Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Man In Black Becomes A Brown

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have accepted Vice President of football operations, general manager and head coach, Chris Jones resignation request in order to pursue an NFL coaching opportunity.

“We are proud of what Chris came in and accomplished through his three seasons as general manager and head coach,” stated Riders President & CEO Craig Reynolds. “His work obviously didn’t go unnoticed and we congratulate him on his opportunity in the National Football League and thank him for his contribution to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.”

Chris Jones was originally hired on December 7, 2015.

 After going through a 5-13 rebuilding season in 2016, the Riders improved to 10-8 under Jones’ guidance in 2017 and appeared in a division final for the first time since 2013.

 Last season, the Green and White finished with the CFL’s second best record at 12-6 and hosted the West Semi-Final.

Jones was named CFL Coach of the Year for his efforts.

 Reynolds added, “We are fortunate to have many quality football leaders and coaches on our staff. We will evaluate and will look to fill the vacancy quickly.”

The Riders also announced Tuesday receiver Jordan Williams-Lambert has been granted his release so he can pursue an NFL opportunity. It is believed JWL will be signing or has signed a deal with the Chicago Bears.

(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR)

The story from the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Jones' hiring can be found here.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Riders Take Three In CFL Mexico Draft

The CFL held its draft for players currently playing in the Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional on Monday.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders had three selections.  With the 6th selection, they took defensive lineman Rene Francisco Brassea.  After that, the team took receiver Carlos Olvera with the 15th pick with defensive back Francisco Javier Garcia being selected with the 24th pick.

Whether or not, any or all three come to training camp is not known.

NHL Three Stars Of Week

Stars of the Week, Giordano, Binnington, Guentzel

Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano, St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington and Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Jake Guentzel have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Jan. 13.


Giordano paced the NHL with 3-5—8 in four games to power the Western Conference-leading Flames (30-13-4, 64 points) to a perfect week and their fifth straight win overall. He collected one helper in a 4-3 triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks Jan. 7. Giordano then registered his fifth career three-assist outing (and third of the season) in a 5-3 victory against the Colorado Avalanche Jan. 9. He followed that up with one goal in a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers Jan. 11. Giordano capped the week by playing in his 800th NHL game, celebrating with 2-1—3 (his sixth career multi-goal performance) in a 7-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes Jan. 13. The 35-year-old Toronto native ranks second among NHL defensemen with 9-38—47 through 45 contests this season. Giordano, who was +7 for the week, also tops all players with a +36 rating in 2018-19.


Binnington stopped 74 of the 76 shots he faced, compiling a 3-0-0 record with a 0.67 goals-against average, .974 save percentage and one shutout to guide the Blues (19-20-4, 42 points) to wins in three of their four games. Binnington made his first NHL start Jan. 7, earning a shutout with 25 saves in a 3-0 triumph over the Philadelphia Flyers. He became the 35th goaltender in League history to post a shutout in his first NHL start and the second to achieve the feat with St. Louis (also Rich Parent: Jan. 26, 1999 at SJS). Binnington then yielded only one goal in each of his next two outings, recording 28 stops in a 4-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens Jan. 10 and 21 saves in a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars Jan. 12. The 25-year-old Richmond Hill, Ont., native – who made his League debut Jan. 14, 2016 – has appeared in six total NHL games, totaling a 3-0-0 record, 1.61 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.


Guentzel shared the League lead with five goals in three games (5-1—6) to lift the Penguins (25-14-6, 56 points) to a pair of wins as well as their 10th victory in their past 12 contests dating to Dec. 19 (10-2-0). He picked up one assist in a 5-1 triumph over the Florida Panthers Jan. 8. Guentzel then posted his second career hat trick (and second of the season) in a 7-4 victory against the Anaheim Ducks Jan. 11. He finished the week with both of Pittsburgh’s goals in a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings Jan. 12. The 24-year-old Omaha, Neb., native tops the Penguins with 23 goals in 45 outings this season (23-21—44), aided by 7-3—10 during an active six-game point streak.

Something To "Mitch" About

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--3Down Nation's and Sportscage contributor Justin Dunk now has Rider Nation salivating   Dunk let it be known Friday the Riders are expected to make a strong push to land free-agent quarterback Mike Reilly if he does not re-sign with the Eskimos before February 12.

Dunk says "The Riders would try and sway Reilly to end his career in Saskatchewan, pushing the benefits of being the face of the franchise – especially post-playing career when Reilly could earn income in various ways long after the days of stepping on the football field are over. Combined with the benefits of playing in a state of the art facility for a rabid fan base."

The talk is all positive, but I just don't see this happening.  If it does, what will it cost the team to sign him.  What will it do to other free agents like Willie Jefferson who will command a steep raise. Some have said the Riders could jettison Charleston Hughes because of his salary, his age and his second-half dropoff.  If a big-salary player comes in, one or two have to leave.  It's the reality of the game in a salary cap era. Who do you think will leave and imagine the uproar if said player is a crowd favourite or a local.

Yes, the Riders are close to a Grey Cup and Reilly could be what is needed to push them over the top both in 2019 and maybe even 2020 when the team could be the host for the Grey Cup and do what was done in 2013.

Does Reilly want to come?  That pot will have to be sweetened and with many thinking Reilly will be either staying in Edmonton or moving to BC, it will have to be sweetened a lot.   It's never dull in Riderville.

--There is some angst over the fact Steve McAdoo will be back as the offensive co-ordinator in 2019. The performance of the offence or the lack of it was as you know the lightning rod for criticism in 2018.  I will just ask the question again.  McAdoo had the same offence in place as he did in 2017 when the Riders led the league in TD passes so where did it change because his philosophy and playbook didn't.   Was it Zach Collaros?  Was it Kevin Glenn? Was it QB's coach Steve Walsh? Was it a young group of receivers? Was it a combination of both? I'm not absolving McAdoo of complete blame, but he can't take all of it.

--The Mexican combine seems to have gone over as well as a bad burrito.  Out of the many who were there, not many seemed to be worthy of having a CFL career.  While there are some who can play, it would seem as if GM's don't believe Mexico will be a major pipeline to the league.  It leaves me to ask why the league is pursuing this instead of a new CBA or investing in the game back home whether it be through USports or minor football. . Where are the priorities?

--Saturday afternoon in Kansas City the snow was falling as the Chiefs took on the Colts in an NFL playoff game with the game-time temperature sitting at minus 2.  Arrowhead Stadium was packed and Chiefs fans were on the top of their game showing their passion for their favourite football team.  Rewind to November where Ottawa and Calgary played in the Grey Cup at Commonwealth Stadium on a day where the temperature at kickoff was minus 2 yet all CFL fans could do was bitch and moan about the game being played when it was.

There are cold weather playoff games in the NFL ( do we remember the Seahawks/Vikings game played at a sold out TCF Field in the Twin Cities) and people show up to support their team.  They don't bemoan the conditions and look for excuses.     While I know it won't happen, it would be great if we could just end the argument as to when playoff football should be played in our country and enjoy the game and show the passion shown south of the border. I wonder what the temperature will be in KC next Sunday. The seven-day forecast shows minus 10 for a daytime high.

--As for that game, give a lot of credit to Kansas City.  They buried their playoff demons by making the Colts look bad.  Patrick Mahomes didn't look like a rookie playing in his first playoff game.  He certainly wasn't Joe Montana-like, but he cut the Colts up early and let the defence take it the rest of the way.  One has to think they will move on to Atlanta for the Super Bowl.

--Can we stop talking about the demise of the Patriots.  It was interesting to hear everyone say the Chargers can basically end the dynasty.  This just in, the dynasty will be over when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady say its over.  This is what, nine straight appearances in the conference final.  What they did to LA on Sunday at home was simply surgical.  Right from the opening kickoff, Brady knew how this day would end and by the end of the first quarter we all knew it as well.   Can the Patriots walk into Arrowhead and beat the Chiefs? Yup!

--As far as the NFC games went, the top two seeds won there, but the Eagles didn't make it easy on New Orleans right from the first play.  Marshon Lattimore made two big INT's in the game---one to keep the score from getting any bigger than 14-0 because if it did, it may have been a one-sided win for the defending Super Bowl champs and the second to preserve the win as the Eagles were driving for a game-winning TD.

The Rams always seemed to have control over Dallas, but they really couldn't put them away.  In watching highlights and seeing talk on the game, it sounded like Dak Prescott was very inconsistent.  I don't think Dallas is as good as some think they are, but I also think their quarterback play is very inconsistent from week to week. That needs to change if the Cowboys are to be taken seriously IMO.

--Another solid weekend of basketball action at the U of R as the Cougar men and women took a pair from UBC-Okanagan in relatively easy fashion.  The men's game was somewhat close on Saturday night, but there was no doubt as to who the better team was.  The biggest question of the weekend was what type of uniform would the ladies team wear.  A laundry snafu ( let's unofficially blame it on Michaela Kleisinger) means the team has to wear some old unis, but they looked good in black.  Can we make that a thing moving forward?  In the end, I'm left to wonder if Coach Breaux from the Tide ads is better at washing uniforms than whoever who ruined this year's togs.  How can I blame that on Dave Taylor? There has to be a way!

Both finish off the Canwest regular season with home games against the U of S Feb 1 and 2.  That will be a great weekend of basketball. Head down and check it out if you can.

--The Oilers had their skills competition on Sunday at Rogers Place.  Was Milan Lucic and others a game-day scratch?

--That's all I got. Have a great week!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Rams HC Steve Bryce Says CFL Teams Might Be Surprised With Talent In Mexico

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As CFL teams get ready to look at what some of the top players in Mexico’s Liga de Futbol Americano Professional can do, they are getting some advice from someone who is familiar with football in the country–University of Regina Rams coach Steve Bryce.

Bryce was on 620 CKRM’s Sportscage Friday to talk about what teams can expect and he says all teams should go in with an open mind and prepare to be surprised as they are aggressive, disciplined and hard-working men.

“They will see high quality talent, guys who are hungry and looking for an opportunity.” Bryce said. “I think they will be impressed.  I wouldn’t discount any player at any position.”

Bryce says there is no one position that will stand out, and that during his coaching career in both Canada and the U-S where he coached high school in California, that he has had a variety of Mexican born players including two at quarterback who were very good.

Thanks to Bryce kicking the tires in Mexico, he has two players on the Rams roster including one who played last year—kicker Aldo Galvan.

Offensive lineman Steven Zambrano redshirted this past season with the prospects of two more players from the country heading north being realistic according to Bryce.

At the end of the day, Bryce thinks Mexico could be an untapped resource that proves to be beneficial for the CFL.

“From what I have seen so far, I think there will be some talent finding its way up here.  The US always puts in a solid under-18 team and Mexico beat them in the IFAF so for them to beat them it tells you they are fairly even in the level of competition.” Bryce said.  There are around 40 universities playing football so I think there is more football being played down there then people realize.”

Over 50 players  are expected to participate in a combine with CFL officials watching and speaking with the players.  Those players will take part in drills like the 40-yard dash, the bench press and vertical jump with a draft happening the next day.

The CFL says the draft order will be like a lottery so the last place team in 2018–the Toronto Argonauts will get 9 balls with the Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders having just one ball.  The Riders will have 3 balls in an opportunity to select first.

Once the combine is over and teams have a chance to internally sit down with the league, it will be determined if the draft will be one, two or three rounds.

Robyn Silvernagle Rink Looking To Thrill Hometown Fans at GSOC's Canadian Open

The hometown rink at the Grand Slam of Curling’s Canadian Open has not disappointed the home crowd in North Battleford this week.

Robyn Silvernagle is in the playoffs and plays a quarter-final game against Switzerland’s Silvia Tironzoni at 11:30 Saturday morning.  Silvernagle beat Tironzoni earlier this week to qualify for the playoffs in the event which sees $30,000 going to the winner.

Other quarter-final games on the women’s side have Rachel Homan vs Casey Schiedigger;  Nina Roth vs Laura Walker, and Chelsea Carey vs Eve Muirhead.

On the men’s side, the eight remaining rinks have also been decided.  Regina’s Matt Dunstone was hoping to qualify out of the “C” event, but the lone Saskatchewan rink left was beaten Saturday morning 8-2 by Brad Jacobs.  The other seven still alive are Brendan Bottcher, Brad Gushue, Glenn Howard, Kevin Koe, defending champ Peter De La Cruz of Switzerland and Sweden’s Niklas Edin.

The men’s quarterfinals go at 3 Saturday afternoon with games to be shown on Sportsnet.