Belated treats from Santa

Barre Campbell, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 6:21 AM ET

'Tis the season for being jolly, eating loads of fattening food and watching the world junior hockey tournament. Oh, and there's also that gift-exchanging stuff that seems to have taken over the true meaning of why there's a celebration called Christmas in the first place.

Anyway, before we get into deep philosophical discussions that don't belong in this space, presented here are a few gift ideas for some notable personalities in the junior hockey world. Some can be wrapped up and opened at a later date.

(Don't worry about the fact Christmas was yesterday. This being Boxing Day, many of these items should be cheaper than they were only a week ago.)

- For 67's winger Lukas Kaspar: Any copy of the many Rock 'Em Sock 'Em videos/DVDs by Don Cherry. (The full set would be ideal.)

The reason: Kaspar needs an edge to his game in the new year, and watching some of these rough-and-tumble compilations might start the young Czech to think about how he needs to get more involved in the play.

At times, Kaspar has shown us how brilliant he can be, but there's room for improvement. If he shows some emotion during the second half, this kid could be unbelievably good.

But right now, he's ranked fourth on the team in scoring, and that's not going to cut it. He should be leading the way.

- For 67's coach/GM Brian Kilrea: A barber's chair with restraining straps.

The reason: A sure way to force Kaspar to watch those DVDs.

- For Benoit Pouliot, the Sudbury Wolves forward from St-Isidore, and 67's goalie Anthony Guadagnolo: A resolution to the NHL lockout.

The reason: They and countless other juniors eligible for the draft will get royally bilked should the big league fail to resume play.

If that were the case, they're talking about cancelling the 2005 draft, which could mean all the players who would have been chosen would be forced to compete with another full class of draft-eligible players in 2006.

Who knows? At the rate negotiations are going, maybe they'll be wading through three full sets of draftees in 2007.

- For fans of Canada's junior team: Prozac.

The reason: For an upbeat outlook on things.

Calm down, people. Yes, it's a world tournament. Yes, it's great if Canada wins the world juniors.

But if they lose (which has been the case for the last few years), don't panic and wonder what's wrong with the nation's hockey development system. The current Canadian junior nats could finish dead last in this tournament, but most of the hockey world would still consider this country to be the leader among nations for this particular sport.

Besides, how many people outside of the Great White North (not including those in northern North Dakota and Minnesota) really care what country wins the world junior championship anyway?

- For the London Knights: A pre-playoff visit from the 1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings.

The reason: A friendly reminder and a reality check. The Wheaties went undefeated in 29 straight -- a CHL record that the Knights shattered earlier this month -- and were lauded for their accomplishment.

But later that season, Brandon lost the Memorial Cup final in overtime to Peterborough. Surely everyone on the Wheaties would have traded the record streak for a championship.

CUP HOPES

As hosts, the Knights get an automatic berth in the next Memorial Cup. Yes, their accomplishment of 31 games without a loss is a tremendous feat, but surely none of them would be willing to finish the year with the streak but not the Cup.

- For 67's goalie Danny Battochio: The recognition he deserves.

The reason: The kid's got the heart of a giant, rebounding from a seizure caused by a weakened vein near his eye last Christmas. He underwent surgery and returned to the 67's as the club's top goalie in September.

Then, in his first game of the season in his hometown of Sudbury, he played despite learning about the death of his grandmother earlier the same day. He delivered an out-of-this-world performance that nearly single-handedly won the game.

This young man could serve as an example for not only members of his own team, but anybody going through adversity.

Hope everybody likes their gifts.

Have a safe and prosperous new year. See you in 2005.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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