Presents of Christmases past

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

Before becoming a well-to-do hockey player who could spend lavishly on gifts at this time of year, Mariusz Czerkawski recalled a very meaningful Christmas as a youngster in Poland.

"I was around eight years old and my parents bought me my first pair of skates," the Maple Leafs winger said just before the break. "They weren't well off (financially), so you remember those kinds of things. You get many gifts in your life and I don't know if any of us can even remember the ones we got last year at Christmas. The feeling goes away quicker (with age).

"My parents bought me the skates and a stick, too. I couldn't wait to get out there the next day at my grandmother's house. I was skating through the snow at first and then we put some water down. That was the best gift I ever received."

Other Leafs shared stories of their memorable Christmas presents:

CHAD KILGER

"I was about 10 years old when those Titan Turbo sticks came out, the red and white ones. I had a game on Boxing Day and on my first shift I got hit from behind and got hit into the boards and snapped it. I was devastated."

CLARKE WILM

"When I was younger, about 13 or 14, and really into deer hunting, my parents got me a scope for my rifle. I was pretty excited. I put it to use quite a bit."

CARLO COLAIACOVO

Asked this question the night after he escaped a serious facial injury in Boston, the defenceman jokingly said: "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth."

But he remembered a great gift he and twin brother Paulo received in Grade 8.

"When video games were starting to get popular, my brother and I wanted Sega Genesis," Colaiacovo said. "And on Christmas Day, our parents surprised us with it. It's something I really wanted and I got it."

MIKAEL TELLQVIST

"I was 11 and really wanted a set of goal pads from an American company. My parents saved up a long time and finally got them for me. It was very exciting."

COACH PAT QUINN

Getting your first bike at Christmas always is a thrill and in the early 1950s, a young Quinn was no exception.

"That was a time when you received one big gift," Quinn said in an earlier interview. "My dad (John, a Hamilton firefighter) found the wheels somewhere and the frame somewhere else. It had no brakes, so when you wanted to stop, you had to leap off.

"(But) it's not what's under the tree that's important, it's what's around it."


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