HodgePodge by Charlie Hodge – The good old hockey pool

HodgePodge By Charlie Hodge

Ah yes, the good old hockey pool. Soooooo, it was only a matter of time before the ‘new guy’ won the media pool. Especially special winning the playoffs.

Rod was dragged into the motley media crew by someone pretending to be a friend while slyly looking for another easy $25. into the pool.

“Hi guys, Rod here I am wondering who and where I collect my hockey pool winnings? Can someone let me know, thanks?” thanks Rod wrote in his email to Pat Bulmer at the Courier.

Rod fanned the email out to other hockey pool players who I’m sure chuckled at the tradition of making newcomers having to wait.

I bit first.

“You think you get money from media guys,” I incredulously responded.

I can only imagine some of the frivolity Rod received from other guys in the pool.

That’s a big part, I suppose, of the charm about a hockey pool is the fellowship and dark humour that goes with the new friendships and laughter. In a world often filled with stress and difficult times some good old fashioned, meaningless, laughter is a healthy heal. Sports provides a great relief from reality, laughter a leap from life. And so it was that late spring afternoon when we gathered at the pub owned by one of the team members for our Kelowna Media Hockey Pool. Familiar faces joined new ones for food and various refreshments and a lot of laughter including the always charming Pat Bulmer, Tom Wilson, Dean Draginda, Happy Ezard, perennial winner Shurman Radke, and numerous others. And way back at the end of the table a quiet, unassuming, Rod Cooney. Only at the end of the draft as I am crossing the parking lot do I realize it’s the same Rod I have known since age 14 or so. (I’ve lost my glasses so could not recognize him).

Now we have an excuse to reconnect. I have a trophy for him to hold on to.

The Kelowna Media Hockey Pool has its original roots back to my early media days at the Courier, in one version or another 45 years or so. Back then

I remember playing with characters or pool organizers such as Lorne White, Marty Cullen, Sandy Brown, Jim Hughson, then later by Andre Wetjen, Al Patterson, then Pat Bulmer, and Tom Wilson.

I went to Kamloops in 1980 and we started a media pool while there involving Ben Kuzma (now The Province) and Mike Reimer (now Calgary Herald) and John Carter (now in Renfrew).

I moved to Parksville to run a newspaper there and formed a perpetual hockey pool (keeper) hockey pool there. Characters such as John Carter, Howie Meeker, Cam Birge, Lloyd Manchester made that one pool great fun.

“Damn ya Charlie, if I had known hockey pools were so much fun I would have quit the real game and travelling on the road with broadcasts and just played online,” Howie joked one night when we doing a book tour.

Eventually I joined players from various leagues together online as Charlie’s Perpetual Pool and still run them. What great fun.

The Media Pool and the perpetual keep me a happy hockey boy.

This year’s Perpetual ended with longtime perpetual player Danny Thiessen slyly wiggling into last place which means he gets first pick next year.

We are all envious of Dan because he gets to pick Connor Bedard first (should he want).

Questions are already forming. Will Bedard wear what number 98, or 24, or?

So years have come and gone and with them players and coaches both on the ice and in living rooms and bar seats around the world – yet the passion and joy only grows. What was once young rookie Meeker is this year Bedard, … and the anticipation of that puck being dropped.

See you at centre ice.

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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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