Hodge Podge by Charlie Hodge – April 7th 2017

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I have my media hockey pool cohorts exactly where I want them. (Sometimes my pre-meditated brilliance astonishes even me.)Through stunning strategy, perceptive picking, and sound team management my regular season media hockey pool team currently sits at the very bottom of standings. Any further south would be north. I can clearly claim the ugly jacket of hockey pollsters. A brief glimpse at my club would reveal to many observers a team owner that had a pension for injury prone studs, potential stars who lost their potential, or rebounding veterans who forgot to rebound. Regardless of how I wound up in last place and refusing to play the standard ‘bad luck’ card I have decided to take the positive approach.The two key factors in my favour are that I have psychologically lulled my opponents into complacency when it comes to the upcoming playoff pool – and I can and will play the sympathy card.When the evil wretches from various media outlets gather in a sinful watering hole somewhere in town early next week I hope to convince them that, like other hockey pools, the losing team in our regular season race should get to pick first in the playoffs. I know they will come up with a couple of logical reasons why that should not happen (not the same people involved ….) however if I snivel about injuries and lament how I cannot even drown my sorrows in beer because of antibiotics – I might win.Either way I know that the other guys are just not ready for my brilliant bounce back performance in the NHL playoffs. There was a time when I ruled the media pool, when winning the events was like taking candy from a baby (or in this case beer from a crying man). However, of late there have been a couple of young whippersnappers enter the fray and even a girl or two – and by golly gosh they have done darn good.So, this year, it is time to reclaim my crown, re-climb the podium of a champions, or in other words, Make Charlie Great Again.The trick of course, is Connor McDavid and Auston Mathew.As I scribe this on Wednesday night it is exactly one week until the playoffs start so there is no certainty who will make the Stanley Cup playoffs, however the Leafs are battling Boston, Ottawa, Tampa and the Islanders for the three final spots. Odds are good Boston, Toronto and Ottawa will slip in. Which teams meet in the opening rounds is not even decided. Making playoff predictions is rather silly, at this point, however once the playoff begins it is too easy to not be made a fool off. I have a tradition to up hold.So with no further shame here is what to expect during the next six weeks.In the opening rounds Columbus will defeat Pittsburgh in six games. Without Letang on the blue line the series will be too much for the wounded flightless birds.Montreal will defeat the Rangers in a low scoring series won by goalie Carey Price who reclaims his hero status.In other Eastern Conference matches of the final four remaining in the mix it will be Toronto and Washington that advance. (I am predicting Ottawa- Toronto, Boston-Washington matchups)In the Western Division with no first rounds decided, the four of eight teams advancing to the second round of action will be Chicago, Edmonton, Minnesota and Calgary after wild and exciting rounds. Canadian hockey fans will be in their glory.Nashville, St, Louis, San Jose and Anaheim will fail with the demise of both Anaheim and San Jose meaning huge changes in the clubs during the summer.By the semi finals the remaining four teams will be:  Chicago, Edmonton, Washington, Toronto.The full blown dreamer within me wants to suggest that either the Leafs or Toronto could actually pull of the amazing and meet each or other or even appear in the final round, however I will call for a Chicago-Washington final.  Both Oilers and Leafs will make it nail-biting close though.At the beginning of the year I thought this was Washington’s season to win it all however there still seems something is not fully copacetic with the team. Much to my chagrin I will give it to the quiet but always dangerous Black Hawks one more time.Do not be surprised if Connor McDavid or Cam Talbot win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, and current Kelowna City Councillor. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, and strategic planning.A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge has also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 34 years.His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on his third hockey book, as well as a historical/fiction novel.Charlie is proprietor of Hodge Communications based in Kelowna, B.C.Charlie’s creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. A creative thinker and innovator, Charlie believes in helping clients make their best choices; assist them with strategic plans, and decision make.Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic and motivational speaker, and effective personal coach.His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa, three cats, and a very spoiled dog.

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