Remember when I said I thought the NHL would be back by mid/late November or early December? With talks as stale as a four-day-old bagel left out in the sun, it would seem that I was really wrong.
Or just way too optimistic that maybe everyone learned from the 2004-05 lockout and wouldn’t let it happen again. But what can I say? There’s still no hockey, no sign that hockey will be coming any time soon and a looming potential reality that it won’t be coming back for awhile.
It’s going to be a blue Christmas, and I don’t mean the New York Rangers kind. I’m talking the actual sad Elvis Presley Blue Christmas. I tried getting into all of the sports I said I would try now that there’s no hockey, and it worked a little bit. But still, Carmelo isn’t Henrik, Mark isn’t Ryan (At all. That’s been embarrassing) and that’s just how it is. Not even locking up David Wright forever was enough to take me out of my hockey slump .
After last season and that summer steal known as Rick Nash my expectations were really high for this season. How high were those expectations?
Last year I made a Christmas list for the Rangers of what I wanted to have accomplished once the year ended. But because there’s no hockey this year, here’s a list of things I would have liked to have already happened or have happen if the season starts up any time soon.
1. Another Rangers Charity Dogwalk—The first time there was a dog walk, I didn’t have a dog to go to the walk with. That isn’t for lack of trying really; I just have parents who are extremely opposed to having one . That’s been consistent my whole life, but that isn’t the point. What I’m saying is, the Rangers organization needs to give me more time to schmooze my parents into letting me get a dog. Next time, can you guys give me until May? Thanks.
2. To have 27 wins by the end of December—This is hardly being greedy here. It isn’t outlandish for me to ask of a team that had 23 wins at the end of 2011 to have 27 wins by the end of 2012. Sure, Marian Gaborik was a major contributor to that success and he wasn’t going to be rejoining the roster after his surgery until the beginning of December, but I do believe Nash entering the lineup would have evened things out. And with Gaborik entering the equation, everyone should expect more. Twenty-seven or bust and there I said it.
3. For Michael Del Zotto to have 15 goals by the end of the season—I admit it, I’m a big MDZ fan. Seriously, I think the kid  is going to be nasty by the time he hits 24 years old. I think he’s getting there now. When you look at it, he’s the only defenseman on the blue line who makes significant contributions to the offense. With guys like Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh making up half of your defense, it’s good to have a guy like Del Zotto and even Anton Stralman to offer some diversity.
With that being said, there are some pretty serious issues that need to be taken care of, namely his shooting and how it affects his role as the power play quarterback. Honestly? I think his ability to be a leader on the power play is there and that it’s very young. There’s too much passing and not enough confidence in taking the shot himself. But hey, he’s 22 years old, and getting playing time in the Swiss League might serve him some good and boost his confidence.
4. For Marc Staal to finally kill someone — Kidding ! But seriously, I want to see the shutdown defenseman who can lay out players like Sidney Crosby  and Alex Ovechkin  as if they were tumbleweeds . It was pretty clear to see that even on his return to the NHL took its toll, and I personally don’t think he was ready to come back for the Winter Classic. However, I probably would have said “screw not being ready” and played in the Winter Classic as well.
Anyways, I really like the physical presence Staal brings to the team. It’s in your face, but it isn’t mean or nasty. It’s good, solid, defensive hockey and it fits very well into what makes up the New York Ranger identity.
5. To see new faces well-deserving of a roster spot—I’m pretty sure all Ranger fans want to see Chris Kreider in regular season play after the postseason he had in 2012. At the beginning of last season, I thought the team’s speed improved with the addition of Carl Hagelin and Gaborik being at the top of his game, but I think having Kreider in the regular lineup will make a significant difference. Stopping players with speed is a lot different than stopping a player who is technically sound and good with their hands. There are countless ways to stop players who are good hockey players, but the only way you can stop a fast hockey player is not just by being quick enough to catch up with them, but quick enough to anticipate them.
Also, while I’m stoked to see Kreider in regular season action, I am so ready to see Dylan McIlrath come into the big picture. He may not be the given that Chris Kreider is for the roster, but he should be. I know he got injured awhile ago, but I think that by the time the NHL comes back, he’ll be ready to make an impact. He’s so tough and frightening that he’s going to give the Rangers a physical edge against their opponents. He may be young, but I don’t think that’s going to stop him from going up against players who have been in the league for a long time. That kid is a mean machine of pain…And I am so ready for it.
6. For Henrik Lundqvist to tweet a picture of his baby — Before I lose all credibility  and relevance , hear me out. This took math and science (two things I’m horrendous at) to figure out and my logic makes sense.
I couldn’t be more happy for Lundqvist and his wife on this milestone in their lives, and they are easily entitled to their privacy. Even if that privacy bars out a 20-year-old amateur who has been rooting for the Rangers before Lundqvist was even a glimmer in fans’ eyes.
But I’m sorry, has everyone seen how absolutely stunning Lundqvist and his wife are? If my math and science knowledge  have worked out, shouldn’t two beautiful people who come together to make a kid have a child who’s even more beautiful than the parents? I mean, all babies are beautiful , but this is different.
Plus, she’s Swedish. Have you ever seen an unattractive Swede ? I didn’t think so.
7. For Gary Bettman to get fired—It is truly incredible that this man has not been ousted from his position yet. He’s now on lockout number three of his career with the looming, dark reality of another season-long one on the horizon. We’re approaching day 100 of the lockout with little to no progress made.
The most recent meetings on Dec. 4 had both sides in agreement that progress was being made, which is great but we still have nothing concrete to prove that we’re on the road to having a season. Maybe it won’t be a season-long lock, but if anything has been made clear, it’s that Bettman is horrendous, should not have his job and really should have been ousted in 2005, before this damage could have been done.
8. For anyone who reads this column to still believe my sanity is in check—I get that journalism will do things to a person, but seriously. I really hope you’ll all still read this come the cold winter month of February.
C-Taco, your fall 2012 Quote Board champion, over and out for 2012!
1. Actually, that isn’t true. I was really, really excited to see Wright would forever be a Met. Long live David!
2. But wait, can I bring a cat to the dog walk? Do cats even respond to leashes? My parents like cats better than dogs.
3. “Kid,” as in, “Not like he’s two years older than I am or anything.”
4. Am I though¹?
1…Yeah, I am. I’m not tough or mean enough.
5. Which doesn’t seem to be that difficult.
6. See Five, with maybe some more effort.
7. Only for you, Katie Speller.
8. I have no credibility.
9. I am not relevant.
10. I’m not joking when my knowledge on the two subjects is very minimal. Honestly, take what I have to say with a grain of salt.
11. Not really true either. I was a pretty ugly baby.
12. If you have seen one, email me. I’ve actually never seen one before and am very curious.