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The 50 Most Important People in Hockey During 2012

Tom Urtz Jr.Contributor IDecember 26, 2012

The 50 Most Important People in Hockey During 2012

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    The NHL is full of important individuals of different backgrounds, and the year 2012 featured important figures in the media like Darren Dreger, players like Sidney Crosby, general managers like Scott Howson, coaches like Ken Hitchcock and other assorted individuals throughout the league.

    With the year ending in a matter of days, it is a great time to look back at some of the most important individuals from the hockey world in 2012.

    Some of these individuals were prominent figures in breaking trades, the subject of trade rumors or they did something else of importance in 2012. 

    Each member will be put into a category entitled media, player, coach, hockey operations or league official.

    Here are the 50 most important figures from the hockey world in 2012.

Media

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    1. Darren Dreger: Dreger is a hockey insider for TSN, and he was at the center of many important stories during 2012. Whenever there is a rumored trade going through the "Twitterverse," fans wait for Dreger's take before they can take the rumor at face value.

    2. Bob McKenzie: McKenzie is another TSN insider, and he is a veteran journalist who provided a lot of insight on many categories during 2012. He is a great person to follow on Twitter for rumors, and he is a great person to follow for draft coverage and insight.

    3. Aaron Portzline: Portzline is a journalist for The Columbus Dispatch, and he was a very popular person to follow on Twitter in 2012. He was at the center of #NashWatch, a hash tag used to describe the status of Rick Nash. From the day Nash asked for a trade to the day he was finally traded, Portzline had great updates and insight.

    4. Elliotte Friedman: Friedman is a popular insider and journalist for CBC, and he is most known for his "30 Thoughts" columns. Friedman was another important hockey source throughout the year, and he has done a great job covering the current NHL lockout.

    5. Chris Johnston: A columnist for The Canadian Press, Johnston has been a very important journalist in 2012. He has provided updates on trades, rumors, lockout coverage and he has been a top source to follow for other related news.

    6. Greg Wyshynski: Wyshynski is the editor of Yahoo! Sports's Puck Daddy blog, and he is the co-host of the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast. Wyshynski's blog is a popular destination for hockey fans, and his podcast has done a great job informing fans and keeping them entertained throughout the lockout.

    7. Michael Russo: Russo is one of the best hockey writers covering the NHL today, and his dedication helped him obtain the biggest scoop of the free agency period in 2012. When there were rumors indicating that Zach Parise was heading to Minnesota, Russo headed to the airport and got a scoop from Parise himself. He then put two and two together to connect Parise and Suter, and he broke the news that the Wild were front runners to sign the duo.

    8: Adrian Dater: Dater is a veteran journalist, and he covers the Colorado Avalanche, primarily. During the lockout, Dater has covered all major news and he has offered tons of insight for inquisitive fans.

    9. John Shannon: Shannon is a veteran journalist and producer, who currently works for Sportsnet. He is a well-connected reporter, and he has broken his fair share of news during free agency and the lockout to date.

Coaches

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    10. Ken Hitchcock: Hitchcock returned to the bench during the 2011-12 season with the St. Louis Blues, and he had a very memorable season. After the Blues got off to a bad start, Hitchcock led the Blues to one of the best records in the Western Conference, and he won the Jack Adams Award for his efforts.

    11. John Tortorella: Tortorella was the second-best coach in the NHL during 2011-12, as the first runner-up for the Jack Adams Award. Torts was the bench boss for the New York Rangers, who finished with the second best record in the NHL, and went to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1997.

    12. Darryl Sutter: Before Sutter took over for Terry Murray, he was "always a bridesmaid, but never a bride" in terms of championship success. Sutter took over a struggling Los Angeles Kings team and guided them to the franchise's first career Stanley Cup. The transformation was one of the greatest in league history, and it shocked the NHL and the city of Los Angeles.

    13. Kevin Dineen: Dineen took over the Florida Panthers at the start of the 2011-12 season, and his leadership guided the team to their first division title in years. The Panthers started to thrive under Dineen, and the future of the franchise is very bright.

    14. Peter Deboer: Peter Deboer took over the New Jersey Devils for the 2011-12 season, and he had a lot of success that helped the franchise and made the team exciting for the NHL. Deboer was the bench boss and mastermind for the Eastern Conference Champions.

    15. Paul MacLean: MacLean was another new coach for the 2011-12 season, and he had success with an Ottawa Senators team that battled injuries throughout the year. He was an important piece for Ottawa and will help them in the future.

    16. Claude Noel: Noel is the inaugural coach of the Winnipeg Jets, and he is going to be an important figure for the team in the future, in addition to his contributions made in 2012.

    17. Bruce Boudreau: Boudreau was fired by the Washington Capitals and hired by the Anaheim Ducks in 2011-12. His hiring helped turn around an Anaheim team that fell short of making the playoffs, but his work should not go unnoticed.

Owners

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    18. Jeremy Jacobs: Jacobs is the chairman of the NHL's board of governors and a huge supporter of the lockout. His hardline stance has given the NHL huge support during the lockout, and fans have held him personally responsible.

    19. Craig Leipold: Leipold became a prominent figure in hockey when he made the bold move of signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to matching 13-year contracts during free agency this past summer. He became a bigger figure once the NHL threw around the idea of having a salary rollback because it was implied that Leopold negotiated in bad faith.

    20. Ed Snider: Snider is an important figure as the chairman of Comcast Sportsnet, a regional sports network now operated by NBC Sports, and the owner of the Philadelphia Flyers. Snider made an impact on the NHL when he authorized a 14-year offer sheet for Shea Weber that was eventually matched by Nashville.

    21. Greg Jamison: Jamison is the prospective new owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, and he represents a new beginning for the franchise in Arizona. His purchase of the Coyotes from the NHL will keep the team where it is and will prevent relocation.

    22.Tom Gaglardi: Gaglardi is the new owner of the Dallas Stars, and his purchase will help one of the most successful relocated franchises in the NHL today. He is an owner with means, and he can help the franchise thrive and be profitable.

    23. Jeff Vanderbeek: Vanderbeek is the majority owner of the New Jersey Devils, and he is expected to sell his stake to Bill Gallacher in 2013. Vanderbeek's financial blunders with the team have led to various rumors about relocation, but the NHL shot them down very quickly.

    24. Mike Ilitch: Mike Ilitch is one of the NHL's most veteran owners, and he is a very important owner with a voice during the lockout. His contributions to hockey and his potential involvement with the Winter Classic would have generated a ton of revenue for the NHL.

    25. James Dolan: Dolan is one of the NHL's most outspoken and savviest owners, but he has been silenced during the lockout because of his resistance to embrace the lockout. He helped end the NBA lockout, but the powers have not allowed him to sit in on CBA negotiations. He also made headlines in 2012 when he met with the media for the first time in years when he announced that the New York Rangers were close to winning a Stanley Cup.

League Officials

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    26. Allan Walsh: Walsh is a lawyer and agent for Octagon Hockey, and he has been adamant about his distaste of the lockout on Twitter. He is a smart individual who always provides tons of information and insight to support his points.

    27. Scott Howson: Howson is a league official for the Columbus Blue Jackets, who would win the award for worst general manager because of his bumbling trades in 2012. He signed, then traded Jeff Carter for a low return and traded franchise player Rick Nash for a unsatisfactory return.

    28. Glen Sather: Sather is a wily general manager who is one of the most respected in the NHL. He has done a solid job rebuilding the New York Rangers, and his crowning achievement in 2012 was acquiring Rick Nash.

    29. Mathieu Schneider: Schneider is a former player, and the special assistant to NHLPA director Donald Fehr. He has played an important role in negotiations, and has been a voice for the players with the media.

    30.Steve Fehr: Steve Fehr is the brother of Donald Fehr, and a key member of the NHLPA's legal counsel. He has been involved in the bulk of negotiations, including face-to-face talks with Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.

    31. Bill Daly: Daly is the deputy commissioner under Gary Bettman, and he is the second most powerful figure in the NHL today. He could become the next commissioner in a few years, so his actions are very important to the league. 

    32. Donald Fehr: Fehr is the NHLPA's executive director, and the head legal counsel for the players. He is the former head of the MLBPA and he has a ton of experience in collective bargaining negotiations.

    33. Gary Bettman: Bettman is the NHL's commissioner, and the most powerful figure in the NHL. He is currently overseeing his third NHL lockout, and his decision has had the most impact on the NHL throughout the league's history.

    34. Brendan Shanahan: Shanahan is the league's head disciplinarian as the Director of Player Safety. His decisions have an impact on the players and the operations of the NHL in terms of suspensions and supplemental discipline.

Players

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    35. Justin Schultz: Over the summer, Schultz was the most sought-after UFA defenseman as an NCAA player. The hash tag #SchultzWatch was created because of a long and drawn out process that ended with him signing with the Edmonton Oilers. At the time, he was criticized for his process, but as the AHL's hottest rookie, many media members understand that it was all worth it.

    36. Dustin Brown: After trade rumors involved Los Angeles Kings' captain Dustin Brown, his game went to a completely new level. This included Brown going on a massive hot streak that continued throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs. He is a face of Team USA, and he captained the Kings to their first Stanley Cup in team history.

    37. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin is a face for the NHL and one of the league's top players. He represents the league internationally, and he will be a big face for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

    38. Jonathan Quick: Quick took the league by storm in 2011-12 as a standout goaltender who contended for the Vezina Trophy and was a backbone for the Kings. He was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for his efforts.

    39. Teemu Selanne: Selanne is one of the NHL's most veteran players, and he is an ambassador for the sport of hockey. Unfortunately, the current NHL lockout may have inadvertently ended his career.

    40. Daniel Alfredsson: Alfredsson is another veteran and icon who has represented the NHL for decades. He has fought injury and illness, and the lockout may claim his career.

    41. Jaromir Jagr: Jagr returned to the NHL in 2011-12 after a three-year absence. The future Penguins' retiree took a complete heel turn when he suited up for the Philadelphia Flyers, but his return was one of the most important and biggest storylines of the 2011-12 season.

    42. Jeff Carter: Jeff Carter was traded twice in a six-month span, and he was a player who made a lot of noise once he joined the Los Angeles Kings. His contract and trades represent a lot of the things the NHL is hoping to change about long-term contracts in a new CBA.

Players Continued

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    43. Nicklas Lidstrom: "The Perfect Human" retired from the NHL after the 2011-12 season, bur his legacy will never be forgotten. His swan song was long anticipated, and it made every game he played in meaningful for fans. As a veteran, he could be an important leader for the league someday.

    44. Shea Weber: Between signing a massive offer sheet and his first round cheap shot on Henrik Zetterberg, Weber was an important figure in the NHL during the past year. The head-slam incident was used as an example for disciplinary reform, and the offer sheet has been used as an example of why long-term contracts are bad for the league, and how they can circumvent the salary cap.

    45. Sidney Crosby: Crosby is the face of the NHL, and his return from a concussion was a huge plus for the league in 2012. He is the league's head ambassador and is one of the most powerful players in the league.

    46. Steven Stamkos: Stamkos won the Rocket Richard in 2011-12, and he scored 60 goals. It was the first time since 2007-08 that someone scored 60 or more goals, and it was an important feat that generated tons of interest in the league.

    47. Rick Nash: Nash was an important figure during the second half of the NHL season because of the tons of publicity surrounding the possibility of him being traded. It kept up through the NHL Draft and it eventually ended when he was traded in July.

    48. Evgeni Malkin: Malkin was the NHL's M.V.P. in 2011-12 and received both top awards for his efforts. His amazing efforts helped the Penguins battled the Rangers for the Eastern Conference's top seed, and made the end of the season thrilling and exciting.

    49. Brad Richards: Richards was the top UFA from the summer preceding the 2011-12 season, and he had a huge impact on the Rangers during the season. His humanitarian efforts off the ice have been great for the community, and he has represented the league well during the lockout.

    50. Henrik Lundqvist: Lundqvist is a rising face for the league, and he is one of the NHLPA's most articulate members. He does a lot to represent the NHL; he offers educated and insightful opinions and he is one of the NHL's top goaltenders.

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