'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even Bob Rouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that Donald Fehr would soon allow hockey to return there.
Sidney Crosby was nestled all snug in his bed.
While visions of a hockey season danced in his head.
And Gary Bettman in his jammies and Bill Daly in his cap, had just turned off the lights in 30 arenas for a long winter’s nap.
When out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter.
Daly sprang from his bed to see if Brendan Shanahan needed to pass judgment on this matter.
Away to the window Daly flew like the Finnish Flash, tore open the shutters and threw out the cash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the lustre of mid-day to hockey equipment below when, what to Daly’s wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny stay-at-home defencemen.
“Now Brown! Now Briere! Now Pronger and Vlasic!
“On Crosby! On Campoli! On Darche and Bieksa!
“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
So up to the house-top the blue liners they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and Santa Claus too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As Daly drew in his hand, and was turning around, down the chimney Santa came with a bound.
His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like Don Cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as snow.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and Daly laughed when he saw him, in spite of himself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know Bettman had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, to hand out some presents to this mystified NHL group …
Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner
A Don Fehr dartboard in his office. The one he’s using now is full of holes.
Bill Daly, Deputy commissioner
A collection of Dan Hill’s greatest hits. Then he’ll really look for a “hill to die on.”
Donald Fehr, NHLPA executive director
A baseball bat. No, he can’t use it to bang the table in the boardroom.
Chris Campoli, UFA defenceman
An NHL job because he could have a tough time finding one after this is all over.
Jimmy Devellano, Detroit Red Wings VP
A rancher’s hat and a ticket to a “cattle” farm to see how the other half lives.
Steve Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning centre
50 goals in 48 games if NHL players actually ever take the ice this season.
Allan Walsh, Octagon agent/mad tweeter
A new keyboard for his BlackBerry. The one he used doesn’t work anymore.
Murray Edwards, Calgary Flames owner
Tickets to a Hitmen game so he can watch a winning team on home ice for a change.
Jeremy Jacobs, Boston Bruins owner
An autographed Ryan Miller jersey — they’ve gotten along so well in negotiations.
Ron Hainsey, Winnipeg Jets defenceman
A copy of the Winnipeg Sun’s classified ads so he can find a job.
Dean Lombardi, L.A. Kings GM
A chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champions this spring in a shortened season.
Don Cherry, Coach’s Corner, CBC
A return to his comfy seat in our living rooms on Saturday night really soon.
Brian Burke, Maple Leafs president/GM
A cancelled season so he doesn’t have to give Tim Connolly another dime.
Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators captain
A shot at a Stanley Cup this spring if the Senators don’t contend.
Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres goalie
A trade to the Boston Bruins to replace Tim Thomas and a Dunkin Donuts gift card.
Steve Fehr, NHLPA special counsel
A new sweater. That one he wore at the Westin Times Square was horrible.
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins centre
Road hockey gear. Isn’t that what every kid wants for Christmas?
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers centre
What else? A gold medal with Team Canada at the world juniors.
Mathieu Darche, UFA forward
A tag that says “Hi, I’m Mathieu Darche” so owners will know who he is at the table.
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks goalie
A move to the centre of the hockey universe, the Florida Panthers.
Bob Hartley, Calgary Flames coach
A chance to make his return to an NHL bench after a year in Switzerland.
Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes centre
Realizing the dream of playing with his brother Jordan, acquired from Pittsburgh.
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens goaltender
A five-year deal on the rodeo circuit. He’s going to need some work.
Ted Leonsis, Washington Capitals owner
A victory in court so he’s able to get out of Alexander Ovechkin’s contract.
Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs winger
A table for 12 at Real Sports at Air Canada Centre with Burke picking up tab.
Craig Leipold, Minnesota Wild owner
A $20-million cheque to replace what he spent on Ryan Suter and Zach Parise.
Roman Hamrlik, Washington Capitals defenceman
The return of Marty McSorley from retirement. Hamrlik will need protection.
Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets winger
A one-way ticket out of town and a little humility might be a start.
Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia Flyers goalie
A trip to outer space should do. He already has a lifetime contract.
Nick Kypreos, Rogers Sportsnet analyst
A two-week vacation from arguing with Doug MacLean every day.
Paul Bissonnette, Phoenix Coyotes winger
A chance to return to sitting on an NHL bench, rather than tapping away on Twitter.
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings goalie
A shutout at the Winter Classic next January at Michigan Stadium.
Santa sprang to his sleigh, to his team of plodding defencemen gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ’ere he skated out of sight: “HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO THE NHL SEASON GOODNIGHT!”
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