With the Christmas presents opened and the turkey leftovers filling the refrigerator, it's time to think about the New Year. Here are some things to hope for in 2013.
Let's hope there is NHL hockey. Let's hope the egos of people like NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the desire of some owners to break the players' union doesn't result in the cancellation of a second season in seven years, a move that could make hockey even less relevant in some of the very U.S. markets the league wants to maintain a foothold. Let's hope some of the Canadian owners, including Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini who has made a lot of money off the sport, make their voice heard in ending the lockout. Let's hope players like Daniel and Henrik Sedin, two of the nicest guys in sports, get another chance to win the Stanley Cup.
Let's hope Christine Sinclair and the rest of the national women's soccer team continue to ride the wave of emotion and support that began in Vancouver last January at the Olympic qualifying tournament at B.C. Place, followed by their bronze-medal performance at the London Summer Games. Sinclair, who is from Burnaby, became a Canadian hero for the skill and emotion she showed during Canada's heartbreaking loss to the U.S. in the semifinal. Let's hope this shining moment doesn't fade and young soccer players find a professional women’s league in Canada and don't get shoved off the pitch.
Let's hope Geroy Simon, the CFL's all-time leader in yards receiving, returns for another season with the B.C. Lions. Simon has always been a class act both on the field and in the community. He's always placed the team before himself. The 37-year-old began to show signs of wear last year. He missed five games with two hamstring injuries and failed to have 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since 2002. Let's hope B.C.’s General Manager Wally Buono acknowledges Simon still plays an important role on the Lions and the veteran slotback gets another chance to win a Grey Cup.
Let's hope Martin Rennie and the Vancouver Whitecaps take the next step along the road to a Major League Soccer championship. The Whitecaps became the first Canadian team to reach the MLS playoffs in 2012, only their second season in the league. With Rennie as coach, the Whitecaps showed remarkable improvement but still lacked consistency. Let's hope the Whitecaps manage to meet their potential.
Let's hope Don Hay has the patience and perseverance to endure as the Vancouver Giants struggle through a frustrating Western Hockey League season. The Giants have one of the worst records in the WHL but remain a model franchise. Let's hope Hay is already building for next season.
Let's hope goaltender Roberto Luongo finally plays in a market where he is appreciated. It's believed the emergence of Cory Schneider will mean Luongo is traded when the NHL finally finds labour peace. In his six years in Vancouver, Luongo went from the player expected to be the final piece in the Canucks' Stanley Cup puzzle to being the reason why Vancouver can't get it done in the playoffs. Some of the criticism is justified but Luongo is still the best goaltender to ever wear a Canucks uniform. Luongo has handled the situation in Vancouver with class. Let's hope he is rewarded with a chance to prove his critics wrong.
Let's hope Victoria's Steve Nash finally wins the prize that has eluded him during his 17-year NBA career. The smooth-passing point guard left the Phoenix Suns for a three-year, U.S. $25-million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. A fracture in his lower left leg kept Nash on the bench for 24 games but he has returned to the Lakers' lineup. Despite his fame and fortune, Nash has never forgotten his Canadian roots. He raises money to assist underserved children and has become general manager of Basketball Canada's senior men's team with the goal of winning an Olympic medal. Let's hope Nash wins an NBA title to show nice guys can finish first.
Jim Morris is a veteran reporter who has covered sports for 30 years. Reach him at email@example.com.