Christmas is almost upon us, the season of giving in full swing.
Yes, it’s a season of receiving also, and there’s no doubt you all will be getting your share of gifts. But here, we’re all about the giving. So while you go through your final preparations for the quickly approaching holiday, we hand out our “gifts” to some of the Chicago Blackhawks and others in the NHL.
To the NHL and NHLPA: a big Thank You. Thanks for realizing what Christmas is all about and, with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, giving teams Dec. 24-26 off. There are no games, no practices and no traveling during those three days. That’s as it should be. Let other leagues send their athletes and scribes on the road. We’ll curl up with a cup of cocoa and some sugar cookies, grateful that the NHL and NHLPA has it’s holiday priorities straight.
To the Chicago Blackhawks: a penalty kill. Seriously, this team doesn’t need much else right now.
To Patrick Kane: continued scoring success. For all of Kane’s off-ice issues, which seem to be behind him, there’s never been a doubt that he loves hockey more than anything. It’s coming through in points this season, and if this keeps up, it’ll be hard to ignore him for the Art Ross or Hart trophies.
To Dave Bolland: once past his current malady, long-lasting health. The former Blackhawks/current Maple Leafs center can’t catch a break in terms of health. When he’s 100 percent he just makes teams better, as the Leafs can attest from earlier this season. Once the severed tendon in his leg is healed, here’s hoping he doesn’t have to see the doctor for a long time.
To Oliver Ekman-Larsson: attention. Who cares if he’s playing in the desert: this guy is one of the best defensemen in the league, and needs to be recognized as such.
To Teemu Selanne: A few more years in the league. You don’t even have to play; you can just keeping us fortunate media scribes. In a league that’s getting more vanilla by the day, it’s hard to say goodbye to a great personality.
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To Sochi (and all of Russia, for that matter): Tolerance.
To NHL players who say they can only fight: Brandon Bollig’s bio. Because he’s proof that, just because you come into the league based on that one dimension, doesn’t mean you can’t add a few along the way.
To those who love comedy and carols: the Blackhawks Christmas album. It’s not Nat King Cole singing the Christmas Song, but it still brings joy in another way.
To Antti Raanta: a full cup of eggnog and a toast for what he’s accomplished in such a short amount of time. From North American hockey novice to the Blackhawks’ starting goaltender in the wake of Corey Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin’s injuries, Raanta has put in some tremendous work in about three months. Well done, grasshopper.
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To the Department of Player Safety: Stiffer punishments. There have been a rash of bad hits and bad behavior lately. And even with suspensions doled out, it’s obvious the message isn’t getting across enough yet.
To Twitter: Perspective, more of a sense of humor and a sarcasm font. Thank you.
To everyone: A safe, happy and healthy Christmas holiday.