The return of NHL action to the sports world is a blessing or a bane depending on whether you like the game or not.
If you’re the spouse of a hockey fan—kiss goodbye to the channel changer and partner for the next few weeks while the addiction is satisfied after so many months of forced withdrawal.
Of course the final start of this shortened NHL season inspires yet another Hodge Podge tradition—the Laugh at Charlie’s Stupid Hockey Predictions time once again.
For some bizarre reason, which only a good psychiatrist may be able to explain, every year I put myself through the embarrassing ritual of making hockey predictions.
I suggest readers clip this column and stick it on their (beer) fridge. That way you can laugh at it all season, and chuckle at how stupid my predictions were.
I find this self-abuse amusing, and so do others. Hope you have fun.
Get out your highlight pen and scissors. If you want to send me your predictions, then I can then laugh at you. This is called ‘sportsmanship.’ It’s sort of like having a relationship—but not.
Here’s how the teams will finish in their division at year end.
Northwest Division: Vancouver, Minnesota, Edmonton, Calgary, Colorado.
The success of the Canucks will be contingent on trading for some depth up front, a sniper to play with the Sedins or bolster a pathetic second and third line.
This may mean the sad trade of Luongo leaving Canucks thin in net behind Corey Schneider, however, Luongo is now on Canuck fans’ boo-list and once you reach that point you are done as a player in fickle Vancouver.
Minnesota showed Canuck management how to get things done, picking up two free agent studs in Ryan Suter and Zack Parise in the off season, making the team a serious threat to win the west this year. Edmonton is a young team on the move. They will win the Stanley Cup in two or three years when they finally get a solid goalie.
As forecasted two weeks ago, Edmonton rookie defenseman Justin Schultz, a native of West Kelowna, will beat out a couple of guys for rookie of the year including Jonathan Huberdeau, Nail Yakupov and Dougie Hamilton.
Pacific: San Jose, Anaheim, LA, Dallas, Phoenix.
A very strong division especially the top three teams who all have depth and solid goaltending. LA will slide a bit in the regular season but turn it back on again in the playoffs.
Central: Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Nashville, Columbus.
Really only a two horse race between Chicago and St. Louis. The tumble starts for Detroit as only four solid players (Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Jimmie Howard) are not enough.
Northeast: Boston, Ottawa, Buffalo, Toronto, Montreal. Spezza and Kyle Turris will lead Ottawa to edge out Buffalo in second. Toronto will edge Montreal though losing Joffrey Lupul this week to a broken forearm will really hurt. Trade time? Regardless Boston will own the division.
Atlantic: Pittsburgh, Rangers, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Islanders.
Penguins look great, Rangers very strong, especially with Rick Nash. Those two clubs could stuff the top 15 scoring stats this year.
Southeast: Tampa Bay, Carolina, Washington, Florida, Winnipeg.
The weakest and hardest division to predict.
Goaltending will decide who finishes where for the top three clubs.
If he stays healthy Sidney Crosby will win the scoring race over Evgeni Malkin , Marion Gaborik, Jordan Eberle and Steven Stamkos.
Final six fighting for the Stanley Cup come spring will include Pittsburgh, Rangers, Boston, Vancouver, Minnesota, and LA.
The Canucks, (whose window of opportunity is fading fast) will not win the Stanley Cup until they procure a star or superstar centre and/or right wing.
The Sedin twins need a winger and the second line needs a solid slot man. Never should have traded Cody Hodgson.
In closing, thanks so very much for the numerous emails, calls and even cards and letters from readers this past week regarding my last column.
As I stated then and repeat here, such kindness from others is one of the main reasons I truly think of myself as one of the luckiest people I know.
Now that my emphysema is ‘out of the closet,’ hopefully I can help others understand the nasty disease more as I go through the medical process and learn more about both it and myself.