Okay, Hockey Santa, time to do your thing. You know the drill. Make your list, check it twice, tell us who’s been naughty, nice and flat-out nasty this year on Planet Puckhead.
What will it be, one lump of coal or two in those Christmas stockings?
COAL: A whole bin of the black stuff to Jonas Siegel for his Phil Kessel hissy-fit. Siegel, a gab guy with TSN 1050 in the Republic of Tranna, sought some pearls of wisdom after Kessel and his Toronto Maple Leaf mates had conspired to drop a 6-2 decision to the lowly Buffalo Sabres. Kessel, not one of hockey’s great orators, told Siegel to “Get away from me.” What ensued was a hissy-fit of epic loft, with Siegel promising to rat out the moody Maple Leaf the next time he acts like a jerk. And the next time and the next time and the next time after that. Oh, boo freaking hoo. Grow up.
GOAL: Drew Doughty was Canada’s best performer in their gold-medal crusade at the Winter Olympics in the Republic of Vlad the Bad Putin. He was the Los Angeles Kings‘ best performer during their successful romp to another Stanley Cup. He was the best player in the world on the two largest shinny stages.
COAL: I wonder if Don Cherry would like some cheese with his whine. I mean, okay, the tall foreheads at Rogers Media have given the star of Curmudgeon’s Corner less time to skewer Russian and Swedish hockey players, but his weekly “I’ve gotta hurry! I’ve gotta hurry! Why do I gotta hurry?” mantra on Hockey Night in Canada is lame.
GOAL: Paul Maurice. Can you say silk purse out of a sow’s ear, kids? The Winnipeg Jetshead coach has turned tap water into Molson Canadian. In the end, it might prove to be just so much smoke and mirrors, but when you skate into the Toddlin’ Town and break open a big, ol’ 5-1 can of whup ass on the Blackhawks, it isn’t hockey hocus pocus. It’s legit.
COAL: James Neal became the first National Hockey League player to be fined for diving. Which means he’s a repeat offender. C’mon, man! This is what you want to be remembered for? Swan Lake?
GOAL: Canada’s 3-2 overtime victory over Uncle Sam’s girls at the Vlad the Bad Olympics was the signature hockey moment of those Winter Games. I know, I know, the Canadian men played flawless hockey in their gold-medal final, but our girls’ win dripped with drama. Down 0-2 less than 3 1/2 minutes from time, Marie-Philip Poulin pulled them even in the final minute then won it just over eight minutes into extra time. It was breathtaking.
COAL: Slava Voynov was suspended by the NHL for domestic violence. Men don’t hit women, you cad.
GOAL: To NHL commish Gary Bettman, for telling Voynov to get lost.
COAL: QMI Agency led us to believe that Sidney Crosby had been a guest of gendarmes in our nation’s capital. Oh, yes. The Ottawa Sun ran a story saying the Pittsburgh Penguins captain had been hauled off to the hoosegow for finger printing and mug shots based on a driving-related violation in early September. Bad scoop. Sid the Kid was in Vail, Colo. QMI dropped the story and said it “regrets the error.” But not before reporting that Crosby had hired Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka as legal counsel.
GOAL: Claude Giroux did, in fact, spend a night in an Ottawa jail. For being a serial groper. The object of his affection was a male cop’s butt. Reports indicated thePhiladelphia Flyers captain put the grab on said cop’s caboose not once, not twice, but thrice on Canada Day. Holy fireworks, Batman! It was also reported (probably by QMI) that alcohol might have been involved. Ya think? When freed on his own recognicance, Giroux advised us that “Stuff like that is going to happen in the world.” But only when alcohol might be involved.
COAL: Speaking of crimes, Kevin (The Possum) Cheveldayoff signed Chris Thorburn to a three-year contract, at $1.2 million per. That’s an awful lot of coin for a fourth-line winger who gets about 30 seconds in ice time per night. Apparently, the Winnipeg Jets GM likes what Thorbs contributes in the dressing room. We are left to speculate what he does in the dressing room to earn his $1.2 million.
GOAL: Jean Beliveau left a legacy of class, grace and elegance seldom seen in professional sports. He was at once royalty and common man. You might have hated lesCanadiens, but everybody genuflected in the direction of les Gros Bill, their legendary captain.
COAL: The Next One, Connor McDavid, broke a bone in his hand while attempting to bounce his bare knuckles off an opponent’s noggin. Keep the mitts on, kid. We want to watch you play hockey, not fight.
GOAL: Shannon Szabados, our gold-medal girl goalie, racked up a big W for the Columbus Cottonmouths in November, becoming the first female to post a win in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
COAL: Jack Johnson’s parents drove the Columbus Blue Jackets blueliner into bankruptcy. Not sure he’ll be inviting mom and pop over for Christmas turkey.
GOAL: Bob McKenzie is good. Very good. I can’t imagine TSN’s hockey coverage without him.
COAL: Sam Bennett failed to perform a single pull-up at the pre-draft scouting combine last summer. C’mon, man. I know 64-year-old grandmothers who can do at least one pull-up. Actually, I’m one of those 64-year-old grandmothers. Turns out theCalgary Flames were unconcerned that Bennett is incapable of pulling up his flimsy frame, though. They drafted him fourth overall, instead of a grandmother like me.
GOAL: Tip your hat to Bryan Little. The Jets front-line centre scored three times in a 6-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, ending an epic drought for the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise. It had been 287 games and almost four full years between hat tricks for someone named Eric Boulton and Little, one of the NHL’s truly underrated performers.
COAL: Glenn Healy and P.J. Stock. Just because.
GOAL: The Habs retired Guy Lapoint’s jersey No. 5, putting him up in the rafters with his blueline bros Serge Savard and Larry Robinson. Nice touch.
COAL: Milan Lucic, also known as Darth Bruin, threatened to “kill” Dale Weise of the Montreal Canadiens when the two met in the handshake line following their playoff series last spring. When last seen, Weise was still very much alive, but that probably won’t prevent QMI Agency from reporting a Habs homicide if there’s a really slow news day during the Christmas break.
GOAL: Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames is proving there’s plenty or room for small men in a big man’s game.
COAL: Craig MacTavish, Kevin Lowe and every other member of the good, ol’ boys club who have ruined the once-proud Edmonton Oilers. Seriously. How many No. 1 overall draft choices does it take to finish higher than 29th or 30th in a 30-team league? How many top-10 picks? If these guys were in charge of Microsoft, we’d all still be using typewriters and sending our mail by pigeon or Pony Express.
GOAL: Buffalo Sabres young gun Zemgus Girgensons, the NHL’s 74th-leading goal scorer and 135th point collector, tops fan balloting for next month’s all-star game with 1,291,186 votes. Who knew that many people in Latvia and Buffalo had access to the Internet?
COAL: Media types who get all huffy and puffy whenever a fan hurls a team sweater (hello, Maple Leafs) on to the ice. Okay, I agree, tossing anything to the ice is hazardous. But why is this considered to be a particularly bad-mannered method of expressing displeasure? Why does the media care? It’s a protest. That’s what people do when they are displeased. They protest.
GOAL AND COAL: Dustin Byfuglien was a bust at forward for the Winnipeg Jets, but now that he’s been moved back to the blueline he’s doing boffo business. What does this tell me? It tells me he was dogging it as a winger. That he was pouting.
GOAL AND COAL: To my very own self for being inducted into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Media Roll of Honour, and for being such a ditz as to suggest Paul Maurice was a broken-down coach.
Patti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.