Thursday, July 2, 2015
Was this really just over a year ago?
Darian Durant had the monkey taken off his back. The Riders had won the 2013 Grey Cup and all was great in Riderville. Fast forward to now.
This season isn't done and I'm not even going to suggest it is, but the chances of being in and winning the 2015 Grey Cup took a huge hit when Durant's season came to an end. Can Kevin Glenn take this team to a Grey Cup? He absolutely can, but things have to go right and it is safe to say the first turn in the road to that 2015 Grey Cup is as rough as the highway leading into Rowan's Ravine.
The Argos are here Sunday and it certainly isn't a must-win situation as far as the standings go, but I would dare to say it's a must-win when it comes to confidence. The negatives certainly outweighed the positives against Winnipeg and a much better performance is needed under dire circumstances with the amount of injuries suffered to even their record at 1-1 against a Toronto team that Edmonton will tell you was more than they could handle. Week 2 is a huge challenge for this football team and while I think they can win, I am not 100 percent positive about that. An 0-2 start will not sit well with the masses and it will not sit well with Corey Chamblin or Brendan Taman who told the Sportscage this week that injuries will not be used as an excuse. They can't be. Yes, the Riders aren't the same without Durant, much like the Eskimos are not the same with Mike Reilly and the Lions without Travis Lulay. It is time to dig deep and see what this team has. I hope we find that out on Sunday.
When was the last time Weston Dressler caught a pass from Durant? Did he catch one in the Banjo Bowl before Durant got hurt and if not, was it his catch in the endzone to seal the 2013 Grey Cup? It has been a long time since those two have hooked up and it will be a long time before we see it again.
I wonder if Darian has sought out Kory Sheets to talk to him about what is needed both physically and emotionally to recover from an Achilles injury. Kory has been through it twice!
Would you rather be in the position of the Riders right now or the Eskimos? Durant is done for the season meaning its Kevin Glenn's team the rest of the way while in Edmonton, Mike Reilly will be back for the stretch run meaning its Matt Nichols' team, I think I would take the green and white in that scenario going into Week 2. There is no doubt the big beneficiary is Winnipeg as it would seem those injuries are what is needed for them to catapult themselves into a Western Conference playoff spot.
Kevin Glenn is the starting quarterback again, Jamel Richardson is one of the starting receivers and Paul McCallum is the kicker again. Have Scott Schultz, Chris Szarka, Jason Clermont and Luc Mullinder been called to suit up for Week 3? Yes I am kidding, but I'm not kidding when I say it is too bad the late, great Bob Hughes isn't still with us, because somewhere the Loyal Disorder of Rider Priders have called an emergency meeting and a column on his thoughts of what has happened early on would be tremendous reading! Somewhere the drums are beating on the shores of the mighty Wascana.
Enough Rider talk for now! Let's move on over to the Regina Pats and I couldn't have been happier to find out Monday that the legendary Graham Tuer is coming back to the team as a scout and a liaison with Hockey Regina. If you know Graham Tuer, you know what type of quality individual he is and I'm sure he is tickled pink having an opportunity to once again work for the team. You don't find many better individuals than Graham. Well done Pats!
Congratulations to Lorne Molleken as he moves on to become the head coach of the Vancouver Giants. He will do well there. I have to admit though I didn't see his name on the radar at all when it came to who would take that job.
How ya feelin Penguin fans? Phil Kessel is yours! Some think he will bounce back and could be a 50 goal guy playing alongside Sidney Crosby. I'm not one of them, but I will say this and that is Toronto didn't even come close to getting what they should have for Kessel. Scott Harrington is a good defenceman, Nick Spaling is a plugger and we have no idea what to expect out of Kasperi Kapanen. I would have thought a David Perron or Brandon Sutter might go the other way.
At what point do you start to talk about Josh Donaldson being the American League MVP?
It was "nice" to see so many people have so much disrespect for Wascana Park. Many of all shapes, sizes and colour showed up in the park to take part in Canada Day festivities and good for them, but many of these people also felt they could just leave their garbage lie for someone else to pick it up. I would like to think we are better than this, but it is obvious we are not. There are just wayyyyyy too many people walking our streets who think they are a lot bigger than what they actually are. To see the park left that way was absolutely disgusting.
Moose Jaw's Mosaic Place showed once again why it is perhaps the best venue outside of Regina or Saskatoon in Saskatchewan on Tuesday night. Toby Keith brought his act to M-P and he didn't disappoint this blogger, but I thought the crowd was dead. Others felt the same way and some didn't like the performance at all which surprised me. As we were leaving, I couldn't help but overhear a couple that I presume was from Regina saying Mosaic Place is taking all the good acts away from Evraz Place. I don't know if that is the case, but if its for country music it might be an accurate statement seeing Mosaic Place has had Carrie Underwood and Alan Jackson in recent memory
I thought baseball salaries were out of control, but it is obvious NBA salaries are in another dimension. Some of the numbers being thrown about in that league border on ridiculous.
Farewell Martin St. Louis. You showed us the little guy in the NHL can play the game. It only makes me wonder as I have said before what Dale Derkatch could have done if he had a chance. He was a few years too early. Is St. Louis a Hall of Famer? I would say yes. Is he a first ballot Hall of Famer? That is debatable.
Glen Sather is 71? That one floored me! I knew Slats was up there, but I didn't think he was 71. It is now time to put his name on a banner that will hang above Rexall Place this year and Rogers Place in the future as he was the architect of those great teams. The Oilers need to make that happen.
It was pointed out to me last weekend that a Saskatoon kid went in the first round of the NBA draft (Trey Lyles), but a Saskatoon kid did not go in the first round of the NHL draft. That doesn't sound right!
If I am a CFL quarterback, I am making sure my health insurance is covered. Drew Willy took a hellacious head shot against the Ti-Cats and it will surprise me if he is back for Week 3.
That's all I got. Have a great weekend! GO RIDERS!!
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. is asking a federal judge to block lawsuits by former wrestlers who claim they have suffered long-term health problems from concussions they received in the ring.
The Stamford-based company, in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut on Monday, argues the wrestlers' claims are fraudulent and should be barred because of a three-year statute of limitations on such claims in Connecticut.
The company, which already is facing several lawsuits across the nation, is also asking that all such litigation be moved to federal court in Connecticut.
WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt said the company is being targeted by a lawyer who is improperly shopping lawsuits to former wrestlers across the country.
He said the wrestlers are being convinced they can make a windfall similar to former NFL players who brought similar litigation.
The NFL would pay $1 billion total to about 20,000 players under a settlement approved by a judge. That settlement is being appealed by about 90 players.
``Before this guy started trolling around looking for people to sue, we didn't have one person, none, claiming they had any kind of traumatic brain injuries, or dementia or ALS or any of the kind of stuff you seek associated with the NFL,'' McDevitt said.
Konstantine Kyros, who represents the wrestlers, denies those allegations. He said he has been retained by dozens of former WWE performers who all have health problems related to being dropped on their heads too many times.
He said each of them suffered repeated concussions and sub-concussive injuries after performing up to hundreds of times a year.
He said he will argue the statute of limitations doesn't apply when medical conditions manifest themselves years after the events that caused them.
``What the WWE lawsuit is doing is trying to do is prevent some of the most storied performers in the history of the organization from having their day in court,'' he said.
Robert Windham, who wrestled under the name ``Blackjack Mulligan,'' is one of those named in WWE's lawsuit, along with James ``Koko B.'' Ware and Thomas ``Dynamite Kid'' Billington.
All three have sent letters to WWE indicating an intent to sue.
Reached at his home in Groveland, Florida on Wednesday, Windham said he has been diagnosed with dementia and blood clots in his brain, and feels abandoned by WWE.
The 73-year-old, who has not wrestled in 12 years, said he's positive his conditions are due to years of suffering head trauma in the ring.
``Sargent Slaughter once went nuts on me and beat me unconscious with a turnbuckle,'' he said. ``My jaw was broken. I lost teeth. I blacked out.''
He said his son, former wrestler Barry Windham, also developed serious problems, including drug addiction, which he believes were related to his numerous head injuries.
``They really don't want to face it,'' he said. ``They want to send everyone to rehab. But rehab doesn't work for loss of memory.''
Robert Windham said he now uses a wheelchair, suffers from near constant nausea, and needs to use stickers on his bathroom door to remind him when he last went to the bathroom.
``And my son, you look at him and the lights are on, but nobody is home anymore,'' he said.
No hearing has yet been scheduled in the case.
Paul McCallum's lengthy CFL career is coming back to Saskatchewan.
The 45 year old kicker, released by B-C during training camp, is returning to the green-and-white with head coach Corey Chamblin saying after practice Wednesday, it is expected he will handle the placekicking duties Sunday against Toronto.
Chamblin announced Chris Milo has been deactivated from the roster, but he has not been released and that this decision is being made because of concerns he had in the kicking game right from training camp.
Chamblin also said defensive back Tyron Brackenridge and receiver Weston Dressler should be ready to go for the game against the Argos which starts at 1 o'clock at Mosaic Stadium.
As you would expect on the first day of NHL free agency, there has been a wide array of signings. You can check them out right here.
There was also a trade of note today between the Leafs and the Penguins. Here is the write-up from the Penguins...
The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired forwards Phil Kessel and Tyler Biggs and defenseman Tim Erixon from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Kasperi Kapanen, Nick Spaling, Scott Harrington and a 2016 third-round draft pick previously acquired from New Jersey, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
The deal also involves conditional draft choices based upon the following conditions:
*If Pittsburgh qualifies for the 2016 postseason, Toronto will receive the Penguins’ 2016 first-round draft pick; and the Penguins will receive Toronto’s 2016 second-round selection. The second-round pick would be the one Toronto originally acquired from Pittsburgh for Daniel Winnik earlier this year.
*Should Pittsburgh miss the 2016 playoffs, Toronto will INSTEAD receive the Penguins’ 2017 first-round pick; with Pittsburgh getting Toronto’s 2017 second-round selection in return.
*If the Penguins were to miss the postseason the next two years, Toronto would receive Pittsburgh’s 2017 second-round draft pick and Pittsburgh would not receive a draft pick.
Kessel is signed through the 2019-20 season. Toronto is retaining 15 percent of his salary, making Pittsburgh’s cap hit $6.8 million.
Kessel, 27, is one of the top goal scorers in the NHL. During the last five years, his 151 goals rank fourth (tied) in the NHL behind only Alex Ovechkin (206), Steven Stamkos (202) and Corey Perry (178).
During that same time period, Kessel ranks eighth (tied) among all NHL players with 339 points, making the Penguins the only NHL team with three players ranked in the top-15 during that span. Sidney Crosby is fifth (tied) with 347 and Evgeni Malkin is 15th with 321.
Since breaking into the NHL, 6-foot, 200-pound Kessel has scored 247 goals in 668 games, including seven-straight years breaking 20-goal and 50-point barriers.
A five-time 30-goal scorer and three-time NHL All-Star (2011, ’12, ’15), the 6-foot, 202-pound Kessel paced Toronto with 61 points (25G-36A) in 82 appearances this past season. Kessel tallied eight times on the power play and had four game-winners.
Two seasons ago, the right-handed shooting Kessel equaled his career high by scoring 37 goals and totaling 80 points in 82 games with the Leafs.
Kessel, who hails from Madison, Wisconsin, has played nine NHL seasons, the past six in Toronto and his first three in Boston, since the Bruins made him the fifth-overall selection in the 2006 NHL Draft. Since then, his 247 goals are the most scored by a player drafted in ’06, 24 more than second-place Jonathan Toews (223).
The winner of the 2007 Bill Masterton Trophy after overcoming a bout with cancer, Kessel has registered 520 points (247G-273A) in 668 career regular-season games. He’s added 13 goals and 21 points in 22 postseason contests.
Kessel, who is the NHL’s highest-scoring American player the last seven years with 217 tallies, is one of the league’s most-durable players. He has played in 446-consecutive regular-season games dating back to Nov. 3, 2009; and he has played every game for his team in six of his nine seasons.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that international quarterback Tino Sunseri has signed with the team. As per club policy, details of the contract were not released.
Sunseri spent the last two seasons with the Riders after originally signing with the team in May, 2013. The University of Pittsburgh product played all 18 games in his rookie season, listed as the third string quarterback, totaling 167 passing yards on 14 completions.
Last season, Sunseri dressed for all 18 regular season games – starting four – completing 73 of 123 attempts for 1,140 yards and six touchdowns.
Sunseri won the 2013 Grey Cup as a member of the Riders.