So, ladies and gents, it's that most wonderful time of the year, especially for those on the "Nice" list, but for those on the darker side and find their name under "Naughty," this season can be surprisingly dismal, especially waking up to a stocking full of coal.
Here comes an alphabetized list of 25 players, in my opinion, who deserve coal from Santa Claus this year, each naughty slide with it's own reasoning. Of course, some players are on the dark side because of similar reasons, nevertheless, here are the 25 hockey players who might wake up to a cold surprise in their stocking this year.
Despite having a season without any suspensions, Sean Avery still deserves coal in his stocking, and something makes me think this isn't the first year that Santa has Avery on the naughty list.
Avery has seven fighting majors already this season, which means in just 41 games, half of the season, Sean Avery has fought as many times as he did all of last year. Not only does Avery have seven fighting majors, he also has two instigator penalties, three misconducts, a roughing penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
With all these fights and extra penalties, it should not be a surprise that Avery would wake up to coal on Xmas morning.
Jay Bouwmeester has been one of the league's biggest disappointments thus far in the year. He signed a monster contract with the Calgary Flames, and ever since he left Florida, he just hasn't put up the numbers that we all grew to expect out of him.
When Bouwmeester was in Florida, he was tallying over 35 points for each of the four seasons. However last year, despite playing every game for Calgary, the defender didn't even get 35 points, and now he has 11 points in 34 games played this season. Bouwmeester has been a big enough disappointment to deserve the cold dark rocks in his stocking this year.
Danny Briere might seem like an unlikely candidate for the 25 NHL players on the naughty list, but let's take a quick flashback to the game on October 30, between the Flyers and the Rangers. Check out the video at the 1:17 mark. There is a great closeup of Briere's hit to the head of Frans Nielsen.
So for the cross-check to Nielsen's head, Briere was dished a three-game suspension, and in my opinion, Santa has a solid reason to throw some coal in Danny's stocking, despite having a solid season under his belt already.
New Jersey goaltender, Martin Brodeur, is next in line on the NHL's list of coal-deserving candidates, and it shouldn't be a surprise why. The Devils goalie has had a really rotten season so far, with his worst goals against average and save percentage so far in his NHL career, not to mention a pretty weak 5-14-1 record.
The veteran goalie has had an impressive career in the NHL, but this season, he has been a big enough disappointment to deserve some coal in his stocking hanging from the mantle.
Brent Burns is next up alphabetically, and the main reason he's made it onto this list is because he was suspended for two games for "butt-ending" Steve Bernier in the chin during the game on November 12. The game was over, and Burns let his temper get a little out of control and stabbed Bernier in the chin with the end of his stick, see the slow motion replay around the 1:10 mark of the video.
No one enjoys losing a game, but Burns took the 2-1 loss too far by butt-ending Bernier in the face, and that lands Burns on our list of players who deserve coal from Santa.
I'm well aware that by adding Sidney Crosby to this list, I'm painting a target on my forehead for some disagreements, but I stand by my choice to add, in my opinion, one of the league's biggest crybabies to this list. However, Crosby is not on this list because of his complaining habits, but more because of what is seen in the short clip attached.
In the Penguins versus Rangers game on November 29th, Crosby used his skate to take down Callahan, slew-footing him, and even though Crosby was clearly at fault, Callahan was the one who got the two minute penalty for interference, making Crosby absolutely eligible for coal in his stocking this holiday season.
Next on our list is Coyote Captain, Shane Doan, who was dealt a three-game suspension for a dangerous shot to the head of Anaheim's Dan Sexton. Aside from the hit that earned him the suspension, Doan has had a solid year and as the leader of the Coyotes with the C on his jersey.
Doan has had almost as many penalty minutes already this year that he did last year; he's really increased the physical aspect of his game and had a few questionable hits making him a candidate for coal in the stocking this year.
Brandon Dubinsky has a few different reasons for being put on this list, including another player who has stepped up the physical aspect of his game and seen his penalty minutes spike as a consequence.
Dubinsky is also a player who was involved in the huge brawl that broke out between the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers in their mid-November contest, however Dubinsky was later dealt a fine for grabbing Oiler Colin Fraser from the bench. Between all the penalty minutes and the fine, it shouldn't be a surprise that Dubinsky has a chance of waking up with coal from Santa.
So aside from having one of the most difficult names in the NHL, Niklas Hjalmarsson could very easily find his name, most likely misspelled, on Santa's "Naughty" list.
The Chicago defender is not known for being a huge point-getter, and this season is not an anomaly in that sense. However, he was suspended for a couple games for the dangerous boarding hit on Jason Pominville, seen in the clip.
Olli Jokinen, is no stranger to some big numbers in the penalty minutes and hits department, however his hit to the head of Wojtek Wolski was absolutely worthy of the three-game suspension that the league assigned him.
Jokinen is a big, 6'3", 215-pound center for the Flames, and when hits are coming from him, they can very easily be bone-crunching when the timing is in Jokinen's favor. Fortunately, Wojtek Wolski was not injured on the play, however the risk of hitting a player in the head is enough to land Jokinen on Santa's list of those to leave coal for.
Nikolai Khabibulin has only three letters explaining why he is on this list: DUI.
Khabibulin was found guilty of speeding and blowing a 0.08 blood-alcohol level, landing him a title of an extreme DUI, and his 30 day jail sentencing is now pending appeal. The Oiler's goalie, who adds yet another complicated name to our list, is for sure getting some coal in his stocking for his legal troubles and the extreme DUI on his record.
Even though Zenon Konopka is not the biggest player in the league, he has consistently been ranked in the tops with the most penalty minutes in the NHL. A perfect example is that this season alone, he has 107 penalty minutes in just 30 games played, however only nine fights, meaning over half of the 107 penalty minutes were not from fights.
Konopka's insane number of penalties makes him eligible to be on Santa's radar when he's sliding down chimneys and dropping off the coal.
Here's the second of our superstars on the list, this time the Russian, Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk was one of the biggest names thrown around during the offseason, and finally, the rumors were settled when New Jersey signed him to a huge contract and locked him down until he most likely retires.
Kovalchuk has always been a strong power forward, but this year he has been an absolute disappointment with the Devils' alternate captain doing anything but catching a spotlight or impressing anyone. Kovie has really been off his game this season with just eight goals and 10 assists in 31 games this season, and so I wouldn't be surprised if Santa left him coal this Christmas.
Young goalie Steve Mason is our next candidate as a possible coal recipient. Mason finds himself in the second year of his "sophomore slump," following his stellar year as a rookie which earned him a Calder Trophy.
After that first outstanding rookie year, Mason really has not lived up to expectations with worse stats being posted both last season and this season. Simply being a disappointment is reason enough for Santa to leave this youngster a few pieces of coal in his stocking.
Tyler Myers is the second of our back-to-back former Calder Trophy winners who are struggling with a slump of a year, and like Steve Mason, Myers is on this list just because he is not living up to the expectations he set for himself last year.
It's outrageous to say this, but most Sabre fans probably are wishing he would go back to playing how he did when he was just a young 19-year-old in the big leagues, because since entering his 20s, he has not continued to grow, but instead, he has started to have a pretty weak year, much to Buffalo's disappointment. All those who Tyler Myers has let down probably merits him for some coal in his stocking this holiday season.
This season seems to have the trend of many big named players being disappointments for their respective teams, and Alex Ovechkin is not much of an exception for the Capitals.
After having two seasons with fewer than 70 games played and almost 110 points tallied each, Ovechkin is now on track to not even break 90 points if he plays every game this season. Honestly, a 90-point season wouldn't be a disappointment for most teams, however for the Capitals who really rely on Ovechkin's production, his reputation proceeds him and so this could really be a year of coal in his stocking.
Boston's young backup goaltender, Tuukka Rask, is next on our list of candidates for less cheerful holidays thanks to possible coal in his stocking. Rask really set a high bar for himself last year with 45 games played and an impressive 1.97 goals against average and .931 save percentage.
This year, Rask hasn't gotten the nod as many times as last year because Tim Thomas has been playing well, however in the 10 games that Rask has played in, he has had a more disappointing 2.57 goals against average. All in all, not Rask's best year at all, and for not standing out and being as stellar as he was last year, he could be seeing some coal this Christmas.
Tampa Bay's Mattias Ritola is a left winger who hasn't seen all that much play time in his NHL career, and never really been the big goal-scorer. This season is already a career-high season with Ritola tallying five points in 17 games, however he still might be getting a dark present from Santa this year.
Ritola is on our list here for his very dangerous boarding hit to Matt Moulson for which he received a two-game suspension on November 18th. The clip that is included shows the hit around the 0:23 mark and after the impact, you watch Matt Moulson crumble and can't help but just pray that he is still breathing and conscious. For that scary hit, don't be surprised if you hear Ritola wakes up to some coal in his stocking.
Rick Rypien is not the most famous player in the league, but he made a bit of a name for himself when the Canucks played the Wild in mid-October. Rypien got angry after the play, and while exiting to the locker room, opted to stop and grab a fan who was yelling at him. For a great view of it, watch the clip that is also on this slide.
For grabbing the Minnesota fan, Rypien was slapped with a six-game suspension as punishment, and I would almost expect Santa to punish him some more with coal in his stocking on the fireplace this Christmas.
The second of the Capitals' top line, Alexander Semin, is next up on our list of the players who could be getting an unpleasant present in their stocking this year.
Semin is on this list for two separate reasons, not only has he been a disappointment for Washington this year, he also was given a fine for the brutal cross check to the head of John-Michael Liles of the Colorado Avalanche. All in all, Semin is a pretty good candidate for some coal this year, however maybe Santa thinks the injury he is currently struggling with will be enough of a punishment.
Jody Shelley is the next player on our list who might be found on Santa's naughty list for the season thus far. Shelley was hit with a two-game suspension after he hit Adam McQuaid of the Boston Bruins into the boards on a very dangerous rush for the puck.
Shelley has 73 penalty minutes in just 31 games played, adding the excessive amounts of penalties taken to a reason for a little coal from Santa.
Calgary Flame Brett Sutter is next up on our list of NHL players possibly getting coal from Santa, again this one for legal issues.
In November, Sutter was arrested for assaulting a man outside of a bar in Scottsdale, Arizona. Thankfully, the man who was assaulted was not seriously injured, however the purpose of the argument was never released. So for being arrested and spending a little time in jail, Sutter is most likely going to wake up to some coal on Christmas morning.
Andy Sutton of the Anaheim Ducks is another player who has been disappointing enough to possibly deserve some coal in his stocking come December 25th.
Sutton was seen as a huge signing for Anaheim's blue line roster during the offseason, and after missing the beginning piece of the season with a broken finger, Sutton has yet to impress when sporting the Ducks' jersey. Sutton has allowed turnovers on several occasions that have led to goals against, and all in all, Sutton has let Anaheim down enough to deserve some coal this holiday season.
San Jose's captain Joe Thornton is one of the last two of our list of 25 players deserving coal from Santa, and this Shark has a few reasons to be on here. First off, Thornton was suspended following the blind-sided hit he laid out David Perron with. The dirty hit was worthy of a two game suspension in the eyes of the NHL.
Joe Thornton also took the captaincy of the Sharks during the offseason and has disappointed them as a leader. San Jose has had one of the worst starts to the season in several years, with them currently ranked seventh in the West and third in the Pacific. All in all, Thornton hasn't had a great season thus far, and because of that, he could be waking up to something unfortunate in his stocking this year.
An unlikely name to finish off this list is NY Islander, James Wisniewski, who is here for the obscene gestures he made to Ranger, Sean Avery. Don't get me wrong, with Avery's track record, I'm not saying he didn't deserve the taunting or the insults, regardless Wisniewski was hit with a two-game suspension for his actions.
Overall, hockey has never really been a sport for the young children, with all the aggression, and now with Wisniewski's raunchy actions, I would be petrified if I were a mother sitting there and I had children with me.
So there we have it, in my opinion, the 25 players who are deserving of some coal from Santa Claus this Christmas.
Happy Holidays to everyone, including those who are getting coal!