Hodgepodge: a smattering of thoughts

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Hodgepodge: a smattering of thoughts

By Charlie Hodge.

In true HodgePodge spirit a smattering of thoughts:

Sometimes what at first appears rotten timing proves to be a God-send. Late last week I was prepared to rant and rave at how foolish the Toronto Maple franchise was for firing coach Mike Babcock and replacing him with American Hockey League coach Sheldon Keefe of the Toronto Marlies. The firing took place after my deadline though so I had to wait to make comment.

It was not the new guy I had a problem with but the dumping of Babcock. I liked the rough and tumble straight forward style of Babcock not only as a coach but also with how he would not shy away from taking blame for the club’s failures. It appeared to me he was a player’s coach, that he defended his troops and while a bit old school – not a burden to the team or game – like I felt Don Cherry was.

Babcock was not an embarrassment or a racist.

However due to recent comments by players, managers, hockey sorts, and veteran media hockey broadcasters since the firing – Babcock’s departure is apparently a good step forward. Clearly his real style and treatment of players was dubious. Certainly Babcock recently treated various veteran players such as Jason Spezza and young players such as Mitch Marner with uncalled for disrespect. As various stories unravelled regarding Babcock it became evident such negative traits were common in his playbook. Sad stuff to hear.

Keefe meanwhile seems to be a solid fit. Having coached many of the current Leafs when they played for him in the minors appears to be a positive factor in Keefe’s opening success.

I suppose the message to me is that once again I had just enough knowledge to be dangerous, and thankfully not enough time to prove it. Arm chair coaches are often exactly that and their opinions should remain there.

***

Speaking of winter sports I am among those thrilled with snow and anything Christmas. So… here is a reminder to make sure and take in the holiday fun downtown at the Winter Street Market on Sunday, Dec. 1, from 11am-6pm. That will include the annual Light Up of Water St. and Stuart Park.

The Downtown Kelowna Association says Rogers is officially sponsoring the fun filled afternoon treating families to a warm place to relax in their ‘winter lounge.’ Enjoy complementary warm beverages and ‘spin to win’ the wheel which will feature amazing prizes. Visitors can also pick up a commemorative holiday mug by donation, with all proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club of Kelowna!

“The Rogers and Fido teams are proud to be part of this,” says Rick Sellers, President of B.C., Rogers Communications. “This annual festival provides Kelowna families with an opportunity to connect with their community in a fun and festive way.”

This is one of my favourite free community events and an awesome way to celebrate the start of the holiday season. I’m looking forward to some delicious food truck eats, craft beer and mulled wine, while exploring the licensed market area.

Bring your skates for a jaunt around Stuart Park and enjoy live music, games, entertainment and even visit with Santa Claus. Heck it does not get much better than this. I hope to finish off the magical day with the 31st annual Tree Lighting Celebration in Stuart Park at 6.

If you want to volunteer try layla@downtownkelowna.com.

***

One of the Okanagan’s best bands Dirt Road Opera have just completed a stunning new CD of tunes which I will review soon. If you are looking for a great Christmas gift for the Canadian music fan this is it. Once again the tremendous singing and writing skills of Barry Mathers have produced a plethora of marvelous musical tunes. Add in the stunning talents of singer Rachel Matkin and skills of bassist Jim Ryan and Dirt Road have created a musical masterpiece.

While the album is not being released until February pre-ordering is being done online. To check out the album and more info go to dirtroadopera.ca Amazing stuff.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge 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 41 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 a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His 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. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.

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