Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Farewell Season Events Announced

Rider fans will have one last chance to experience historic Mosaic Stadium when single game tickets go on sale tomorrow, June 1st.  With anticipation for the Farwell Season, a new coaching staff and an influx of talented new players, the Roughriders have announced an initial list of celebrations and game day themes.

The Farewell Season will pay tribute to countless memories and the rich history of Mosaic Stadium.  Each home game fans will celebrate the great teams, players, special moments, traditions and everything else that made Mosaic Stadium magnificent!  The season will be broken down into historic themes with each game and the preceding week focusing on a specific decade, such as the 60s, 70s, or 80s.  The GoodLife pre-game Fan Fest will also come alive with music from those decades and alumni autographs. 

The Farewell Season will launch with a special pre-game Kickoff Party in Regina City Plaza and Victoria Park on June 30th from noon to 4pm. Some season highlights will include a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Grey Cup Champions on July 16th, where the Riders will welcome back and honour members of that championship team.  On August 13th, we’ll look back at the 80s, including the ’89 Grey Cup Champs, and on Sept 24th fans we’ll celebrate the 2000s including the ‘07 Grey Cup Champions.
Rider Fan Day on Sept 3rd will include the traditional team introduction and autograph session as well as a Legends Flag football game where some of your heroes will be taking the field at Mosaic one last time. The next day the heroes of today will take the field for the final Labour Day Classic at Mosaic Stadium.

A must see game will come on October 22nd as the Riders celebrate the 2013 Grey Cup Championship Game, which many would argue is Mosaic Stadium’s greatest moment.

“We have called this facility home for many decades. More than a generation of fans have grown up here, cheered Rider legends and witnessed some incredible moments. It’s been a gathering place for our province, where we have met new friends and played host to our nation.” Saskatchewan Roughriders President and CEO Craig Reynolds continues, “Over the course of this season, we will re-live some special moments and create new ones. We’ll bring back some of your favourite players and we’ll all enjoy the incredible energy of this historic facility one last time.” 

Each week Rider Media will be counting down the great moments in Mosaic Stadium history, publishing stories, sharing historic images and broadcasting interviews with Rider greats.  In-stadium, fans will be treated to video tributes and visits from some of your all-time favourite Rider Legends.

Rider Social channels will be sharing and promoting fan moments throughout the season.  Fans across the province and the nation will be encouraged to share their fondest Mosaic Moments using #mosaicmoments.  The team will be delivering some special surprises for some lucky #mosaicmoments fans throughout the season and running contests to win tickets to the final game, on Oct 29th.

In collaboration with the City of Regina, the team will be providing opportunities for fans to gain on-field access throughout the year, including expanded pre and post-game access to a rotating group of ticket holders and randomly selected fans.   

The team will kickoff the season in Saskatoon with a series of special events surrounding the Coors Light Training Camp which began Sunday.  Rider Fan Day and the team’s first live scrimmage will take place on June 4 at Saskatoon Minor Football Field and on Sunday June 12, downtown Saskatoon will come alive with a Rider Family Street Festival and Co-op BBQ on 21st Street.   

The final kickoff at Mosaic Stadium will be Saturday October 29th at 5pm against the BC Lions.  Fans can expect to see an expanded pregame, an extended halftime show and on-field post-game celebration as the Riders kick off one last time in the long-time home of Rider Nation. 

“This will be a very emotional day for everyone” added Reynolds.  “It will be a game that fans won’t want to miss.  The final chapter in the history of a facility that has meant so much to all of us.”

Tickets for the Farewell Season go on sale tomorrow, June 1st.  

(Saskatchewan Roughriders) 

Riders Training Camp Report - Day 3

The following is the Day 3 report from the 2016 Roughrider Training Camp presented by Coors Light.


National fullback Spencer Moore

Number change:
Dillon Grondin is now wearing #76 and has moved to linebacker

Did not participate:
Justin Capicciotti (day-to-day)
John Chiles (day-to-day)
Jorgen Hus (suspended – personal)
Jeff Knox Jr. (day-to-day)
Jonathan Newsome (day-to-day)
Eric Norwood (injured)
Xavier Walker (day-to-day)

National linebacker Nehemie Kankolongo                       

The players returned to the field for Day 3 of training camp and for the second day in a row the pads were on. The competition continues to intensify as the single practice session of the day included an extended one-on-one period and game like situations during teams period.

Coach Jones watched intently as the offensive and defensive lines battled it out in one-on-ones as he nominated a handful of defensive players to take reps as offensive linemen.   

Veteran receiver Rob Bagg made an impressive diving catch along the sidelines on a deep corner route during the one-on-one period.

During the full team period, rookie Canadian defensive back Joel Brtka from the Burlington Braves junior football program jumped in front of a pass to the flats for an impressive interception.  

Players and coaches will hit the practice field at Griffiths Stadium for Day 4 of training camp with two practice sessions. The players will be on the field at 9:00AM with practice running until approximately 12:30PM. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Riders Training Camp Report -- Day 2

The following is the Day 2 report from the 2016 Roughrider Training Camp presented by Coors Light.


International defensive lineman Tony Criswell (6’8 – 250 – Missouri)
International running back Johnta Hebert (5’10 – 195 – Prairie View)
International defensive lineman Jonathan Newsome (6’3 – 247 – Ball State)

Did not participate:
Jorgen Hus (suspended – personal)
Spencer Moore (personal)
Eric Norwood (injured)
Xavier Walker (day-to-day)

National defensive back Kwame Adjei
International running back Malcom Cyrus                      

Day two of training camp was another spirited day as the players put the pads on for the first time. The intensity seemed to rise to another level again. All turn to the trenches as the offensive and defensive lineman engaged in one on one battles.

With the pace of the day high, first year Rider Head Coach Chris Jones was pleased to get through the required reps under the allotted time.  

First-year receiver Qudarius Ford got a reaction from the morning crowd as he made an impressive diving catch to haul in a 40-yard reception for the would-be touchdown.    

The defence answered back as rookie defensive back Marte Sears broke up what appeared to be a sure catch with a flying Superman like leap.

“The good thing is there has been changes but we have a lot of guys that have played in the league, so it is not like you are starting with a bunch of rookies. We do have first year guys but we also have a lot of veterans that have played and won and been very good players. It’s kind of like mixing fuel for a two-stroke. You have to mix it just right or it will smoke.” General Manager/Head Coach Chris Jones.

Riders Sign D-Lineman With NFL Experience

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today international defensive lineman Jonathan Newsome has signed with the team. As per club policy details of the contract were not disclosed.  

Newsome (6’3 – 247) joins the Riders after spending the last two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts after the team selected him in the 5th round (164th overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft. Through two seasons, the 25-year-old Cleveland, Ohio native played 30 regular season games, with three starts, where he collected 47 combined tackles, 7.5 quarterback sacks and four forced fumbles.

Last season, the Ball State product played 14 regular season games, registering 19 defensive tackles, one quarterback sack and one forced fumble.

Something To "Mitch" About

A hodge-podge of thoughts as we approach the beginning of June. Where has 2016 gone? 

THE TIME HAS COME - No, I am not talking about one of Martina McBride's first hits, I am talking about Riders training camp. The off-season came to an end Sunday morning as players stepped on the field at the U of S.   It is time to start talking about the CFL in earnest with the focus being of course on the Riders. Who will turn heads? What vets are on the bubble? Just two of many questions we will start getting answers to over the next couple of weeks. I was asked on the weekend what receiver might have the biggest year now that Dressler, Getzlaf and Ryan Smith are gone. The answer was easy---Rob Bagg! He brings that familiarity to Darian and he can get the job done. If he stays healthy, (and I hope he can because I am a big fan of #6), I think he could lead the way in 16.  I also believe the experience gained by Naaman Roosevelt has him poised for what could be a very solid year as well.

RING, RING --- The Edmonton Eskimos received their Grey Cup rings in the first of two stages Friday night.

(Photo Courtesy Edmonton Eskimos)

I am guessing the second stage of the ring handout will be June 18 when the Riders go to Edmonton for a pre-season game as Chris Jones, his coaching staff and several players like Shawmaud Chambers, Kendial Lawrence and Otha Foster will make their first return to the Alberta capital.  I am guessing there won't be a ceremony at the 55 yard line, but I am hoping the Riders don't come to their dressing room and find the rings in their stalls and that there is a classy handoff of the rings that the former Eskimos and their coaching staff worked hard to achieve.  I also wonder what Jones will do with his ring. I just can't see him wearing it that much around here. For that matter, I wonder what he has done with the other three championship rings he has won. 

SPEAKING OF JONES - In the days leading up to Riders camp, many were asking who was the  most valuable acquisition by the green-and-white in the offseason. Was it Greg Jones? Kendial Lawrence? Justin Capicotti? I say it was none of those three, and that the most important acquisition was the first one made by the team in the off-season...CHRIS JONES!

Media preview
(Photo Courtesy Saskatchewan Roughriders)

This guy's resume is second to none. He came in here with an agenda to change the culture and that is what he has done whether you like it or not. I still wonder how 2015 might have been different had Darian Durant stayed healthy all year, and if he had, what it would have meant moving forward. I truly don't know if Jones would be here had such a putrid season not occurred. I don't think Corey Chamblin would have been back, but I don't know if the team would have jettisoned Brendan Taman.  There is no use looking back at the tire-fire that was 2015, but there is no doubt in my mind that bringing in Chris Jones who brought in John Murphy and his Eskimos coaching staff was the biggest move in the off-season and one which should start paying immediate dividends.

OOPS!!! ---  TSN's Jennifer Hedger is getting some heat on Twitter from Argos linebacker Matt Black. In the Sportscentre that followed the Raptors-Cleveland game, Hedger said Toronto is still searching for its first professional sports championship since the Blue Jays won in 93.  Black says "I could have sworn the CFL was a professional sports league, Meh, Guess not. " That had others chirping through social media at Hedger. Yes, the words which she uttered were probably not the right ones considering TSN is the rights-holder and it came as training camps get underway, but I am guessing if you went across this fine land of ours and asked people "When was the last time Toronto won a pro sports championship?", many wouldn't refer to the Argos and would say the 93 Blue Jays. That's just the way it is. The CFL has had a legitimacy problem for years and we all know Toronto thinks it is too big for the CFL. This is why I, and many others, hope the move to BMO Field is something that does for the Argos what moving into Molson Stadium did for the Alouettes. Time will tell.

LEBRON - Lebron James came to Air Canada Centre Friday night determined not to send the NBA East final back to Cleveland for a Game 7.  "The King" showed why he is one of the NBA's all-time greatest players in a marquee performance against the Raptors as he goes to the championship for a 6th straight year. He also showed a lot of class after the game by saluting the rabid Raptors fan base. While Toronto had no success from the 3 point line and had to battle some very questionable officiating once again, the Cavaliers were simply the better team in Game 6 and the series. Once Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love got going at full speed, it was game over.

WHAT IS THE RAPTORS FUTURE? - As I put on Twitter Friday night after the game was over, I hope the Raptors did for basketball in Canada what the Blue Jays have done for baseball.  There was a definite uptick in baseball after the Jays World Series win and there is a lot more interest for the game after Toronto's playoff run last year. Many Canadians are playing basketball, and we are seeing more and more Canadians in the NBA. I can only think this will help the sport out in this country, but the Raptors need to help out and take their product across Canada. Wouldn't it be great to see a Raptors caravan stop at a Cougar or Huskies game this year with some players in attendance? It can be done. As for the team itself, the talk after the game was either Demar DeRozan or Bismack Biyombo will go because the team can't afford both. DeRozan says he wants to stay. It will be an interesting off-season in Toronto for GM Masal Ujiri as they try and keep the squad amongst the NBA's elite and keep Canadians invested in what they have accomplished.

CHOKLAHOMA CITY - The Golden State Warriors appeared to be done in Game 6 of the NBA West final Saturday night. The 73-9 Warriors were down by 8 with five minutes to play and people were starting to write their epitaph. Despite the fact Klay Thompson was hitting three pointers from all over the building, the Thunder were in control, but then they forgot what they were doing and allowed Golden State to take the game setting up a Game 7 in Oakland. Its one many people think will be about a 15-20 point Warriors win and I'm one of them. Russell Westbrook had four turnovers in the last ninety seconds. You just can't do that if you want to take the next step. Oklahoma City was eight minutes from the final, but now they are 48 and well---lets just say they had their chance.

RED SOX OPENER - A Sunday afternoon at the ballpark is a Sunday afternoon well spent. 750 people showed up at Currie Field to watch the Regina Red Sox open the WMBL season against the Weyburn Beavers.

It was a scoreless game through 6, but the bats woke up for both teams in the late going with Regina eventually winning it 5-3. The forecast doesn't look as good for Tuesday as it did Sunday afternoon, but the Sox will be back in action against the Yorkton Cardinals at Currie Field in a 7:05 start.  The team has decided to break baseball tradition by not playing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and instead playing "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate". All I can do is shake my head and ask why...why, why, why!!  At least Worksafe Bob isn't there so that's a good thing. 

FEEL THE RUSH -  I can't imagine what Sask-Tel Centre will be like on Saturday night. The phone booth may come tumbling down. The Saskatchewan Rush have set up what could be a championship evening after taking Game 1 of the National Lacrosse League final in Buffalo.  Saskatoon and Saskatchewan have adopted the Rush and what they have done in their first year has certainly helped. I loved their ad for 2017 seasonC tickets that aired during the game on TSN2. Very creative!

WHO OWNS HOCKEY -  I understand the concept behind the World Cup of Hockey ads running on Sportsnet right now, but the slogan is a dumb one. It is dumb because of the advent of "The Young Guns" aka Team North America and Team Europe.  Could North America own hockey?

GREAT POINT - Sidney Crosby touched the Eastern Conference championship trophy when the Penguins beat the Lightning in Game 7. The Sharks wanted nothing to do with it as many teams have done in the past and refused to touch the trophy. I have now heard this twice and I couldn't agree more...."If you aren't comfortable with touching the trophy, then why are you comfortable wearing the championship hats. If you don't want the trophy that goes along with winning the Conference championship, why do you want the hats? They should be avoided just as much shouldn't they? You will get a championship hat if you win.

PREDICTION TIME  -  Despite the fact Ken Hitchcock got the St. Louis Blues to Game 7 of the NHL West final, there is still talk he won't be back in St. Louis. Let it be said right here if Hitchcock is not retained by the Blues, he will be the new coach of the Calgary Flames. As for the Stanley Cup, I'm not a fan of either team and I won't watch a lot of the Penguins-Sharks matchup, but I think San Jose is a little deeper and will bring the Cup to Northern California for the first time.

That's all I got. Thanks for checkin in! Have a great week!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Stanley Cup Final Primer

All the information you need on the Stanley Cup Final can be found right here thanks to the fine people at NHLMedia. 

Pittsburgh and San Jose will be meeting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time.


* The Sharks, who joined the NHL in 1991-92, are making their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history.The last team to make its debut in the Final was the Ottawa Senators in 2007. The last to win in its first appearance was the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

* The Penguins are making their fifth appearance in the Stanley Cup Final and are vying for their fourth championship. They captured repeat titles in 1991 and 1992, defeating the Minnesota North Stars and Chicago Blackhawks, respectively; lost to the Detroit Red Wings in 2008; and won a rematch with the Red Wings in 2009.

* The Penguins and Sharks are meeting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time. The Penguins, however, previously have faced an NHL team from the Bay Area in the postseason – in 1970, Pittsburgh swept the Oakland Seals 4-0 in the Quarterfinals.

* The Penguins and Sharks split their two meetings during the regular season, with the road team winning each time. San Jose recorded a 3-1 victory at CONSOL Energy Center Nov. 21, highlighted by Patrick Marleau reaching the 1,000-point milestone and Paul Martin scoring a goal in his first game against the club he had represented the past five seasons. Pittsburgh returned the favor Dec. 1, posting a 5-1 win in California. The victory snapped a 0-9-3 drought at SAP Center, where the Penguins had not won since Oct. 22, 1997.

* The Sharks have had the upper hand against the Penguins in recent years, going 17-3-3 in their past 23 regular-season meetings dating to April 1, 1998.

* The Sharks, who were winless in their first eight games against the Penguins (0-6-2), recorded their milestone first victory in dramatic fashion. San Jose rallied from a three-goal deficit to defeat Pittsburgh 10-8 at Civic Arena on Jan. 13, 1996, in the highest-scoring NHL game in the past quarter-century.

* Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan began his NHL playing career with the Sharks, who were themselves competing in their inaugural season of 1991-92. Sullivan skated in 171 games over three seasons in San Jose, registering 16-21—37.

* Penguins broadcaster Bob Errey won back-to-back Stanley Cups as part of a 10-year run with Pittsburgh and later served as captain of the Sharks in 1993-94 and 1994-95, when the club pulled off first-round playoff upset wins over the Red Wings and Calgary Flames, respectively.

* Sharks assistant coach Bob Boughner played for the Penguins from 1999-01, while assistant coach and goaltending coach Johan Hedberg played for Pittsburgh for parts of three season (2000-03), backstopping the club to the Eastern Conference Final in 2001.

* Goaltenders Matt Murray (PIT) and Martin Jones (SJS) have backstopped their respective clubs to the Stanley Cup Final in each’s first year as a starter. Murray, who turned 22 on Wednesday, enters the Stanley Cup Final having won 18 of his past 22 starts (regular season and playoffs). Jones, 26, leads all goaltenders in wins (12) and shutouts (3) in the postseason.

* Penguins captain Sidney Crosby teamed with a pair of Sharks players to win the Olympic gold medal for Canada at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and Sochi, respectively. Crosby was teammates with forwards Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton in 2010 and skated alongside Marleau and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic in 2014.

* The Penguins and Sharks boast a combined 14-5 record on home ice during the postseason (PIT: 7-3, SJS: 7-2), a winning percentage of .737. The other 14 playoff clubs collectively went 29-37 at home (.439).


* Five current Penguins players were with the club in its most recent appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, a seven-game triumph over the Red Wings in 2009: goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury; defenseman Kris Letang; and forwards Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby, 21, became the youngest captain in League history to raise the Cup,while Malkin captured Conn Smythe Trophy honors as playoff MVP and became the first player since Mario Lemieux (1992) to sweep the regular-season and playoff scoring titles.

* The Penguins enter the Stanley Cup Final with a 47-1 record when leading after two periods this season (9-1 in playoffs), with their lone loss coming in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

* Prior to dropping Games 4 and 5 of the Eastern Conference Final to the Lightning, the Penguins had not suffered consecutive losses of any variety since Jan. 12-15 (regular season and playoffs), a span of 54 games.

* The Penguins have not lost consecutive games at CONSOL Energy Center since Dec. 18-19. They have won 23 of their past 30 games on home ice dating to Jan. 17 (regular season and playoffs).

* Rookie Matt Murray has stepped in between the pipes to guide the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final. He owns an 11-4 record during the playoffs (2.21 GAA, .924 SV%, 1 SO) after going 9-2 in the regular season (2.00 GAA, .930 SV%,1 SO). In the First Round vs. NYR, Murray became the second goaltender in franchise history to win each of his first three career postseason starts. The other: Les Binkley, who won his first four playoff starts in 1970. When he hit the 10-win mark following Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final, Murray became just the third NHL goaltender to reach double digits in postseason wins before hitting the mark in the regular season, joining Montreal’s Ken Dryden (1971) and Calgary’s Mike Vernon (1986).

* The line of Phil Kessel (9-9—18), Nick Bonino (3-12—15) and Carl Hagelin (5-7—12) has combined for 17-28—45 in 18 playoff games. Kessel’s nine goals are the most in a single playoff year by a Penguins player since 2009, when Crosby(15) and Malkin (14) helped Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup. In the Second Round vs. WSH, Bonino became the eighth player in Penguins history to score a series-clinching goal in overtime and the first to do so since the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals vs. NYI (Brooks Orpik).

* The Penguins went 14-2-0 in their final 16 games of the regular season to climb into second place in the Metropolitan Division. They did so without the services of Malkin, who missed the last 15 contests of the campaign due to injury.

* Crosby ranked third in the NHL with 36-49—85 in 80 games this season. That included a League-best 27-31—58 and +22 rating during the calendar year (44 GP). He also posted two point streaks of 11-plus games in that span: Jan. 12 –Feb. 8 (12-10—22 in 11 GP) and Feb. 29 – March 20 (6-14—20). Crosby scored in a career-high seven straight games during the former (Jan. 21 – Feb. 8: 10 G), tied for the longest such run in the NHL in 2015-16.

* Crosby enters the Stanley Cup Final ranked ninth in the NHL in playoff scoring with 15 points (6-9—15) in 18 games. He notched the winning goal in Games 2, 3 and 6 in the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay, joining Kevin Stevens as the only Penguins players to score three game-winning goals in one playoff series. Stevens tallied three such goals in the 1991 Patrick Division Final vs. WSH.

* Crosby also registered his 83rd and 84th career playoff assists during the Eastern Conference Final to move past Jaromir Jagr (82) and into sole possession of second place in franchise history, behind Lemieux (96).

* Kris Letang ranked third among NHL defensemen with 16-51—67 in 71 games this season to establish career highs in all three scoring categories. He and Crosby also shared the League lead with a +22 rating after the calendar turned to 2016.

* Mike Sullivan went 33-16-5 after taking over as Pittsburgh’s head coach Dec. 12. When the Penguins last won the Stanley Cup, in 2008-09, Dan Bylsma took over behind the bench in mid-February and guided the team to an 18-3-4 regular-season record en route to its championship run.

* Forward Bryan Rust notched both Pittsburgh goals in its 2-1 win over Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. Rust registered his second career multi-goal game in the postseason, both of which have come in series-clinching wins (also Game 5 of FR vs. NYR: 2-1—3). Rust is just the second rookie in NHL history to record multiple goals in two series-clinching wins within a single postseason. The other: Chicago’s Jeremy Roenick in 1990.


* The Sharks are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons and the 18th time in their 24 NHL seasons. San Jose’s 11 playoff appearances since 2003-04 rank second to Detroit (12-for-12) for the most in that span.

* San Jose entered play on Jan. 9 with a record of 18-18-2, ranking sixth in the Pacific Division, 13th in the Western Conference and 27th in the NHL. The Sharks went 28-12-4 thereafter, leaping to third in the Pacific, sixth in the West and 11th in the NHL by season’s end.

* The Sharks had three players place among the top 11 scorers in the NHL: Joe Thornton (t-4th, 19-63—82); Joe Pavelski (t-6th, 38-40—78) and Brent Burns (11th, 27-48—75). The only other club to boast a trio of 70-point scorerswas the Capitals (Evgeny Kuznetsov, 20-57—77; Alex Ovechkin, 50-21—71; Nicklas Backstrom, 20-50—70). Thornton ranked second in the League in assists (63), tallied his highest point total since 2009-10 (89) and his highest goal total since 2010-11 (21). He recorded at least one point in each of San Jose’s final 33 wins of the regular season.

* The Sharks set a franchise record for road wins (28-10-3) during the regular season. Their 28 road wins led the League and tied for the second-most in NHL history, trailing only the Red Wings’ 31 such victories in 2005-06.

* Forward Logan Couture returned to the lineup Dec. 30 after missing 30 of San Jose’s first 35 games due to injury. With Couture in the lineup the Sharks were 32-15-5 in the regular season, vs. 14-15-1 without him.

* Couture leads the NHL in playoff scoring entering the Stanley Cup Final with 8-16—24 (18 GP). Some statistical highlights of his postseason:

o Surpassed Igor Larionov’s single-year franchise record for points set in 1994 (5-13—18 in 14 GP)
o Posted 6-5—11 in the Second Round vs. NSH (7 GP), setting a Sharks record for points in one postseason series

o Became just the third player in NHL history to record three or more points in three series-clinching wins within a single postseason, joining Jari Kurri (1985) and Wayne Gretzky (1985, 1988 and 1993)

* Brent Burns rewrote the Sharks’ record book during the regular season, setting single-season marks for goals (27), assists (48) and points (75) by a defenseman as well as shots on goal (353). Burns leads all NHL defensemen in playoff scoring, tallying 6-14—20 in 18 games.

* Pavelski leads the NHL with 13 playoff goals entering the Stanley Cup Final, a Sharks record for a single postseason. He also has a League-leading four game-winning goals during the playoffs and a share of the lead for power-play goals, with Stanley Cup Final opponent Phil Kessel (5).

* Sharks forward Patrick Marleau will be making his Stanley Cup Final debut having played 1,411 regular-season and 165 playoff games, all with San Jose. Among players who represented one franchise their entire career, the only ones with more regular-season appearances are Nicklas Lidstrom (DET: 1,564), Alex Delvecchio (DET: 1,549), Steve Yzerman (DET: 1,514) and Shane Doan (ARI/WPG: 1,466).

* In addition to Marleau, 36, other Sharks players age 35 or older in quest of their first Stanley Cup title are 35-year-old defenseman Paul Martin (775 regular-season and 103 playoff games), the 36-year-old Thornton (1,367 regular-season and 150 playoff games), 35-year-old forward Joel Ward (596 regular-season and 71 playoff games) and 37-year-old forward Dainius Zubrus (1,293 regular-season and 101 playoff games).

* The Sharks are the first team to advance to the Stanley Cup Final after missing the playoffs the previous season since the 2011-12 New Jersey Devils. Both achieved the feat under a head coach in his first season with the club – Peter DeBoer.

* The Sharks are the third California-based club to advance to the Stanley Cup Final in the past five years (also Los Angeles in 2012 and 2014) and the fourth such club in the past 10 seasons (also Anaheim in 2007). All three California teams contesting the Final since 2007 have won the championship.

* The Sharks, who finished 11th in the overall NHL standings during the regular season, are the fourth club from outside the top 10 in the past seven seasons to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. They join the Philadelphia Flyers (18th in 2009-10, lost to Chicago), Los Angeles Kings (13th in 2011-12, defeated New Jersey) and New York Rangers (12th in 2013-14, lost to Los Angeles).

Getzlaf Excited To Be An Eskimo

Picture Courtesy

At a stage in his career where most players like to say they’d like to play out their careers with the team they’re on, Chris Getzlaf is excited about getting a fresh start.

The older brother of Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan, Getzlaf has spent the bulk of his career with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in a city he was born and grew up in.

A sure-handed and speedy receiver, Getzlaf has built an impressive resume during his eight-plus seasons in Regina.

He’s a two-time CFL West All-Star (2012-13) who earned the Dick Suderman Trophy as the Most Valuable Canadian in the 2013 Grey Cup game.

Getzlaf’s career path has headed west to the Edmonton Eskimos, where he’s expected to be a steadying veteran presence among the Canadian-trained receivers.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to get out there and show I’ve still got it,” said Getzlaf. “I’m coming to a great organization with a great history. I’ve got a lot to prove on a team coming off a Grey Cup win.”

On the plus side, Getzlaf has landed on his feet in an established program. There’s no major rebuilding project in the works for the Eskimos. Newly-minted head coach Jason Maas has a proven record showing he knows how to direct an effective offence.

“I’m blessed to be able to come to a team that has everything in place to make another run at another Cup,” said Getzlaf.

“It’s been absolutely fortunate on that side of it. I haven’t had to deal with a lot of injuries that have kept me out. Last year was a tough one for me. The year before, I was only out for three games. That’s pretty small on the big scale of things.”

Having appeared in 10 games last season on a team that had also lost quarterback Darian Durant proved to be a less than ideal situation for all concerned.

“It was real draining to say the least,” said Getzlaf. “I hadn’t been used to anything like that. It’s hard to sit back and watch what’s going on like that.”

Not many players get to play most of their careers in their home town and Getzlaf is one of the lucky few. Changing colours to a different shade of green means a new adventure.

“I’ve got a few years left playing in Edmonton, so it’s cool,” said Getzlaf. “Obviously, it’s a blessing to be able to play in your home town, but there’s also a whole new rejuvenating aspect for me and my wife. Travelling and playing for another team, especially a team that’s, in my opinion, in the drivers’ seat to win another Grey Cup.

“I’ve been playing this game for a long time,” said Getzlaf. “I know what to expect in training camp. I’m mentally and physically prepared for it. Hopefully, I can be a veteran presence where I can share the knowledge I’ve learned over the years and be able to help an already solid team.

“I can’t wait. I’m getting the edge big-time.”

Another plus will be playing in a city with an NHL team. Once the NHL schedule is out, Getzlaf will be able to host his younger brother when the Ducks come to town.

“It’s another little added bonus, for sure,” said Getzlaf.

(Con Griwkowsky--Edmonton Eskimos)

Last Minute Rider Moves

Add to the Roster
National offensive lineman Kadeem Adams (6.04 – 290 – Western)
National defensive back Troy Adams (5.10 – 175 – Northeastern)
National defensive back Joel Brtka (5.11 – 175 – Burlington Jr.)
International wide receiver Marquez Clark (5.11 – 190 – Central Oklahoma)
International wide receiver Ricky Collins (6.00 – 198 – Texas A&M-Commerce)
International offensive lineman Will Corbin (6.06 – 305 – Appalachian State)
International defensive back Justin Cox (6.00 – 187 – Mississippi State)
International defensive back Johnnie Dixon (5.11 – 194 – Pearl River)
International offensive lineman Kennedy Estelle (6.06 – 290 – West Alabama)
International defensive back Kentrell Everett (6.02 – 190 – Western New Mexico)
International defensive back Qudarius Ford (5.08 – 170 – South Alabama)
National fullback Marvin Golding (6.01 – 235 – Saint Mary’s)
National linebacker Dillon Grondin (6.00 – 230 – Windsor Jr.)
International quarterback Jacob Huesman (6’2 – 228 – Tennessee-Chattanooga)
National wide receiver Kyle Kawamoto (6.00 – 180 – Okanagan Jr.)
National defensive lineman Kalonji Kashama (6.04 – 259 – Eastern Michigan)
International defensive lineman A.C. Leonard (6.02 – 250 – Tennessee State)
National wide receiver Randy Roseway (6.00 – 180 – St. Francis Xavier)
International defensive back Rollins Stallworth (6.04 – 210 – Stanford)
International defensive lineman Ino Vitale (6.05 – 305 – Southwest Baptist)
International defensive back Xavier Walker (6.03 – 208 – Middle Tennessee)

Delete from the Roster
International wide receiver Etauj Allen
International linebacker Curtis Brown
International defensive back Victor Dean Jr.
International offensive lineman Kamalie Matthews
International wide receiver Devrin Young

Move to Retired List
International defensive back David Barks
National defensive lineman Rory Connop
International wide receiver Armanti Edwards
International offensive lineman Darryl Johnson

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Demar DeRozan Says He Wants To Remain a Raptor

DeMar DeRozan expressed a desire to stay with the Toronto Raptors one day after his team was eliminated from the playoffs.

DeRozan, who will become an unrestricted free agent July 1, has been with the Raptors for his entire career. He was asked specifically if he can find a better situation than Toronto

"I don't think so," DeRozan said Saturday. "My mindset has always been Toronto. I've always preached it. I was passionate about it when we were losing, when we were terrible. I said I was going to stick through this whole thing, and I want to be that guy who brings this organization to where it is now. I definitely don't want to switch that up after we win."

DeRozan, a two-time All-Star who averaged 23.5 points per game during the regular season, has been linked to his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, who could be one of several teams to offer him a maximum contract starting at $25 million annually.

Per collective bargaining rules, the Raptors will be able to offer DeRozan up to five years at around $145 million, whereas other teams will be able to offer him up to four years at around $107 million. Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri will address the media early next week.

"I grew up in L.A. That's my home. There's not a part of L.A. I haven't seen," said DeRozan, who attended Compton High School and USC before being selected No. 9 overall by Toronto in the 2009 NBA draft. "I don't get caught up into it. I let whoever comes up with that say what they want to say.

"The only thing appealing to me is the things I've done in this organization and the things that can be done here. And that's always been my mindset since I've been here."


It's Time!! Rider Training Camp Has Arrived

SUNDAY, MAY 29th      
  9:00 am                Practice
                              (Filming available from approximately 9:20 – 9:50 and 11:35-11:45)
12:30 pm                Players and coaches available to media
MONDAY, MAY 30th    
  9:00 am                Practice
                              (Filming available from approximately 9:20 – 9:50 and 11:35-11:45)
12:30 pm                Players and coaches available to media
TUESDAY, MAY 31st     
  9:00 am                Practice
                              (Filming available from approximately 9:20 – 9:50)
11:15 am                Players and coaches available to media

  9:00 am                Practice
                              (Filming available from approximately 9:20 – 9:50 and 11:35-11:45)
12:30 pm                Players and coaches available to media

THURSDAY, JUNE 2nd      
  9:00 am                Practice
                              (Filming available from approximately 9:20 – 9:50 and 11:35-11:45)
12:30 pm                Players and coaches available to media

FRIDAY, JUNE 3rd     
  9:00 am                Practice
                              (Filming available from approximately 9:20 – 9:50)
11:15 am                Players and coaches available to media
SATURDAY, JUNE 4thGreen and White Fan Day at SMF Field
  4:00 pm                Warm up
  5:00 pm                Mock Game
                              * media availability to be determined
SUNDAY, JUNE 5th    
  9:00 am                Practice
                              (Filming available from approximately 9:20 – 9:50)
11:15 am                Players and coaches available to media
                              No practice – No media availability

Friday, May 27, 2016

This and That

Welcome to Friday!  Here are the weekly collection of thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always, they come in no particular order!

The hashtag #isitjuneyet can be replaced by #junehasarrived.  CFL training camps are starting, and I think it is safe to say no team is happier to put the 2015 season in the rearview mirror than the Saskatchewan Roughriders as a new season is here. In 2013, no one wanted training camp to come because Rider Nation wanted to keep celebrating the Grey Cup victory. In 2016, Rider Nation wanted training camp to start December 1 after a miserable 3-15 season.  As camp begins, every team has questions including the Riders.  Here are my top ones


 Knock on wood Darian Durant's injury problems are behind him and he can play a full season. If that happens, we won't need to see the backup get meaningful time under center.  After a 2015 which saw Smith elevated from 3rd string to be the starter after Kevin Glenn was hurt. He managed to throw for almost 2-thousand yards and 15 TD's which really wasn't that bad on what was a bad team. At the end of last season, he believed he had done enough to show he could come into 2016 as Darian's backup. Did he show Chris Jones he has what it takes? I would have to think Smith gets the number 2 spot because there is no experience there should Durant suffer another injury.  BJ Coleman is the only other QB on the roster right now, but you would have to think another arm or two are coming in. There is also talk the Riders wouldn't mind getting Rakeem Cato from Montreal. A Smith-Cato battle would be interesting.


  It would appear Curtis Steele gets that honor, but I am guessing that isn't written in stone. Matt Walter did a great job in Calgary when he had to take over for Jon Cornish, but can he be the number one guy? Having a Canadian starter at running back would free up an American elsewhere so he could very well get the spot becaue of nationality. I also wonder where Kendial Lawrence fits in. Could he be a Corey Holmes type player?


 This might be one of the best battles in training camp. Tyler Crapigna was no slouch in the CIS, and once he was given his shot the McMaster product made all 4 of his field goals. The team then went out and drafted UBC's Quinn Van Gylswyk who was likely the best kicker in the CIS in 2015. I have seen this guy play enough to know he has CFL written all over him. I was surprised to see the Riders take him in the draft because of Crapigna. You can't keep both. Van Gylswyk can punt too, so he could have a leg up(no pun intended) going in,


  What will the secondary look like? The bigger question might be what will the starting 12 on defence look like. Yes, it will be a lot better than last year which shouldn't be hard.  Shawn Lemon and Justin Capicotti will be the ends. Greg Jones and Jeff Knox Junior will be two of the three linebackers and I would think your secondary will include Ed Gainey, Matt Webster and Otha Foster, although Foster could be one of the starting linebackers.

  With the exception of Knox and Webster, that starting 12 will have a whole new look to it. Is it too much change back there? After last year, one would say no, but how long will it take for this group to be a cohesive unit.


 While the CFL's number one draft pick has not signed a deal with the green-and-white yet, one has to think he will and that he will be ready to go for the start of camp on Sunday. Is there a thought he could be a starter after his career at Oklahoma? Ben Heenan started after being selected as the #1 pick overall didn't he? The Riders had their choice at offensive line and they took St. John for a reason and I am guessing that reason was they thought he could contribute immediately.

Isn't it great to talk Riders in earnest again?

--ESPN's Stephen A Smith apologized to Canadians after the Raptors won Game 4 of the NBA East final against Cleveland. The Raptors should apologize to Canadians for laying one great big dinosaur egg in Game 5. WHAT WAS THAT?  I think this basically summed it up....

Is embarassing even the word to use for what happened in Game 5?  How can a team that was so good at home, be so bad on the road.  Even if Toronto should win Game 6, does anyone have confidence in them pulling out a Game 7 win? By the way, was that George Yannitsos yelling at Dwane Casey in Game 5. My eyes had to be playing tricks on me!

Still with the Raptors, DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph are taking a lot of heat for being at a Cleveland casino (which was attached to their hotel) until 2 AM on the night of Game 5. Did they have a curfew? If not, there is no problem, but if there was, there's a big problem. If there wasn't a curfew, someone should ask coach Dwane Casey why that was. Hey, Carroll and Joseph could have done worse and it isn't like they were far away from their hotel. However, the message it sends is somewhat wrong---especially when you are the only two who have really been playoff tested. 

--Is it just me or was the Weyburn KFC buffet story that broke this week something you would see in a Corner Gas episode? How Saskatchewan!

--The Penguins and the Sharks in the Stanley Cup final. YAYYYY!!!

--It is a mock draft, but the website has Pats forward Sam Steel going 52nd overall to the Flyers. Teammate Adam Brooks is slated to go in the 5th round to Boston at pick 134. This same draft has Warriors forward Brett Howden going to Florida at 23 and if that holds true, he would be playing alongside his brother.

--Is TSN televising CFL exhibition games? If they are, I missed the memo.

--I wasn't able to attend the Glen Johnson visit this week as he showed everyone his rules presentation video. Some say the "eye in the sky" isn't going to be as big a problem as first thought, but I need to see a game before I make any decisions on this initiative.

--The Regina Red Sox open things up Sunday afternoon at Currie Field against the Weyburn Beavers as another WMBL season starts. Let's hope for a decent afternoon for ball and let's see a good crowd for the season opener. 

--All the best to "Tragically Hip" lead singer Gord Downie as he goes through his battle with cancer. I find it unbelievable he is going on tour, and I find it disappointing that tour won't stop in Saskatchewan. I am not as big a Hip fan as others I know, but there is no denying what he is on the Canadian landscape. Let's take it out this week with my favourite tune from the Hip. Have a great weekend everyone!!!