'Tis The Season: Making a Wish with the Toronto Maple Leafs
But most importantly to us children of the material age, it's a time to make your wish-list.
And why should the NHL be any different?
Three months into the 2007-2008 NHL season, we've seen expectations frustrated in Buffalo, patience rewarded in Anaheim, and more of the same in Toronto and Ottawa.
Naturally, Leafs management must have a wish-list. It's this writers' humble opinion that the following might be show up on Santa's doorstep any day now...
My name is John Ferguson Jr. and I have been a very good boy these last two years.
I have done everything my board of directors has told me to do this year, including not making a serious bid on Paul Kariya or Ryan Smyth.
(Uncle Rich said I couldn't cuz the owners hadn't heard of them, but then again I had to take them to hockeydb.com to show them who Eric Lindros and Pavel Kubina were when I asked to sign them).
I cleaned up the bench by letting Jason Allison go, even though he had 17 goals and 43 assists in 60 games, cuz the bad men on the radio said he skated slow. And I even traded FOR Andrew Raycroft because Nikolai Khabibulin's name is tough to spell and Chris Osgood's mask looks silly.
Besides, it's the NEW NHL. Nobody needs a Stanley Cup-winning goalie to make the playoffs!
So Santa, here's what I want for Christmas:
1. For the media to stop being so mean to me.
That's all Santa! Other than those mean sports writers with their so-called "experience" (you don't need experience to get far in the hockey world, look at me and the Board of Directors!), I think I'm doing a good job.
And from the pen of Richard Peddie—a prayer he planned on reading Christmas day at a shareholders' meeting, which a wily custodian swiped this from his desk up in the ivory tower at the ACC.
It was sent to me anonymously, by someone calling himself only "The Eagle." At first I couldn't make out the handwritten note, because the writing looked like someone had scrawled it while being chased out of town.
It had a Swedish postmark and reeked of Absolut and bitterness.
You probably don't need to take off your hat at the table for this one...
O fathers who art on Bay Street, MLSE be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (especially to the Leafs, cuz we don't really care about the Raptors, we don't know basketball as well as we know hockey, duh!)
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses (actually we're okay for the bread—how about you just make people forget we traded Brad Boyes to get Owen Nolan?)
As we forgive those who trespass against us (except all those pesky Toronto sports columnists and TV pundits. I mean really, George W. Bush starts a war and doesn't have to answer a real question for nearly eight years; we trade Tuuka Rask for Andrew Raycroft and WE'RE the a**holes?)
And lead us not into temptation (except for those cushy slush funds we have from the profits we make from those "unexpected" ticket price increases that we sneak in every year in some new form. We may have a problem, but seriously we can stop anytime we want to....we just don't want to.)
And deliver us from evil. (Or at least keep Steve Simmons and Bob McCown from calling.)
[Pause for roaring laughter and applause. Don't panic if clapping doesn't happen right away. People have to remove their opera gloves and find a safe place to put their Cuban cigars and $300 a glass champagne before they really let loose.]
All right, now that we have that out of the way, I'll keep it short and sweet. None of us wish to choke down cold lobster after the Sauvignon has gone room temperature...what are we, NFL owners?
[Pause for laughter and the "Yeehaw!" Larry Tannenbaum and I discussed in advance.]
We all have plenty to be thankful for, but luckily we don't have to be humble—after all we own the Yankees of hockey! So I guess the only thing we should genuinely be thankful for is that the only thing less attainable for passionate Toronto Maple Leafs fans than tickets to a home game is shares in MLSE!
[Join the crowd in a very loud and long sigh of relief.]
So that's the thoughts of upper management in Toronto during the Christmas season. I'll leave you with a Leafs fan's personal wish-list as I wish you a happy holidays...
I have been a good Leafs fan this year.
I have waited six years to see Nik Antropov finally pay dividends, stayed quiet when MLSE took 24 regular season games away from Canadian broadcasters so that they would have exclusive broadcasting rights and the only way to see these games would be to pay an exorbitant monthly fee of nearly $20 to watch the Leafs play such powerhouse opponents as the Atlanta Thrashers and Florida Panthers, and even started telling people I'm a Leafs fan again.
For Christmas this year, I would like the following things:
-An energy forward to light a fire under the second line. If you have anything in a Maxim Afinogenov, or even a Jonathan Cheechoo, that would be nice.
-The realization by management that the team has more money than a Saudi prince and can easily afford to bury some contracts in the minors (I'm looking at you, Kubina and Raycroft).
-For JFJ to realize Raycroft is superfluous and is valuable trade bait to goalie-starved teams such as Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay...and that the latter team has a certain $7M a year Vincent Lecavalier whom ownership would like to see off the books, regardless of the detrimental impact to the team chemistry...and would probably be willing to take a $2M-a-year goaltender who will be a UFA at season's end if we took their $3M-a-year Marc Denis with another year on his inflated deal, thereby saving them the cost of half his salary in waiving him...and all it would take to sweeten the pot would be a few draft picks we'd waste anyway.
-Tickets to the next home game we play against the Pens or Habs. I asked the big guy upstairs and got nothing. When Supreme Beings can't score at least nosebleeds to a Wednesday game against the Predators, you know things have gotten bad.
Anyways, I'll stop taking up all your time—I'm sure you're probably sifting through letters with Ottawa postmarks asking for another shot at the Finals
On Bleacher Report, I'm Andrew Castaneda wishing everyone a happy holiday season.
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