It’s Christmas shopping crunch time – if you haven’t finished your gift gathering, be ready to endure the shopping mall crush.
With the big day less than a week away, we decided to share our favorite hockey-related gifts we’ve received over the years. This list is in no particular order – hopefully it helps inspire you in your last-minute shopping.
10. No question, the best hockey present I ever received was in 1974. I was 12 years old and my father got really sick and had to be hospitalized. Money was tight, so my 21-year old brother bought all our Christmas presents for us. (Five other kids.) One of them was a book called Hockey Annual. That book turned me into a reader, which in turn fuelled my love for sports writing and my career. I still have the book, which I passed onto my son recently. –Ken Campbell
9. Best hockey Christmas gift I got was a copy of The Game by Ken Dryden. For a hockey and word lover, there is nothing better. – Adam Proteau
8. Table Hockey. My parents left a note for my brother and I that read “Russ Courtnall and Wendel Clark are in the basement.” Being a kid, I took this literally and rushed down to see my two favorite players. The table hockey game was a pretty good consolation prize when I realized the NHLers weren’t actually just sitting in a suburban basement waiting for me to wake up on Christmas morning. –Ryan Kennedy
7. First NHL game, at Maple Leaf Gardens when I was seven. I was supposed to play Santa in my Grade 2 play that night, but my dad got tickets to a Golden Seals game and I had to choose. A no-brainer. Santa-schmanta. This was the NHL. I was blown away by the speed, power, smells, colors and sounds. The best part was when the Leafs scored, the red lights went off and everyone stood up in unison to cheer. Gave me chills. And I was hooked. –Jason Kay
6. In 1970-71, Esso came out with what it called the Power Player series. It was effectively a collection of NHL players depicted on stamps or stickers that you could affix into a soft or hardcover collector’s book.
You’d get them by filling up a tank of gas at Esso. The stickers came in a perforated package that you’d have to fold and tear along all four sides to see which player was inside. Christmas came early and often for my brother Mike and I that season because my dad was nice enough to bum some stickers off the guys at work at the City of Calgary. What normally would take a gas-tank fill-up every single day in order to fill a league full of rosters that season was accomplished in a fraction of that time because of the Santa-like generosity of my dad and his work buddies. –Brian Costello
5. A few years ago I was heading home a couple of days before Christmas. We had built a rink in our backyard every year for more than two decades, but with myself and my two brothers all having moved out, we weren’t expecting to have one that year.
But when I opened the car door I heard the familiar sound of the hose trickling (to keep the line from freezing) and noticed a suspiciously clean surface. To my surprise, my dad had built the rink himself and it was in mid-season form for the holidays. What a surprise that was. –Rory Boylen
4. Dan Diamond’s Total Hockey Encyclopedia. I learned the history of the game via those (very thin and all-too-often torn) pages. I would spend hours pouring over players (especially goalies) and their stats. If my love of the sport was born through Hockey Night In Canada, Total Hockey was the wet nurse. –Edward Fraser
3. 1990-ish (I think): my first pair of road hockey pads, black and silver road warriors. (Not the contoured style like spoiled kids have today!) They were the building blocks and helped launch my career – Erika Vanderveer
2. My best was Wayne Gretzky table hockey in the early 1990s. My parents kept hiding it and I kept finding it over and over during a month-long battle. –Matt Larkin
1. I thought I had opened all my presents, but my dad asked me to look in a specific part of the tree where there was a note from Santa. The note said something like,
You have one more present. Look behind the bookcase. It will help you get to the NHL one day.
I went to bookcase and found a hockey net. My dad and I put it together and went out to the driveway where he took shots on me most of the day. I think I was six. –Ted Cooper
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.