Saturday, December 30, 2017

Week 17 NFL Capsules

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It is the last Sunday of the NFL season.  Some teams know they are going home win or lose when the final gun sounds while other teams know they're in with some hoping to continue playing.  For a complete look at Week 17 of the season, click here

Friday, December 29, 2017

Crezdon Butler Signs Contract Extension With Riders

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The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed international defensive back Crezdon Butler to a one-year contract extension, keeping him with the team through 2019.         

Butler (6’1 – 191) signed with the Riders in June, 2017 after spending parts of seven seasons in the NFL, playing 46 career games.

Last season the 30-year-old Clemson product started 15 regular-season games for the Green and White and picked up 39 defensive tackles, four pass knockdowns, two quarterback sacks and a forced fumble. 

In the playoffs Butler added eight defensive tackles and one fumble recovery while starting the Eastern Semi-Final and Eastern Final.   

(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR) 

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.

--The last Friday column of 2017.  As we look back at what was a solid year in sports, the question is what would go down as the number one Canadian sports story of the year?  Is it safe to say that story would be the CFL hiring Randy Ambrosie as commissioner?  It was a move which was roundly applauded and it was a move that has paid off handsomely for the league and its fans in the one season he has been in charge.

Tweaking the challenge rule, extinguishing the Art Briles controversy, wheeling out the "Diversity is Strength" campaign, etc. etc. etc.  Ambrosie is the fresh air the CFL needed. Not all moves he will make will be popular with all, but his hiring and subsequent moves have to be the Canadian story of the year does it not?

--One thing Ambrosie will decide on soon is whether or not the schedule will be moved up. It is an issue he wants to consult on with everyone from TSN to the teams to the fans.  Those who know me, and have read this blog know I am one to keep the schedule the way it is now.  Others agree with me and others don't.   The main reason being people don't want to sit in the cold to watch a football game.  That was evident here in the last couple of games of the regular season when the temperature dipped below zero.

Why is it 80-thousand fans packed into Lambeau Field on December 23rd to watch their Packers play the Vikings on a night where it was minus 12 degrees Celsius at kickoff? The Packers weren't going to the playoffs so it was a nothing game to them.  Fast forward to Sunday and the Browns and Bears---two of the worst in the NFL played in Chicago and Soldier Field was sold out on a day where the temperature was about minus 6 at kickoff.   Why was the snow game between the Bills and Jets sold out with everyone cheering away?   It is because they do what they have to do when the weather gets cold and cheer their favourite football team because it only happens so many times a year.  If they can do it south of the border in December, we can do it here in November.  As stated, some agree, some don't. It says a lot about the love and passion they have for their team(s) though.

--Week 17 NFL Lock Of The Week -- 49ers over Rams  (Rams not dressing Gurley, Goff or Donald)
   Week 17 NFL Upset of the Week --  Chiefs over Broncos (how is Denver favoured by 3.5 pts?)

--I know he can now come to the CFL, but I just don't see Johnny Manziel ever playing a down of Canadian football.  I think the chances of him being the marquee player for Vince MacMahon's XFL 2.0 are a lot greater because Manziel won't have to answer to anyone and can be the Johnny Football that we know today.  He will also be playing a game he is more familiar with.  If he does come, I just don't see him lasting.  Time will tell!  I also don't see him being a Rider especially after the Brandon Bridge signing.  The Riders are headed upwards and Manziel would not keep the team on that path.  Maybe a year ago, they could have partnered up, but not now. 

--Enjoying the World Juniors? Do the people in Buffalo even know its on? The US played Denmark the other night and while it was Denmark, the rink was half empty.  It isn't like that when Canada is playing a Latvia, Belarus or Denmark when the tournament is played here.  As I have said before, TSN (which does a first-rate job with the event) has made the World Juniors bigger than it actually is.  The hype for this tournament seemingly comes from one country and that's it.

As Canada goes for the gold, I feel bad for Pats d-man Josh Mahura.  To be one of the final cuts was tough enough, but to be cut again with that second cut coming just hours before the first game of the event had to be crushing for Mahura.  He did know what could happen when the call came for him to come back and yes, he could have said thanks, but no thanks knowing this could happen, but he didn't.  For that, he should be saluted. It is still a crappy way for his Christmas to be spent though.  I think a decision on the health of Dante Fabbro should have been made earlier than it was, but the argument is there you want to field the best team so you wait until the last possible minute to do so.  The kid should be commended for handling it as well as he did.

--If the NHL could give us more games like the game Wednesday between the Jets and Oilers that would be fantastic. You couldn't ask for a better hockey game.  It was a prime example as to how the game should be played, and how great it is when it is played like that. 

--That's all I got. Have a great weekend! Stay warm and Happy New Year's. Oh yeah, GO SEAHAWKS! 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Johnny Manziel One Step Closer to CFL

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The Canadian Football League issued a statement Thursday that said Commissioner Randy Ambrosie is prepared to approve a contract for free agent quarterback Johnny Manziel should one be negotiated.
The statement reads:

“Since last summer, the Canadian Football League has been engaged in a thorough process to determine the eligibility of Johnny Manziel. This process has been conducted with the cooperation of Mr. Manziel and independent of the team which currently holds his CFL rights, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
It has included an ongoing assessment by an independent expert on the issue of violence against women, a review by legal counsel, and an in-person interview of Mr. Manziel conducted by the Commissioner. As well, Mr. Manziel has been required to meet a number of conditions set by the league.
As a result of this process, the Commissioner has now informed Mr. Manziel and the Tiger-Cats he is prepared to approve a contract for Mr. Manziel should one be negotiated.
The process that led to this decision does, however, continue. Mr. Manziel has been informed he must continue to meet a number of conditions in order to remain eligible. These conditions, while extensive and exacting, remain confidential.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have 10 days to make an offer to Johnny Manziel in order to keep his rights or to trade his rights to another team. If Manziel does not receive an offer from the Tiger-Cats or isn’t traded by January 7th, 2018, he will become a free-agent.“

Manziel’s exclusive negotiation rights currently belong to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the club confirmed that last September they did indeed work out the 25-year-old free agent.
The Tiger-Cats also issued a statement in reaction to the League’s decision saying,  “We have been notified that Johnny Manziel, on our negotiation list since September 2012, has gone through the formal process established by Commissioner Randy Ambrosie, and that provided he meets the conditions laid out to him by the Commissioner, is now eligible to play in the Canadian Football League in 2018 and beyond.
“We appreciate the CFL office and Commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s due diligence in this matter. We also recognize Johnny Manziel for thus far demonstrating the attributes necessary to continue his career in our great league. We will have no further comment at this time.”


Scruffy's Top 10 of 2017

From the Atlanta Falcons leading the Super Bowl 28-3 after three quarters and losing, to Regina showing itself as Canada's sports capital, to the Saskatchewan Roughriders coming very close to being in the 105th Grey Cup, 2017 was another tremendous year for sports.  With this being the season for top 10 lists, here are my top moments for 2017. I repeat MY top moments with some perhaps revolving around teams I support.   Here we go


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When the news came down that the Saskatchewan Roughriders were looking at giving former NFL quarterback Vince Young an opportunity, many scoffed and said it would never happen.  If it weren't for a hamstring injury suffered late in training camp, who knows how the Rider season would have turned out!

In March, the former University of Texas standout stood inside Mosaic Stadium holding up a Riders jersey with his agent Leigh Steinberg sitting alongside.  The Riders became the talk of the football universe as Young would attempt a comeback in the CFL. They were talking about it on ESPN, FS1, the NFL Network, NFL Radio etc. etc. etc 

Young came to Saskatoon for training camp and despite a rough showing at the team's scrimmage in Saskatoon where he did not look ready, it appeared as if he would get the start for the Riders in their pre-season game vs Winnipeg when he went down with a hamstring injury. He never saw the field again.    One can only wonder how he would have fared against the Bombers that night, and if he would have been the Week 1 starter had he not gotten hurt.


One statement in a Leader-Post article was all it took for the relationship between Darian Durant and the Saskatchewan Roughriders to officially crumble. 

Chris Jones told Rob Vanstone that he thought Durant was "moderately successful". 

That was enough for the career of Durant in Rider green to end. Knowing he would go to free agency and hoping to get something for him, Jones orchestrated a trade to Montreal. A trade that was the topic of heated debate for days and weeks in Riderville. In the end, Jones came out looking like the winner as Durant struggled in Montreal. 

 His first-ever visit to Mosaic Stadium came late in the season with the Alouettes gifting him the start so that he had a chance to play against his old team in their new digs. He didn't play in the second half due to an injury. 


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When the ping-pong balls fell in favour of the Edmonton Oilers giving them the right to take Connor McDavid, all in the NHL knew the decade of disaster the hockey team had been in was about to end.  McDavid would lead them back to a level of prominence.  Did they think it would happen so quickly?

 In the Oilers first year at their brilliant new home, the team challenged for first place in the Pacific battling San Jose and Anaheim.  While Edmonton surprised many by beating the Sharks in Round 1, they went to Game 7 before being ousted by the Ducks. 

 It had some believing the Oilers would be ready to take that next step behind the likes of McDavid, Draisaitl, Talbot and Lucic to take the next step.  The first quarter and a bit of this NHL season has seen the team take a step backwards.  Chances of being in and/or winning the Cup this year as many had predicted seem to be false.  For this Oilers fan, it is good seeing them in a position where they are actually playoff-worthy. 


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Year 2 of the Chris Jones era in Saskatchewan did not start well.  The team was 2-4 after a loss in BC where using the word "horrible" would be kind.  After that game something clicked as the green-and-white were a different team as evidenced by a 33 point beating over the same Lions team that had destroyed them one week earlier.  It propelled the Riders to better things and started the Lions swirl into descent.

The Riders had a chance to be in the playoffs going through the West, but a loss to Edmonton in the last week meant they would be the cross-over team.  Earlier in the season, Saskatchewan had gone to Ottawa and gotten a win followed by another win days later at BMO Field against the Argos. It was the same scenario in the playoffs. 

A 31-20 win over Ottawa in the East final put the Riders into a position where they could go to the Grey Cup. Could it happen?  With the Riders down late in the 4th quarter, Christion Jones returned a punt for a touchdown and Rider Nation was thinking they were headed back to Ottawa for the 105th Grey Cup.

Ricky Ray had other plans though as he marched the Argos downfield including a key 3rd and 5 completion to James Wilder with Cody Fajardo plunging in from the 1 in the dying seconds for a 25-21 win. 

The second half run by the Riders and the fact they came oh-so-close to being in the Grey Cup for the first time since that magical night at Taylor Field in 2013 has many believing the Chris Jones plan is working quite well. 


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The CFL has had many not-so-good moments over the years.  The Jeffrey Orridge era was punctuated by many of those in his short time. How about that new logo?  The league got it right shortly after the season started when they announced former offensive lineman Randy Ambrosie was the new bossman. 
It didn't take long for Ambrosie to roll up his sleeves and get down to work.  He fixed the flow of the game by changing the challenge system, he rolled out a highly successful "Strength is Diversity" program much earlier than anticipated and he is listening to the concerns fans have about the league.  Concerns that he says he may or may not act on moving forward.   

The hiring of Ambrosie was something the CFL desperately needed as it struggles for relevance on the Canadian sports scene.  He has a long ways to go, but first impressions mean a lot and for Ambrosie, he has started the league on a long path back.  So far, so good!


As the Riders enjoyed their new home, just a couple of Josh Bartel punts away, their new home was slowly getting torn down.  While you could drive past the place while going down Saskatchewan Drive, you didn't really realize what was happening until you went past the old place to see how the tear-down was going and it left many awestruck when they saw what Taylor Field had been reduced to.  It led to many turning out one last time on the afternoon of October 27th to see the west-side grandstand come down.  It took a lot longer to come down than we were told it was, but when the sound came and the structure toppled over, many realized the home of so many football memories they had been a part of was gone! 


Former Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston was the guest-speaker at this year's Regina Red Sox sportsman's dinner. Guessing that the other 90 or so people they asked were unable to do so, I was asked to do a Q and A with him in front of the packed hall at the Turvey Centre.  You couldn't meet a nicer guy than the man who was the manager of the Blue Jays two World Series teams. We could have talked baseball for hours.  The stories he told behind the scenes and to the crowd were fantastic.  When it was over, he even leaned over and gave me some advice on where to visit when going to Wrigley Field and to enjoy what he thinks is baseball's best venue. 


While we had seen the Rams break the ribbon on Regina's new 278 million dollar stadium in 2016, Rider Nation could not wait for the first regular season game at its shiny new home. On July 1, it happened. The record book will show the Winnipeg Blue Bombers won the first ever CFL game at new Mosaic Stadium, but the memories of Canada's Team playing at a brand new facility started and will continue on for years.


When the Pats lost to the Red Deer Rebels in Round 2 of the 2015-16 WHL playoffs in Game 7, everyone knew the Pats would be back. Were they ever!  In the history of the Pats, they never had a regular-season like they had in 2016-17.  A 52 win season gave them the Scotty Munro Trophy and gave Regina hockey fans a reason to cheer for this tea that they hadn't had since the 80's.  The names of Adam Brooks, Sam Steel, Connor Hobbs, Austin Wagner and Dawson Leedahl were being mentioned in the same breath as Riders. The Pats were the talk of the town.  The Pats hadn't been in the WHL final since 1984 and after a first round sweep of Calgary, a 2nd round battle that went seven against a pesky Swift Current squad and an Eastern Conference championship against Lethbridge, the Pats found themselves battling the Seattle Thunderbirds for all the marbles. While the Pats had won 52, Seattle came in as no pushover with Islanders 1st round pick Matt Barzal, the Ochapowace First Nations Ethan Bear who was the best blueliner in the league, and a 16 year old goalie named Carl Stankowski who was becoming the story of the playoffs for doing what he was. 

As we did the Sportscage prior to Game 1, it was something else to see the energy in the building grow. As someone who had been in the building in 1984 for the final, it was great to see the Brandt Centre buzzing with anticipation for the championship series. 

Fast forward to Game 6 and those walking into the rink were hoping for a Game 7 as Seattle led the series 3-2.  With six minutes to play in Game 6, the Pats had a 3-1 lead and it looked like a one-game winner take all showdown would occur, but goals by Ryan Gropp and Keegan Kolesar tied it. It set the stage for Alexander True to score the game-winner in overtime to end a storybook season and a season that Pats fans while disappointed at the end had enjoyed like perhaps no other in their rich and storied history.


I have been a Chicago Cubs fan since the early 80's.  While I have watched many a game on WGN from the corner of Addison and Clark and watched many a baseball fly out on to Waveland Avenue or Sheffield Avenue on TV,  I had never stepped into the baseball cathedral known as "Wrigley Field". That all changed on the afternoon of Sunday, May 21. 

 On that afternoon, I felt like a kid again (as my good friend --and somehow he still is after the trip Craig Slater would attest to) as I made the walk toward the park.  Yes, it may have been three hours before first pitch, but it was an opportunity I wasn't going let slide by. From getting my picture at the Harry Caray statue to walking around the ballpark to having a beer at 11 AM to being in the bleachers to seeing Kris Bryant hit 2 HR's and Jake Arrieta pitch six strong innings in a 13-6 win over Milwaukee, it was everything I thought it would be and more. The same could be said about the deep-dish pizzas from Gino's East and Giordanos that were consumed during the trip.

  Three more games against the Giants followed. One was just about rained out, one was a cold night, and all were thoroughly enjoyed.  Jon Lester pitched a complete game, Kyle Schwarber knocked one on to Sheffield, Anthony Rizzo clubbed some bombs and Harry Caray sang the 7th inning stretch.  It was five days that won't be forgotten anytime soon. 

Who knows what 2018 will bring, but with Regina hosting the Memorial Cup, the Riders being in the Grey Cup discussion and things like the Brier and the USports Womens Basketball Championship happening in our fair city, I'm sure there will be many things that happen over the next 12 months that will qualify for this list.  


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Pats Acquire Pilot Butte's Jared Legien From Victoria

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The Regina Pats Hockey Club is pleased to announce they have acquired 19-year-old forward Jared Legien from the Victoria Royals. In exchange the Pats send 19-year-old Braydon Buziak and a conditional 7th round pick in 2018 to the Royals.

Legien (6’1, 194), originally a first round pick of the Kootenay ICE in 2013, ninth overall, is enjoying a career year in the WHL. The product of Pilot Butte, Saskatchewan has scored 13 goals and has 20 assists for 33 points in 33 games in Victoria.

“We are happy to add Jared to our group,” said Pats Head Coach and GM John Paddock. “He is having a great year and we look forward to that continuing here in Regina.”

Legien started his career in Kootenay in 2014 before being picked up by the Royals ahead of the 2017-18 season. In 120 games he has 17 goals and 42 points.

Buziak was listed by the Pats ahead of the 2015-16 season. In 87 games with the Pats, the Battleford, Saskatchewan native scored 13 goals and had 22 points to go along with 121 penalty minutes.

(Phil Andrews/Pats PR)

Christion Jones Signs Contract Extension

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Riders kick returner Christion Jones will be staying with the team through the 2019 season.

The football team announced Wednesday that the 25-year-old Jones has signed a contract extension.

In his first CFL season, Jones played in 10 games in 2017 where he had 45 punt returns for 645 yards and two touchdowns while returning another 18 kickoffs for 423 yards.

In the playoffs, Jones took a punt back 79 yards for a touchdown late in the 4th quarter of the Eastern final that looked as if it might be the winning score until Toronto rallied to win the game in the dying seconds.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Mahura Released By Team Canada------again

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When Canada takes to the ice at the World Junior Hockey Championship on Tuesday against Finland in their opener, they will not have Josh Mahura in the lineup.

Hockey Canada has given the go-ahead for defenceman Dante Fabbro to play in the tournament after he suffered a lower-body injury during camp meaning Mahura is no longer needed. 

After being one of the last cuts, Mahura was summoned back to the Canadian camp because of the Fabbro injury.  Had Fabbro not been given clearance to play, Mahura would have joined Sam Steel as members of the Pats on the team. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas To All

Regina's Stu Scheurwater Now Full-Time MLB Ump

It is a Christmas to remember for Regina’s Stu Scheurwater.

The 34-year-old is Major League Baseball’s newest umpire having been promoted from the minors.
Scheurwater begins his MLBU career with 253 games of Major League experience, including 153 games in 2017, after debuting on April 25, 2014 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

After officially beginning in the minors on the 2007 Arizona League staff, Scheurwater worked his way through the Northwest, South Atlantic, Carolina, Texas, and Pacific Coast Leagues, working the 2012 Arizona Fall League along the way; in all, Scheurwater officially served six seasons in Triple-A, although he spent nearly the entire 2017 season at the Major League level due in part to what turned out to be a career-ending concussion suffered by Dale Scott during a game in Toronto.
It is expected the news will be official sometime in February.

Friday, December 22, 2017

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.

--Brandon Bridge did one thing when he signed a one-year contract extension Wednesday afternoon. He got the debate going, and it is one that will last right through training camp and into the start of the 2018 season.  The question is where will Bridge be on the depth chart?  Some will say he is ready to be the starter with Kevin Glenn there to be a mentor and a QB coach. Others will say Glenn should retire and become the Riders QB coach.  Some will say this means for sure James Franklin will not become a Riders with others saying Glenn can be cast adrift with Zach Collaros or another veteran providing that mentorship.  What I do know is the Riders managed to keep a free agent that I truly didn't think would sign with the club before the February 13th deadline.  I thought Bridge might want to see what the free agent waters bring.  I think the best case scenario is where he is, but you would have to think other teams would have shown some interest. It is far too early to determine what role Air Canada will have in 2018, but Rider Nation can discuss it from now right up to the season opener.

--The job no one seemingly wanted has gone to Mike Sherman. The former head coach of the Green Bay Packers and Texas A &M is the new coach of the Alouettes.  I don't know what to think on this one. On the surface, I don't know if this is a good hire for Montreal as he has zero knowledge of the CFL game.  Who will he have on his staff that does?  The Alouettes are hoping Sherman can do for them what Marc Trestman did for them  Trestman had Jim Popp and Anthony Calvillo.  Sherman has Kavis Reed and no idea who his starting quarterback will be.  I don't see this ending well.  Sherman obviously has the pedigree though leading the Packers to three division titles and the Aggies to three bowl games.  While I don't see this happening, it is interesting to note Sherman was the head coach at Texas A&M when Johnny Manziel first became an Aggie.  Is there a relationship there? Could Sherman try to pry Manziel's rights from the Ti-Cats and get him in an Alouettes uniform? Is Montreal really the right locale for someone of Manziel's demeanour?

--In the past, CFL meetings in the off-season could come and go and nothing would come of it. It is because the league and teams didn't want you to know about it.  Imagine my surprise then when word came out that a general managers media day would be held after a day of meetings involving presidents and GM's in Banff next month.  Another example of Randy Ambrosie changing the deck chairs around.  I would think and hope this will result in many media showing up for the one-day gathering. It would only make sense.  It is something I am guessing TSN, 3Down Nation, Calgary media and others will definitely want to be a part of.  

--In the wake of the Pittsburgh/New England ending last weekend where it was thought the Steelers had scored a game-winning touchdown only to find the dreaded "he didn't retain possession all the way through" rule come back to bite them, it has sparked the talk again about what is a catch and what isn't.  Can we get a committee put together consisting of former receivers, current players, refs, GM's and coaches to sit down and figure this thing out once and for all.  You just don't know the way it is now and each ref seems to have his own thought process on the matter.  It shouldn't be that hard to determine what is and what isn't a catch.

--Is the NFL looking north when it comes to ideas to change the game.  The NFL Network talking heads were talking about the Pro Bowl when the idea was suggested they should widen the field and give it the same dimensions as a CFL field.  Apparently, the idea was discussed a few years ago.  I missed that one.

--Week 16 NFL Lock of the Week --  Chiefs over Dolphins
   Week 16 NFL Upset of the Week -- Giants over Cardinals (but Browns over Bears is tempting!) 

--Guys, would life be easier if we could walk into the mall and have a store that sold nothing but gift cards to as many places as possible available?  Yes, you can go into grocery stores or drug stores and have a variety to choose from, but when the one you want isn't available, you have to make that road trip.

--The Brandon Bridge contract extension has people forgetting about the plight of the Regina Pats for a while. The question remains though "What is John Paddock going to do at the trade deadline?"  While many names are being thrown about, the names of two players keep coming. Those are Saskatoon defenceman Libor Hajek and Lethbridge goalie Stuart Skinner.  I think the team will add more than those two if indeed one or both are on their way.  Another name I have heard a lot of is that of Seattle's Turner Ottenbreit. You remember him right? If you don't, he is the guy that levelled Adam Brooks knocking him out of the series in Game 1. I have heard his name mentioned since before the start of the season. Ottenbreit would definitely do a lot when it comes to slowing down the likes of Howden, Steenburgen and others.

Here is the question for you Pats fans? What would your reaction have been last year if Paddock in the midst of what was the best season in the history of the club traded away players to make this year's team much better and more Memorial Cup worthy knowing it would have derailed that season.  A season that ended just two games away from a WHL title and gave Regina a May that we hadn't seen around here in a long, long time.  Never mind because I know the answer.  Paddock would have been crucified in every which way possible. Don't say no that wouldn't have been the case, because it would be a lie.  Trading the likes of a Connor Hobbs, Adam Brooks or Austin Wagner would have the Regina hockey fan seething.  Paddock did what he could to bring a title last year,  but he knew that might result in tough sledding this year. There was no guarantee you could get to the Memorial Cup last year, but there is this year.  Paddock knows what he needs, and he knows who he wants.  No matter who he gets, I can't see the WHL Championship being played inside the Brandt Centre this year, but the Memorial Cup team will be one that can compete with the best of the three leagues.

--I don't know how many Saskatchewan born players have played or coached in the NHL, but I know 27 players from our fair province have played in an NHL game this year, and I know there are 4 current head coaches from the 306.  Add the GM's and other front-office personnel and most teams if not all have someone from Saskatchewan in their organization. It has been this way for years.  With the NHL celebrating its 100th anniversary, it is safe to say Saskatchewan has had a large part in that century.  No one is complaining.

Fair question asked this week:  The Riders are a "provincial" team with a presence in both Regina and Saskatoon with "The Rider Store" available for those in Saskatoon.  The Saskatchewan Rush claim to be a "provincial" team yet you can't find any Rush souvenir stores in Regina. If there are, where are they?  There is a distinct southern Saskatchewan audience for Saskatchewan's lacrosse team.  They need an outlet in Regina for fans to buy merchandise.

Here is the cyclical nature of baseball.  In 2013, the teams that had the first five picks in the draft -- Houston, Chicago Cubs, Colorado, Minnesota and Cleveland -- all were in the playoffs last season, while the teams that were in the 2012 World Series -- San Francisco and Detroit -- have the top two picks in this year's draft.

That's all I got.  Have a great weekend! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Thaddeus Coleman & Jovon Johnson Ink New Deals With Riders

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed international offensive lineman Thaddeus Coleman to a two-year contract extension keeping him with the team through 2019.         

Coleman (6’7 – 320) recently completed his fifth CFL season and second with the Riders. The 32-year-old Mississippi Valley State product was originally acquired by the Riders in a May, 2016 trade with the Edmonton Eskimos, with whom he had spent his first three seasons. He re-signed with the Green and White shortly after becoming a free agent in February, 2017.   

Last year, Coleman started all 18 regular-season games, Eastern Semi-Final and Eastern Final at right tackle.

He was named the Riders’ Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 2016.


The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed international defensive back Jovon Johnson to a contract extension.           

Johnson (5’9 – 190) will remain with the Riders after joining the team in June, 2017. The 34-year-old, 11-year veteran originally entered the CFL with the Riders in 2007. He went on to spend time with Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal over the next nine seasons before returning to Saskatchewan. 

Last year, Johnson started all 18 regular-season games for the Riders at cornerback, picking up 39 defensive tackles and two interceptions – one of which he returned 40 yards for a touchdown. He added seven defensive tackles and one interception while starting the East Semi-Final and East Final. 

For his career, Johnson has totaled 560 defensive tackles and an impressive 34 interceptions while starting 177 of 178 regular-season games. He has scored 12 touchdowns – seven interception returns, three punt returns, one fumble return and a missed field goal return.       

Johnson was eligible to become a free agent on February 13.

(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR)

Week 16 NFL Capsules

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The Thursday night set of games are over, but there are two Saturday games and there are some Christmas Day NFL games as well.  For a complete look at Week 16, click here 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Brandon Bridge Returning To Riders

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced national quarterback Brandon Bridge has signed a one-year contract extension to remain with the team through the 2018 season.       

Bridge (6’5 – 235 lbs.) will return to the Riders for his fourth CFL season and third with the Green and White. The Toronto, Ontario native spent his rookie campaign with the Montreal Alouettes after being selected in the fourth round (31st overall) of the 2015 CFL Draft. He signed with the Riders in August, 2016.     

 After seeing limited action as a backup in 2016, Bridge dressed for all 18 regular-season games last season and completed 92 of 138 pass attempts for 1,236 yards and 10 touchdowns. In his lone start of the season, the 25-year-old threw for 231 yards and three touchdowns as the Riders picked up a road win in Hamilton.

He went on to complete 11 of 21 passes for 141 yards and one touchdown in the playoffs.

 It is a real positive to get Brandon under contract for next season so we can continue to build with our core group of players,” stated Chris Jones, Riders Vice-President of Football Operations, General Manager and Head Coach. “Brandon is a good young quarterback who has shown a lot of growth. A player with his size, athletic ability and competitive drive has unlimited potential.” 

 Bridge was eligible to become a free agent on February 13th.

Former Packers Coach Mike Sherman Is New Alouettes Head Coach

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The Montreal Alouettes announced Wednesday that Mike Sherman became the 24 th head coach in the history of the Montreal Alouettes . The 63-year-old coach has nearly 40 years of experience as a high school, university and professional coach. Sherman was head coach of the Green Bay Packers in the NFL from 2000 to 2005. From 2001 to 2004, he was also the general manager of the team, accumulating a record of 57-39 in six seasons at the helm of the organization. During this period, the Packers won three division titles in 2002, 2003 and 2004. In six campaigns, he led the Packers

to five victorious seasons. His record of 53-27 at Green Bay from 2000 to 2004, ranks second in the Packers history with a winning percentage of .663.

" We went through a rigorous selection process, but from the start we knew that Mike was the man of the game. We liked his vision of the team and his expectations , "said Kavis Reed , Alouettes' Executive Director. He has experience as a professional head coach and will know how to motivate his players to push them to perform to their full potential. "

The Northberg, Massachusetts-based coach of the attack led the Packers to concession records for rushing yards (2558) in 2003 and pass (4449) in 2004. Under his command in 2003, Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre led the NFL with 32 touchdowns. The Packers also overshadowed a team record with 2558 yards rushing. The team also scored 442 points, which was the fourth best total in the rich history of one of the most legendary sporting franchises in the world of sport.

It was his second time with the Packers , when he started his career in the NFL in 1997 as a coach of the offensive line and tight ends. After two seasons, he followed head coach Mike Holmgrem in Seattle where he was named coordinator of the Seahawks attack before returning to Green Bay.

" It's an honor for me to be named head coach for the Montreal Alouettes . I really enjoyed my discussions with the owners and senior management. Through these discussions, I felt a common front when it comes to the Alouettes de Montéal, "said Sherman .

" My goal is to bring passion and a sense of responsibility to the organization that our fans will be able to see when the team plays this season. We need to give Montrealers training that acts as a champion team in everything they do as an organization. I can not wait to talk to the players to see how they see the next season, "added the new Alouettes coach .

After his second stop at Green Bay, Sherman joined the Houston Texans as assistant head coach and attack coordinator for two seasons in 2006 and 2007, before being named head coach of Aggies from the University of Texas A & M in the NCAA in 2008. He led the team to three Bowls games and led quarterback Ryan Tannehill. After four seasons in Texas, he returned to the NFL, this time with the Miami Dolphins as attack coordinator for two years.

Until May 2017, he ran the Warriors at Nauset Regional High School near his home in Masschusetts. Last October, Sherman agreed to work on the start of the Your Call Football (YCF) project. He will continue to work on it while looking at the opportunities this program presents for the Alouettes organization .

(Montreal Alouettes Football Club) 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Riders Sign Four Nationals Including Mitch Picton

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed four nationals; three of them who were 2017 draft picks including former Regina Rams receiver Mitch Picton.

Picton was selected in the 5th round (37th overall) of the 2017 CFL Draft. The 22-year-old returned to the University of Regina for his final collegiate season after attending training camp with the Riders. While with the Rams, Picton totalled 170 receptions for 2,447 yards and 24 touchdowns in 38 carrer games with the Rams. He was named U-Sports First Team All-Canadian and Canada West All-Star in 2016.

Alexandre Chevrier was selected in the 7th round (55th overall) of the 2017 CFL Draft. After attending training camp with the Riders, the 24-year-old returned to the University of Sherbrooke to complete his fifth and final year of collegiate eligibility. Through 35 career games with the Vert & Or, he collected 152 defensive tackles, six tackles for loss, four quarterback sacks and one interception.

Alexandre Gagne originally signed with the Riders as an undrafted free agent in May after an impressive showing at mini-camp. The 25-year-old spent most of his rookie season on the team’s practice roster, but played one regular-season game where he picked up a special-teams tackle.

Danny Sprukulis remained at the University of Toronto for his fifth season after being selected by the Riders in 6th round (46th overall) in the 2017 CFL Draft. The 22-year-old started all career collegiate games on the Varsity Blues offensive line.

(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR)

NHL To Stay On Rogers Through 2026 Season

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Rogers Media and CBC have signed a new seven-year sub-licensing agreement for English-language broadcasts of Hockey Night in Canada and the Stanley Cup playoffs, beginning with the 2019-20 season.

The new deal, which follows a previous four-year sub-licensing deal and one-year extension, runs through the end of the 2025-26 season which is when Rogers’ historic 12-year national broadcast rights deal with the NHL is due to expire.

The agreement ensures that Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts continue to reach the maximum number of Canadians every Saturday night on CBC, Sportsnet, and City. In addition, Hockey Night in Canada games are also available on the CBC Sports app, the CBC TV app,, Rogers NHL LIVE and Sportsnet NOW.

“CBC has been an excellent partner over the years and we are excited to extend our relationship,” said Rick Brace, President, Rogers Media. “Hockey Night in Canada is the most celebrated hockey brand in the country and is steeped in tradition. We are committed to working together to ensure it reaches the widest possible audience.”

“The strong relationship we enjoy with Rogers Media paved the way for this new agreement. HNIC on Saturday nights is something Canadians have come to cherish and we’re thrilled that this long-standing tradition will continue for many years to come,” said Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO, CBC-Radio-Canada.

As part of the new deal, CBC will continue to broadcast nationally-televised regular season games on Saturday night plus all four rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The iconic Hockey Night in Canada brand will continue on CBC and across all Rogers Media platforms on Saturday nights. Sportsnet will continue to produce the games, retain all editorial control, and manage the advertising, with games continuing to be produced from Sportsnet’s Hockey Central Studio at the CBC building in Toronto.

Since Rogers’s landmark broadcast and multimedia deal with the NHL began four years ago, Hockey Night in Canada has consistently ranked among the Top 5 programs, reaching on average 7.5 million Canadians each week. This season, Hockey Night in Canada has been the most-watched program in Canada every Saturday night, reaching a total of 18 million Canadians or 50 per cent of the country’s population. Riding the momentum of five Canadian teams making the playoffs last year, ratings continue to rise year-over-year for both the early and late match-ups.

“Our priority in coming to this new agreement was to ensure Canadians continue to have access to Saturday night hockey on CBC and an overwhelming majority of our audience told us they want it to be on CBC,” said Greg Stremlaw, Executive-Director, CBC Sports & General Manager, Olympics.

“Canadians have a profound love and deep-seated passion for the game of hockey,” said Scott Moore, President of Sportsnet & NHL Properties, Rogers Media. “Sportsnet will continue to fuel that passion by providing full-access coverage to our audiences at every opportunity. It’s a pledge we made to our fans when we won the rights in 2013, and one that we continue to deliver on every day.”

Rogers’s 12-year national broadcast and multimedia agreement with the NHL, which began with the 2014-15 season, remains the largest media rights deal in NHL history and provides Rogers with all national rights on all platforms in all languages.

In addition to Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet will continue to produce and televise national games on Sundays during Rogers Hometown Hockey and on Wednesday evenings with Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey.

In total, Sportsnet will produce and broadcast more than 450 national and regional NHL games during the 2017-18 season.

(Sportsnet PR)

Weston Dressler Signs New Deal With Bombers

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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers today announce the club has agreed to terms with international slotback Weston Dressler on a one-year contract. Dressler was set to become a free agent in February.

Dressler just completed his tenth CFL season (second with Winnipeg), and recorded 51 receptions for 651 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games. Over two seasons with the Bombers, he has registered 131 receptions for 1,694 yards and five touchdowns.

“Weston Dressler brings so much to our organization in addition to his productivity on the field,” said Blue Bombers General Manager Kyle Walters. “Every week he is out on the field, he is a threat in so many facets of the game and brings invaluable experience and leadership to our locker room.”

Prior to joining the Bombers, Dressler spent eight seasons with Saskatchewan, recording 7,797 yards on 539 receptions with 50 touchdowns. With his 51 receptions in 2017, Dressler has now recorded 50 or more catches in nine out of his ten CFL seasons.