Twenty fourteen was an odd one. In some ways it was our best year ever. In other ways it was our worst.
Our hockey team wasn’t good, but a lot of funny stuff happened. Our hockey team wasn’t good, but our traffic was up by a lot. Our hockey team wasn’t good, but then they got better.
Join me, won’t you, as we revisit our most popular stories of the year.
We have been tracking Evgeny Kuznetsov’s then-imminent journey to America for years, but for some reason this is the story that caught America’s imagination. Upon arriving in the States, Kuzy stayed at Alex Ovechkin’s house. The Russian forwards became fast friends, culminating in a game of pool in which the loser had to do push-ups. Kuznetsov won, so Ovi dropped and gave him however-many-that-is.
I genuinely had no idea who Julianne Hough is when news first broke that she was dating Brooks Laich. This was all the way back in February, and in the ten months since then I’ve learned exactly three things: 1) She dances; 2) She’s pretty; 3) She’s Brooksy’s girlfriend.
Brooks and Julianne (Broolianne, anyone?) have been an adorable mainstay in Caps consciousness this year, particularly as Laich worked his way back from groin surgery. And, yes, we’ve already heard the joke you’re about to tell us.
Finally, some in-game action. As the Caps wound down their yucky 2013-14 season, this one moment gave everyone in the organization good reason to say “we like our team.”
Troy Brouwer scored an empty-netter in mid March, but the shot was not alone. Along with it traveled Nick Backstrom, like a chaperone or a tour guide, making sure the lonely puck didn’t get lost on its way. Backstrom never touched the thing, so Brouwer got full credit for the goal. Backstrom, on the other hand, got credit for being a great teammate.
This goal was also number twenty on the year for Brouwer, which forced Ian to dress up in spandex. Good times.
Maria Kirilenko and Alex Ovechkin were the pre-eminent power couple of the Washington Capitals for over a year, but it all came to an end over the summer.
A flurry of silly stories by Russian media followed in the wake of their break-up, spurring Maria to have to dignify one of them with a response. “I made my decision to break up the engagement long before these pictures appeared on the social networks,” Maria told Sovetsky Sport, as translated by Igor Kleyner.
This would not be the last time Instagram caused a major controversy here.
I spent the wee hours of April 2nd collating a year’s worth of notes and research on Adam Oates before putting together this 3,000-word, 20-part list of reasons why he was a bad head coach for the Washington Capitals. I actually had to pare the thing down before publishing.
After spending so long watching the Caps fall from glory under Oates’ tutelage, this story was catharsis for me. Within a month the organization agreed with me and Oates was fired.
Hockey’s corner of the internet gathered on September 23rd to watch the unveiling of the Caps’ Winter Classic uniforms on an NHL simulcast. Twenty minutes before the league got around to actually showing the new threads (which I really like), we had the scoop on RMNB– along with photos that we probably should’ve watermarked. Oh well.
I’m just gonna let the chat log from the day before this post speak for itself:
Peter: that gag doesn’t seem substantial enough to be the center of the whole post
Ian: it is, you’re just going to have to trust me on that
The people have spoken.
There’s something about hockey players and making kids happy. Some might call it empty calories, but it makes me feel good about this sport and the people in it. It’d be really easy for hockey players to be prima donnas, insular and snobbish, but it rarely turns out that way. In this example, which is not the last in this list, Tom Wilson beats up a child. But, unlike, when Mike Milbury did it, this time it was actually fun.
The Capitals had finished their season at this point, and we needed some relief. Thank goodness for Sidney Crosby, who has been a bottomless font of springtime schadenfreude since like 2011.
Was this a cheap shot? Probably. Did we need it? Definitely.
Thanks, Sid. You’re the best. (Like, literally, You’re the best.)
Little Braden Nienaber made the top ten twice! This moment was priceless by the way. Whoever came up with this bit is a genius. Alex Ovechkin, who had the second worst plus-minus of the season, met for the ceremonial faceoff with Steve Ott, who had the worst plus-minus of the season. Braden threw the punk out. I will never get over this moment, nor– I suspect– will the thousands of readers who made this thing spread virally.
Thanks to everyone who read and shared our work in 2014. We spend a lot of time on this stuff, and it’s a thrill every time we hear that you enjoyed it. Please keep those retweets and Facebook shares going for 2015; it means the world to us.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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