Like an absent-minded drunk, the NHL has repeatedly found itself locked out and unable to find the keys. As the player strike, the league's third since 1994, drags its way into the holiday season, most players are either training or playing high-level professional puck abroad to stay game-ready. What a waste. Here's what the Minnesota Wild's best, most colorful players should be doing with their spare time.


Chores. The Wild's offseason acquisition of Parise leads to a homecoming for the Minneapolis native, a slight left winger who confounds defensemen with his vision and hands. Those assets could be put to equal, if less spectacular, use when Zach's parents need help shoveling the driveway and emptying the dishwasher. Just because you're due to collect $98 million, you're not too much of a big shot to help out around the house. (In Zach's case, that house belongs to J.P. Parise, a Canadian-born former pro who played for the Minnesota North Stars.)


Consulting his accountant. Suter, a sought-after defenseman, joined the Wild on a 13-year, $98 million contract identical to Parise's. A few weeks back, Suter wondered aloud whether Wild owner Craig Leipold, anticipating the impending lockout and possible restructuring of existing contracts, had signed those generous deals in bad faith. Suter has since backed off that assertion, but he would be wise to avoid spending, say, exactly $98 million on Christmas presents for his family.


Volunteer bouncer. A stout, hard-hitting winger, Clutterbuck's style of play recalls a cue ball, bouncing off walls and, at remarkably prolific rates, his opponents. Those skills would make him a valuable addition to any establishment trying to keep a drunken horde in check. Don't have your I.D.? Beat it, punk, or expect a hip check that will do equal -- and considerably less enjoyable -- damage to your kidneys.


Absolutely nothing. No, really. Bouchard missed the second half of last season due to a concussion that only compounded previous head trauma for the 28-year-old center, who played only one game in 2009-10. Those head shots are rattling a rather creative mind, as P.M.B. is known for the intricate patterns his skates weave before he delivers the puck to an open teammate. So please, Pierre, just sit perfectly still on the couch until they're ready to drop the puck again. Maybe keep your helmet on, just in case.