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Champions Issue 2022

Champions Issue 2022

Gabriel Landeskog and the Colorado Avalanche bury the competition on their way to being Stanley Cup Champions.

Champions

THE ROAD BACK

ONLY FIVE YEARS AGO, the fans of Rubin Tyumen wrote a letter to Vladimir Putin begging him to save their team. In Russia, with its highly centralized political system, petitioning the president, even for the most trivial matters, is not unusual. But while such pleas are common, their success is not – and they are usually seen as a sign of desperation. Rubin, one of Siberia’s older clubs, was indeed in desperate waters, playing in a dilapidated 3,350-seat arena and having run out of money. Unable to pay its players, Rubin even had to pull out of the 2015-16 season in the VHL, Russian hockey’s second-tier league. This was only five years after the club won the league’s title. In the end, they didn’t need Putin at all. The local government…

NHL

GRIN AND BARRETT

HEADING INTO BARRETT Hayton’s draft year, scouts keeping tabs on the then-Soo Greyhounds standout described him in many ways. “Hardworking” was among the top descriptors, as were comments about his two-way play. But perhaps Hayton’s most impressive attribute was one he showcased off the ice. At the OHL’s 2018 awards ceremony, Hayton, boasting a near-90 percent average, accepted the Bobby Smith Trophy as the league’s scholastic player of the year. That alone, of course, would be impressive enough, but it’s all the more admirable given Hayton wasn’t exactly taking the path of least resistance. Among his courses were university-level classes in math and science, including advanced functions and data management. So, as the Coyotes prepare a move to Arizona State University’s campus – the NHL club will share a facility with the…

Champions

DISCONTENT TO DOMINANCE

THERE ARE NO WORDS to describe the agony that the fans of HV71 felt when their team was relegated to HockeyAllsvenskan in April 2021. The team out of Jonkoping had been one of the most successful Swedish franchises during the past 30 years, winning five SHL championships, most recently in 2017. The 2021-22 season presented the organization with a whole new challenge, one that they handled with poise and determination. After a dominant regular season where they won 40 out of 52 games, the team rolled through the playoffs. They only lost one game through the first two rounds before facing Bjorkloven in the final. After a few hiccups, HV71 took the series in six games, with the younger brother of Nashville Predators star Filip Forsberg emerging as hero. Fredrik Forsberg…

Champions

FIT AND FINNISH

TAMPERE, THE CRADLE OF Finnish hockey, is going strong. In December, the city’s two Liiga teams, Ilves and Tappara, moved from the country’s first indoor rink, built for the 1965 World Championship, to the brand-new Nokia Arena, constructed with the 2022 World Championship in mind. EU sanctions against the Russian owners of the Helsinki Halli put that arena out of commission, so the Finnish national program moved its home base to the Nokia, making Tampere the current capital of Finnish hockey. In April, Ilves beat KooKoo 3-2 in the Liiga bronze-medal game. Days later, Tappara downed TPS in Game 5 of the league final, with former Winnipeg Jets winger Joona Luoto scoring the game’s lone goal just 35 seconds after puck drop. Luoto also picked up the Jari Kurri Trophy as…