Its been a while. Where do I start? Lets go with the news of the day and Craig Dickenson leaving the Saskatchewan Roughriders. From what I am hearing, Corey Chamblin wanted Dickenson to be back at a certain time and Dickenson said he couldn't do that because of his off-season job in Montana. If Chamblin wants his coaching staff here to get a head start into 2013, I have no problem with that. Dickenson was unwilling to change his schedule and I'm OK with that too. I'm surprised the two couldn't come to some kind of amicable decision seeing it was only a month. If Dickenson called Chamblin's bluff, so be it. At the end of the day, coaches come and coaches go. Its a loss to lose Dickenson, but I'm sure Chamblin will find someone of Dickenson's quality or higher to replace him. Those thinking there is something more to this are just trying to stir the pot.
A lot of people are wondering why the Riders haven't made any headlines regarding player signings when other teams have made some already. Relax! From what I have heard, the team has come to new agreements with a couple of pending free agents but have just chosen not to release it yet. We are still over a month until free agency. I know some of you wait on pins and needles for some little nugget of information. It will come!
In one of his legendary "Robservations" columns late last year, the rumpled scribe and my good friend Rob Vanstone proclaimed "Canada will win Gold" at the World Juniors. That should have been the kiss of death. I told Kelly Remple before a "Sportscage" and I may even have mentioned it on the air that I didn't think this Canadian team was as good as people thought and that winning a medal would be tough. Its easy to say I told you so now, but there are some reasons why Canada didn't win.
1) They played like crap against the Americans. You could see they just didn't have it from the drop of the puck. The 4-1 score flattered them.
2) It might be a biased statement because I am from the West, but there weren't enough WHL kids on this team. There is no better developmental league in the world than the WHL. I just think that not having guys like Ryan Murray (injured), Derrick Pouliot, Laurent Brossoit and Mat Dumba weakened our lineup somewhat.
3) I'm not saying he guarantees you victory, but Brent Sutter seemed to get the most out of his lineup when he was behind the bench. Sutter needs to return to the Canadian bench a-s-a-p.
4) Goaltending--I can't criticize Malcolm Subban for his play, but he didn't steal games or keep his team in games the way John Gibson did for the U-S or the Russian kid did---especially in the Switzerland games. This country hasn't had a decent goaltender since Carey Price patrolled the pipes. I'll say it once and I'll say it again...we produce forwards and defence of all star calibre in this country, but we are weak when it comes to goaltending. That must change!
5) This tournament is no longer the cakewalk it used to be. The junior game is just getting better and better and better on the world stage and this tournament has proven that. Canada won't win just for showing up anymore. Is a summit needed? No it isn't, but Hockey Canada and the Canadian populace that gets so drawn into this tournament by TSN must realize that the guarantee of our kids singing O'Canada when its all over is gone.
Speaking of TSN, they have once again done an outstanding job of bringing this event into our living room, but as I said before, I wish we could have seen the pool with the Swedes, Switzerland, Finland and the Czechs instead of being shut out until the medal round. It looked to me as if Switzerland had a pretty good squad again while the defending champs look to be the best team in the event if their effort against Russia was any indication.
After seeing his antics and his play at this event, I remain skeptical about Nail Yakupov and the Oilers. The guy looks like a head-case to me. Edmonton would have been better off taking Ryan Murray or Griffin Reinhart. I hope I'm wrong with that assessment.
Its a shame that all the SJHL could give on the release (firing) of Dwight McMillan was a simple five line statement on their website. The guy is a coaching legend and deserved a lot more than that. A lot more! There were some suggestions that the game had passed him by. I guess those that said that forgot that he got his team to the league final last year before bowing to a very talented Humboldt team and that his team bowed out after their best player was suspended in what was a very questionable and controversial decision. Humboldt still likely wins that series, but that action cemented it.
The Lingerie Football League has a big announcement scheduled for January 9. It is said to include a logo change and perhaps an equipment change as well as some other things. What will this mean for the Regina Rage and Saskatoon Sirens? I think its safe to say the league won fans over in the two cities.
If you didn't see what South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney did New Years Day against Michigan, check this out. This might be the best ever play I've seen by a defensive player.
There is nothing better on New Years Day than laying on the couch and watching football game after football game after football game.
The NFL playoffs go this weekend. I am taking two road teams and two home teams. The Seahawks will beat the Redskins. They have a better all-around team. The Bengals will upset a Houston team that is really imploding. Green Bay will have problems with Minnesota, but they will have enough to beat the Vikings and Indianapolis' youth will catch up to them as they will lose to Baltimore.
The Cowboys had a chance to make the playoffs, but Tony Romo became Tony Romo again by throwing three interceptions. The guy just can't get it done when it matters the most. I know there are Romo fans out there and I applaud them for their devotion to the guy, but his performance against the Redskins---especially his last interception just proved again that Romo can't win the big game. I really believe the Cowboys would go a lot farther if they had someone like Flacco, Stafford or Rivers in charge. There are a lot of good young quarterbacks coming up in this year's draft. It would behoove the Cowboys to take one of them and let Tony walk when his contract comes up at the end of 2013.
Why is it everytime you think there is some sense of optimism in the NHL talks, you get a swift kick in the you know where. I just can't see there being NHL hockey this year and if that happens, the sport will never, ever be the same.
Did you have a New Year's resolution? Have you broken it yet or are you still going?
Looking forward to seeing the Pats play Medicine Hat tonight. If this team is healthy, they can play it would seem like with the best of them. That being said, I still think it might serve the organization well if some trades were made to help the defensive corps and perhaps give Morgan Klimchuk and Chandler Stephenson another weapon to work with next year. I'm guessing Chad Lang is having some sleepless nights. Can you blame him?
The old 96er is back after a couple of weeks away so he will make his first appearance in the Sportscage for 2013 tomorrow when he joins me for 'Four Seasons Football Friday". I'm guessing it will be 90 minutes of fun. Talk to ya then!