Naughty or Nice: This Year, Santa's Checkin' His List Twice for These NHL Stars
Twas the night before Christmas, not a single soul stirring, all NHL arenas standing empty, with both fans and players being home for the holidays.
After the food is packed away, the wine bottles corked, players head to bed with visions of protein bars and play-off victories dancing in their dreams.
However, one man is still up with a long night ahead of him. Unbeknownst to some, Santa has been keeping careful watch on players, GM and administrators alike.
Creating a list, crossing off names and pondering his gifts.
That's right, Santa's checkin' his list twice for these NHL stars.
Here are some of the names that were found on his list...
Alexander Ovechkin hasn't started off the season as well as he had hoped.
From mocking Phil Kessel last year to a poor start, a coach-killer tag this year to boot , temper tantrums and language not fit for budding lip readers directed at his former coach, times have changed.
And not for the better.
This year, perhaps, some crow pie may be a signature dish at the dinner table at Christmas, along with a hunk of coal in his stocking.
Paul Bissonette Isn't Always Biznasty
If the name Paul Bissonette sounds familiar, perhaps the Twitter moniker biznasty2point0 might ring a bell. However, contrary to what he wants you to think, the Biz does have a heart of gold.
Not only has he single-handedly increased the sales of yoga pants and patrons to lululemon everywhere, brought social media awareness to fellow hockey players, he makes the list this year for showing kindness to those down on their luck.
Partnering with the catchy clothing line "sauce hockey," he raises awareness and money for homeless folks in the Phoenix area. Transporting them to hockey games, donating money for food, he brings smiles, excitement and a chance for people to experience a luxury they might not have otherwise experienced.
Hopefully, Santa can bring him more playing minutes so his guests can both meet him and see him play.
Don Cherry has many opinions.
Opinions he isn't afraid to share. His rigid stance on fighting in the wake of increased head injuries, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a bit alarming as were his comments in calling out former enforcers Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson (though he did apologize afterwards).
We have more knowledge about head injuries now then before, and with that, comes an obligation to start a dialogue on what should be done about fighting and trying to create as safe an environment as we can for both youth and professional athletes.
Perhaps, a personal fact checker might be handy for Don Cherry.
Currently serving as NHL's VP of Hockey and Business Development and head disciplinarian, Brendan Shanahan has brought an interesting approach to hockey discipline.
Since taking over, Shanahan has cracked down on cheap hits and head shots. Some may call him harsh, others not harsh enough, but we can all agree that he's transparent in his decisions.
He posts a video detailing the infraction, walking the viewer through the play, identifying rules and ending with key facts upon which he based his decision. He has brought transparency to the game, and perhaps, the knowledge that a posted, detailed point-by-point analysis will minimize future gratuitous infractions.
Perhaps, a crystal ball might be helpful in detecting, preventing and chastising impending miscreants to avoid unnecessary pain and delays in the game.
Phil Kessel...The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Good things happen to good people, and as far as presents go, Phil Kessel got an early gift that kept on giving...more goals that is.
Even when things didn't go well last year, he kept a positive frame of mind and kept working hard and is being rewarded.
Leafs fans hope he gets some energizer batteries so he can keep going and going and going...just like the Energizer bunny!
One of the ugliest moments in the NHL occurred after the Vancouver Canucks were defeated in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Hoodlums proceeded to riot in various sections of Vancouver, destroying everything in their path. Even those who tried to reason with the rioters were beaten and not spared.
Obviously, those rioters need both humanity, common sense and a sense of purpose in life.
Things that cannot be found in Santa's bag of presents.
Montreal parted ways with their coach earlier this year and asked anglophone Randy Cunneyworth (from their AHL affiliate) to step in to make the transition more seamless.
Almost immediately, the French politicians started complaining about having a non-French speaking man coaching their team.
Yes, Montreal is in a French-speaking province, but ownership deemed him the best candidate available. Have someone else speak to the French media until he has had some time to learn the language.
The cultural minister makes the naughty list for creating a mountain out of a mole hill and trying to further their political agenda through hockey. Stick to your day job and let the management do theirs.
The Chicago Blackhawks have some of the best team videos around the NHL. Their 2011 Christmas video is no exception, and it shows how talented the team is off the ice as well.
And since this is a Christmas list, it's appropriate they get kudos. The video (posted above) provides some snazzy sweater ideas for Santa too.
Perhaps, Santa might consider leaving them a groupon for some singing lessons?
Winnipeg Jets Fans
Finally, Winnipeg has got their team back. The support the community and businesses have shown toward the team has been phenomenal and the ticket sales brisk (they sold out of season tickets within 17 minutes of being open to the general public).
Yes, another example of early presents getting opened this year. Let's hope the city remembers how they lost their team last time and doesn't let it happen again. Santa could bring them some more victories as well as a playoff berth their first year back.
One thing our parents always told us, was to mind our manners and watch our tempers. Apparently, Mike Milbury missed that lesson.
While at his son's hockey game, he grabbed and swore at a kid creating a media circus. While no charges will be laid, it probably wasn't his finest moment.
Anger management classes should be on the docket, not only will it help you in dealing with misbehaving hockey players, but could prove useful when faced with belligerent holiday shopping mall crowds and holiday traffic.
To All a Good Night...
Well, here were some of the names on Santa's Christmas list. No doubt, there are others deserving of second glances.
By now, Santa is well on his way, visiting children all over the world, he still has a few more hours before making his final judgement on the NHL brethren.
As far as you all, I wish you happy Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and a new year filled with happiness, health and success.
Finally, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."