[Every weekend, Canucks Hockey Blog goes out of town as Tom Wakefield (@tomwakefield88) posts his thoughts on what's happening around the NHL.]
Photo credit: oilers.nhl.com
I never knew Santa was a hockey fan.
And yet, when I sat on his lap at the mall this week, and asked him who he thought had been naughty and nice this year, he was quick to hand me the following list.
Surprisingly, I agree with everything he wrote.
Naughty – That Charles Wang continues to own and operate the New York Islanders franchise like it’s the Cleveland Indians from the film “Major League”. It’s a travesty a team with this kind of history, in the biggest media market in North America, seems doomed.
Nice – HBO’s 24/7 Penguins-Capitals series. So it’s aired one episode. So what? It’s the most interesting idea to come from the NHL since the shoot-out, and might be the best TV show ever produced about NHL hockey. It is the antithesis of bland, and would never come from Canada, where everyone wants to be an NHL players’ best pal. Right Pierre Maguire?
Naughty – Vancouver’s downtown bike lanes and City Hall in general. Let’s see. Winters on the West Coast feature roughly 700 days of cold, windy rainstorms and the Lower Mainland’s public transportation system is about as convenient as a gas station that’s only open during an eclipse. So naturally, it makes sense to punish people for driving by turning downtown car lanes into bike lanes. What’s next, passing a law that let’s us all keep chickens in our backyards? Wait a minute…
Nice – Colorado Avalanche hockey. Sure the names are no longer Sakic or Forsberg, but Avs hockey remains up-tempo, high-scoring and fun-to-watch. Pretty much exactly what Bruce Boudreau is trying to stop the Washington Capitals from playing these days.
Naughty – The Edmonton Oiler cheerleaders. Because it’s probably more fun than thinking they’re “nice.”
Nice – That the Steven Stamkos hype has quieted down. Is he an elite shooter? Yes. Is Martin St. Louis a better and more valuable player right now? Yes.
Naughty – That some games are still being decided by goals that result from plays involving a broken one-piece hockey stick.
Nice – The Rangers team Glen Sather’s put together this year.
Naughty – Lou Lamoriello’s fiddling while the Devils continue to burn. He’s either retiring at the end of the year, or choosing to tank the season to score a high draft pick. Either way, it’s not really John Maclean’s fault the team’s this bad.
Nice – The entire Larry Sanders Show has finally come to DVD. Hey now!
Naughty – Natalie Portman in The Black Swan. Go see it, if for no other reason than to watch her exorcize those crappy Star Wars prequels from her body.
Nice – Opposing teams on the Buffalo Sabres. They’ve faced 15 backup goalies so far this year. Their record in these match-ups? 10-3-2.
Naughty – Eugene Melnyk, for not facing up to reality, and seeing the door has closed on this core of Senators.
Nice – Ryan Whitney, who has become the best Edmonton Oilers defenceman since Chris Pronger left town.
Naughty – That “Little Fockers” even exists.
Nice – Ryan Clowe at even strength. Quietly he sits third in the league at 5-on-5 scoring, behind only Sidney Crosby and Pavel Datsyuk.
Naughty – Cam Neely, for blaming the Bruins struggles recently on Claude Julien’s defensive-first system. Way to stir up trouble Cam. That being said, it does seem like this has been a bit of a wasted year in Tyler Seguin’s development, doesn’t it?
Nice – That Al Pacino, Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro are teaming up for a crime flick called “The Irishman”.
Naughty – Steve Mason, whose play in goal for the Columbus Blue Jackets this year seems to confirm his Calder Trophy season was a fluke.
Nice – Chris Pronger’s foot surgery. It saves the Flyers from some cap issues in the short-term, and in the long-term should ensure Pronger’s rested for a long post-season run.
Naughty – VANOC, not for failing to host a carbon neutral 2010 Olympics, but for blaming this failure on “sponsors and suppliers”.
Nice – Linus Omark, for reminding us that playing hockey, even professional hockey, should involve a little imagination.
Naughty – The alleged “real ending” to Yogi Bear.
Nice – Canadians I guess, according to the Family Guy’s “Road to the North Pole” Christmas special.
Naughty – Sean Avery. Because you can’t call the league’s penalty minute leader “nice”.
Nice – Gotta love that the nickname “Neon Dion” Phaneuf found its way into the mainstream media this week. Sadly, it’s the flashiest thing about him these days.
Naughty – Only learning after the fact that a condition of marriage includes writing personal messages in a seemingly infinite number of Christmas Cards.
Nice – Secretariat. Because it’s the best laugh in Late Night television right now.
Naughty – Wives who cut back on their husbands’ Egg Nog intake to prevent seasonal weight gain. Is nothing sacred?