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NHL - NHL Christmas Wishlists

By Lee Manchur
Wednesday, December 12th, 2001

It's that time of year again! Santa Claus is up at the North Pole making the final revisions to his Christmas list, and seeing who has been naughty or nice the past year. While little kids are making their wishlists, so are the 30 NHL hockey clubs, as well as the NHL's affiliated organizations. What is each asking for, you ask? Here's the summary, below.

NHL Organizations

Head Office - Less fighting to attract more American viewership.

Referees - A miracle that the IIHF will change the Olympics from a one-man to a two-man referee system; some may be dreading having to skate the full ice length with the NHL using the two-man system.

CBC - The technician strike to end ASAP so that Hockey Night in Canada can have the real-time scoreboard, not the one that pops up every five minutes like in the 1980s.

ESPN - A continuing increase in viewership ratings; recently had the fifth highest rating in ESPN hockey history, an Avs/Wings contest.

Team Canada - First Olympic gold medal in 50 years.

Team USA - A repeat of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" in Lake Placid.

NHL Hockey Clubs

Chicago - A 2002 Stanley Cup championship. The Blackhawks are in the longest Stanley Cup drought of all 30 NHL clubs.

Tampa Bay - Go back in time and sign Vincent Lecavalier before training camp. Missing it has caused his offensive numbers to be very minute.

Pittsburgh - A speedy hip injury recovery for captain/owner Mario Lemieux.

Toronto - A defense in front of an all-star and Olympic caliber goaltender.

St. Louis - A goaltender behind an all-star and Olympic caliber defensive lineup.

Anaheim - A centerman for Paul Kariya.

Buffalo - The continuation of J.P. Dumont's eight-game point scoring streak (7-6-13).

N.Y. Rangers - The continuation of rookie backup goalie Dan Blackburn's excellent play.

Los Angeles - Better luck. They're 2-10 in one-goal games this year.

Columbus - Better starts. The Blue Jackets haven't lost when leading after two periods, but that has only been the case in eight games, and they're 0-14-1 when trailing after forty minutes.

Dallas - The coaching staff wants their players to show up on Wednesdays. The Stars have the worst Western Conference record on Wednesdays, 0-2-3-1.

Atlanta - Do they have a coach watching up from the skybox analyzing what is wrong with their defense? Obviously not. Their roster is a combined -31 in the plus/minus department, the worst in the league.

Phoenix - That new arena they keep talking about ever since those Jets days.

Detroit - They can't ask for much with the season they're having, but two players on that team - Brendan Shanahan and Luc Robitalle - are wishing for their names to be on the list of 15 that are named to Team Canada's roster on December 22.

Vancouver - No more injuries to their top players! They simply aren't deep enough to handle it.

Colorado - If they don't get the number one item on their list, goal scoring, management might have to put down another $110 million like they did this past offseason and just buy some!

Philadelphia - Some time off during the Christmas season for head coach Bill Barber to stay at home with his family and recuperate from his wife's death after her recent battle with cancer.

Florida - Discipline. They average the most penalties in the NHL, 23.2 PIM/game.

Ottawa - Despite doing very well without their superstar, Alexei Yashin, they're really missing him on the power play which ranks 28th in the league at a 10.5% efficiency rate.

San Jose - Rookie year-type numbers from Brad Stuart.

Los Angeles - The Felix Potvin they got last spring.

Calgary - So far, their year has been picture-perfect, but they need to wish for it to all keep up as they head down the stretch.

Edmonton - For Ryan Smyth to come back when he said he would, in January, and not the original estimate by the doctors (February-March).

New Jersey - Implement their style of game, a defensive one. Instead of playing around the .500 mark, they should be contending with the Maple Leafs, Rangers, Islanders, and Bruins.

Boston - Lord Byron needs a back up better than John Graham, though Dafoe has managed a 13-10-1 record so far. My senses suggest, however, that they'll need a better back up in the long run to allow Dafoe to play his best in April, so he can rest for the playoffs.

Montreal - Wishing Saku Koivu all the best in his recovery from cancer.

Carolina - Nothing. Arturs Irbe wished for a backup goalie last year after playing 83 games (including playoffs) and finally got it! He and Tom Barrasso have each played 16 games so far this year for the 'Canes.

Washington - A more consistent game. With injuries, the Caps have been very streaky, but as all the pieces come back together, they should get it back on track.

Nashville - To bring a game on the road. They are currently 3-10-2-0 on the road and have allowed a Western Conference-high 52 goals against while wearing the visitor sweaters.

Minnesota - Fall hockey. They were one of the league's top teams in October and November, and held the rights to the league's top power play unit, but that has since gone to smithereens. They need to find their form, and goaltender Manny Ferenedez needs to get back into his groove.

Will Santa deem the teams and organizations naughty or nice? When teams come back to play hockey on December 26, we'll know if they got their wishes or not.

Have something to say? Visit the message boards and discuss this article.

Comments? Agree? Disagree? Send in your feedback about this article.

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