HODGE: Living life and watching hockey tube free again

Charlie Hodge offers his thoughts on recent events once a week in the Capital News.

By Charlie Hodge

It has been seven months, three weeks, five days and several hours however I am finally tube free.

For the average person such statement means little however the average person does not usually run around with numerous tubes stuck in various parts of their body.

In early October doctors placed a feeding tube in my stomach in preparation for my major surgery which would involve rebuilding my jaw, damaged from a rare bone disease.

Naturally when they stuck the tube into the middle of my belly I had no idea how long it would remain an appendage and what else would follow in the months ahead. If I had known I am not sure I may have so easily exposed my tummy.

It’s staggering the various orifices one can find or create in the fine art of medical macramé. At one point while laying in the recovery room the nurse counted seven tubes in me. I commented that I had more hoses in me than the average gas station.

Over the past seven months I’ve had an amazing journey filled with incredibly skilled and caring people who helped me get home, healthy, and back to work. None of course have been more dedicated, caring, and consistent than Tez – nor as witty. Her humour and tolerance has been a shining light.

Certainly folks like Doctors McCauley, Scott Williamson, Penner, Best and others have been over the top in skill and wisdom, however it’s the heroes at both ICU and staff at the Interior Health Wound Care Clinic on Doyle that really kept me going and confident.

They patiently helped me deal with the terrifying Tracheotomy tube for, my bone donor leg wound, and various other tubes that eventually were removed after their purpose had run its course.

To say I am thrilled and thankful is an obvious understatement.

***

READ MORE: IT’S THE WEEKLY ROUND-UP

It’s a playoff hockey scenario most puck pundits like I find cannot pass by without comment.

Los Vegas Golden Knights have rolled the sports dice and come up as underdog winners in this their inaugural season in the National Hockey League. Not only have they set records with total wins, total team points and other success markers during the regular season but now they have turned the entire league on its head and managed to work their way to the Stanley Cup finals.

That’s a phenomenal performance and only third time it’s happened in the NHL. The second time when St. Louis Blues represented the ‘expansion’ division after the NHL expanded from six to 12 in 1967. The Blues were unceremoniously tossed straight into the trash those playoffs after four straight losses to Montreal. No other of the league’s 31 teams made the final playoff round in year one,

Ironically they will face the long struggling Washington Capitals who have never won the Cup since they joined the league in 1998. In fact the Capitals had never advanced past the second round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So who to cheer for? The can’t lose miracle kids who seem destined for a fairy tale finish or the hard luck, hard workers who deserve to be in the final fight?

Some suggest, perhaps appropriately, that the Knights should not win because they have not ‘suffered enough’ yet or ‘paid their dues’.

Sports writer Nicholas Cotsonika suggests, “this upstart waltzes into the NHL and makes winning look easy. It’s like Vegas cut in line.”

Cotsonika also points out that suffering is all in the mind’s eye.

“There is suffering with a team and suffering without one. Las Vegas never had a major league sports team before the Golden Knights, never had someone to cheer or jeer, never had a hat or T-shirt or jersey to wear.”

Others might argue that while the Golden Knights have not suffered collectively as a team, they have suffered individually.

General manager George McPhee played parts of six seasons in the NHL and never won the Cup, worked in NHL front offices since 1992 , and hasn’t been to the finals since 1998, ( first season as GM of the Washington Capitals). McPhee was fired April 26, 2014, and figured he was done in the NHL.

Vegas coach Gerard Gallant played 10 seasons in the NHL and never won and has been coach or an assistant with the Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers without winning.

Defenseman Derek Engelland played 148 games in the ECHL and 338 games in the AHL – from Lowell to Las Vegas to Hershey to South Carolina to Reading to Wilkes-Barre before establishing himself in Vegas.

Forward Jon Marchessault was never drafted. At 5 feet 9, he went from the New York Rangers to Blue Jackets to Tampa Bay to Florida. Marchessault scored 30 goals for the Panthers last season but was exposed in the NHL Expansion Draft.

Little David Perron played 775 NHL games in the regular season and playoffs, no Cup rings before drafted by Vegas.

Every player on the Vegas team was claimed in the expansion draft, on waivers, or acquired in a trade, which indirectly means that every one of them was snubbed by their previous team who did not value him as highly as others.

Ironically even the stud that got them to the dance, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was tossed to the curb. Fleury won three Cup rings with the Penguins however was left to dangle in the wind in the draft.

There are a number of red faced team managers right now, a tad embarrassed about the ‘ones that got away’.

So as much as I dearly want to see that crazy, hard working and talented Russian Alexander Ovechkin win the Stanley Cup, my heart is pumping for Vegas.

Either way, it will be a historical ‘first’ for the team that finally sips the champagne later this month.

Oh, and this one will go to the full seven games as well.

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