Hodgepodge by Charlie Hodge – Let’s get back to some fun

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These are definitely strange times we struggle to stay alive in. Yet within all the fear and depressing concerns our turned upside down world is consumed by there are still one or two silver linings. Like the return of hockey.

Ironically, even those with little use for the game are now hoping  the NHL starts up soon.  It seems many folks who’ve  been frustrated in the past spending time alone while their spouse was absorbed with ‘watching the game’ are happy to see the NHL resume later this month. After four months of quarantine they’ve not had enough alone time away from their partner. Any break from the mumblings and grumblings of forced friendships is a relief.

Certainly the return to play will provide some joy for the household hockey fan – and joy has been a significantly diminished emotion in many lives of late. Despite our creative efforts the monotony of those confined to home (especially those without a yard) has been somewhat difficult on all involved.  If nothing else analysing and arguing over what team will win the Stanley Cup or what player may be the eventual most valuable in the playoffs allows us a mental break from the severity of COVID-19.

It provides an opportunity for some fun.

Already many folks are planning hockey pool drafts by zoom, and or figuring out how to hook up a TV outside so they can enjoy hockey and the summer at the same time. Pool side hockey anyone?

Once Tez and I manage to put together our large kid’s plastic swimming pool I intend to sneak a portable TV in behind the nearby grapes. When Tez is busy elsewhere I can then pull the small TV out of the foliage, hop in the pool, open a libation, and live the perfect life. Summer cannot get better than that.

Of course there is a strong possibility that Tez might even watch a little of the playoffs with me. After all how many reruns of Columbo, the bachelor, or Big Bang Theory can one watch without going over the deep end? Besides, Tez knows the game well having had a step-son who played in the NHL. She would probably kick some butt in a hockey pool.

While fans should not anticipate the highest quality of play to begin with, merely having an opportunity to watch the long anticipated NHL playoffs is a wonderful and refreshing option.

All of this, of course, means I need to make a few predictions on the end results of the pending playoffs, should they actually take place all the way to the finals.

Yup – you know it. Same wishful prediction as earlier this year. Toronto will win the cup – finally.

That prediction is based on the fact that I believe God is a hockey fan, and more than that, a Leaf fan.  The lack of Cup victories since the early 1960’s was merely punishment for allowing the evil Ballard and Smythe clans to take control of the club. Now, however, it seems the club’s years of abandonment and suffering are over and players like Auston Mathews and Mitch Marner are poised to play Moses and return the club out of the wasteland.

Further proof God is a Leaf fan is acknowledging the Great Architect of the Universe’s sense of humour. Only the Maple Leafs could win the coveted Cup after more than 50 years and not be able to hold a victory parade or have fans  allowed into the arena to cheer on the team.

I am predicting a Leafs – Oilers final emerges out of the convoluted and somewhat confusing 24-team playoff format involving round robin games along with best of five opening rounds.

Canadians should be thrilled with the format since all Canadian teams are entered in the playoffs except Ottawa.

Toronto will eliminate Columbus as their first round opponents  in four games while Vancouver will dispatch Minnesota in three straight games. Winnipeg and Calgary will go the full five games with Winnipeg winning the deciding game in overtime. Edmonton will beat Chicago three straight while Montreal will lose to Pittsburgh in four after winning the first game.

One final fun prediction. Mitch Marner will win the playoff MVP.

So there you are – something fun to look forward to. I will have more playoff predictions as the games approach. Meanwhile I have a mini pool to put together and find a good safe spot to hide the TV in the yard.

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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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