Monday, February 8, 2016

Lulay and Messam Avoid Free Agency

BC Lions Football Club GM and head coach Wally Buono announced this afternoon that international quarterback Travis Lulay has re-signed with the team through 2017. Lulay was eligible to become a free agent on February 9th.

“Strength and depth at the quarterback position is vital to any team’s success,” said Buono. “Travis provides us all the qualities that you want in a quarterback. Lulay smiling on fieldHe’s a leader and a competitor and I am looking forward to seeing Travis, Jonathon Jennings and Greg McGhee come to training camp and lead our club.”

The Montana State vet will enter his eighth year with the Lions and currently sits third in team history with 16,960 passing yards and 101 touchdown passes. The CFL’s Most Outstanding Player and a Grey Cup champion in 2011, Lulay has dressed for 99 regular season games dating back to 2009 with 65 starts.

“I have truly loved every moment of my time with the Lions and I’m ecstatic to be staying in BC,” said Lulay. “We have great opportunity to be a very competitive team in 2016 and I’m excited to get to work.”

(BC Lions)

Calgary Stampeders general manager John Hufnagel is pleased to announce the re-signing of national running back Jerome Messam.

Messam was scheduled to become a free agent tomorrow.

The 30-year-old Toronto product joined the Stampeders in an Oct. 14, 2015, trade with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and he appeared in two regular-season games for Calgary, registering 180 rushing yards — including 121 in his debut for the Red and White — and adding six receptions for 33 yards. In 17 combined games for the Stampeders and Roughriders, he rushed for 1,006 yards and two touchdowns and made 53 catches for 497 yards while earning West Division all-star honours.

Messam also started both of Calgary’s playoff games and amassed 122 rushing yards and a touchdown and eight catches for 126 yards.

“Jerome is a very good football player who fit in very well with the Stampeders after we traded for him last year,” said Hufnagel. “I believe this is a mutually beneficial situation for both the player and the team and I’m pleased that Jerome has chosen to continue his career with the Stampeders.”

In 90 career games for BC, Edmonton, Montreal, Sasktchewan and Calgary, Messam has 3,270 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns as well as 132 catches for 1,329 yards.

“I’m happy to get the deal done and not have to worry about free agency,” said Messam. “I’m excited to be back in Calgary.”

(Calgary Stampeders)

Courtney Stephen Staying In Hamilton

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced Monday that the football club has re-signed national defensive back Courtney Stephen to a three-year contract.

Stephen, 26, was tied for second on the Tiger-Cats with four interceptions in 2015, adding 48 defensive tackles, two special teams tackles, four pass knock downs, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 16 games. The native of Brampton, Ontario has appeared in 47 games with Hamilton during his three-year CFL career, registering 129 defensive tackles, eight special teams tackles, six interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Stephen, who was selected by the Tiger-Cats in the second round, eighth overall, in the 2012 CFL Draft, has also played in six career playoff games, including the 102nd Grey Cup versus Calgary in 2013. He missed the 101st Grey Cup versus Saskatchewan in 2012 because of injury.

The 6-0, 194-pound defensive back suited up in 16 games over three seasons (2010-12) at Northern Illinois, recording 17 defensive tackles (12 solo, 5 assisted), an interception and a blocked kick. Before transferring to Northern Illinois, Stephen posted 80 defensive tackles (69 solo, 22 assisted), two quarterback sacks, six interceptions, 13 pass knock downs and two forced fumbles in two seasons with Wilfrid Laurier University (2008-09). He earned First Team OUA All-Star and Second Team All-Canadian honours in 2009, and was named a Second Team OUA All-Star and WLU Rookie of the Year in 2008.

(Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

Jacques Chapdelaine Joins Alouettes Coaching Staff

The Montreal Alouettes announced on Monday that Jacques Chapdelaine will be joining the club’s coaching staff as he has accepted the position of Wide Receiver Coach and Special Advisor to the Offensive Coordinator.

Chapdelaine returns to Montreal, he who suited up for the Concordes and Alouettes in 1985 and 1986. The 54-year-old coach brings 13 seasons of CFL coaching experience with him. Last year, he was the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, helping the team finish third in the CFL with 6,442 total yards on offence and finishing atop the league with 2,150 rushing yards. He helped his teams win three Grey Cups in 2001 (Calgary), 2003 and 2013 (British Columbia). As an offensive coordinator in the CFL, he shows a record of 82-79-1 and led his team to four Grey Cup games.

“I am pleased to announce the addition of Coach Jacques Chapdelaine to our coaching staff. His years of expertise in the CFL, as a coach and as a player, are invaluable,” said Alouettes General Manager and Head Coach Jim Popp. “He has been extremely creative over his career, and has found a way to help motivate individuals to some of their career-best. His chartered career has repetitively produced outstanding offensive output wherever he has been.”

The Sherbrooke, QC native is no stranger to coaching in La Belle Province, as he was the Université Laval Rouge et Or head coach from 1997 to 2000. He led the team to its first Vanier Cup championship in 1999, making Université Laval the first francophone university in the country to win a national championship. In four seasons as the Rouge et Or head coach he led the team to a 21-11 record, including the team’s first perfect regular season when the team finished the 2000 season with an 8-0 record. He was also the offensive coordinator for the Bishop’s University Gaiters for four seasons.

As a player in the CFL, Chapdelaine played seven seasons as a receiver, hauling in 166 passes good for 2,026 yards while scoring six majors in 94 games.

(Montreal Alouettes)

NHL Three Stars of Week

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 Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson and Florida Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Feb. 7.

    Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3—8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference. Crosby opened the week by notching his ninth career hat trick, including the game-winning goal, and adding an assist in a 6-5 win over the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 2. He notched one goal in a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning Feb. 5 and tallied a goal and two assists in a 3-2 overtime win over the Florida Panthers Feb. 6. Crosby extended his point streak to 10 games (10-8—18), tied for the third-longest such run in the NHL this season. That includes at least one goal in six straight contests (8 G), equaling a career high established Dec. 5-15, 2006 (6 G). He also became the 13th active player to record 900 career points (324-578—902), reaching the milestone in his 677th career game. Only 10 players in NHL history have attained the mark in fewer contests.

    Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7—7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week. After tallying one assist in a 6-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Feb. 2 and two more in a 7-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers Feb. 4, Karlsson equaled career highs for assists and points in a game with four assists in a 6-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Feb. 6. Karlsson jumped four assists ahead of Chicago's Patrick Kane (44) for the League lead in that category, three more than he totaled in 2014-15 (82 GP). He also moved into a share of second place in the NHL scoring race with 11-48—59 overall, trailing only Kane (32-44—76).


    Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points. Trocheck notched a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Feb. 2 as Florida halted a 10-game losing streak at Verizon Center dating to Jan. 8, 2011 (0-8-2) and snapped the Capitals’ home point streak at 13 games (12-0-1). He went on to notch two goals and one assist in a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Feb. 4 and record one assist in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Feb. 6. The 22-year-old Pittsburgh native increased his season points total to 17-16—33 in 52 games, already surpassing career single-season highs in goals, assists and points.

Something to "Mitch" About

--Is Rob Vanstone dabbing?

 The Denver Broncos are Super Bowl 50 champions, and Peyton Manning has his 2nd Vince. The question now is whether or not the 39 year old will retire and one has to think he will.  What else does he need to do and what better way to go out. Make no doubt about it, Super Bowl 50 will not be remembered for what Peyton did, but what Denver's defense did and what Cam Newton didn't do. 

  It was evident very early this game would not be the one-sided rout many thought it would be as Von Miller, Demarcus Ware and the rest of the Denver "D" did to Newton what they did to Tom Brady two weeks ago in the AFC Championship and that is make him miserable. The Panthers had one drive all night long and two costly turnovers deep in their end to cement their fate in what was a defensive struggle.  Manning wasn't spectacular by any stretch going 13-23 for 141 yards and an interception, but he did enough. As for his counterpart, Cam Newton did a lot of talking all season long, but in the sport's biggest game, he failed to deliver on the field and off the field. For all the bravado we have seen from this guy this year, his walking off the podium after the game made him look like a poor sport, and he is getting roasted for it on social media. You win with class, and you lose with class. Russell Wilson did it last year, Peyton did it the year before that and Brady has done it as well. Make no doubt about it, it was a hard pill for the MVP to swallow, but he did nothing but bask in the spotlight when his team won this year and it was that same spotlight he tried to hide from in defeat. Sorry Cam, it doesn't work that way especially when you are the face of the league after winning its most prestigious individual honor. 

--I have never been a big fan of the CBS presentation, and would rank it last amongst the networks that bring you the NFL, but Jim Nantz and Phil Simms did do a solid job in covering the game. However, Jay Feely as a kicking specialist. CMON!! Is TSN going to hire Paul McCallum for that next year? Did we really need Jay Feely to tell us why Graham Gano "Milo"ed one off the crossbar.  Did anyone also notice that after Mike Carey botched yet another call with him saying Jerricho Cotchery had caught a pass when instant replay confirmed an incompletion.  I believe he did not utter another word on the broadcast as CBS execs likely told him to hit the media lounge for nachos and Mountain Dew.  Carey has been horrible for CBS this year and in the big game of the year, he disappointed again. I can't see Mike being back next year. Perhaps Steve Harvey can replace him.

Other thoughts from the night at Levi's Stadium. 

  •  Lady Gaga's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" was outstanding. I didn't think she had that in her. 

  •  Damn you CRTC for not allowing us to see puppymonkeybaby. Youtube that and you will see what I mean if you don't know. 

  •  The CBS feature on the announcers who are still living, and have called Super Bowls was outstanding and was made moreso by the trinkets Jim Nantz had with him as he called the game, For those who didn't see it, Nantz revealed in the inside breast pocket of his suit would be a card of long-time announcer Jack Whitaker who was a mentor to Nantz along with a sobriety coin given to him by the wife of the great Pat Summerall who battled with alcoholism for a long time. It was a very moving tribute to two men who obviously have  meant a lot to CBS' number one announcer. 
  • Did Tom Brady really get booed at the start of the game when previous Super Bowl MVP's were announced?

  •  Was it just me or did Eli Manning look less than ecstatic at the end of the game as he realized Big Bro now had as many Super Bowls as he does. It's OK Eli!! Be happy!!!

  •  What type of contract did Peyton have with Budweiser. Talk about some free pub! 

  •  Thank you to George Yannitsos at the 4 Seasons for hosting the CKRM Sportscage party. I think all in attendance had a damn good night over some food and drink.

--The CFL's version of free agent frenzy is ready to start. Over 100 players will be up for grabs including several members of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Barring any last minute deals, players like Chris Getzlaf, Levy Adcock, Alex Hall, Keith Price, Ryan Smith and Corey Watman could find themselves suiting up for other teams. It would certainly seem as if Smith is destined for another CFL home after reports on the weekend suggested he was looking for a deal which would pay him 150-thousand a year.  I just can't see Chris Jones and company looking to pay that kind of money to Smith, especially after casting Weston Dressler aside and having a fondness for big receivers.  There are several players who are intriguing, and several players who I think would fit in well with this football team.

  Players like Keon Raymond and JC Sherritt have a familiarity with Chris Jones and John Murphy and would be nice additions in green and white. While getting up there in age, Raymond might provide the team with some experienced leadership that it doesn't really have on that side of the ball right now while Sherritt would be a nice man to have in the middle.  Aaron Grymes is a guy I would think Jones would covet, but is he after NFL employment while Keith Shologan would look good back in green and white instead of red and black. Defensive end Shawn Lemon has campaigned for Ted Laurent to come to Riderville, but he may be too expensive. As for the offensive side of the ball, I wonder if there is money in the kitty for Andrew Harris. Like Laurent, I think he is too expensive, but Harris would give the Riders a dual threat out of the backfield, but so would Kendial Lawrence who Jones knows very well. There are many, many questions and they will start getting answered Tuesday morning at 11.

--Kory Sheets has tweeted out that the Riders don't want him back and this really shouldn't be that surprising. There are some out there who just believe Sheets can pick right up where he left off after being named the Grey Cup MVP in 2013. The reality is he probably can't.  Sheets suffered a devastating injury in the 2014 NFL preseason and he hasn't played football since. Why would management what is certainly an unproven commodity to come back? The Riders are moving on and some of Rider Nation need to do the same.

--John Gibbons' days in Toronto are numbered. The Blue Jays went out late last week and hired Eric Wedge to be their player development advisor. Eric Wedge used to be the manager of the Cleveland Indians and what team did Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins work for at one time. Put the pieces together and you will see as soon as Gibbons hits a tough spot, management will have an easy way out as they slide their guy in.

--Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos said Jordan Eberle wasn't a top six forward on Saturday afternoon and compared him and his skill-set to that of L-A King forward Justin Williams. Yeah OK.  Thanks for the input Nick! Ebs doesn't have the resume Williams has, but he is a much better forward than Williams and is certainly a top six forward.  One has to wonder if he was stealing a script from PJ Stock for that one.

--There was something right about having Bob Cole do Saturday afternoon's Edmonton-Montreal game on Hockey Day in Canada. Bob's best days are behind him, but he still brings it. I'd rather listen to a past his prime Cole call a game instead of Romanuk any day of the week.

--The Hockey Day in Canada production is something that brings back great memories every year. I took the opportunity to head to Shaunavon years ago when HDIC came to the small southwestern Saskatchewan town. With Mrs. Scruffy being from that part of the province, there was no doubt a road trip was going to be taken with microphone in hand, and it was a day I still fondly remember.  From the professionalism of Ron McLean, to the reception Don Cherry got at the old rink, to the looks of people in the area seeing Hockey Night in Canada come right into their backyard complete with the Stanley Cup. It is one of the best days I have had in this business covering something non-Rider related.

--40 years ago, Darryl Sittler had 10 points in one game. There are records I don't think I will see get broken in my lifetime and that is one of them. I remember watching Sittler do his thing on that Saturday night against the Boston Bruins. I don't see anyone breaking Dimaggio's 56 game hit streak and the way hockey has become, I can't see any player even tying Sittler's magical night. To steal a line from the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons...whatever happened to Dave Reece?

--Arash Madani broke the story a couple of weeks ago about Bruce McNall and John Candy trying to lure Joe Montana to the Argonauts.  I certainly hope we can get Montana's take on that when he appears in Saskatoon at their Kinsmen Sports Dinner.  I would love to hear his thoughts on that and how much he considered it if he even did at all. For my money, Montana is the best QB I have seen. Brady needed Adam Vinatieri (and Malcolm Butler...SIGHHHH) to get him Super Bowl titles, Montana just did it with his arm.

--Congrats to Steve Laycock for winning the Sask-Tel Tankard for the 3rd straight year. Has he been asked the Rick Folk question yet?

 --Congrats to Dave Taylor and his Cougar womens basketball team for not only winning a pair of games against Victoria on the weekend, but for getting twin sisters Kia and Kianna Giles out of Winnipeg's Sisler High School who are considered two of the top high school players in Manitoba if not Canada to commit to the program. Having two players of that calibre bodes well for the Cougars as they get ready to host the CIS championships in a couple of years. Congratulations also to mens basketball coach Steve Burrows as he saw his troops beat Victoria twice this weekend which is a feat in itself seeing Regina has only beaten Victoria once in conference play prior to this weekend. It also virtually clinched a playoff spot for his squad in his second year. Steve has molded a nice squad led by the Tull brothers--Brandon and Jonathan. Add what the basketball teams are doing to what Sarah Hodges has going with the womens hockey team this year and it has been a nice season for some of the Cougar teams---a season that isn't over yet.

--That's all I got. Have a great weekend and for god-sake, someone at the Leader-Post must take a video of Vanstone dabbing!! It must happen!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Super Bowl 50 Preview

Is "The Vince" heading to Charlotte for the first time in history or do they have to clear out some space at Broncos headquarters for another trophy. We will find out Sunday night as Super Bowl 50 goes in San Francisco. For a preview of the game, click here

Friday, February 5, 2016

Who Are The Top 50 WHL'ers of All-Time

In celebration of the WHL’s 50th Season and as part of the Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada festivities, the WHL will begin to unveil its Top 50 WHL Players of All-Time this Saturday from Kamloops, BC.
From a list of the top 125 players in WHL history as selected by a committee that included members of the media and individuals with long-standing contributions to the WHL, fans began voting at in October to help select the Top 50 WHL Players of All-Time. With the help of the committee, the Top 50 WHL Players of All-Time have now been determined.
This Saturday, during Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada in Kamloops, the first five players on the list (ranked 50th-46th) will be revealed. Each Thursday to follow will see additional players unveiled as the WHL counts down the illustrious list, culminating in the announcement of the top three WHL players of all-time at the WHL Awards on May 4th in Calgary.
Top 50 WHL Players of All-Time, Combined Achievements:

  • The Top 50 WHL Players of All-Time have a combined total of 13,698 points in 8,999 WHL regular season games (1.5 point-per-game average)
  • 38 WHL Championships
  • 21 Memorial Cup titles
  • 20 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship gold medals
  • Six IIHF World Hockey Championship Gold Medals
  • 16 Olympic Gold Medals
  • 43 Stanley Cups
  • 22 current or previous WHL Clubs played for
  • Players hail from four countries
Fans voted at from the list of the top 125 players in WHL history as selected by the committee, which included WHL greats from the League’s inception in 1966 through to players that suited up as recently as last season. In total, 88 forwards, 27 defencemen, and 10 goaltenders made the original list. Players were selected based on a combination of the impact they had while playing in the WHL and their careers upon graduating from the League.
Click HERE for the committee’s list of the top 125 players in WHL history.
The committee was comprised of members of the media and individuals who have demonstrated long-standing contributions to the WHL, along with members of the WHL Office staff.