'Tis the time for joy, goodwill, eggnog, shopping, gift-giving, give-receiving and eggnog (spiked). So let's take a look at what NHL teams are asking Santa Bettman for this holiday season:
Atlanta: A reasonable contract extension for Ilya Kovalchuk. And at the risk of sounding greedy, a playoff spot as well.
Anaheim: The return of Chris Pronger. Flyers fans might be willing to agree to this.
Boston: A potion to turn Milan Lucic into Phil Kessel. (No, I'm not letting that go. The Bruins can't score.)
Buffalo: A quick elimination for Team USA in the Olympics so Ryan Miller can get some rest.
Calgary: Olli Jokinen to not suck.
Carolina: A do-over on the 2009-2010 season.
Chicago: A bigger salary cap. Better yet, none.
Colorado: A defense that won't give up more than 30 shots each game.
Columbus: A hypnotist to tell Steve Mason it's 2008-09 again.
Dallas: The dissolution of shootouts. Or the return of tiebreaker specialists Sergei Zubov and Jussi Jokinen.
Detroit: Goals. Or good health. Or both.
Edmonton: A new body for Nikolai Khabibulin.
Florida: Dr. Frankenstein to give David Booth a new brain. (But not Abby Normal's. Anyone? Also, I say that jokingly, but believe me, I sympathize wholly with Booth. And not because I committed to him for five years in a salary cap league.)
Los Angeles: More months in the year so we can get more Ice Girls calendar pictures. Rawr.
Minnesota: Is fire-retardant gear too easy? Too harsh?
Montreal: One of those amusement park cardboard cut-out things outside the visitors locker room that says "You must be this tall to enter this room" and set the height at about four feet. Or a pink slip for GM Bob Gainey.
Nashville: Taylor Swift in nothing but a Predators' third jersey. Rawr.
New Jersey: A fountain of youth so Martin Brodeur plays for another 20 years, at least.
New York Islanders: One "Nullify a contract from a previous regime" card - you know, like a Monopoly "Get out of Jail free" card - and use it on Alexei Yashin's contract. He has an annual cap hit of $3.235 million on the Isles' books through 2015. Seriously.
New York Rangers: Six more Marian Gaboriks. Or even just one. Someone to take the pressure off Marian Gaborik The Original.
Ottawa: The 2006-07 version of Dany Heatley, but muzzled.
Philadelphia: A time machine to go back to 1975.
Phoenix: Fans. (Too harsh?)
Pittsburgh: A new power play. Maybe a young winger who can score goals.
St. Louis: The right to play the rest of their games on the road.
San Jose: One playoff series victory. Next year's present will be two.
Tampa Bay: New owners, ones who know how best to run a hockey team and won't run out of money.
Toronto: More truculence. Can't ever get enough of that.
Vancouver: Martin Brodeur's heart and brain in Bob Luongo's body.
Washington: A "How To" guide on playing defense for Mike Green.
Lastly, two special ones:
The NHL: A new television contract.
Gary Bettman: A brain.