Drop the puck – it’s that time of year again
By Charlie Hodge
I’m superstitious enough to almost not want to say something in advance – in case I hex it from happening. (Just cause I’m paranoid doesn’t mean there not after me).
In the olden days of pre-COVID the month of October meant the start of the National Hockey League regular season and according to rumours that’s about to happen again Oct. 12
In our upside down world where nothing is like it was and likely won’t be again – everyone is discombobulated. Not a lot of stuff makes much sense. Thankfully at least there is hockey again with the bonus being that this particular season is being played when there is actually snow on the ground.
I suppose these frustrating times bring out the frustrating worse side of folks but ironically even good news like NHL hockey returning to near normality is being partially tainted by naysayers who argue the NHL should not be allowed to return to action.
I comprehend the frustration of some grumblers whose work, lifestyle routine, or hobbies are interrupted by the pandemic – however suggesting everyone should suffer because they are is just all wrong. In some parts of the nation facing harsh COVID restrictions again, business owners, beer league puck pushers, and even minor hockey players, are angry the NHL is allowed to operate full tilt while they cannot.
I share some of their sentiments however there is strong rational in the decision. Compared to minor hockey and recreation leagues the NHL is a profession, not just a hobby. Players take part under significant, highly regimented guidelines, protocols, monitoring and work within bubbles.
Of even greater significance is the role sport and entertainment play as an effective stress relief for the nation. For die hard hockey, football or even that foreign sport of baseball – fans watching games on TV inspires a sense of normality back into the home and provides something fun and positive to watch and talk about.
Some sunshine in our dark tunnels of boredom and routine is imperative right about now. Many feel isolated stuck at home due to the pandemic and a long lonely winter may be on the way. Whatever it takes to get you thorough.
Regardless, I admit being thrilled the NHL is back. As a hockey nut and one safely hiding indoors as much as possible I’m excited. Tez is too because when a game is on I stop wandering around the house and hide downstairs in my hockey room yelling at the screen instead of her.
From a column perspective the start of another NHL season inspires yet another Hodge Podge tradition – the Laugh at Charlie’s Stupid Hockey Predictions time once again.
For some bizarre reason, which only a good psychiatrist may be able to explain, every year I put myself through the embarrassing ritual of making hockey predictions. I suggest readers clip this column and stick it on their (beer) fridge. That way you can laugh at it all season, and chuckle at how stupid my predictions were.
I find this self-abuse amusing, and so do others. Hope you have fun.
Get out your highlight pen and scissors. (No running). If you want to send me your predictions – I can then laugh at you. This is called ‘sportsmanship’. It’s sort of like having a relationship – but not.
Here’s how the teams will finish in their division at year end. Western Conference:
Pacific Division – Edmonton, Vegas, Calgary, Vancouver, Seattle, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose. (Edmonton makes a trade or two, Seattle plays well).
Central Division – Winnipeg, Colorado, St. Louis, Dallas, Chicago, Minnesota, Nashville, Arizona. (Fleury and Toews inspire Chicago)
Eastern Conference: Atlantic Division – Florida, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Boston, Montreal, Ottawa, Detroit, Buffalo. (Youth and age blend well in Florida).
Metropolitan Division: Carolina, Islanders, Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Rangers, New Jersey, Columbus. (Top three spots will battle all year).
When the regular season ends the scoring race will see McDavid the winner. Mathews will score 55 goals. At least one defenseman will finish in the top 10 scoring and a goalie will be among those in the top three spots for rookie of the year.
Tampa Bay will not win three cups in a row. The final four teams in the Eastern Conference will be Florida, Toronto, Carolina and the Islanders. Final four in the Western Conference Winnipeg, Colorado, Vegas and Edmonton.
There you are. Do not bet money on this.