In today's Top 10, I will be playing the role of Santa Claus. Inspired by great Niagara IceDogs radio personality Chuck Lafleur and his blog (here), I've decided to come up with ten Christmas presents which I think would be well deserved by the recipients. Some presents go out to entire teams, some to individual players. All in all, a fun list meant to invoke the holiday spirit (as the OHL takes it's week long break from action).
As no gift is more important than the other, this list is not in any particular order.
To: Cody Hodgson
From: The Brampton Battalion
Dear Cody, please get healthy again. We need you. While our defense and goaltending has been excellent without you, we currently are last in the league in goals scored and desperately need an offensive catalyst to put the team on his back (no pun intended). Plus, there's always the chance we could trade you for a huge return that could help us speed up our rebuilding phase. As a result please enjoy our two gifts.
Present: Sleepmatic Adjustable Bed & A voucher for a free massage.
To: London Knights
From: Michael Del Zotto & John Tavares
Hey guys, we can see how much you're missing us this year. The powerplay has gone from the best in the league to just average (or even below average). Obviously, this powerplay decline can be directly correlated with the team's inability to push past Kitchener for the Division lead thus far. To help you out, we decided to go through an experimental cloning procedure that will produce two clones from a test tube. The bad news...the clones won't be ready for another year. Maybe you can trade their rights for someone who can help you now!
Present: Future Michael Del Zotto and John Tavares clones
To: Guelph Storm
From: Thomas McCollum
In following my former team this season, it appears you guys are still having trouble getting good goaltending since you traded me last season to Brampton. Sucks that Brandon Foote (the guy you got back for me) has been injured all year, but it sucks even more that the two other guys you've brought in haven't been getting the job done. I think it's safe to say that as a team, you've been seriously underachieving this season. I saw quite a few season predictions that had you winning the division. Now...you're nearly last in the Conference. Obviously health and injuries have played a big part in that, but as a goaltender I've got to be bias and believe you're longing for the days when I manned the pipes for you. As a result, I've sent along a little something that could help.
Present: "Road Warrior" street hockey shooter tutor.
To: Team Canada and Team Ontario
While I'd like to extend the best of luck to all Ontario Hockey League players participating in the upcoming international tournaments, the Canadian in me would like to give only gold medals to the home team. That means best of luck to all OHL members of Team Canada at the World Junior Championships, and to all members of Team Ontario at the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. Team Canada is, of course, going for its record sixth straight gold, while Team Ontario is going for its third straight gold.
Present: Gold Medals
To: Erik Gudbranson
From: An unidentified NHL team picking inside the draft lottery
Dear Erik, we just wanted to tell you that no matter how much bad luck you receive this year, we'll still be drafting you. You can have a minor knee injury and miss a month. You can have mononucleosis and miss the current month. But remember, you are a tremendous defenseman who has taken great steps forward this season and you will still be a selection in the top 14 of the NHL draft. Rest up and come back stronger than ever.
Present: Montreal Canadiens - 100th Anniversary Collector's DVD set (for the huge Habs fan to watch as he recuperates from mono)
To: Eugene Melnyk and the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors
From: The Town of Oakville
Eugene, we think we know why your 2nd place Majors continue to draw very disappointing attendance figures. You need to expand your marketing venture to include us neighbors in Oakville. You're looking at a city of 200,000 crazed hockey fans who've been producing some of the best OHL talent over the past few years (John Tavares, Steve Mason, Sam Gagner), yet few people in the city know about OHL hockey and the 20 minute car ride away Hershey Centre. We fully believe that if you were to start broadcasting the games locally here (like the Niagara IceDogs have done in Hamilton), and if you were to start advertising tickets in the local papers, you'd be able to increase your attendance and the general interest in your club.
Present: A Cogeco cable provider telephone number so that you can set up a t.v. distribution deal, and be the first OHL team to have two rival companies providing simultaneous broadcasts (Rogers and Cogeco).
To: Jacob Muzzin
From: The Pittsburgh Penguins
Jacob, we're very sorry we didn't offer you an NHL contract last year. In hindsight, I guess it was a pretty stupid move. Maybe we just didn't think you had it in you to become such an elite level OHL defender. We also read Bob Mackenzie's latest column on you (here) and it made us feel like major idiots. Bob's right, some players do just take longer to develop. We've been watching you in the Soo this year and how you've become one of the best defenseman in the entire league. And we'd like to make it up to you.
Present: An NHL Entry Level Contract
To: Joey Hishon
From: Owen Sound Attack Fans
Joey, we're glad you've returned from your broken foot just in time to help the Attack improve in the second half of the season. While we've been inconsistent this season, we do currently sit in the playoffs and we do have the potential to play a lot better. However, we need you to return to the way you played last year, when you became one of the most dynamic offensive players in the league...and not the way you played to start the regular season. We know you're capable of way more than you showed in September and October, and we trust that your poor play was just a reflection of frustration based on the entire team's poor play. We hope that you can return to previous form and get yourself back on the scouting map for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Present: A DVD collection of last year's Attack games and a place inside the top 100 of NHL Central Scouting's January Midterm rankings.
To: Niagara IceDogs
From: Alex Pietrangelo
Even from St. Louis, I can see how tough a year this has been for you. It's been just as tough for me as I sit in the press box in St. Louis and hope for playing time. Obviously, as former captain, I still feel close to you guys and wish I could do something to help. Perhaps my situation gets cleared up once the World Juniors are over and I'll return to the OHL. If I do, you could possibly use me to get a huge return in trade that could help the rebuilding process of this team. Also, I'm hoping you can find a suitor for Chris DeSousa too, as he's a great hockey player and should be able to fetch you a good return himself. I know you guys are a better team than you're currently showing, so hopefully things start looking up.
Present: One Alex Pietrangelo after the World Junior Championships
To: Tyler Cuma
From: The Minnesota Wild
Tyler, we realize it's been a tough year for you so far. The 67's have underachieved (to a degree) and you've come under heavy scrutiny for your play. But we continue to have faith in your development and in our selection of you as a first rounder. In watching you in recent weeks, we know that your defensive game has begun to come around and that you're nearly back to your old self as a shutdown defender. We know the healing process can take a long time and we'll be patient with you. While your offensive game is still struggling, we do faith that it will come back around and that you'll regain your confidence in moving the puck.
Present: A video of the 2008 Under 18's to help provide confidence, in seeing what a capable two way defender you used to be.
That's it folks. Santa has finished dolling out his presents. Anyone else out there have anything they'd like to give (OHL related)?