'Twas the night before Christmas, a fine night indeed, 'cause it means the last time for a 'twas the night' lede.
A quick tangent: I'm sick of writers beginning their stories beginning like this. It's not a new idea, and it's rarely, if ever, done in a novel way. Next year, when you're about to write an article and open with "twas the night", ask yourself, did literally hundreds of people already riff on Clement Clarke Moore's classic poem? The answer to the question is: very yes. Stop. Do a different thing.
Anyway. Speaking of innovating at Christmas, this year saw a great many teams from around the hockey world treating their fans to holiday-themed shenanigans, be it in the form of tacky Christmas sweaters, tacky Christmas sweater jerseys, or clever holiday video cards. Here are our 16 favourite efforts.
16. San Francisco Bulls
A fine sweater, but the Bulls lose points for failing to Christmafy their logo. It clashes!
15. Shieffield Steelers
One of many ugly Christmas sweater jerseys we saw this year, but the EIHL's Sheffield Steelers are notable for two things: first, the clashing patterns almost manage to hide all the advertising. Second, they went with orange instead of red. We approve.
14. Reading Royals
The Royals did two things right: they uglied up their logo with a bunch of red and green trim, and they let us auction one off. We can be bought.
13. Knoxville Ice Bears
They gave the bear a Santa hat and turned his stick into a candy cane! Knoxville! Knoxville! Knoxville!
12. Phoenix Coyotes
The Phoenix Coyotes turn shooting practice into a carolling session. Mike Smith ringing the bell at the end is a nice touch. Although knowing what we know now, he should have slid backwards into the bell.
11. Lake Erie Monsters
I'm a sucker for the Santa hat on logos, I really am.
10. St. Louis Blues
The Blues' rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas is good, but they cheated. You have to start at one, not twelve. That said, they make up for it by giving us another appearance from Inglourious Backes and his murderous eyes.
9. Washington Capitals
Wherein the Washington Capitals rock out, and they're committed. Be sure to notice Alex Ovechkin losing a jingle ball at the 0:41 mark and playing through it like it's the postseason.
8. Swindon Wildcats
Our second favourite ugly Christmas jersey of 2013 comes to us from Swindon, in the EIHL. It's the terrible Santa beards.
7. Ottawa Senators
The Senators do the 12 Days of Christmas right, doing the whole number from beginning to end, giving us 12 opportunities to hear Jason Spezza rep the Heritage Classic jersey with some of the worst singing we've ever seen. A mash-up of that line and his classic laugh would be the world's worst sound byte.
6. Virden Oil Capitals
The best holiday video from a junior team? The Virden Oil Capitals of Junior A, who absolutely killed it with the choreographed ice dancing.
5. Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks gave it their all this year, sending out a Christmas card packed with goodies -- photos the team's players in ugly sweaters, including this gem, and a behind-the-scenes video of the shoot.
4. Toledo Walleye
When you say "ugly Christmas sweater", you'd better deliver. There is nothing even remotely aesthetically pleasing about this abomination from the Walleye. Holy Toledo.
3. Boston Bruins
The Bruins' Christmas spectacular is hysterical, from Zdeno Chara and the tree to Loui Eriksson lost in the snow, to the prop Stanley Cup made up to look like the leg lamp from "A Christmas Story". It's a major award!
2. Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane as Anakin Skywalker will never not be perfect.
1. San Jose Sharks
When it comes to holiday videos, the San Jose Sharks are downright elite, and they proved it again this year. Four words: Brent Burns, rubber snakes.
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