Welcome to Friday and the usual set of weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind. As always, they are in no particular order.
--CFL fans got what they wanted at high noon on Thursday. The schedule is here, and no sooner did it come and the bitching started. There is no happy medium in this marketplace for when Rider games are as everyone loves one time, but hates another. You can't please everyone. I'm OK with it. I am a guy who likes Saturday home games and there are five of them, The Thursday night game comes the night before Canada Day so that is fine. The league still has a desire to go head to head with the NFL on Sundays, and that is OK too as football fans will make their decision as to what brand they want to watch. Some day the CFL will learn, but it won't be in 2016.
--While I am OK with the schedule, I do have one question, That is why is it in a nine team league, we have back to back games? The Labour Day games are fine as those are tradition, but do we really need a back to back against the Stampeders and a back to back against the Lions to finish off the season?
--Some in Winnipeg were not happy when I asked on Twitter Wednesday how signing four members of the 2015 Saskatchewan Roughriders that were 3-15 is going to improve their football team. They seem to think that those four will fit nicely into their rebuild. While I do think Weston Dressler will help them immensely, I am not sold on the other three making a major impact with the club. Are they falling for false hope once again in Winnipeg? It would appear as if the answer is yes.
--Speaking of Dressler, I had the chance to see "Steve Largent--A Football Life" on the NFL Network. I don't know why I never thought of it before being a Seahawks fan, but Dressler is a modern day Largent with the way both play the game.
--Who holds the balance of power in the West right now after a wild off-season? Winnipeg believes they are stronger, and certainly the additions of Andrew Harris and Dressler make them better. BC hasn't really done a lot, but they do have Wally Buono as head coach again. Edmonton is substantially weaker than the team that held the Grey Cup high in November, Calgary is not the team it was by losing players like Jon Cornish, Jeff Fuller and Keon Raymond while the Riders have improved themselves which really is no shock when you consider a 4 win team in 2016 would be an improvement. While it pains me to write it, the power in the West once again resides in Calgary--at this time. They have the best quarterback in Bo Levi Mitchell, and from top to bottom have the best looking roster. After that, I would say Edmonton with the other three then fighting it out for 3rd.
--A member of the Regina football community said to me this week "I wish Craig Reynolds was in charge of the Rams!". I didn't get where this was going, so when I asked, the response was "It took Reynolds how long to hire Chris Jones after the CFL season was over and its taking how long for the Rams to get their new head coach? It has been a month since the search started for a new individual, and yes, they are getting close as they indicated Thursday it is between former Rams defensive back Sheldon Gray and former Rams linebacker Stephen Bryce. Many wanted it to be Scott McAulay, but the Thunder coach is turning down the chance to join Frank McCrystal as Rams coaches to have a CIS win under their belt by saying he is staying with the Thunder, and more importantly staying with his job with Pfizer. That was certainly a consideration I am sure he wrestled with, but he has two great gigs and he would have had to give up his job with Pfizer to join the Rams.
It is too bad for the University football team because he was the right guy in my mind (and was a year ago as well), and in the minds of many others, but it is great news for the Thunder who I expect will once again challenge the Hilltops for junior football supremacy in not only this province, but Canada. As for the Rams, they have got two guys who know what makes this football team tick, and I am hoping they don't make the same mistake that was made last time around when they had the wool pulled over their eyes. I think they'll be fine, but whether it be Gray or Bryce, there is some work to do. Both of those gentlemen know that. Here is one thing for certain---2016 won't be the same as it was in 2015.
--Did Steve Yzerman really have to come out and say the team wasn't trading Steve Stamkos at the deadline? Doing that would completely blow up any chance the Lightning have of returning to the Stanley Cup final and perhaps winning it. Yes, it may have put some people at ease, but I don't think anyone really seriously considered trading for Stamkos unless he was signed to a new deal and I don't think any of the contenders have the cap space to do that right now.
--I thought a Canadian team could make the Stanley Cup playoffs, but it appears that won't be happening and that a Canadian team will likely have the number one draft pick meaning both Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews will be playing on Canadian teams. The hockey world would most certainly riot if the gold card had the Oilers logo on it again. I will be completely honest when I say this---I hope Matthews ends up as a Flame or a Jet. Having the game's youngest marquee players in Western Canada would be outstanding and if he were to land in Calgary, it would guarantee a huge revival of the Battle of Alberta.
--All of the Canadian teams will be sellers at the deadline so perhaps this is a question to ask after the trade deadline, but what team has the best looking roster moving forward. When you have McDavid, you could say the Oilers, but Calgary is very balanced and would be better with a number one goalie, Montreal would be better if they had some scoring and will be better when Carey Price is back, and Winnipeg has a lot of good young talent in Ehlers, Trouba and Schiefele to go along with guys like Byfuglien, Ladd, Little and Wheeler. I'm not sure why the wheels fell off in Ottawa while Vancouver and Toronto are just messes with a lot of work to do. Bottom line is I see this Canadian failure this year being a blip on the radar.
--I wonder how US teams will react if Auston Matthews ends up in Canada just like McDavid did. It will be great for Sportsnet and TSN, but it will suck for that audience Gary Bettman wants so desperately to have. Buffalo and Columbus are really the only American hopes. After tanking last year and not getting McDavid, I really don't want to see Buffalo get Matthews.
--It would be nice to see Dennis Wideman just accept his punishment like a man wouldn't it? Talk about phony! By the way, how is it Bettman and the NHL get to see text messages? It's a good job Tom Brady isn't an NHL'er!!!
--It is starting to get ugly in Montreal and I can't see Michel Therrien and PK Subban co-existing for much longer after the defenceman got called out by his coach and then benched. Both are taking a lot of heat for what is happening in Montreal, and some have seen Subban was bailed out wayyyyy too many times for bad plays by Carey Price. I have never been the biggest Subban fan, and it would seem Montreal fans are starting to wake up and smell the coffee. This just in--PK won't go anywhere, but Therrien will be on the unemployment line shortly after the NHL season ends. There is no way he can stay now even if Montreal should find a way to get in the playoffs
--This winter has been very un-Saskatchewan like as we all know, Am I the only one thinking we will pay for what we have been given this year?
--I don't care what anyone says. What Moose Jaw Warriors forward Dryden Hunt has done over the past two weeks has to be one of the all-time great feats in hockey. Four hat-tricks in five games? I am guessing many of the greats have not accomplished that.
--People ask me how far I think the Pats can go in the WHL playoffs. I don't know! That team has been so hot and cold this year that they remain a mystery to me. If they are a mystery to me, I can't imagine what they are to John Paddock. Whoever draws them in the first round should have a battle on their hands.
--Good luck to Jolene Campbell and her rink from the Regina Highland as they compete at the Scotties in Grande Prairie starting tomorrow, Methinks Jolene is going to surprise some people and land herself in a playoff spot, It will be hard to dethrone Jennifer Jones as champ, but she isn't going to get a free pass.
--There are some big events on this weekend when it comes to the Cougars. Sarah Hodges' womens hockey team has a big quarter-final matchup against Calgary at the Co-Operators Centre while at the CKHS, the womens basketball team has a first place showdown against the U of S with the mens team looking to end the regular season on a strong note against the Huskies as they get ready for playoffs. I'll be at the CKHS tonight and I'll be at the Co-Operators Centre for a Game 3 if its needed on Sunday. Brad Paisley takes priority on Saturday though, That should be a great show!
--That's all I got. Have a great weekend!