Leafs’ loss need not be a sad thing

Leafs’ loss need not be a sad thing

HodgePodge by Charlie Hodge

So the real questions is this – is my replica mini-Stanley Cup beer stein half empty or half full?

While the lump in my throat is likely scar tissue from a previous tracheotomy it feels like a bitter pill of sorrow from watching the Maple Leafs tumble (yet again) from the top of the hill to the pit of despair. It hurts and it won’t go away.

The Maple Leafs set their new team record with 54 wins and 115 points in the regular season but found a way to blow a 3-2 series lead to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first round, losing 4-3 in overtime in game six on Thursday and 2-1 in game seven on Saturday. It’s the sixth consecutive season the Leafs have been given the boot in the first round of the playoffs.

Certainly a significant sports related kick in the you-know-where,

Despite the disappointment (and huge loss of interest in the remaining playoffs) I’m determined to take the high road and find some good in this evil.

First let’s maintain tradition and update my predictions for the remaining final rounds of playoffs – and then the positive energy stuff

Two weeks ago, just prior to the start of the first round (without knowing the match-ups) I made the following guesstimation.

“The strongest teams in the Eastern Conference are Florida, Carolina and Tampa Bay… those three clubs and Toronto will be the top four emerging (to the second round) in the East.

In the Western Conference the top four will include Colorado, Edmonton, Calgary and Minnesota.

The Eastern final will feature Carolina and Tampa Bay while the West will see Colorado and Calgary. The Cup final will see Carolina face Colorado with Carolina winning all the marbles in seven.

Sebastian Aho will win the MVP.

Close – but not perfect.

The remaining rounds will unfold as such. In the Western Conference Colorado will defeat St. Louis (not Minnesota) in six games while Calgary will defeat Edmonton in seven.

The Eastern Conference will see Carolina eliminate New York in six while Tampa eliminates Florida in seven.

Colorado beats Calgary in seven while Carolina dumps Tampa in six.

Nothing changes with the Cup final – Carolina defeats Colorado in seven.

  • Despite the early departure of my beloved Leafs their sadly predictable first round disappearance  does provide some positives. One may have to dig deep for them but taking the high road is not always easy.
  • Here are some reasons I should be happy the Leafs lost in the first round (again):
  • Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe and general manager Kyle Dubas will be back next season – which is good because, well, I like them.
  • It gives me a reason, besides Connor McDavid, to cheer for Edmonton. (Not to mention I am NOT a Calgary Flames fan).
  • At least we did not lose to Boston in the first round.
  • We won more playoff games than Montreal (Never mind they never made the playoffs at all).
  • I get to spend more time hanging with Tez and not feeling the need to ‘check in on my Leafs’.
  • I get to spend more time in my garden.
  • I get to spend more time dreaming about going fishing.
  • The Leafs might have ripped my heart even deeper by going to overtime in game 7 of  the Stanley Cup final series – and then losing. 
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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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