Hodge: Hockey players and local singer both unlocked from adversity

The NHL is back on the ice but how many fans did it lose as a result of the lengthy lockout?

While Canada’s national pastime is back with the end of the National Hockey League lockout, the question is, however, for how many folks is the decision past their time of caring?

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, team owners, and players collectively managed to tick off thousands of hockey fans across North America and the damage done to the reputation of the game supersedes all the effort to build hockey States-side since Edmonton traded Wayne Gretzky to LA.

From a PR perspective, the labour dispute was as smart as skating on cement. Greed on all parts reared its ugly head and bit the sport in its padded pants – and rightfully so.

The NHL’s stubbornness and stupidity hurt fans and those workers and employees who garner an income from the spin-off industries such as rink employees, concession workers, vendors, sports stores and pubs much more than players and owners.

The whole scenario reminds me of Howie Meeker’s comment years ago: “Hockey is still the greatest game in the world despite the idiots who run it.”

Like many fans, I’m fed up with the ongoing prima-donna attitude of many athletes. Fans, however, must also shoulder some of the burden of stupidity since we are the ones who’ve created heroes out of the likes of athletes, rock-stars, actors—instead of real life heroes such as ambulance attendants and firefighters.

But all mumbling aside, I’m thrilled hockey is back and largely support the players in this latest go-around. I can’t wait to watch the Vancouver Canucks back on the screen instead of suffering though reams of nauseating reality television and silly sitcoms.

Instead, we now get to watch such dramas as the Robert Luongo sweepstakes, the Brian Burke Looks for Work Show, and the Gary Bettman Eats Crow comedy.

Within one day of announcing that hockey is back a myriad of new questions have arisen. Will Luongo go to Toronto now that Burke is gone? Will the Canucks finally make a deal to move them to the Stanley Cup or flounder while Edmonton Oilers climb the standings?

Here’s a couple predictions. If Luongo does not go to Toronto by Saturday, he’ll wind up traded to Philadelphia or Tampa Bay, but not Florida.

Edmonton’s Justin Schultz, from West Kelowna, will win rookie of the year – not overall first pick Nail Yakupov or any others.

The best part of the lockout ending is that talk and theory is over and the game will be decided where it belongs…on the ice.

Somebody drop the puck.

•••

It’s been a long road back but come Saturday, Jan. 19, Riley Russell will step up to a microphone at Duffers Banquet Hall at Mission Creek Golf Course and do what she loves best—sing.

A year ago, the 19-year old was hit head-on by an impaired driver following a band rehearsal. The crash nearly killed Riley.

She sustained two broken ankles, broken feet, and compound fractures to both femurs, and internal and facial injuries.

Riley has courageously battled back in the effort to be reunited with her band The Hits.

Joining Russell on the upcoming evening of music will be three other bands from the Wentworth music program.

Funds raised from the event will assist Riley and her band to travel to Nelson, where they will perform and receive transfer credits to Selkirk College’s Music and Technology program.

Tickets for the Return of Riley Russell Concert are available at Wentworth Music. Doors open at 6 p.m., show time 7 p.m.

For more information contact Noel at 250-860-2251 or email noelwentworth@shaw.ca

•••

Speaking of beautiful music, have you visited the newest music store in town—Milkcrate Records?

Owner manager Peter Jeffery officially opened the doors to his funky record store located at 1551 Ellis St. downtown in April.

The small but quaint store is jammed to the rafters with a massive collection of good old vinyl records.

I did a double-take recently when strolling down the road and noticing the store. It was a flashback for this old kid.

Milkcrate Records is in the exact location (and eerily similar in look and layout) as the infamous Music Box owned years ago by the popular Gordon Bromley.

As a teenager and young adult, the Music Box was the place to go buy Beatles records (or whatever funky band was hip at the time).

Paramount music was the local hotspot for buying instruments, but the Music Box was the place to find the latest 45, 33 or even an occasional 78.

Do yourself a favour and pop into the Milkcrate and check out Peter’s superb music collection.

Charlie Hodge is a Kelowna freelance writer.