Hockey Hugs is a feature that celebrates the best in hugging from around the sport of hockey, because who doesn't love a good hug now and then? Have you seen a particularly good hug photo lately? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet it to @HarrisonMooney.
The NHL may be on break right now (leading to all sorts of tricky situations when their players come back, having scored elsewhere, and have to explain to their jealous, long-term teams that it doesn't count because they were on a break), but that doesn't mean the hockey hugs have stopped.
On the contrary. The hugs live on in Vladimir Putin's Russia, as one might expect from that notoriously pro-hugging nation, at the Sochi Olympics. It's time for Olympic Hockey Hugs.
We start with the excellence that is the Japanese women's team. These ladies may have a little ways to go before they're competitive with the North American powerhouses, but they've already got the art of the group hug down pat. Look at the pure elation of Hanae Kubo. That's either because she's celebrating Japan's first Olympic hockey goal in 16 years or because she knows the women finally get a chance to break out the sweet twist in their celebration: the Japanese women don't just hug -- they bow to one another.
I want this for my hockey all the time. I love it. I also love the following six hugs.
No. 6, Team Russia (women)
Alyona Khomich and Anna Shibanova share a laugh.
"Perhaps we will beat Canada and America."
"You are very funny, Alyona."
No. 5, Team Russia (men)
Alex Ovechkin is one of the most enthusiastic huggers in hockey, and even with Vladimir Putin watching, it's not in him to tone it down. Here he is, celebrating with Pavel Datsyuk. or maybe they're plotting a nefarious defection.
"Ovi, want to sneak out tonight and eat ptichie moloko?"
"I DO SO MUCH."
No. 4, Team USA (men)
Phil Kessel, the sexiest American hockey player of all-time and it's not close, gives the people what they want.
"Phil! The cameras are on you. Make your sexiest face!"
"On it." *Phil Kessel smolders*
No. 3, Team Canada (men)
Drew Doughty's hug with a toothless John Tavares is interrupted by his sudden realization that Jeff Carter is also in Sochi.
"Whoa, Jeff! I didn't know you were here!"
"We're on the same team!"
"Like, back home."
"Whoa! When did that happen?!"
No. 2, Team Canada (women)
In an attempt to create parity, the IOC stipulates that the American and Canadian women's teams can only have three players on the ice a time. So the Canadians cleverly get around it by doubling up.
"Oh man. Two sticks at once. We are a MACHINE now."
"Stop talking and steer!"
No. 1, Team Sweden (men)
Finally, nothing in the world can top this hug between Erik Karlsson and Nicklas Backstrom. Except for Daniel Alfredsson, apparently.
"Dogpile on Erik!!!!"
"You guys! The puck is live!"
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