Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pats Host Pre-Season Tournament Starting Thursday

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 This year the Regina Pats will host a pre-season tournament from September 1 – 3.  Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Swift Current and Prince Albert will be taking part.

There will be two games daily with puck drop at 3 & 7 p.m.  All games take place at the Cooperators Arena.  The cost to attend is $5 per game or $15 for the tournament.

September 1
Moose Jaw vs Saskatoon – 3 p.m.
Swift Current vs Regina – 7 p.m.
September 2
Swift Current vs Saskatoon – 3 p.m.
Prince Albert vs Regina – 7 p.m.
September 3
Moose Jaw vs Swift Current – 3 p.m.
Saskatoon vs Regina – 7 p.m.

The first preseason game in the Brandt Centre is September 10.  Admission is $8 plus service fees.  The final home preseason game is September 17 in the Cooperators Arena.  Admission to the game is $5.

Weston Dressler Looking Forward To LDC

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Weston Dressler says he won't be seeing red when he plays the Green and White for the first time as a member of the Blue and Gold.

The long time Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver was released in January in what the team called a cost cutting move, and it angered a good chunk of the fan base. He quickly signed on with the Bombers and, after recovering from an undisclosed injury that has kept him out since late July, is poised to return to the lineup on Sunday at Mosaic Stadium in the 54th Labour Day Classic.

That's some pretty good timing.

“It's kind of how it went, I guess,” Dressler said with a shrug on Wednesday. “The timing of how it all works out sometimes is kind of weird, but we're focused to win this week regardless of who we're playing.”

It shouldn't be just another game for the pride of Bismarck, N.D., who burst on to the scene in Regina in 2008 and quickly became a fan favourite. He was poised to make $240,000 this year for the Riders, so the new regime cut him when he wouldn't renegotiate his contract.

The Bombers began courting him immediately and two weeks later signed him to a two year deal that will pay him approximately $175,000 per season. Now the moment has come for No. 7 to return, and it promises to be an emotional affair.

“They'll probably be all over the place,” the 31-year-old said of his emotions. “For me it's just try to find a way to maintain that composure, especially early on. Once the game gets going I'll be all right, but there will be all different kinds of emotions going on when we come out on the field.”

Dressler had settled nicely into the Queen City, leaving only briefly two years ago to give the NFL a shot with the Kansas City Chiefs. His fiancee and her family hails from Regina, so that's where his off-season home is as a result. On Sunday, however, his significant other and in-laws, who are lifelong Rider fans, will be wearing Blue and Gold at Mosaic Stadium, where Dressler helped Saskatchewan win the 2013 Grey Cup.

“They'll have the Bomber gear on for sure. They better,” Dressler said. “They've already had it on, so they'll be ready.”

The other Rider favourite who was released on Jan. 14, defensive end John Chick, said earlier this summer he wasn't surprised about Saskatchewan's struggles this season given how much new general manager Chris Jones turned over the roster. Dressler, who is second in Bomber receiving with 32 catches for 354 yards, on Wednesday claimed ignorance when asked if he was surprised the Green and White (1-8) have continued to reside in the CFL basement.

“I haven't really followed them too closely until this week,” he said. “We're just focused on us right now, trying to find ways for us to win games and they happen to be our opponent this week, so we're scouting their D.”

If you believe that, there's some ocean front property near Melfort we'd like to sell you. He also wants everyone to know that winning this game would mean no more to him than any other this season.

“This week is no different,” he said with a straight face. “I want to win just like I wanted to win last week when I was watching my teammates go. We want to win. That's all I can say.”

Getting that victory will be tough, even though the Bombers (5-4) have won four in a row and the Riders have dropped five straight. Dressler knows better than most how the Riders rise to the occasion on Labour Day Sunday. Saskatchewan has won 11 consecutive LDCs.

“I wouldn't say we knew we were going to win, but there's just a different energy about it,” Dressler said. “You can feel it throughout the city leading up to the game and even game day, just walking into the stadium. There's something different about it.

“For whatever reason it's just a special rivalry day. It really is. The fans get into it. They love it, and that's what makes it fun. I'm looking forward to experiencing it from the other side right now and trying to find a way to win another Labour Day game for myself.”

(Winnipeg Sun)

Riders Sign Khalif Mitchell

Khalif Mitchell is back in the CFL

The Saskatchewan Roughriders signed the veteran defensive lineman to their practice roster on Wednesday. Mitchell last played with the B.C. Lions in 2014.

A two-time All-Star, Mitchell registered just one sack in 11 games two years ago.

Mitchell recorded five sacks with the Toronto Argonauts in 2013.

The 31-year-old spent training camp with the Montreal Alouettes, but was released shortly after creating a firestorm for the team and league with offensive tweets.

The Riders also announced the release of receiver Kris Bastien.

The 1-8 Riders face Winnipeg in the annual Labour Day Classic Sunday at 1.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

John Chiles Signs With Hamilton

That didn't take long.

Former Riders receiver John Chiles has a new home if you can believe his Instagram account.

The move comes less than a week after being released by the Riders.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Something To "Mitch" About


SIGHHHHHH -  The Riders lost. That didn't come as a surprise to some, but while positives are hollow when you are now 1-8, I think we determined some things about the green and white on the Commonwealth Stadium turf Friday night.  Who's kidding who, when the Eskimos jumped out to a 17-0 lead which was later expanded to 22-0, I think we all thought had a repeat of what happened in Hamilton dancing in our heads. Why wouldn't you think that way?  Mike Reilly couldn't be contained, Shakir Bell was running all over the place and the Saskatchewan offense was doing diddly squat. Another ugly beating looked like it was on the horizon, but wait! 

That football team showed some fight! That football team showed some spirit! That football team showed me what I have been hoping to see this season. They showed a pulse!  Darian Durant moved them down the field in the final moments of the first half to get some points and some momentum. It was momentum they carried on into the 2nd half and into the final seconds where for a fleeting moment, one wondered if Shawmaud Chambers could actually take the ball to the house on the last-play for what would have been an amazing touchdown. A team that is 1-7 and getting "molly-whopped" isn't supposed to do that. The Riders didn't follow the script.  Yes, losing sucks and yes, consistency is needed as they need to build on this for the Labour Day games against Winnipeg, but that team didn't fold up its tent when they had every reason to. There were a lot of negatives in this game, but there were a lot of positives to build on as well.  Sadly, that loss likely drives the final nail into any bleak hopes this team had of getting to the playoffs which is a stark reality going into the 2nd half of the season for a 2nd straight year, but we saw what this team can do and what type of heart they have.  At the end, they are still 1-8, but at least there is a sliver of optimism again. Bring on the Bombers!

Other thoughts on what transpired:

 --Darian Durant simply took that team on his back in the 2nd half and did everything he could to grind out that win. It is no secret the offence has had its struggles which has made life tough on that young defence, but Durant did his best to rally that team and it almost worked out in the end 

--Justin Cox makes plays. The Riders have a keeper in that player. He made a bad mistake by getting his hands into Mike Reilly's facemask to get a 15 yard penalty on what was a good play, and he was victimized by a terrible illegal contact call against Adarius Bowman, but I thought he made several good plays.

--After being dud-like for most of the season, Kendial Lawrence may be snapping out of the first half funk he has been in. There were some moments where Lawrence showed us what made him the player he was in Edmonton.

--Naaman Roosevelt continues to be one of the top players in the CFL. It just boggles the mind as to how the old regime kept this guy on the sidelines in favour of Jamel Richardson and Taj Smith,

--After what was a terrible first quarter, the Riders did what not many teams have done which is keep Mike Reilly in check when it came to throwing. One thought after that first quarter he might have a 400 plus yard night coming. It ended up being at 253.

CHANGING IT UP  -  Good on the CFL for seeing what was happening on the field and listening to the fans. Everyone knew the challenge rule had to be tweaked somewhat, and while it was done midway through the season, it has been. Yes, it would have been nice to all teams playing by the same rules which didn't happen seeing BC and Ottawa played under the old system, but hopefully tweaking the challenge rule will stop some of these frivolous challenges from happening.  The rule needs to be looked at long and hard in the off-season and frankly, getting rid of reviewing DPI and OPI would be fine with me.  Perhaps the challenges should be opened up to turnovers and touchdowns as well so coaches can think about when is the right time to challenge. The bottom line is if with Division 1 NCAA Football starting next weekend and the NFL starting in two weeks, the league had to do something and they have. Good on them!

FANSPEAK -  CFL fans let it be known they were disgusted with what they were seeing on the field and the league listened. The question now is "How much say should CFL fans have when it comes to what they see on the field?"  There is no doubt this is a fan-driven league, but you can't give the fans a huge say in what is happening can you?" I do not know if the tradition ended once Jeffrey Orridge became commissioner, but when Marc Cohon was in charge, he would deliver his state of the league address to media, have lunch and then give his state of the league address to fans. When Grey Cup 2013 was here, Cohon spoke to a larger audience in the afternoon affair than he did in the much-more formal morning gathering.  Fans had a chance to interact with the commissioner and tell him what they liked and what they didn't like about the game. Did Orridge do this in Winnipeg last year? Is there a plan to do it in Toronto this year? CFL fans have the right to pepper Orridge with questions about the game they are so passionate for and to most questions, they deserve an answer.  If this practice stopped, bring it back for GC week. It just may educate the new commissioner, who I still think doesn't realize what he stepped into when he took the job. Who's kidding who, what is needed is for the CFL to form a panel with current and former players and coaches, TV minds and others to sit down and find a way to fix a league which is broken. It's not getting better, its not getting worse. With the NFL starting, Canadians have another brand of football to watch and they will.

CFL WIRED - What did you think of that? Yes, it took you inside the huddle and put you on the sidelines as you heard from Kent Austin, Zach Collaros, Dave Dickenson and Bo Levi Mitchell. It also took the coaches of seven other teams inside those huddles. Don't tell me other teams will use this when looking at game-film of the Ti-Cats and Stamps. Any little competitive advantage you can get you use. It is like when Chris Jones asked fans not to give away secrets with Ottawa apparently learning a thing or two. Then again, its nothing we haven't seen on NFL games over the years. Sadly, the one thing that came out of this game was once again some illegal contact calls away from the play. It's in the rules and the coaches are taking advantage of that rule. You could hear the disgust in Chris Cuthbert's voice on the 2nd one that took a Tommie Campbell pick six away when he sent the league a very clear message by saying "I hope the Grey Cup isn't decided on a play like that".  If it is, the egg on the face of many in the CFL offices will be very noticable.

WILL WESTON PLAY - With Weston Dressler on the six game injured list, many were disappointed he would not be here to play for Winnipeg in the Labour Day game. He just might play. Winnipeg Sun reporter Kirk Penton told us on the Sportscage Friday when asked Dressler could very well be in the lineup for the LDC,  and so could Ryan Smith.  I hope the Riders do something classy for Dressler should he play. The reaction he will get from Rider Nation---especially if he should end up in the endzone will be a Mosaic Moment. It still doesn't look seeing him in Bomber blue. It never will!

BLUE JAYS BLUNDER -  On Friday night, not only did the Edmonton Eskimos honour the troops, but they honoured some local Olympians. The rugby team's Jen Kish and the soccer team's Stephanie Labbe were at Commonwealth to be recognized and sign autographs. It gave fans to get a look at some Olympic heroes, their medals and in some cases, maybe inspired some young people to start trying to become an Olympian. With a six game homestand, you would think the Blue Jays would have had Olympic stars and Toronto natives Penny Oleksiak and Andre De Grasse throw out the first pitch and be recognized in front of 40-thousand people. NOPE!  #opportunitywasted

THANK YOU SPORTSNET -I have the MLB app, so I can watch a Chicago Cubs game anytime I want. With WGN Chicago on my cable package, I watch many a game on my TV and when Sportsnet picks up Cubs game, it is usually the Chicago feed with p x p guys Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies.  Sportsnet had all three Cubs-Dodgers games on this weekend, but instead of picking up the Chicago feed, they picked up the Dodgers feed meaning a weekend of Vin Scully.  Those who know anything about sports know about Scully. His silky-smooth presentation of the game ( a game he does alone) is second to none and will be missed when he hangs up the mic at the end of this season. Like many of the other greats, his fastball doesn't have the same velocity and he made the odd mistake, but it was still tremendous to hear him call some games involving the Cubs.  Scully's last weekend will be one I watch whether it be off my phone, computer or hopefully on Sportsnet.  He is the gold standard!

GET A LINEUP - I didn't even think about this until Phil Andrews informed me of it on Friday. With the World Cup of Hockey going from September 15-October 1, it means a late start to the NHL season. It also means some of the WHL's best players won't be with their team to start off the season September 23. Players usually start trickling back from NHL camps around the time the WHL season starts, but now it may be longer. It means Regina will likely start the season without Adam Brooks, Sam Steel, Connor Hobbs and Austin Wagner while Moose Jaw won't have Noah Gregor, Brett Howden and defenceman Dmitri Zaitsev. Goalie Zach Sawchenko may also be on that list.  Hopefully many guys are back within that first week because those are the guys we want to see.

WELL DONE MINNESOTA - The Minnesota Vikings unveiled their new facility "US Bank Stadium" to the NFL universe on Sunday afternoon. What a fantastic looking building!!! It is a place this blogger will certainly have to visit in the future. The building was built by the same group constructing Mosaic Stadium. If our facility is like that one, we will indeed have the nicest stadium in Canada. Maybe it was just me, but FOX"s Kevin Burkhardt never mentioned the name of the stadium saying things like "the new digs", "the brand-new home of the Vikings", "The new stadium". Does the NFL or FOX have something against US Bank?

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


Friday, August 26, 2016

Depth Charts For Riders-Eskimos Game

620 CKRM's game-day coverage starts at 5 with the kickoff at 8 

CFL Changing Rules on Coaches Challenges Effective Immediately

The Canadian Football League has approved a rule change on coaches’ challenges.

Effective immediately, if a team makes its first coach’s challenge of the game and does not win that challenge, the team will now lose a timeout. If the team wins its challenge, it will keep its timeout.

In other words, the first coach’s challenge is no longer a “free” one. With this change in place, teams now put a timeout at risk with their first challenge, in the same way they already do for their second challenge of the game. And teams must be in possession of a timeout to make a challenge. Teams are allowed two timeouts per game and can only use one timeout in the last three minutes of the game.

“We are listening to our fans,” said Jeffrey L. Orridge, commissioner of the CFL. “And while it’s unusual to have a rule change during the season, the league and our teams wanted to respond to fans’ concerns about the frequency of challenges.

“We are proud of the innovation we have brought to our game, including innovation in the use of replay, and the fact that these advances are being followed by other leagues. But innovation in any pursuit is often followed by adjustments and alterations. Fan enjoyment is vitally important.”

The league reviews its rules and procedures each off season, and intends to take a further look then at the issue of replay and challenges, said Glen Johnson, senior vice-president, football.

“Our leadership believes this change is a step in the right direction, as our game continues to evolve in an era of technology,” he said.

This rule change was unanimously approved Thursday by the league’s governors following a recommendation from its rules committee.

(CFL Communications) 

Regina Rams Lose Pre-Season Game To Calgary

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The University of Regina Rams had their first game action of the 2016 season on Thursday night, but lost 37-13 to Calgary in a neutral-site exhibition game at the Methanex Bowl.

The Rams went into halftime trailing by just 10, but the Dinos scored 20 of the first 23 points following the break to take a commanding 33-6 lead four minutes into the fourth.

The offensive highlight of the game for the Rams came immediately following Calgary taking that 27-point lead, as rookie quarterback Seb Britton engineered an eight-play, 104-yard drive for the U of R's lone touchdown of the game. The drive featured three receptions by Brady Eurich and two by Michael Scraper, and it was capped off by a nice 35-yard connection from Britton to Kyle Moortgat for the major.

"I'm not displeased at all - we made a lot of mistakes but have to remember we were playing one of the more physical teams in the CIS tonight," Rams head coach Steve Bryce said. "We went toe-to-toe with them for most of the first half, and you eliminate a couple of those major mistakes and we're even closer at the break. We know we can play with anyone now, and now we go back to 0-0 and get ready for next week."

Noah Picton got the start under centre for the Rams and completed 14 of his 21 passes for 141 yards. Britton completed five passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, while Tyler Vieira was 4-for-9 and had 71 passing yards - most of which came on a 51-yard deep ball to Khalid Kornegay.

Kornegay finished with three receptions for a team-leading 94 yards, while Eurich led the Rams with four catches. Moortgat and Riley Wilson joined Kornegay with three receptions. Third-year running back Atlee Simon had 10 carries for 44 yards.

Defensively, Zack McEachern led the way for the Rams in tackles (five solo, two assisted) and had the team's lone sack. Alex Rorke added five solo tackles, while Kaiden Jones and Medicine Hat product Travis Semenok both had pass breakups.

For Calgary, Jimmy Underdahl started at quarterback and completed 15 of his 20 passes for 235 yards. Austen Hartley (five catches for 88 yards), Dallas Boath (four for 117), and Whitman Tomusiak (three for 83) were the top receivers for the Dinos.

The Rams will now prepare for their Canada West season opener, set for next Friday against the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

(Braden Konschuh/University of Regina)

This and That

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

--I could talk about the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their game in Edmonton tonight to lead off this week's column, but let's go with another team in Regina who starts off what should be a great season and that is the Regina Pats.

  Is there any reason to think this year won't be the best season the Pats have had since before the Brent Parker era? That was  when just getting to the 2nd round was an accomplishment and you didn't have to gut a hockey club and pay for it years down the road to have a chance at a Memorial Cup. The work John Paddock has done since his time year started to show off at the end of last year, and it should show off this year. Despite the fact there was very little promotion in the summer months thus derailing some of the excitement of a long playoff run, it shouldn't take long to get the excitement back. Sam Steel, Connor Hobbs, Austin Wagner, Tyler Brown, Adam Brooks and others are ready to get going on what could be a year to remember around here. There are actually some whispering Pats and championship team in the same breath.  While it will be a long time before we will see if those whispers become reality, it is nice to talk about the Pats in that fashion.  Real nice!  I get the feeling the Brandt Centre will be a very popular place this winter. Why shouldn't it?

--Here's some free advice for the Pats, Warriors and other teams out there. The Minnesota Wild just asked their season ticket holders and fans what song should be their "goal song". I wouldn't think it would be that hard to do that around here by giving fans a choice of 5 songs, sending season ticket holders an e-mail advising them of this and giving them a chance to voice their input. That e-mail could be a link to the teams website where the vote could be made. Engage your fans in some decision-making. Marketing 101 folks. It's a lot easier than ya think! (BLOGGER NOTE: If this results in the Pats having "Last Saskatchewan Pirate" as their goal song, I will have no one to blame but myself)

--OK, let's talk about the Riders and yes, they are in Edmonton tonight. I don't think many are expecting the green and white to come out of the Alberta capital with a "W" and that is understandable considering what has gone on.  I think it is safe to say "We just want to see a game!!". What we saw in Montreal and Hamilton this year was beyond atrocious. The last game at Commonwealth was one the Riders should have had and if they use the same game plan, they might get a win---a much needed win! I'm not confident, but I'm optimistic. What else can you be?  If you think another 30 point blowout is on the way, save yourself the aggravation and go out Friday night to a place where a radio or TV is nowhere in sight.

--Is it safe to say the Riders free agent signings this year weren't exactly the greatest. Just to recap--Shawn Lemon (traded), John Chiles (released), Justin Capicotti (back-up) have not done what was expected and then there are Shawmaud Chambers and Kendial Lawrence.

--Could not help, but laugh and laugh hard at the extremely weak story down on by Drew Edwards of the Hamilton Spectator.  Drew does some good stuff, but this wasn't. He wrote a story on the Riders taking down their billboard outside Tim Hortons Field after the shellacking they took last week.  WELL DUHHHHHHH!!!!  Someone should inform Mr. Edwards that poppies don't sell very well after Remembrance Day, back to school sales end once classes begin, and Hallowe'en costumes don't sell very well on November 1. In the words of Lynch "How Dumb Can Ya Be!!". This just in, there's a sign outside of Commonwealth Stadium this week. I am guessing that sign will disappear win or lose by mid-week.

--The Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones wrote a fantastic article on the Rider Nation this week.  They just can't figure out in Edmonton why Rider fans keep coming and coming and coming to the games when their team isn't good. Once again, a big crowd is expected in Edmonton when the teams hit the Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium. When do the Eskimos get their biggest crowd of the year? When do the Stampeders? What team did Dennis Skulsky guarantee a win against?  Teams know what the Saskatchewan Roughriders mean to the CFL. I wonder when "Jeff" will clue in on that.

--Speaking of "Jeff", Rod Pedersen asked a great question this week. Has the Commish been spotted at games? If he has been, we haven't seen it. FWIW: I surmised he was on the CNE grounds Saturday while the Argos were playing, but he was at the exhibition stuffin down a corndog and riding the Roller Coaster. Marc Cohon was visible during his time in charge, and Tom Wright was visible too Orridge----well you know. CMON JEFF!!  Actually "Jeff" is having to defend himself from statements about Johnny Manziel and the CFL attributed to him as he says he was misquoted. Let's face the facts, Johnny Manziel is not coming to the CFL anytime soon so let's put that story to bed right now. That being said, just imagine Johnny Boy in Montreal! Hamilton owns his rights and have supposedly had them for quite a while.

--Jay Bouwmeester was named to Canada's team at the World Cup of Hockey replacing the injured Dustin Keith. Why not PK Subban? The braintrust behind Canada's team is smart enough to realize Subban is not a guy they want on their team. I've said it and it has been proven again. Like I said when he was traded, Montreal came a lot closer to a Stanley Cup and Nashville got a lot further away. Speaking of the World Cup of Hockey, I just can't get excited for that event. Perhaps I will as it nears closer, but it is doing nothing for me right now. I still want to know what happens if "The Young Guns" win the whole thing. Does that mean they will own hockey?

--The Colorado Avalanche have a new head coach. 44 year old Jared Bednar is the new bench boss in Denver. My first take when I read this was WHO? I asked Phil Andrews and he said WHO? Not only is Bednar the coach of the Calder Cup champion Lake Erie Monsters, but he is a Yorkton boy. That means in the 30 team NHL, one-fifth of its head coaches are from the wheat province as he joins Todd McLellan, Glen Gulutzan, Willie Desjardins, Mike Babcock and Dave Tippett. That is a pretty impressive feat and is one Saskatchewan hockey should toot its own horn over. 

--The race in the American League East could very well go right down to the last day with a possible tiebreaker needed. Toronto finishes the season with three games at home against Baltimore and three in Boston. The Red Sox and Orioles also have three games against New York. It is going to be a very tense time for Blue Jays fans coming down the stretch. Meanwhile, this Cubs fan just waits to see when the team clinches a playoff spot before going into full panic mode once Game 1 of the NLDS starts. I wonder where Steve Bartman is these days anyhoo? Would the Cubs actually have him come to a game? If they were to win, I am guessing he throws out the first pitch of a game next year and it could very well be the season opener.

--If you're a Cowboys fan, and you aren't excited about Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, there's something wrong with you.

--That's all I got. Have a great weekend! GO RIDERS!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Format and Qualification for 2017 Provincial Scotties is Changing

CURLSASK is pleased to announce a new format and qualification for the Viterra Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Melville will play host to the 2017 Viterra Scotties Tournament of Hearts. The championship will feature a 9-team round robin. At the completion of the round robin the top four teams will advance to the page playoff system.

Each year, CURLSASK conducts a player survey; an overwhelming majority of player responses indicated a strong desire to eliminate pool play and move to a longer round robin format for the provincial championship.

The CURLSASK competition committee reviewed a number of proposals before making the recommendation to the CURLSASK board to adopt the new format. After many hours of research and debate the CURLSASK competition committee determined this format would declare the best representative for Saskatchewan at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts to be played in St. Catharines, ON.

The competition committee strongly felt this format will best prepare Team Saskatchewan for the National Scotties, as they will be required to play all of the best teams in the province in order to become the provincial champion.

A longer round robin has a number of benefits, including the preparation of our championship team, equality when it comes to qualifying records for playoffs and adequate time for tiebreaking games.

The nine teams will be determined as follows:

Pre Qualifiers:

3 – Top Ranked CTRS as of December 5th, 2016

1 – Saskatchewan Women’s Curling Tour Champion

1 – Saskatchewan Women’s Curling Tour Runner Up *(Conditional as this team must be in the top 65 team on CTRS to be awarded the berth)

Berth Spiels

2- Viterra Challenge – December 9 – 11 Kindersley SK

2 or 3* – Viterra Last Chance January 13 – 15, Regina Highland

The provincial championships will be held in Melville, SK January 24-29, 2017. For more information contact the CURLSASK office.

(Ashley Howard/CURLSASK)

Draftkings CFL Picks For Week 10

Much like the Riders game last week, my Draftkings effort last week was an utter disaster. That decision of taking the REDBLACKS defence instead of Edmonton was uhhhhh---yeah.  Let's be better this week (or at least try to) 


With the Riders defence playing the way it has been, this really should be a no-brainer. You have to think the Edmonton quarterback is poised for a big game. Kevin Glenn is a good (and cheaper) option as well. 


Lions running back Anthony Allen said this week the Lions need to start running the football more, and he believes that will be happening against Ottawa.  In a CFL where running the football seems to be an after-thought these days, I am hoping Allen's words are correct and Johnson gets to touch the rock quite a bit. As I have said numerous times, you can't go wrong with Jerome Messam either. 


If Reilly is going to have a big game, you have to think either Adarius Bowman or Derel Walker will have a big night. Walker is the cheaper of the two so I'll go with him. I also like Duron Carter against the Bombers, and Marquay McDaniel against the Ti-Cats as he is becoming more and more of a weapon for the Stamps having caught 26 balls over the last three games. 


That Alouettes defense has been a stingy group. Matt Nichols has turned Winnipeg's season around, but I get the feeling Montreal may make it tough for the Bombers.  I would stay away from both the Ti-Cats and Stamps as that could be an offensive explosion.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

John Chiles Released By Riders

The Saskatchewan Roughriders keep changing their roster with the latest casualty being receiver John Chiles as he was released by the club on Wednesday evening.

Chiles joined the Riders as a free agent, but only saw action in three of the Riders’ eight games this season, collecting 135 yards and 3 touchdowns on 10 receptions.

The 27 year old had returned to the CFL after a failed stint with the NFL's Chicago Bears. His only other CFL stop was in Toronto.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Something to "Mitch" About

HAMILTON HORRORSHOW - One picture tells a thousand words. This pic of Chris Jones as the clock ticked down at Tim Hortons Field Saturday night definitely does that. I knew going into this season there would be some growing pains. I knew with Chris Jones in control of this football team that things were going to change---and change for the better. However, after what I witnessed on Saturday, I can only shake my head. I want to stay positive, and I still think there are things to work with, but this season is just going from bad to worse.

As an Oilers fan, and seeing what they have gone through the last decade, they say you have to hit rockbottom before you can start over. Leafs fans know what that is all about too. I think it is safe to say the Riders have found rockbottom. In all my years of watching this football team, and there have been some bad ones, I don't think I have ever seen an uglier performance from the guys with the /=S=/ on their helmet than that one. I would blame no-one if they turned over to the Hip Concert, the Blue Jays game or the Olympics or perhaps go to Costco or Walmart and get some Sunday shopping done early.

The defence was non-existent, and Darian Durant had perhaps his worst game as a professional. Add it all up, and you see what you got.

I really don't know what else to say.  As Matt Dunigan stated repeatedly throughout the 2nd half, there are good players on that team, but they have to play as a unit and that isn't happening. Chris Jones didn't forget how to coach when he left Edmonton, but this team has done nothing us to show us what a Chris Jones-team is supposed to be like. Nothing!  As we start to approach Labour Day, some are wondering if we are in any better of a position than last year.  I really can't answer that question. 


As the 2nd half of the season gets ready to begin, the CFL brass need to convene with its teams and make a rule change. This "fishing expedition" as TSN's Chris Cuthbert has started to call it has to come to an end. A coach is allowed to grasp at a straw by throwing a challenge flag for illegal contact and on Saturday night it happened twice. A Justin Cox interception was taken off the board because of a jersey tug on Brandon Banks well away from the play and the Riders had the same thing occur in the 2nd half.  These challenges of interference are killing the game. Coaches are taking advantage of the rule which is what they are supposed to do as they look to win the game so you can't blame them. Challenges should be used for turnovers, possession and whether someone is in bounds, but that's it.  Many people I know who are CFL fans are saying the game is becoming unwatchable and it is. With the NFL pre-season in full swing and NCAA about to start, I would suggest "Jeff" and crew sit down to discuss this rule and put in the recycling bin. It would be good for business.


I can't be the only one wondering why Jeremiah Masoli was throwing deep passes and trying to score in the game's waning seconds. Yes, you have to stop them as a defense, but one has to wonder if a message of some sort was being sent.


John Chick referred to what is happening inside the walls of Mosaic Stadium as a "circus" when talking to reporters leading up to the game. I can only wonder what he was thinking after that debacle. I think it is crystal clear that getting rid of Chick was a mistake. Yes, younger players are here, but that veteran leadership he could have provided would have been immense. If Chick was utilized the way the Ti-Cats are utilizing him, I think he would have shown he has more in the tank.


THANK YOU GORD -  Unlike many I know, I am not a Tragically Hip fanatic, but I certainly realize the chord their music touches. Like many others across this great country of ours, I tuned in to the farewell concert. It was what I expected. Because of the Rider game, I had to switch back and forth (thank god for the PVR), but Gord Downey and company certainly gave us what we expected in their final performance and then some. Cancer will soon take away another great person way sooner than they should have. I do have to ask this though because I legitimately do not know the answer. Was there a reason why the farewell tour did not stop in Saskatchewan? You know SaskTel Centre or the Brandt Centre would have been sold out. In the end, it doesn't matter, but I would like to know if there was a reason.

THANK YOU OLYMPIANS - As I mentioned Friday, I don't think Canadians should be disappointed with the performance of our athletes in Rio. While coming home with 20 plus medals in 2016, I can only wonder what 2020 has in store. Penny Oleksiak, Andre De Grasse and others will certainly be medal contenders again, but how many 4th place finishers will be back looking to be on the podium. The womens soccer team isn't going anywhere, the mens volleyball and womens basketball both have Tokyo in their sights, mens basketball should qualify and baseball and softball are back. As good as Rio was, Tokyo may be two weeks to remember for Canadian athletes, but 2020 is a long ways away. As was the case in Sochi, it seemed as if all the horror stories we heard going into the games didn't happen. There were some "issues" and Ryan Lochte came off as the ultimate d-bag, but in the end, the focus was once again on the athletes which is where it should be.

UFC202 - The UFC hasn't had a lot of good luck lately when it comes to the main event living up to the hype. Not the case on Saturday. Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz had one for the ages. It went the distance with McGregor winning in the end. There was no doubt he was the better fighter, but had there been a 6th round, he might not have been as Diaz was coming on.  UFC was definitely better than WWE's Summerslam. That's another horror story---albeit not as bad as Saturday in Hamilton.

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

This And That

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

 --I don't know if the CFL wanted to pick a fight with the Rider Nation, but they have on their hands now, and it isn't going away anytime soon. While some don't like what has happened with the team under Chris Jones, most are united in the fact that on the surface, CFL commissioner Jeffrey (just call me Jeff) Orridge is not a fan of the guys from the wheat province. I said last week in this column that I thought a witch-hunt was on when it came to the green-and-white after what Craig Reynolds did in the off-season, and there is nothing to me suggesting there isn't. By the sounds of what is being heard in the Rider locker room, they think there is as well. Like it or not, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are the engine that drives the CFL.  Attendance, merchandise, ratings, fan-base, etc. etc. etc.-----it is Riders all the way.  Yes, every other franchise in this league has a competitor in their market, but with all apologies to the Saskatchewan Rush, that isn't happening here and I don't see it happening here for quite a while.  Has anyone talked about the Rush since their championship season ended? We know the answer to that. Were people talking in the middle of the Rush season about a 3-15 Saskatchewan team and what the future held? Once again, we know the answer to that.  The CFL can sit there and write letters stating their disgust over thoughts about what is going on in this league, but the reality is a nerve has been touched in the league office. If they want to go to war, the Rider Nation is more than ready to foil up their knuckles and go to town. It's that good old Saskatchewan spirit isn't it?

--Chris Jones casually mentioned during a scrum this week that the CFL is handing out way more fines than they have in years past. While I don't think its the case, I have to wonder if the CFL chequebook is starting to shrink. The league has had bad TV numbers over the past two years and they aren't anything to write home about this year either thanks to the Olympics and the Blue Jays. Did you know that while Olympic primetime is averaging over 3 million a night on CBC that the Stamps-Riders game only had an audience of 544-thousand with the Hamilton-BC game having a greater total. An all-Western game getting beat out by a Hamilton-BC game is almost unfathomable, but its happening. Yes, the Olympics end this weekend, but the Blue Jays season doesn't. Poor numbers equals a tougher time getting advertisers. You can deny it all you want, but the truth is the CFL is struggling with viewership and butts in the stadium. Whatcha goin to do Jeff? 

--I had a solid disussion about the Riders over a cold beverage at the Great Canadian Brewhouse this week with some fellow Rider fans.  They are all sold on Chris Jones and what he brings to the table-----as a coach. His resume is unparallelled with many Grey Cup rings as an assistant and a head coach. There is no doubt the guy knows what he is doing when it comes to coaching. However, it was brought up that as a general manager, he has perhaps bitten off more than he can chew. I don't know if that can be argued successfully when you are the GM of a 1-6 football team, but he has surrounded himself with a good team. No one realistically thought this would be a complete 180 by this team.  Jones and crew keep trying to improve this team day-by-day. If  they didn't, guys like Brandon Bridge, Gregory Alexandre, and Jeff Hecht would not be here.  He continues to try and improve the personnel on this football team.  Once they get on a roll, they will be a tough out and many in the CFL realize that.

--As the Riders get set to walk into Hamilton on Saturday, I compare their situation to a parent watching their child hop on a bicycle once the training wheels are off. You are right there behind your son or daughter watching them do their thing with a hand on their back to guide them. You slowly take that hand away and watch them pedal off on their own---you hope that ride is smooth, but you cringe as that bike tips over. You dust off your kid and away you go again knowing that ride will be smooth. The training wheels are off, and the fanbase watches with anticipation hoping this is the week it all comes together. Don't be surprised if they fall, but don't be surprised if they pedal their way down the street with a smile on their face knowing it can be done.

--John Chick is saying all the right things going into Saturday's game. but I am guessing the gentle giant has had this game circled on his calendar. He has already shown he has more gas in his tank than what Jones thought, and I think he would love nothing more than to show him that in person Saturday night.

--The Regina Pats and Toronto Blue Jays are joining forces. On January 7, the Pats will wear special Blue Jays uniforms that will get auctioned off with proceeds going to the Jays Care Foundation.  It's too bad the Pats aren't playing Victoria that night!! (Think about it!) If the Pats get a goal to go up by 2 late in the 3rd, will the goal scorer do a "stick flip". More importantly, will Phil Andrews decide to do his thing from the broadcast booth with Buck Martinez like hair!!! While nothing has been said, it would be great if the Blue Jays sent a few players to the game for an autograph session. I don't think you could rationally expect to see someone like Josh Donaldson in attendance, but a Kevin Pillar appearance or a Russell Martin appearance would be cool for Regina hockey fans who love their Jays. Of course, if all goes well, the World Series trophy won't be with them seeing the Cubs will finally have their paws on it.

--The Ryan Lochte story just re-defines bizarre. WTF dude? The talking heads on ESPN Radio are wondering if Lochte should go back to Brazil to apologize. It makes me think of the Simpsons episode where Bart had to go to Australia to say I'm sorry.  Simpsons fans know how that episode ended, I don't think Lochte will be going back anytime soon.

--It looks like Canada will break the 20 medal plateau in Rio. I think that's a pretty solid performance. Some medal hopefuls disappointed, others came through and some came out of nowhere to win a medal. Some are wondering if the "Own the Podium" program is working. I say don't fix what isn't broken, By the way, there isn't a lot better than seeing one of our athletes on the podium with a gold medal around their neck while O'Canada plays. I can't even imagine what that feeling would be like.

--McGregor-Diaz 2 right after the Riders game. Yeah, I'm OK with that. That card should be a great one Saturday night.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Draftkings CFL Picks For Week 9

Thanks to Manny Arceneaux's late TD catch against the Ti-Cats, I managed to win for the 3rd week in a row. Let's go for 4 with these selections 


The BC quarterback has been lights out the past couple of weeks as he has been averaging over 30 fantasy points a game. He has a big Western Division showdown with the Stampeders this week. He has put up some good numbers in the previous two games against the Stamps, so let's go for a 3rd. Zach Collaros is also making his home debut against a Riders team who did look better defensively against Calgary, but....


I know, its starting to become a broken record, but Messam is the top RB in the CFL. Messam has had 100 or more combined yards in three games this year and his 3 TD's on the ground puts him in a tie for the CFL lead.  Some cheap options are CJ Gable and Kendial Lawrence. 


The Ottawa receiver has slowed down over the past few weeks, but he had the biggest game for a receiver in the CFL this year when he recorded over 44 points in a Week 2 win over the Alouettes. Trevor Harris was throwing the ball that night, and it will be Henry Burris this time around. Look for Williams to get at least one TD if not more against an Alouettes defence that is a stingy group.  Other receivers I like are Arceneaux, Adarius Bowman and Naaman Roosevelt. 


It is sooooo tempting to take the Eskimos against Logan Kilgore after he threw 5 picks to the Bombers, but that Montreal offence isn't doing anything, and if Duron Carter doesn't play, then what. You have to like the REDBLACKS in this one. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Riders Make Trade With Calgary

The Saskatchewan Roughriders acquired defensive backs Fred Bennett and Jeff Hecht from the Calgary Stampeders for two negotiation-list players. 

The six-foot-one, 197-pound Bennett is in his fifth CFL season. He had 166 tackles, 10 interceptions and seven forced fumbles in 73 regular-season games with Calgary.

The five-foot-nine, 205-pound Hecht, an Edmonton native, began his CFL career with Montreal in 2011 but was in his fifth season with Calgary. He accumulated 50 tackles and 37 special-team tackles in 73 regular-season contests with the Stampeders.

The Riders start getting ready for Saturday's game in Hamilton today at Mosaic Stadium

Monday, August 15, 2016

Something To "Mitch" About

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell looks to make a pass against the Saskatchewan Roughriders during CFL action in Regina on Aug. 13, 2016.
Photo: Canadian Press

LET THE GRUMBLING CONTINUE - As a sold-out crowd, most of them Rider fans were leaving Mosaic Stadium after what was a snoozefest of a game won by the Calgary Stampeders 19-10, Riders head coach and general manager Chris Jones summed up the feelings of the Rider Nation when asked by this blogger what the frustration factor was like after this one.  His answer " A loss is a makes me want to throw up!".  Is it safe to say somewhere in Jones' medicine cabinet is a great big bottle of Gravol!

The Riders are a team still taking baby steps. That is no secret. They had an opportunity to win a football game against a very good football team, but as young football teams do, they shot themselves in the foot too many times.  Two missed field goals, dropped passes, a fumble deep in Calgary territory, etc. etc. The points left on the field turned a victory into a loss. A victory over Calgary after what was a very tumultous week might have been a turning point in this season. Now, it is a season which is perilously close to being over if it isn't already.  It is safe to say the annual Labor Day games against Winnipeg will likely be the determining factor as to whether or not this team can make a playoff run and with all Western teams winning this weekend with the exception of the Riders, the hole became somewhat deeper.  Some think the dirt is already starting to get filled in that hole as the season is over and the funeral can start.

Other thoughts from what transpired.....

 --In the NFL, the debate is what is a catch? It is a debate that is seemingly discussed week after week after week. In the CFL, that debate has to be what is pass interference. I sure don't know, and I don't know if the league even knows after two debatable calls in the third quarter.  The first one had Bo Levi Mitchell throwing a pass to I believe Bakari Grant. Justin Cox made a play for the ball leaping high to get it contacting the receiver resulting in a flag and a Calgary first down. Yes, contact was made, but Cox was going for the ball which is what he is allowed to do. Let's fast forward to the end of the 3rd quarter when Darian Durant's long pass to Naaman Roosevelt falls incomplete with Roosevelt being pushed by the Calgary defender who once again appeared to be going for the ball. No flag was thrown and despite a challenge flag being thrown, the CFL command centre validated the decision on the field and did not overturn the play. How is that possible? Two exact same scenarios played themselves out with one being called and the other not. The lack of consistency from game to game or play to play is maddening. At the end of the day, that wasn't the reason why the Riders lost, but it was certainly a game-changer. The 4th quarter would have been a lot different had Saskatchewan scored a touchdown as a result of the PI which should have been called.

--While the Rider defence has taken its lumps this year, they put in a pretty solid effort against Bo Levi Mitchell and company. They held Mitchell to under 300 yards and it would have been under 250 had it not been for his game-clinching bomb to Simon Charbonneau-Campeau.. While the defence got its act together, the offence continued to sputter along as this team has now just 28 points in its last three games. I don't care if you are playing CFL, NFL, CIS or junior football, that just doesn't cut it.  Darian Durant was 24 o 37 for the night completing 65 percent of his passes which is good, but the numbers would have been better had it not been for dropped passes. There were at least 4 I counted. 5 sacks didn't help either. It was also great to see Durant's mobility re-surface as he took off at some key times to keep drives alive.  Durant doesn't run with the frequency he used to, but it is nice to see him still get moving from time to time, It adds a little something to the offence.

--Rookie kicker Quinn Van Gylswyk was not a happy camper after the game. While I was not a part of the questioning he was given after the game, he was said to be beating himself up over the fact he missed two field goals that changed the complexion of the game. While Van Gylswyk has every right to feel the way he does, he should also be pretty damn happy with the fact the coaching staff thought he could nail a 54 yarder by giving him a chance to do so which he succeeded on.

--The star of the night was not anyone on the field, but the 33-thousand plus who were off of it. There is no doubt the engine of the CFL is located just off the train tracks on 10th Avenue as the game was sold out. A sell-out for a 1-5 football team shows the passion isn't dying any when it has every reason to. Whether it be the fact the stars of the 89 Grey Cup team were remembered, whether it was the final home game of the summer or whether it be Bo Levi Mitchell's comments this week, the fact the game was a sellout is a testament to Rider Nation They may not be on the same page when it comes to what Chris Jones is doing but they are firmly showing their support for the organization, and that must be commended.

MEMORIES - I think we all remember where we were on that Sunday evening in 1989 when Dave Ridgway's field goal gave the Riders a 43-40 win in what was arguably the greatest Grey Cup ever played. It is always great to see highlights of the game, and it was great of the Riders to show the highlights on the Maxtron as Don Wittman and Ron Lancaster called it. With apologies to Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor who do a great job on TSN in bringing CFL games into our living rooms, I don't think there has been a better combo for CFL games than the original "Ron and Don". I got to know Dave very well when he hosted a weekly football show at CJME and oh, there are many stories that could be told.

I haven't seen him for many years, and the last time I talked to him was a pre-game interview I did for the 2013 Grey Cup. As soon as I saw him outside the Rider Store at the Northgate on Friday night, he stood up from his chair wondered what the hell took me so long to get there and delivered a firm handshake and hug. I didn't get much of a chance to talk to him this weekend because he was obviously very busy, but it was great to once again be able to sit down for a few minutes to see how things were. I didn't get a chance though to remind him that Lui Passaglia was better. (inside joke!!) 

THAT'S FINE - On Friday, I said there was a witch-hunt against the Saskatchewan Roughriders for what Craig Reynolds did in the off-season. That theory was somewhat validated by TSN's Gary Lawless on Sunday as he is reporting the league has fined the football club for "taking over midfield" during intros before their game in Calgary. This is just laughable. It would be laughable for any team in the CFL to be fined for this. This just re-defines embarrassing. What's next? As I put on Twitter Sunday night, has Jones been fined because he was caught wearing white instead of his usual black.

HEY VANCOUVER, THIS JUST IN - Your CFL team is pretty good. You should watch them. I didn't see any of the Lions 45-38 win over Hamilton, but just over 20-thousand were in the seats for the game. ????? Have the Lions become Toronto West? There was an interesting article written last week about MLS soccer and how more people are going to their games than CFL games in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. That is something the league needs to stop and stop immediately. The teams need to do their part too.

HAPPY IN HUMBOLDT -  Brianne Theisen-Eaton came through in the clutch. The Humboldt native was favoured to win gold in Rio, but after a tough first day, some wondered if she would be on the podium.

Screencapture from NBC 

All Theisen-Eaton did was gather up that Saskatchewan spirit and put it on display as she came through in the final couple of events to pick up the gold medal.  Just another Saskatchewan athlete doing great on the world stage. We can do more than play hockey in this province to make it big in the sporting world ya know.  As for Graham DeLaet, he once again couldn't string four solid rounds together and ended up 20th in mens golf, but that's a respectable showing for the Weyburn native. 

THE FORGOTTEN MAN -  While watching the Blue Jays-Houston series this weekend, it was brought up a few teams that the series featured two of the front-runners for American League MVP this season. Houston 2nd baseman Jose Altuve and Toronto's Josh Donaldson. I ask you Blue Jays fans, who has had the better year---Donaldson or Edwin Encarnacion. While Donaldson has had a great year, Encarnacion has had a better year has he not?  He has five more homers and 18 more RBI's than Donaldson If you count defence as well, the Toronto nod would go to Donaldson, but don't voters look at offensive numbers when looking at the MVP and not defensive ones. It will be interesting to see how many MVP votes both get when it comes time for baseball writers to cast their ballot. 

THE THUNDER ROLL -  A successful debut for the Regina Thunder as they knocked off the Edmonton Huskies in a defensive battle Sunday at Mosaic.  While that was going on, the Rams were finishing up the first weekend of main camp. I had a chance to talk to new coach Steve Bryce and I like what I hear and I like what I see. 2016 will be better than 2015. Then again, I knew that after a news conference was held in the Rams dressing room last January and so did many others. 

THANK YOU NFL NETWORK - Yes, it is only exhibition season, but once again it is a tremendous time of year when you can turn on the NFL Network and see one game after another being played as they show all the pre-season encounters. Football is slowly getting to full speed as CIS camps are underway, the PFC season is underway and soon NCAA football will once again be a part of my Saturday viewing routine(except for when the Cubs are playing). 

WHO HAS THE TICKET - Beside the Riders, the big story on the weekend was someone in our fair province has a Super Max ticket in their possession worth 60 million dollars. When I first heard about it, I reached for my ticket, but alas I won zip on this draw. Someone's life has changed. Is it you? 

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

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Bronze For Humboldt's Brianne Theisen-Eaton in Rio

 Photo: Canadian Press
Photo: Canadian Press

Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton went to bed Friday night facing what seemed an unsurmountable hill to climb.

The 27 year old could have crumpled, called it a day on her Olympic heptathlon medal hopes. But she didn’t.

The two-time world silver medallist from Humboldt roared back to win bronze in the women’s heptathlon at the Rio Olympics, overcoming a disastrous Day 1 that had left her in sixth place.

Theisen-Eaton arrived in Rio as the world No. 1 ranked in what’s considered the ultimate all-around test: seven events covering all athletic disciplines — 100-metres hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 metres, long jump, javelin and 800 metres — spread over two gruelling days.

She opened with a sixth-place finish in the 100-metre hurdles, and despite her best efforts would finish Day 1 there, all but erasing her dreams of a victory. Instead of a golden story, she’d have to settle for a comeback story.

“It’s not easy to get to the Olympics, and I think I underestimated the amount of difficulty winning a medal,” said Theisen-Eaton, who planned to celebrate Saturday night with “Nyquil and sleep.”
“It’s different from the world championships, it means more, so to know ‘OK I have to do it otherwise I have to wait four years,’ is that much more added pressure.”

“I am really confident in my Day 2, so I came out with a fire, and was like ‘I’ve got to fix this,'” she said, a Canadian flag draped around her shoulders. “I was excited to compete today and I was having fun. Was more relaxed.”

“Going into this I wouldn’t have said, ‘Yay, I won a bronze medal,’ but I’m really really happy with it,” she added. “The Olympics is tough, if it wasn’t just tough to get here, there would be a lot more people competing at this meet. And so I’m really proud of myself and happy with myself, even if it wasn’t gold.”

(Canadian Press)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Depth Charts For Saturday's Riders Game


Kickoff on 620 CKRM is 5 o'clock with pre-game coverage starting at 2. 

This And That

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

--Jeez, a guy goes on holidays, gets out of Dodge and in the words of Bob Cole "EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING".  Let us start with Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell. What the hell is he doing? If he is trying to help the Riders sell tickets to Saturday's encounter at Mosaic Stadium he is likely succeeding. If he is trying to supplant Jon Cornish and Henry Burris as the most hated players to wander the visiting sidelines, he is succeeding. What I don't understand is why Bo Levi Mitchell is poking the bear. He has no reason to! The Stamps are coming off a 20 point beatdown of the Riders last week at MacMahon in which Calgary was the dominant team. They are a far better team than the green-and-white at this stage of the season. There is no reason for a team favoured to win Saturday night to bring this up, but he decided to open Pandoras Box and you know the rest of the story.

It is also my opinion the Calgary quarterback should be fined for his statements on this matter. If a player or a club criticizes officials, they are told to write a cheque to the league office. How is criticizing another organization not fine-worthy? If the league claims to have truly known about this and were investigating before the comments were made than Mr. Mitchell should be promptly writing a cheque to the CFL.  Fine Bo Levi?? Not a chance, he will be seen as a hero now.

 -I could be way off-base on this one, but here goes.  It is no secret Riders head honcho Craig Reynolds upset the CFL apple cart by hiring Chris Jones and his staff away from the Eskimos with John Murphy following from Calgary. It was unprecedented, and in some cases, it was unwelcome. It would seem to me as if the league is doing whatever it can to find and throw dirt on the Riders while likely smiling ear-to-ear behind the scenes knowing the Rider record is not what Reynolds, Jones and company want it to be.

  The Riders were obviously guilty with the ratio infraction. We have seen that. The fine of 15-thouand dollars was evidence of it. My question is "Who tracks this?" With all that is going on in a football game, you are telling me someone is sitting in the pressbox on each and every play tracking if the right amount of Canadians are on the field.  That gets a huge "BS" from me. Someone "snitched" on the green and white. Don't tell me that other teams aren't guilty of doing the same thing because they are. I am sure if I had the time and energy to go through game film and look at every play, I would fine a majority of teams have done what the Riders did.  Its the same as the "pre-practice" squad. As mentioned, every team in this league is "stashing" away players and don't tell me they're not.  Every team in every league skirts the rules or finds loopholes to get that "competitive advantage".

  It seems to me the Riders are under a huge microscope this year for what Reynolds achieved in the off-season. Reynolds did what the CFL didn't like, and he hired a guy that isn't exactly Mr. Friendly, and now the Riders are paying for it. Petty? I'll let you decide on that one. In the end though, if this ends up as a positive for the league with all teams "cleaning up" their act, it will be good for the league as a whole. Perhaps the suits need to look at how they can help alleviate this (1, 3 and 6 game lists) to make it workable instead of finding ways to ruin the game with these incessant reviews and challenges that are bringing the game down.

  Some are now crying foul over the amount of the fine given to the green-and-white. As far as I'm concerned, the message is "This fine could have been worse and perhaps should have been worse, but it is evident all teams have some house-cleaning to do and if we find someone else doing this, we will act with much stiffer punishment. 

One last thing on this topic ---A "Mitchell" getting ridiculed over events that transpire at Mosaic Stadium. Imagine that!

--Bravo to the Leader-Post's Rob Vanstone. In grading the Riders in the first third of the season, "the rumpled scribe" gave the Riders a D saying it was evident in the first six games they didn't have one. Well played Rob...well played indeed.

--Getting back to Jones, he wants "fans" going to practice to now sign in because after asking them not to give away secrets, they apparently did before the Ottawa game. With all due apologies to the fans who do go out and behave, the time has come to end the practice of fans being able to watch. You were asked to do something, and you did not comply. It should be game over as far as fans being able to watch the goings-on. Open it up for walkthrough day so people can get the autographs or moments they cherish with their football heroes, but other than that shut the doors and say sorry, but we tried to accomodate you and the wishes we conveyed to you failed. 

--As far as I know Saturday's game at Mosaic Stadium will be played and there will be no problems with the paint on the field. Last Sunday's NFL Hall of Fame game will go down as one of the biggest embarassments in the history of the league. Did someone get fired for that? How on earth do you let that happen? Is Benjamin Moore the new sponsor of the game? I simply couldn't believe what I was seeing. The guy from the HOF who announced to the crowd there would be no game because of their ineptitude looked like he would rather be caught doing the walk of shame after leaving Roseanne Arnold's. Speaking of which, do you know she is coming to Casino Regina next month?

--Kudos to the Riders organization for the signing of Brandon Bridge. I am for all Canadian quarterbacks playing this game as you know and while he may just be the 3rd stringer, he is still in the game. The move also makes the Riders better at the position and that is what you want isn't it?

--The stars of the 80's will be at Mosaic Saturday. That includes Dave Ridgway, Glen Suitor and Bob Poley. Could we get a re-enactment of "The Kick"?  If we do, the echoes that will come out of that stadium will be immense as the heart of the Rider Nation will swell by about four sizes.  The picture of that field goal to give the Riders the 89 cup is an iconic one and I am sure many who root for the /=S=/ have that picture somewhere. I had the poster which was autographed by both Ridgway and Suitor, but it somehow got lost in a move. It may be in a box somewhere, but I have no clue where it is. 

--Are you watching the Olympics feverishly, moderately or not at all?  Put me in that middle category with the exception of Thursday night as I was riveted to the swimming and the gold medal swim by the star of these games so far for this country and perhaps the games itself..16 year old Penny Oleksiak. Did anyone know who this girl was a week ago? I didn't.


  Her "What I Did This Summer" essay will be a spectacular read.  Like everyone else in the world, I did see the French gymnast break his leg and yes, I squawked mightily when seeing it. YUCK! I didn't see the weightlifter break his arm though. I don't think I want to see that one.

--The Regina Pats are putting a bid in for the 2018 Memorial Cup. With the 100th anniversary of the Pats coming and the organization having ties to the military as the Memorial Cup has, this would seem like a no-brainer to me. If Regina gets it, you know this city will do a top-notch job in hosting it.

--Still with the Pats, I was saddened to hear of the passing of long-time scorekeeper  Gary Renner. Anyone who dealt with the Pats during their time at the old Exhibition Stadium or the Agridome knew who Gary was, and he was still a fixture after he retired. I believe the Pats honored
Gary and timekeeper Bill White a couple of seasons back as "builders" in what was a classy move by the organization as not many hockey teams salute timekeepers and scorekeepers. The players those two have seen up close both wearing Pats jerseys and unis of the other teams are far too many to mention.

--Another year of the Queen City Ex has come and gone. It is starting to get to the point where you need to make a mortgage payment if you are going to try and win a stuffed animal (and a small one at that) for your child. 5 bucks for a water game??! By the way, where was "Skee-Ball" this year? I will say this though. I may be in the moral minority, but organizers can keep the nightly concerts in the Brandt Centre instead of Confederation Park. Its much more comfortable sitting inside the Brandt Centre than being in the park. That's my two cents on that matter.

--Alex Rodriguez plays his last MLB game today as he will ride off in the sunset once the Yankees game tonight is over. Is he going to the Hall of Fame? He will once Barry Bonds and Pete Rose get in. If there was ever a guy who didn't need performance enhancers, it was A-Rod. If he stays clean, he probably goes down as one of the best players in the game. 

--Who wasn't shocked to see the Patrick Roy announcement out of Denver? Something obviously wasn't right there and while both are playing nice, it is evident something went off the tracks in a big hurry. I can't help but think Las Vegas may have found their first head coach.  Could Bob Hartley re-surface in Colorado?

--Football starts in earnest this weekend as the Rams begin training camp while the Thunder start their season against the Edmonton Huskies at Mosaic Stadium Sunday afternoon.  The Rams will be a lot better this season than last under new coach Steve Bryce and you know Scott McAulay will have the Thunder ready for another run at both the Hilltops and a Canadian junior title.

--That's all I got. Have a great weekend. GO RIDERS!! 


Thursday, August 11, 2016

CFL Drops Hammer Down on Riders for Roster Violations

The Canadian Football League (CFL) has released the following statement:

The CFL today levied a $60,000 fine against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, as well as a deduction in excess of $26,000 off the Roughriders’ 2016 salary cap.
This decision was made after Commissioner Jeffrey L. Orridge and the CFL completed a thorough investigation, spanning several weeks, of the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ alleged roster violations. The investigation included CFL officials visiting team practices in Regina.
After a review of the findings, it has been determined that the Saskatchewan Roughriders were in violation of policies which prohibit practicing with ineligible players, players participating in practice who are on the 6-Game Injured List and having free agents practice with players who are under contact.
Each of these actions constitute a violation of CFL bylaws.
“As Commissioner, I am compelled to make decisions consistent with protecting the competitive balance within our League, the spirit of our rules and the integrity of our game. The recent conduct, behaviour and activities of the Saskatchewan Roughriders have compromised the reputation of the CFL.”

– CFL Commissioner, Jeffrey L. Orridge.

(CFL Communications) 

Week 8 CFL Draftkings Picks

Going into Week 8, I'm 4-3 and on a two week win streak. Let's try for three in a row.


Yes, when the Riders are giving up many points, this would seem like a logical choice, but there is a method behind the madness. I actually think this game will be like last week's and will be close going into the 4th quarter. Last week, the Stamps got their game going in the 4th resulting in Bo Levi handing off to Messam thus killing the chance to get any points. I don't see that happening this week as BLM will be throwing the ball well into the 4th quarter and perhaps till the end. I'm not saying the Riders win meaning Mitchell has to keep throwing, but I am saying he won't cut himself off by killing the clock at the end.  If you want to gamble and go more expensive elsewhere, how can you not like Zach Collaros as he makes his return to the Hamilton lineup.


I'm not spilling any secrets when I say the running game has disappeared in the CFL. One team has given up more than 100 yards on the ground this year and that team is the Montreal Alouettes. The Edmonton offence isn't purring the way it was at the start of the season. Expect White to see more of the rock as Mike Reilly looks to mix it up.


Ottawa has the bye, and as mentioned, Mike Reilly's production has dropped over the past couple of weeks. While Hamilton will be a better team the moment Zach Collaros steps on the field, the biggest beneficiary of that return could be Tasker. He is Collaros' favourite target and you know these guys will be looking to renew that relationship against the Lions.  I also like Emmanuel Arceneaux, Duron Carter and on a hunch, Ricky Collins.


The Alouettes are having a tough time scoring (if you don't count the Riders game) and I see that trend continuing in Edmonton against an Eskimo team that admittedly is nowhere close to being what they were last year.  The Eskimos will win this game, and I think they hold Montreal to under 21. That should be good enough to rack up some points especially if the green and gold can add a special teams touchdown or some points on defence.