HENNNNNNNRYYYYYYY!!!! - On a night where the CFL had to shine, it did as the 104th Grey Cup was a classic. I don't think it was as good as 1989, 1996 or 2005, but the Ottawa REDBLACKS overtime win over Calgary has to be considered as one of the best Grey Cups played. Yes, there were numerous reviews and challenges that made me and many others roll my eyes, but in the end, the CFL was the big winner on this night as the championship game was a product they can hang their hat on. It doesn't mean changes aren't needed as the game is broken, but a disaster of a game would have meant a very tough off-season.
It has been a long time since Ottawa could celebrate a title. Not since Tony Gabriel in 1976 (thanks TSN for showing us that at the end) have fans in the nation's capital been able to celebrate a championship. They have seen the Rough Riders fold, they have seen the Renegades come and go, they have been through a lot, but they now have the Canada's football chalice in their possession and they can thank their 41 year old quarterback.
Henry Burris has had many great games in the CFL, but Grey Cup 104 might go down as one of his best ever. Moreso when you consider he just about ended up being a spectator. I couldn't believe it when I heard just moments before kickoff he may not be able to go because of a knee problem. What problem? Burris was on the top of his game in the first half guiding Ottawa to what looked like an insurmountable lead. Give a lot of credit to Calgary for coming back and sending the game into overtime, but one will wonder much like in Super Bowl 49 when the Seahawks didn't give the ball to Marshawn Lynch, why the Stampeders didn't give the ball to Jerome Messam with the ball at the Ottawa 2 instead of having Andrew Buckley try an end-around for what would have been a game winning score. Dave Dickenson said after the game, he regrets that call. No kidding!
Putting the ball in the hands of a 3rd string rookie QB instead of the league's MOP or top Canadian is a decision which will be debated for a few months in Cowtown. Speaking of Buckley, it was great to see a Canadian quarterback score a TD in the Grey Cup. As the LP's Ian Hamilton said during the game, to see the 2014 and 15 Hec Crighton Trophy winner get a TD is great, hopefully the 2016 Hec Crighton winner will have an opportunity to do the same. #noahpicton
Bo Levi Mitchell picked the wrong time to have his worst game of the year---or maybe I should say worst half. His first half was not highlight-reel material. Awwwwwwww!! Bo Levi became too whiny of a diva for me this year. Who's kidding who, I'm not the only one glad to see the mouthpiece get silenced on this night. Make no doubt about it, he is the best player in the CFL and he could win multiple Grey Cups and go down as one of the best to play the game, but he needs to learn to shut up and Ottawa was glad to do it for him. One can only imagine what he would have been saying had the Stamps won. That being said, he did stand up and admit he has had better nights.
As good a night it was for the CFL, I do ask this though
1) Please tell me Henry Burris and Brad Sinopoli are getting more than those plaques for being named MVP and Top Canadian. Those things couldn't have cost more than 50 bucks. Where's the truck? Isn't Dodge RAM a sponsor of CFL games?
2) This tweet from the Winnipeg Free Press' Paul Wiecek basically sums it up...
You can't argue that!
As mentioned, the CFL has a lot of work to do in the off-season in a variety of different departments. Advertisers is one of them. Ads for nail fungus, 3D Crystals, etc. etc. etc can't be on one of the biggest sporting events in Canada. There is no way those ads are running during the Stanley Cup. That may be more TSN than the CFL, but the league needs to help in getting some major advertisers.
All in all though, the last picture we get from the league is a favourable one and that is good news.
NOW WHAT? -- The CFL season is over, and now we wait to see the dominos start tumbling in various places. What happens in Toronto? What happens in Montreal? Will Durant re-sign here? If he doesn't, is James Franklin the guy to lead the green-and-white into the new stadium? Will Mike O'Shea re-sign in Winnipeg? What will Matt Nichols get in free agency? Questions, questions, questions! What team has the biggest rebuild in front of them? I would have to say its Toronto.
EXPLANATION NEEDED - I am firmly of the belief the NCAA does the right thing with their four team football playoff to determine a national champ. It is better than having a computer or writers decide who the best is. However, what I don't understand is this. On Saturday, Ohio State beat Michigan in double overtime in a battle of 2 vs 3. This has many saying Ohio State has secured a spot in the final 4. How? Take nothing away from the Buckeyes, but they aren't playing in the Big 10 Championship game. That will see Penn State, who beat Ohio State, taking on Wisconsin. Shouldn't a conference champ have a shot at the national title and not a team who doesn't even get to their conference's title game. It's confusing!
VANIER CUP - The Vanier Cup was nothing to sneeze at as Laval came back to beat Calgary (not a good weekend for Calgary football teams). Sportsnet did a great job with the game although I question why CFL hater Tim Micallef (yes, I know he used to be the Ti-Cats p x p guy) was doing the game. Truth be told, I don't mind Micallef, its the other yahoo he works with every day that grates on my nerves. At the end of the day, the game was on Canadian TV from coast-to-coast, but its just another example as to how more need to see what a good product USports Canada is and how good some of the athletes are. I know its a pipe dream, but I hope some day we are seeing Canadian university basketball, volleyball, football and other sports on a regular basis and not just at playoff time. Canada deserves to know more about our University athletes and coaches. The new president of USports Canada says it will take time. I've been hearing that for 20 some years now.
OH CANADA! - I didn't know this until listening to NHL Radio on Thursday, but they say 80 percent of the teams that make the Stanley Cup playoffs are in a playoff position at American Thanksgiving. The league was pushed back a week because of the World Cup so perhaps you do have to wait for a few days yet, but after a year where no Canadian team made the playoffs, there are as of Saturday night, three teams who are in the playoffs. Those teams are Montreal, Ottawa and Edmonton. Toronto, Calgary and Winnipeg have some work to do, but you can't say they are out of the mix. I think it is safe to say Arizona and the Islanders are out of the mix.
SEE YA GERRY! - What a callous and classless move by the Florida Panthers Sunday night. After losing to the Hurricanes, Gerard Gallant was told his services were no longer needed. Was Gallant allowed to travel with the team. NO!!!
This is Gallant waiting outside the rink for a cab to pick him up! I don't think I've ever seen that before. Last year, he was a coach of the year finalist and now you can't even give him a flight home to Miami. That's not cool! By the way, who thought Gallant would be the first head coach fired in the NHL this year especially when the team is one game over 500.
That's all I got. Have a great week!