Niskanen out; Pacioretty’s injury; enjoying the Leafs (Puck Headlines)

• Exclusive look at the most famous man in hockey on The Simpsons – SANTA CLAUS. Oh and Wayne Gretzky in a not-Edmonton Oilers uniform. [NHL]

• Max Pacioretty got off to a slow start. Now we have an idea why. He was reportedly playing with a broken foot. [EOTP]

• Former NHL player Kevin Stevens entered a plea of guilty to conspiracy to sell Oxycodone in a Boston court. [AP]

• The Buffalo Sabres could be getting Josh Georges back soon from a foot fracture. [Buffalo Hockey Beat]

• Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen will not play against the Sabres on Friday. He left the game against Boston on Wednesday after being injured on a hit by Patrice Bergeron. [RMNB]

• Jamie Daniels, son of Detroit Red Wings play-by-play broadcaster Ken Daniels, has died. He was 23. [Fox Sports]

• The NHL is looking to inner-cities to develop a more diverse crop of talent for future growth of the league. [Rolling Stone]

• Retired NHL’er Jed Ortmeyer talks about his scary experience with blood clots that led to the end of his career. [The Players’ Tribune]

• The St. Louis Blues are adjusting to having a documentary crew following them around for the Epix series “Road to the Winter Classic.” [STL Today]

• The Vegas Golden Knights’ first real problem is not the debacle with the trademark. [The Sin Bin]

• Goalies unmasked: Shrinking equipment. Evolving techniques. Hardcore nudity? Goaltending’s legends, stars, analysts and coaches talk the position’s hot topics. [THN]

• A history of recent NHL expansion (a.k.a. making it up as we go along). [Section 328]

• The Evander Kane for Tyler Myers trade doesn’t have a real winner. [The Comeback]

• Down Goes Brown: Forget the Leafs past failures, or future expectations, and enjoy the fun. [The Athletic]

• “Sticking up for teammates in hockey is stupid.” [Vice Sports]

• Long Island is starting to emerge as a hockey hotbed. It’s produced several first round draft picks in recent years. [SI.com]

• 10 lies all NHL fans tell themselves. You won’t want to agree, but it’s true. [Sportsnet]

• Previewing Team USA at the 2017 World Junior Championship. [The Bloggers’ Tribune]

• Luke Richardson has been named the head coach for Team Canada at the 2016 Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland. [Hockey Canada]

• NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan talks about the league taking their All-Star Game on the road to Pittsburgh. [The Ice Garden]

• Fantasy hockey: Get yer Leaf on. Morgan Reilly and the Toronto Maple Leafs have a favorable upcoming schedule. [Dobber]

• The inside story on the Eric Semborski hockey card. Semborski was the emergency goaltender for the Chicago Blackhawks in Philadelphia. [Puck Junk]

• Finally, Alex Ovechkin’s true dream in life. Not a Stanley Cup. Not a gold medal. Being the best pizza delivery person ever.