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Holiday Hopes and Dreams

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
BOSTON -- If you were a professional hockey player, what gift would you want for the holidays? What kind of gifts would you consider to be the best if you were in the NHL? And how would you look back on the gifts you received under the tree as a child?


Happy Holidays!
Those were the questions I asked of the Boston Bruins as the holiday season moved into full swing.

To be honest, I wasn't expecting that the answers I received would be (mostly) universal. And I certainly wasn't expecting to find out that many of the Bruins were looking for the same gift at the holidays as those of us who, shall we say, don't have an on-ice skill set or a salary that is governed by the CBA.

Of course, when I asked defenseman Johnny Boychuk about his favorite gifts, given or received, I wasn't shocked at his grin or his answer of "All of them."

Nor was I shocked when any of my questions were initially answered by a blank stare and a refrain of "those are some tough questions, Bish."

But despite the dropping temperatures outside in a cold December in Boston, the players warmed up pretty quickly.

"I don't know how old I was, but it was one of the gifts from December 24th, after dinner. And I got a Nintendo and NHL '96. I played all night and all the next day and I played it for many years after -- it was 2000 and I was still playing NHL '96," said forward David Krejci, who added with a laugh, "This year I asked for a new car, but I don't think I am going to get that!"

"That would probably be my Game Gear," said winger Daniel Paille. "I was just under 10 years old and I thought that was amazing when I was younger.

"It's like a Game Boy, just in color!"

Beyond video game systems, hockey related items were a popular gift item from the players' memories, but left wing Milan Lucic was thinking about the more about the present for his present.

"I'd like a few more goals for Christmas," he said, deadpan. "If someone could put some goals underneath the tree that would be nice."

"I remember it like it was yesterday," said center Marc Savard. "I was like 9 or 10 and I came down and on the stand was that bubble hockey!

"That was the best one I ever got."

"I think it was a hockey net I got as a kid," said forward Michael Ryder. "I'd say I was probably seven or eight, and I still had that net going up to just a few years ago.

"It finally gave out on me."

"I got my brother a pair of skates one year," said defenseman Adam McQuaid. "He was pretty excited about that.

"One year me and my brother [Chad], between the two of us...got a net, goalie gear and a few [street hockey] balls, so we were pretty excited at that.

"I was probably nine and he was probably seven."

"Street hockey goalie equipment," said center Patrice Bergeron. "A goalie mask and sticks for me and my brother. So that same night we went and tried it out."

"Probably my hockey mask," said goaltender Tuukka Rask. "The first goalie mask."

"Goalie pads," said fellow netminder Tim Thomas. "I don't think they were my first set, they might have been my second set.

"I'm pretty sure I slept in them."

But Tim got philosophical when he talked about what he wanted this year.

"You, know -- keep Christmas in its rightful place and not over materialize it."

Winger Brad Marchand reported that last year he gave his brother rims for his truck and that the best gift he ever got was a bow and arrow set from his dad. But the B's agitator had a thoughtful answer when asked what he wanted under the tree.

But like Thomas, Marchand got thoughtful, too.

"I think for Christmas, I just want to be home with my family," said Brad with nod. "Yah, just spending time with them."

Rookie defenseman Steve Kampfer said that the best gift he ever gave was to his uncle.

"A package of frozen White Castle burgers -- he took us there one night and thought it was the greatest place in the world."

Needless to say, Steve didn't agree with his uncle, but he does agree with Marchand in terms of his hopes for the holidays.

"You know what? I am not really hoping for anything. I just want to see my family. It's been a while since I've seen them, so I just get to go home and spend some time with them will be good."

Outdoor gifts are always popular.

"When I was nine I got a scooter," said rookie forward Tyler Seguin. "Those things were huge back then...the Razor scooter."

Verteran center Gregory Campbell remembered getting a souped-up sled.

"A GT Snow Racer!" said Campbell. "It's like a sled. A Canadian thing. It's like a sled with two skis in the back and one ski in the front and a steering wheel.

"That sticks out because [his seven-year old self] was excited about it."

"I told my wife to buy me some good long underwear [to wear] when I'm on the bik," said defenseman Andrew Ference, who was proud of the photo books that his own family gives at the holidays.

But in the end, the most popular of all of the answers -- and the answer delivered by all of the players in their own way -- revolved around home and hearth.

"Just to have fun with my family, just to see my kid smile when he wakes up on Christmas," was Nathan Horton's answer when I asked what he wanted for the holidays.

Captain Zdeno Chara, who reported that he proposed to his wife Tatiana on Christmas and thinks that every gift she has ever given has been the "best", was quick to answer that all he wanted was to be "healthy and happy."

Bergeron added that he simply wanted "to be happy and for my family to be happy as well. And healthy."

"My family is all getting in, so that's going to be nice," said McQuaid. "I'm looking forward seeing the reaction on my family's faces when they get their gifts."

"I'd like to see my family," said Ryder. "But I don't think I'm going to get a chance to.

"That would be the only gift I'd probably want."

"Just a nice Christmas," added Savard. "Presents don't matter.

"The tree, being with the kids, and all that stuff."

"I've said it before, and it's probably cheesy, but just being able to spend time with my wife and my family over Christmas," was Thornton's ideal gift. "I spent a number of years by myself in a hotel room and that sucks.

"So that would be the best gift -- just being around people at Christmas.

"I'm happy to be home [this year] and get a couple days," he said.

Here's hoping that everyone in the Hub of Hockey gets a couple wonderful days with their friends and family. Happy Holidays New England!
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