Hodge Podge by Charlie Hodge – May 23rd

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A big hearty congratulations and thank you to Chris Olson-Brown and the Rutland May Day organizers for this year`s successful event.Brown has been a key organizer with the event the past few years and in charge of the annual May Day parade. This year`s May Day festival was one of the best in more than half a decade of family fun. Apparently the festivals attendance blossomed this year from just over 4,000 last year to more than 30,000 this year.  Wow.Tez and I had the honour of being judges for the parade and once again thoroughly enjoyed it. I was particularly pleased (and ironically so) to see the votes tallied and that the City of Kelowna float won the best Community float entry.I was on Kelowna Council a couple of years ago when it was decided to fund the creation of a new float for Kelowna and this year’s parade marked the first time in recent memory that it won first place at the Rutland event.Meanwhile, due to significant health reasons Olson-Brown is stepping down in his role with May Days after several years of hard work. Chris leaves big shoes to fill and will be missed. Thanks Chris.

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Under the ‘Golly Gee What a Surprise’ category – regrettably, but not surprising, the Vancouver Canucks hockey club have opted to throw their head coach Alain Vigneault under the proverbial bus.Wednesday afternoon the Canucks decided to make the talented bench boss their specific scapegoat for the team’s pathetic showing in the playoffs (again).As suggested, I am not overly surprised by the move; however I disagree with the decision and believe the wrong cranium was severed. The first head that should have been lopped off after the club`s disappointing early trip to the golf courses is that of General Manager and President Mike Gillis.Mike’s ineptness as GM is the ultimate reason the Canucks did not move further in this year’s playoffs or snag the Stanley Cup last year. Included in his bad trades was sending talented Cody Hodgson to Zack Kassian and allowing speedy youngster Michael Grabner to move to New York Islanders for less than a song. However those bad trades paled in comparison to the deadly non trade of the past year.Gillis refusal to not deal Roberto Luongo when he carried some trade value for a scoring forward has crippled the club and the team will be forced to accept even less in whatever deal is made now that the Canucks woes and Luongo’s contract are so obviously horrendous. Gillis agreed to Lou’s ridiculous contract to begin with and now cannot move him.Clearly no one jumped on the chance to procure Luongo who has 10 years remaining on a 12-year contract that’s worth $64 million US. Stupid or what?The crowded and financially cumbersome goaltending situation in Canuckville saw Luongo, a three time Vezina trophy winner, sent to the bench in favour of goalie Corey Schneider and caused far too much attention away from the team game on the ice.As well, Gillis never managed to pull any significant deals to procure a needed sniper up front during the entire season despite the fact the Canucks clearly lacked enough scoring or toughness.Instead, Vigneault paid the price when the club was swept four straight in this year’s playoffs by the San Jose Sharks after losing in five games last year to the Kings in the playoffs.AlainVigneault was the most successful coach (of the 16) in franchise history over seven seasons posting a 313 regular season wins.The playoffs are perhaps the only area in which Vigneault came up short during his time in Vancouver.The Canucks made the playoffs six times, winning the Presidents’ Trophy twice and six Northwest Division titles. In 2010-11 he led the club to a team-record 54 wins and 117 points. He was also named the Jack Adams Trophy winner as coach of the year in his first season.In announcing the firing Gillis told the media, “There comes a point in time where the message has to change and we have to be better, we simply did not get the results we expected.”Perhaps Gillis should look in the mirror.

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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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