All Zack Stortini wants for Christmas is his two front teeth.

What I love most about Christmas is that Canadians and Americans celebrate it on the same day, so none of this  “Merry American Christmas!” nonsense like we have to do with Thanksgiving.

So, that said, Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.

I hope the Jolly Fat Man brought you whatever you wished for and ate the cookies you left out for him. Otherwise, the Canucks flew him to your house for nothing! (Kyle Wellwood jokes are the gift that keep on giving.)

My personal wishes were few this year, but there are some things that I would wish for ALL of us hockey fans (because I’m a giver like that).

My Christmas wish list:

A Great Villain (or several)

Every great story needs its antagonist, and I feel like the new conservatism of the NHL has taken the venom out of some of our best villains. When was the last time you heard something deliciously evil about Sean Avery? And I always thought Ovechkin had all the qualities of a great villain, but only when he’s in the “greatest in the world” conversation.

Not to say there aren’t guys we hate. I think most still would like to give Matt Cooke a forceful wedgie, but even he is supposedly kinder and gentler. Yawn. Even the Ducks are less disgusting now that Perry and Getzlaf aren’t playing dirty AND humiliating goalies.

I was excited for a moment there, when it looked like Boston was going to be the new rough and tumble, The World against Those Jackasses standard but alas. Now they’re just another team that may or may not beat you and may or may not beat you up.

The worst, though, is when you DO find someone you absolutely loathe. You’ve worked up a good froth about them, and then someone tells you what a nice guy he is, or some sob story about having cancer as a kid, or how he donates half his paycheck to orphans. AUGH! Now I can’t hate you, jerk!

More Naked Interviews

Oh Ronny Hextall, you skinny, oblivious bastard…

Guys are always dressed now. Not even the tiny towel sees the camera any more. In fact, I’m not even sure cameras go IN the locker room any more. All we get now is flop-sweaty hair and maybe a little shoulder outside the room.

When did we all turn into such prudes? Won’t somebody please stop thinking of the children?

Speaking of Hexy…

One Spectacularly Crazy (but Effective) NHL Goalie

I blame the gear. Nowadays, sure, the pucks can hurt, but you’re reasonably well protected pretty much all over your body. Equipment has come a long way toward allowing even relatively sane people to look at the position and go, “Okay, that doesn’t look too bad.”

And with the emphasis on technical skill versus just getting out there and stopping pucks however you can, you have to have people in net who are up for some structure in their game. In my experience, crazy doesn’t get along with structure (unless it’s too MUCH structure, but that’s still gonna make a bad goalie).

Ricky DiPietro showed some promise here, but you can see how that’s panned out. Timmy Thomas does his crazy stuff every now and then, but in general is more concerned about winning than a truly crazy goalie should be. I keep holding out hope for Mike Smith, but so far, not much crazy in the Phoenix crease. And darnit if Bryzgalov isn’t some sort of philosophical, gentle kind of crazy.

5-Round Shootouts

This may get me kicked out of the Goalie Union, but if you’re gonna have a skills competition, have a damn skills competition! The AHL does 5 rounds currently and it’s much more satisfying than the 3 rounds of the NHL.

And by “much more satisfying,” I mean that because the NHL shootout can actually be as little as two rounds, it’s sometimes over before you can say, “Wait. What?” You can’t really ever sink your teeth into it unless it goes a little more distance.

Also, it feels like if it’s a bit longer, luck plays a smaller role, and I think that’s my biggest beef with the shootout. It’s like a really exciting coin flip. Reduce (albeit slightly) that element of randomness and maybe it doesn’t feel AS luck-driven and perhaps more a fair assessment of your depth of offensive talent vs. your goalie’s prowess.

Wave Eviction


I think we can all agree that The Wave at hockey games is borderline criminal, correct?

And somebody has to start The Wave for The Wave to start, so I think arenas should identify that person and treat them the same way they do people who throw things on the ice. “Yer OUT!”

I’ll be honest with you, though, my original wish (as I watched the crowd in Edmonton do The Wave while their pesky Oilers trampled my Wild Thursday night) was to have a tiny gun pointed at every seat and if you get up for The Wave, you get shot.

But that’s probably not practical in terms of clean-up, so nabbing the instigator seems like the next best thing.


So, that’s it for this year, other than a few other personal wishes, like:

  • I like my bacon crispy, sweet cheeks.

    A voice mail on my cell phone from Mike Yeo saying, “Everything’s going to be okay” so I can listen to that when I feel like the sky is falling.

  • My teams getting healthy and proving the stats nerds wrong.
  • And Mikko Koivu making me breakfast.

Some of those are more reasonable than others.

Anyway, I hope the wonderful readers of Backhand Shelf had all your wishes granted, had a lovely time with family, and got to (or will get to) spend some time recharging the ol’ batteries before 2012 hits us like a Chara slap shot.

What awesome hockey goodies did you guys get this year? What’s on your hockey wish list? Who do you want making you breakfast?