pieces around him, but without solid goaltending you can't go far. Case in point, the Philadelphia Flyers.
In the epic seven game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Thomas was perhaps his best in Game 7. The Bruins won Game 7 by the score of 1-0 and Thomas was a huge, if not the main, reason they won that game and the series. The Lightning gave the best challenge to the Bruins all playoffs, not the Canucks. Dwayne Roloson would not back down and if the Canucks had Roloson in net, Vancouver would be hoisting the Cup not Boston. Thomas' GAA was an outstanding 1.98 and his save percentage was .940. So, yeah Tim Thomas big, huge part of the Bruins Cup run.
September 28, 2011: Greatest Night of Baseball Ever
Four teams entered the final night of the baseball regular season with two spots on the line. The Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox were trying to find a way to stop the bleeding and back their way into the postseason. The St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays were just trying to complete to epic comebacks and surprise the baseball world by making the postseason.
The Cards won rather easily over the Major's worst Houston Astros, but the other three games were of epic proportion. The Atlanta Braves blew a 9th inning lead to the Philadelphia Phillies and lost the game in extras to complete the meltdown. The Red Sox seemed to have the game locked up, at least according to Boston Globe writer Dan Shaughnessy, and all of New England was calling for the umps to call the game early due to rain, but to no avail. Papelbon ends up blowing the save when Red Sox killer Robert Andino lined a hit to left field that came up short from a diving Carl Crawford's glove. The Red Sox lost to the Orioles and were now rooting for the Yanks.
The Yankees had a SEVEN run lead in their game against the Rays, but in true Boston sports fan tradition the Rays came all the way back to tie it in the 9th inning when seldom used Dan Johnson just cleared the right field fence to tie the game. Red Sox fans should have known something was up when Joe Girardi kept one of his seldom used, worst relievers in the game for 2 and 2/3 innings and didn't use Rivera to close the game. Again in true Boston sports fans tradition, Evan Longoria launched a ball just over the left field wall and sent the Rays to the postseason and the Red Sox, and Terry Francona, packing.
I'm sure there is more, but I can't keep typing forever. If you have any more moments I should have mentioned, feel free to comment below. Have a Happy New Years, folks.
I got into a debate with a friend of mine about who had the most exciting postseason, the 2004 Boston Red Sox or the 2011 Boston Bruins. He, and many others who chimed in, said the Bruins. I, and two other people, said the 2004 Red Sox.
People used the World Series as an example of why it wasn't exciting. The Red Sox World Series that year was a sweep, but did feature a very exciting Game 1 that was capped off by a two run home run by Mark Bellhorn in the eighth. But it all goes back to the grandiose American League Championship Series.
The Red Sox coming off a heartbreaking 2003 loss to the vaunted New York Yankees fell behind 0-3 and was three outs away from yet another defeat. Then the planets aligned and the heavens opened and the Red Sox miraculously won four straight to win the American League pennant. People also forget that the ALDS was won on a walk-off home run by David Ortiz.
The 2011 Boston Bruins playoff run was exciting don't get me wrong. The B's falling down 0-2 to the hated Canadiens before coming back to win Game 7 in overtime. The Flyers series was pretty much a stinker save for Game 2 when David Krejci scored a game winner in OT. The seven game defeat of the Tampa Bay Lightning included a 1-0 win in Game 7 and again falling 0-2 to the Vancouver Canucks before winning in seven. Tim Thomas was playing the best hockey of his career and the Bruins riding a wave of emotions after Game 3 when Aaron Rome viciously knocked out Nathan Horton.
Both teams were very similar when it comes to storylines and excitement, but in my opinion the Red Sox run in 2004 just beats out the 2011 Bruins. The Bruins are still fresh in people's minds and are just prisoner of the moment. When you think of the legions of Red Sox fans that have come and gone without seeing them win a World Series title, that right there takes the cake.
I might be a little biased in picking the Red Sox because of my brother. My brother, and pretty much everyone else in my family, is a Yankee fan and I had to endure and suffer through the Yankee dynasty as the Red Sox would just curl up and die when October came. For just one year, I finally had the upper hand and the Red Sox had finally broken through and beat the Yanks, in historic fashion nonetheless. I admit my eyes welled up a little when Keith Foulke tossed that ball to Doug Mientkiewicz for the final out I thought I would never see. My brother was away in college, so I didn't get to talk to him right after, but my mother received a phone call from my brother after the game and left a simple message: "Congratualtions".
I'm a huge Boston Bruins fan don't get me wrong (just ask my family during the playoffs), but that magical 2004 season cannot be beat in my mind. As Boston was finally kings of the baseball world and I could now gloat to my family members after years of suffering.