Thanks to the unending NHL lockout (for which Gary Bettman and league ownership deserve hearty lumps of coal in their respective stockings), it's been easy to forget about hockey, an effect only amplified by the madness of holiday shopping season. What I'm trying to say is that I completely dropped the ball on buying gifts for Sharks players this year. So in lieu of that, here's the list I drew up and forgot to follow through on:
For Ryane Clowe, an extra-long hockey stick so he can break up odd-man rushes from the bench no matter what side of the ice the puck is being carried down.
For Jason Demers, a highlight reel of his 2010-11 season to remind him that he used to be really good at hockey.
For Joe Thornton, another Spengler Cup to add to his expansive trophy case so it looks even more ridiculous when idiots claim he can never win anything.
For Adam Burish, a four-year contract despite him having an easily replaceable skillset. Oh, he's already got one of those? Some socks then.
For Antti Niemi, an improved Sharks penalty kill unit so people will stop arguing that he's an awful goalie. Who am I kidding, they totally still will.
For Thomas Greiss, more starts in net. Not only would it prevent Niemi from being overworked like he has been for two seasons running but it would be a nice reward for a goalie who signed at below market value after being exiled to Sweden yet mostly just saw action against the likes of Columbus and Edmonton last year.
For Michal Handzus, a pair of skates that aren't made of cement so that he might someday find out what the offensive zone looks like.
For Tommy Wingels, a brand new Ghostbusters lunchbox since some of the larger fourth-graders stole his Magic School Bus one.
For Andrew Desjardins, more minutes on the penalty kill. Partially because he was pretty damn effective in a limited shorthanded role last season but also because if the Sharks are going to continue to blow chunks on the PK, they might as well do so without overextending Marleau, Thornton and Pavelski.
For James Sheppard, revenge against the ATV that prevented him from playing a single game in each of the last two NHL seasons. I don't care if it takes until President's Day, I will dismantle every last quad bike in North America.
For Dan Boyle, a sip from the elixir of life so he can keep running the power play and logging huge, important minutes at even-strength well into his forties.
For Martin Havlat, a human-sized hamster ball to prevent him from suffering any more injuries. He might not be able to contribute on the ice while trapped in a plastic bubble but at least he'll stay in the lineup this way.
And for Brad Stuart, the best gift of all: a reminder that he no longer has to live in Detroit during the season.
This list is far from comprehensive so be sure to leave your own gift ideas for the Sharks or anyone else in the comments. And from all of us here at Fear The Fin, we wish you a Merry Christmas (and/or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, winter solstice or non-denominational burning in effigy of Steve Ott).