I spent an unseemly chunk of last night watching the Belfast Giants lip sync to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas.” After the fourth (or was it seventh…?) time through I started to think about how my hockey Christmas wish list would read. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. So now you all get to read it. Since I haven’t made any sort of Christmas list since I was five, consider yourselves lucky.
I want Peter Mueller to be able to play NHL hockey again. Brain injuries are tricky. Dude has suffered a lot of them; the one that took him out for the season was a crazy, fluky, whimpy hit that caught him exactly wrong. I have friends who have had multiple concussions and I’ve seen the longing in their eyes when they watch others play…or see the ice…or hear a game…or watch a terrible shift during a game. None of them have played in the pros, so I can only imagine that Mueller’s agony at the thought of never playing another shift would be even more paralyzing. Yes, I want him to return to his former power-play-goal-scoring glory for the Avs. But more than that, I want him to be able to play the game that he loves so much. I’d hate for any of his friends/family to see the heartbreaking emptiness in his eyes when he sees the ice and thinks of what might have been.
I want Anderson to return to 2009-2010 form. Goaltender is a ridiculous position. They get pelted with tiny frozen rubber disks moving at crazy high speeds and are heavily criticized for not seeing and stopping each and every one. That’s an awfully big burden to carry. Last year, Craig Anderson was a stud that kept the Avs in almost every game they played, and won several for them. This year has happily seen the Avalanche offense become a goal-scoring machine (they lead the league in 5 on 5 goals scored) and their defensive pairings occasionally work to STOP the scoring chances of opposing teams, but it would sure help toward the middle/end of the season if their goalie were sensational.
I want John Michael Liles to actually have a 40+ point season. There have been a lot of jokes made about Johnny Hot Pocket and his tendency to focus on inconsistent offense and “forget” that he actually plays defense. But this season he is doing both jobs fairly well. He has definitely grown as a leader, and his mature (shocking, I know) presence can be seen on the ice every night. For what it’s worth, he is currently +13 and has 26 points on the season. Just 14 points to go. Come on, Johnny.
I want the Bang Bang Dance to catch fire. It’s tearing up YouTube and Twitter already. Paul Stasny and Matt Duchene’s post-win dance (from How I Met Your Mother) has even gotten some air time on Denver area news channels. Until now I was unsure those outlets were even aware of the existence of the Colorado Avalanche. Now that a few of the players are demonstrating that they have actual personalities, maybe the general public will begin to get behind this team. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the Pepsi Center to be bursting at the seams with bandwagon fans…I just want current fans to see the value in purchasing a (somewhat overpriced) ticket and seeing the boys play in person. Plus, how fun would it be for Adrian Dater and Mark Kiszla to have to burn/delete their copies of that tired “no one in Colorado cares about the Avs” story they keep running?
I want the Avs to consistently play with (and beat) the “Big Boys.” The Avs are a young team with many learning experiences ahead of them. But even beat up they have shown themselves a force to be reckoned with this season. Logically they can only get better from here. I want them to continue to play with guts, passion, and the never-say-die attitude they have adopted at times. I want them to finish out this season so strong that next year all the naysayers have to eat their words and admit that the Avs are a decent team. Yes, even the Red Wings fans. I realize this is a lot to ask, since the Avs are perennially underestimated. But hey this is my Christmas list, I can ask for whatever I want.
I want to see Jonas Holøs get a fair shake. As I’ve said before, I’m not a coach or a scout. I have no delusions about myself having more of an eye for talent than the Avalanche staff. But Holøs was impressive in the few games he played so far this year, and I would like to see more of him see him play more often. Who knows what our defense will be capable of when some of the more glaring holes and problems (*cough* Foote/Wilson depending on the night *cough*) can be eliminated. Why not get a preview of next season this season?
I would like for the Front Range to be coating with a thick layer of snow. No, this has nothing to do with hockey. But I don’t care. As I mentioned before, this is MY list. And the paltry half inch “storm” we got last night was atrocious. We need real snow. One coat on Christmas Day and another around January 6 would be beautiful. Why January 6, you ask? Well that’s about when the kids come back to school. Snow days are even better when you’re an adult.
Well, that concludes my Grown Up Hockey Christmas List. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. If you can get on board with any of my requests, please feel free to add your hopes/prayers/dreams/desperate screams addressed at no one in particular to my own. Maybe together we can get some Christmas magic behind the Burgundy and Blue…and show all of us pessimistic adults that there is still some wonder to be found during this season.