Sam McCaig is a Senior Editor at The Hockey News and writes a weekly NHL column on thehockeynews.com
December 19, 2005
(TORONTO) -- If wishes were wins, the Toronto Maple Leafs would go 82-0 this season, scoring 10 times for every shot they allowed.
But, as young Buds like Alex Steen and Kyle Wellwood learn rather quickly, wishes are not wins. Not in the NHL, anyhow. In the best hockey league in the world, there's probably no better way to guarantee a loss than to spend all day wishing on a win. Players can grant wishes, sure, by signing autographs for fans and posing for pictures. But, what would players wish for themselves, if they had the chance?
Here's a look at what Toronto's wish list might look like:
John Ferguson: An O-K defense. Make that, an all-K defence. The Leafs GM can do so by trading Bryan McCabe for up-and-coming Habs blueliner Mike Komisarek (hey, two K's!) and Aki Berg for Frantisek Kaberle (Tomas's brother). That would give the Leafs six defensemen with "K' surnames...and Carlo Colaiacovo, an honorary K-man, for depth.
Pat Quinn: If Ferguson makes the aforementioned trades, the wisdom to change his own last name to "Kwinn".
Mats Sundin: The usual: 70-plus points. It's going to be tough for the team captain, considering he turns 35 in February and already has missed more games this season than in any other as a Leaf. The only time he scored less than 70 points was in his his 1990-91 rookie season with the Quebec Nordiques. (He also had 47 points in the 48-game, lockout-shortened 1994-95 campaign.)
Bryan McCabe: That 2006 is exactly like 2005. Well, maybe with a few more even-strength points. But still with a pile of power play points.
Jason Allison: A blast-off button. He'd be a flat-out superstar if he had flat-out speed.
Eric Lindros: Someone to send him soft passes in the slot. And, that a wonky wrist is his only injury of signifigance this season.
Jeff O'Neill: A backyard rink. So he can get some more ice time than he's had in recent weeks.
Alexander Steen: That, one day, they'll be comparing his father Thomas to him.
Tomas Kaberle: A house on a cliff. Because if Kaberle played on the edge, he could join the league's elite defencemen.
Darcy Tucker: More babies. Feisty winger went on a scoring binge after the arrival of his child.
Kyle Wellwood: A perpetual "I'm-gonna-be-sent-down" feeling, so he plays with the desperation that will assure he stays up.
Alexei Ponikarovsky: Reading glasses and a daytimer, so he remembers to read the want ad he has finally answered this season: "Tall forechecker who scores shorthanded goals. Apply within."
Nik Antropov: A body like it's 1999. After a couple of knee surgeries, he appears to have lost his first-step quickness and any semblance of a mean streak.
Matt Stajan: A deck of cards. So last season's lone Leafs rookie isn't lost in the shuffle as Toronto goes ga-ga over new kids Steen, Wellwood and Colaiacovo.
Chad Kilger If they make hands in his size, this hard-working and hard-shooting winger might want to consider investing. If they don't, how about a scope to help aim his "cannonading" (thank you, Danny Gallivan) shot.
Tie Domi: More goals than fights. And, more fights than three in 32 games.
Ken Klee: A smug sense of self-satisfaction. Underrated defender deserves some appreciation, even if it only comes from within.
Alexander Khavanov: A "Hello! My name is ___!" sticker so people recognize this anonymous veteran.
Aki Berg: The nickname "Ice'. Or the last name "Pella'. But not both at the same time.
Carlo Colaiacovo: Erector set. So young defenseman can keep building on his strong play since being recalled from the AHL.
Mariusz Czerkawski: A healthy start. Because he's tired of leading the team in healthy scratches.
Clarke Wilm: A return to Toronto's ref-baiting ways. A Maple Leafs penalty parade means this shorthanded specialist would play all night.
Wade Belak: Back-to-back games...against lineups featuring names like McGrattan, Shelley, Boulton and Laraque.
Staffan Kronwall: Plane tickets. Not bus tickets.
Ed Belfour: 12 Days of Doubters. Soon-to-be 41-year-old loves proving them all wrong.
Mikael Tellqvist: Starts that matter. Consecutively.