In the spirit of giving, here's what teams should see under the tree
The holidays are here. The season for making your lineup sheet and checking it twice. For sorting out who's been good (Red Wings, Senators), who's been bad (Capitals, Kings) and who's been very, very bad (Flyers).
The league itself should be asking the jolly fat man for a few more goals and a few less disciplinary hearings (there's nice, there's naughty and then there's Chris Simon).
Everyone in the NHL undoubtedly has mailed out a wish list. Except, perhaps, Sidney Crosby. What on earth do you give the 20-year-old who has everything?
Sid the Kid notwithstanding, here's what would look good wrapped up and tied with a festive bow for teams and players around the horn:
Asking Santa for a flashy Finnish right winger. Not to be overly picky but, say someone, oh, 37 years old, a bit of a procrastinator, former kindergarten teacher, fond of racing fast cars, owns a dog named Tie?
A set of jumper cables to restart Maxim Afinogenov's stuttering battery. Remember, it's positive to positive and negative to
A few home wins to prop up that improbable road record. Along with canonization, and an Art Ross Trophy, for inspirational, all-everything captain Jarome Iginla.
A couple of cases of Imodium, so they can plug up the raging defensive drain at the back that compromises an admirable collective scoring output (five players at 30 points or more).
Blackhawks fans already got what they have wanted for years: games on TV! A 30-minute-a-night, keynote defenseman to complement the kids would be welcome, too. And, lastly, something no other team in hockey would dare ask for -- more games against the Red Wings!
A completely healthy second half for Joe Sakic, one of the game's true marvels.
Columbus Blue Jackets
An injection of skill -- up front, on defense, anywhere. But, most expediently, somebody able to give the over-relied-on Rick Nash a breather now and again.
Detroit Red Wings
A wistful return to Hockeytown's salad days, when a seat at the Joe couldn't be had for love or money. A fourth, and probably final, All-Star Game appearance for the feel-good story of the year, 35-year-old goalie Chris Osgood. Oh, and a little more Scrooge and a little less Santa from The Dominator.
A recoup of a portion of that $21.25 million shelled out to land Dustin Penner, and a comedy cable network for coach Craig MacTavish.
Relocation. And retroactive jail time for Vancouver general manager Dave Nonis for being able to pull off the Roberto Luongo-for-Todd Bertuzzi heist in broad daylight, with the league's blessing.
Los Angeles Kings
What don't they need? Any sort of donation would be appreciated, Pere Noel. But patience, most of all.
Another 1,000 games behind the bench for Jacques Lemaire, who, in his own clipped, crusty way, remains one of the best coaching interviews in hockey.
The consistency that their coach, Guy Carbonneau, used to bring to the rink each and every night.
New Jersey Devils
Nothing really, thanks, Santa. Their gritty, goal-depleting style of hockey has them back atop the Atlantic Division. Better than a roaring fire and spiked eggnog. Just the way the Devs like it.
New York Islanders
A peaceful retirement in Wawa, Ontario, for Chris Simon.
A good lawyer and some delinquency management classes would be beneficial.
An authentic playoff push in the second half to spark some hockey interest in the desert and put a semblance of a smile back on coach Wayne Gretzky's face.
A brand-new, state-of-the-art rink to appear miraculously -- immediately -- out of nowhere. Housing a masterpiece like Sidney Crosby in the rickety old Igloo is comparable to hanging Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" in a hardware store window beside a lava lamp. A worthy dance partner for Georges Laraque.
St. Louis Blues
A new, invigorating lease on life for nice guy Andy McDonald.
San Jose Sharks
The real Patrick Marleau, not the cheapo imitation being fobbed off on a gullible public this season. And an in-depth, day-long, self-help session with Tony Robbins for hockey's most talented, yet mentally fragile, group.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Well, a goalie able to post a save percentage of more than .888 would be a start. And a soft mushie pillow for coach John Tortorella to break his inevitable fall.
Toronto Maple Leafs
For classy captain Mats Sundin, a deal shipping him to an authentic Stanley Cup contender by the trade deadline. Out-of-favor (and now-out-of-the-lineup) defenseman Bryan McCabe would benefit from a humility handbook under the tree. His "you can't turn water into wine every night" line is hands-down the winner of the most hilarious quote from the season's first half.
For starters, a second line. Secondly, a better color scheme on those uniforms. The old throwback blue Orland Kurtenbach tones? Ewwwwww!
Any presents the L.A. Kings want to return on Boxing Day.
George Johnson, a columnist for the Calgary Herald, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.
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