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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Second Chance at Making Canadian Juniors For Mahura

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Hockey Canada has confirmed Josh Mahura will be re-joining Canada’s National Junior Team for its 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship pre-tournament schedule.

Mahura (St. Albert, Alta./Regina, WHL), is expected to rejoin the team on Sunday and will continue preparations while the team monitors defenseman Dante Fabbro’s lower-body injury. Fabbro (Coquitlam, B.C./Boston University, HE) is receiving treatment and may be eligible to return for the IIHF World Junior Championship.

“We are thankful to Josh for agreeing to return to the team for the pre-tournament phase in our preparations,” said  Joël Bouchard, Program of Excellence management group. “We also want to thank the Regina Pats, the Western Hockey League and the Canadian Hockey League for their support through this process.”

Canada will play a pair of pre-tournament games this week, starting Dec. 20 when it faces the Czech Republic in London, Ont. It will follow that game with a match-up against Switzerland on Dec. 22 in Hamilton, Ont., before finalizing its National Junior Team roster on Dec. 24.

The puck officially drops on Boxing Day when Canada takes on Finland at 4 p.m. ET. TSN and RDS, the official broadcasters of Hockey Canada, will once again provide wall-to-wall game coverage and analysis throughout the tournament, including the two pre-tournament games on TSN; check local listings for details.

(Hockey Canada) 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Steel, Howden, Steenburgen Make Team Canada; Mahura Doesn't

 
Courtesy: Keith Hershmiller 


There will not be a Saskatchewan-born player on this year's team that will compete for World Junior gold in Buffalo, but the three southern Saskatchewan franchises in the WHL will each have representation.

Hockey Canada announced its 22-man roster for the event on Friday just hours after a 5-2 win over Denmark and it saw Sam Steel of the Regina Pats, Moose Jaw's Brett Howden and Swift Current's Tyler Steenburgen on it.. Josh Mahura was trying to join Steel to make it two Pats on the squad, but he was one of the final cuts.

Other WHL players to make the team are Jake Bean (Calgary), Kale Clague (Brandon), Cal Foote (Kelowna), Dillon Dube (Kelowna), and Carter Hart (Everett).

Canada will play the Czech Republic in an exhibition game Wednesday with another game happening Friday against Switzerland before they start play at the World Juniors with a game against Finland on Boxing Day.

Date for 2018 CFL Draft Announced



The CFL has announced its 2018 draft will be held on Thursday, May 3.

The Montreal Alouettes will have the first pick as it stands now with the Saskatchewan Roughriders selecting 5th.  They will also have the 10th pick as a result of the Darian Durant trade and the 14th pick.

In all, the green-and-white will have six selections in the draft with the others being at 36, 45 and 63.

Earlier this week, the league announced its top 20 draft eligible players with the top player being Brampton, Ontario native David Knevel who is playing football in the US with the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Stamps Re-Sign Kamar Jorden

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The Calgary Stampeders announced on Friday the team has signed international receiver Kamar Jorden, who had been eligible to become a free agent in February.

In 10 regular-season games for the Stamps in 2017, the 28-year-old Darby, Pa., native had 52 receptions for 717 yards and six touchdowns and also had a rushing major. He missed eight games due to a leg injury before returning to the lineup in October.

The Bowling Green State University product started both post-season games and had 100-yard performances in both contests. He had six catches for 111 yards in the Western Final and six catches for 117 yards and a touchdown in the Grey Cup.

“Kamar has emerged as one of our go-to receivers over the past two seasons and we’re very pleased to have him back,” said Calgary president and general manager John Hufnagel. “I look forward to watching him build on his performance and see what he can do over a full season.”

Jorden signed with the Stampeders as a free agent in 2013 and made his debut in 2014. In 22 career games for the Red and White, he has 97 catches for 1,310 yards and nine touchdowns.

“Every year I’ve been in Calgary, I’ve grown as a player and I believe I still have room to improve,” said Jorden. “Returning to Calgary and continuing to work with Coach Dicky (Dave Dickenson) is the best opportunity for me to keep growing as a player and to try and win more football games.”

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.


--There are things that you really don't expect and news of the schedule being released made me wonder if instead of getting Christmas gifts for Mrs. Scruffy, did I have to get a Valentines Day gift for her instead because it had turned to mid-February.  Who saw that one coming?  The release of the CFL schedule days before Christmas keeps the league in the minds of CFL fans.  The days of hanging the "Gone Fishing" sign on the door of the league office is over and you can thank Commissioner Randy Ambrosie for that.  I had a great chat with Ambrosie on Friday's Sportscage as we talked about the release and other issues.

Ambrosie wants the CFL to have a bigger piece of the pie and he is willing to engage with the fans that are the lifeblood of the league when it comes to key issues.  He wants to take the moving up the schedule issue with fans from one side of the country to the other, he wants to talk about the playoff format with fans from all over. He wants what he thinks will be spirited debate on the issue. Why not? He likely has an idea as to where he wants this league to go moving forward, but he wants the input of the fans as well. They likely won't have the final say, but they are getting a say. How can you not like that?

How can you not like the Rider schedule? Yes, it isn't perfect and a bye in the last week of the season could be very interesting and dramatic considering where the Riders could be sitting at that time. Some have quickly noticed that if they were to be first in the West that they would have a long break. If the Riders finished first in the West, I don't think anyone would care one bit about the break they would have because it would mean they would have finished first!

People are complaining already about the Thursday game in July. Shocking! Look at the schedule and either work around it and take a long weekend or don't go. It's as simple as that! You have been given plenty of notice.  The decision is now up to you! It's not a Riders thing, its a you thing and the same thing goes for the Thanksgiving Monday game against Edmonton. I personally think that will be outstanding. Is it safe to say we know what the halftime spread in the pressbox will be that day. Yeah, it will probably be smokies!

--The news Wednesday of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment buying the Toronto Argonauts fits into that category of things you don't expect as well.  It is great news for the Argos and the CFL though.  How can it not be?  This will have to move the needle somewhat.   Those going to Leafs and Raptors game will get a dose of the Argonauts with in-game advertisements.  There is also perhaps a way to work together with those two teams when it comes to ticket sales.

The same can be said with Toronto FC.  BMO Field is now a "stadium of champions". How do you and can you capitalize on that? What is done now will be key for a franchise that is trying to claw its way back to relevance, but it is still a long way from doing so.

There are things you do expect, and I did expect the Saskatchewan Roughriders to sign Chris Jones to a contract extension.  Say what you will, but the plan is on track.  Yes, it would have been through the East, but Jones had this team just seconds from competing in the Grey Cup. Would they have beaten Calgary on that snowy track in Ottawa? It's a question we will never know the true answer to, but one would have had to like their chances.

The team is on an upswing. It would be unrealistic to see the team take another 5 win progression in 2018 and go to 15 wins, but don't tell that to Jones. He has said it many times before Monday and he said it again during his news conference. My goal every year is to win the Grey Cup and if we don't, the season is a failure.  That is a logic shared by many.   His expectations are high, but Craig Reynolds has said getting a home playoff game is satisfactory to him for 2018.  That home playoff game means you finish first or second and your path to the Grey Cup is easier. I don't disagree.

--Week 15 NFL Lock of the Week -- Falcons over Bucs
   Week 15 NFL Upset of the Week -- Raiders over Cowboys

--Congratulations to Balcarres for being named the Hockey Day in Saskatchewan host venue. It will be a fun time in the home of the Broncs on the January 19-20-21 weekend as the town becomes the center of activity with the game we all love. Once again, there will be many different leagues showcasing their teams and the game during that weekend.  I fully understand why it doesn't happen, but I would love to see a WHL game played at this event as well.

--As you walk through Safeway and you see Pic-A-Pop, tell me you don't think back to your childhood if you are in my age bracket. Unlike me, you probably leave it on the shelf.

--The Regina Pats are not making it easy on themselves.  The comparisons being made to the Saskatoon Blades of 2013 that hosted the Memorial Cup are accurate.  The question being asked now is will John Paddock give up too much or will he completely dismantle the team the way Brent Parker did back in 2001 so that they are competitive come May. It won't be much longer now as the trade deadline is January 10th.  A frustrated fan-base awaits.

--Something about subtraction doesn't add up.

--Have a great weekend.  If going out into the chaos that is Christmas shopping, godspeed to you. Chances are I could see you.  SIGHHHHH!!!

-




Thursday, December 14, 2017

Jarious Jackson Heading To BC

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The BC Lions Football Club today announced that Jarious Jackson has been named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Jackson, the former Lions quarterback who spent seven seasons with the club as a player and the 2013 campaign as the team’s quarterbacks coach, was most recently the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2016 and 2017.

“Ed and I are very pleased to welcome Jarious back to the Lions,” said head coach Wally Buono. “My thoughts on Jarious’ ability as a coach are well–documented and he has gained some valuable experience over the past number of years. He’s enjoyed a significant amount of success since being here in 2013 and we’re fortunate to have him returning to our organization.”

Prior to his two-year stint in Saskatchewan, Jarious spent a pair of seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos as quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator where he helped tutor the Green and Gold’s stable of pivots and enjoyed a Grey Cup win in 2015.

“I’m excited to return to where my career in the CFL began in 2005,” said Jackson. “I believe the team that Ed and Wally are putting together is going to be very competitive and I’m excited to be part of the organization once again.”

(BC Lions)

Riders 2018 Schedule Is Released




The Saskatchewan Roughriders are pleased to announce the Canadian Football League has released its complete 2018 schedule. 

This year’s schedule has the Roughriders opening their regular season at home on Friday, June 15th. The regular-season opener will see the Riders host the Toronto Argonauts at Mosaic Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 7:00PM.  

“It is always exciting for football fans across the country when the schedule gets announced,” stated Roughriders President and CEO Craig Reynolds. “We have to give credit to the CFL office and teams across the league for working together to get the schedule released earlier than ever. This is never an easy task.”

The Roughriders’ regular-season home schedule has them playing at Mosaic Stadium on Monday (one game), Thursday (one game), Friday (one game), Saturday (four games) and Sunday (two games). Each team will visit Regina once, with the Calgary Stampeders being the only team to visit twice.

The Roughriders’ away schedule has them playing on the road on Thursday (three games), Saturday (five games) and Sunday (one game). They will visit each team once with a trip to Winnipeg a second time. 

Once again the Roughriders will host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the traditional Labour Day Classic on Sunday, September 2nd for a 1:00PM kickoff.

“The passion that Rider Nation has for their team and our league is incredible, which makes for an amazing atmosphere at Mosaic Stadium and generates strong broadcast ratings,” said CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie. “You will see this reflected in the schedule as the Riders are featured in a number of high-profile television timeslots, including Thanksgiving Monday and four Thursday night appearances – including one at Mosaic Stadium.”    

Fans interested in purchasing season tickets can register online at Riderville.com.    


ROUGHRIDER SCHEDULE NOTABLES:

  • The Riders open the regular season at home for the seventh time in the last 10 seasons.
  • The season opener will be at Mosaic Stadium on Friday, June 15th at 7:00PM versus the defending Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts. 

  • The Roughriders have a split of five home games and four away games in the first half versus four home, five away in the back nine.

  • They will play each of the other eight teams at home and away once with Calgary making an additional trip to Saskatchewan, and the Riders will make a second trip to Winnipeg to fill the 18-game regular season.

  • This is the fifth time the Riders have been scheduled to open a regular season at home versus Toronto. The Riders carry a 1-3 record in those contests, winning in 1998 while suffering losses in 1984, 2000 and 2016.

  • They will open the season with five games against East Division opponents, followed by the next six games against their West Division rivals.   

  • The team will play four Thursday night games, including one at home – July 5th vs. Hamilton – and three on the road.  

  • The team will have its first of three byes during week five with the latter two falling on week nine and 21 respectively.  

  • The 54th annual Labour Day Classic will be played Sunday, September 2nd at 1:00. The Riders have won 12 of the last 13 matchups and hold a 35-18 advantage through the first 53 meetings.

  • The traditional Labour Day Rematch in Winnipeg will be Saturday, September 8th with a 3:00 start time in Manitoba.

  • The Riders have back-to-back games at home in week three and four while playing back-to-back on the road twice – week 15 and 16 then again week 18 and 19.  

  • The Green and White will showcase the 2018 hopefuls in their first pre-season game on Sunday, May 27th when they visit the Edmonton Eskimos. The following week the Riders will host the Calgary Stampeders in their final pre-season match-up on Friday, June 8th at 7:30PM. 

The complete schedule can be found here



Thanksgiving Game at Mosaic?


3DownNation is reporting the CFL may be about to release its 2018 schedule way earlier than the usual February date.

This after a podcaster got his hands on a 2018 Edmonton Eskimos schedule that appears to be legit.

 

If you look at that schedule, you will see Rider Nation will either have to eat Thanksgiving Day dinner late or have it on Sunday as they will be at Mosaic Monday, October 8 to see the Riders play Edmonton. 

Week 15 NFL Capsules




The NFL week begins in Indianapolis as the Colts take on the Denver Broncos.  A complete preview of the game can be found right here

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

MLSE Buying Argonauts

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Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) today announced an agreement to acquire the Toronto Argonauts Football Club of the Canadian Football League (CFL).

Crowned CFL champions at the 105th Grey Cup on November 26, the Argos are currently jointly owned by Bell Canada and the Kilmer Group. Financial terms of the MLSE acquisition, expected to close in January 2018 pending approval by the CFL Board of Governors, were not disclosed.
Joining MLSE brings numerous advantages to the Argonauts, including financial scale and promotional, ticketing and other operational synergies. The Argos play at BMO Field at Toronto’s Exhibition Place, which is operated by MLSE and also serves as home to another MLSE team, Toronto FC of Major League Soccer (MLS).

“Under its current ownership, a transformed Argonauts football club enhanced its presence and fan base in Canada’s largest sports market and ultimately marched to the CFL Championship,” said Michael Friisdahl, President and CEO of MLSE. “We look forward to building on the Argos’ strong momentum as we welcome the team to the leading provider of sports and entertainment experiences in Canada.”

“Everyone at the Argos organization is proud to have delivered the Grey Cup to our fans in what was truly a game for the history books. It’s been an exciting time of renewal and accomplishment for the Double Blue and I speak on behalf of all of us at the organization when I say how excited we are to now be joining forces with MLSE, Canada’s top sports company,” said Michael Copeland, President & CEO of the Toronto Argonauts.

“On the heels of a stunning Grey Cup showdown with the Calgary Stampeders that highlighted the sheer excitement of Canadian football, we’re thrilled that the Argonauts will be joining the MLSE roster,” said Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the Canadian Football League. “We welcome MLSE to the CFL and look forward to working with them to further enhance the experience for Canadian football fans.”

Founded in 1873, the Toronto Argonauts are North America’s oldest continuously operated professional football club and the oldest pro sports team of any kind on the continent that still operates with its original name. The Argonauts have won the CFL championship game a record 17 times, most recently at the 105th Grey Cup earlier this year. The team was founded by the Argonaut Rowing Club, which owned the club for its first 83 years.

(Toronto Argonauts) 

Trevor Harris Re-Signs With Ottawa

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The Ottawa REDBLACKS have signed quarterback Trevor Harris to new deal that will keep him with the club through 2018, the team announced Wednesday.

Harris had a career year in his second season in the nation’s capital, finishing fourth in the CFL in passing yards with 4,679 despite missing three games due to injury. He finished the year tied for the league lead in touchdown passes with 30.

Harris recorded 3,301 passing yards and 16 touchdowns in his first season with Ottawa in 2015 while sharing quarterback duties with Henry Burris.

“Trevor was one of the top quarterbacks in the CFL last year and bringing him back was one of our top priorities this off-season,” said REDBLACKS GM Marcel Desjardins. “We’re very pleased that Trevor will remain a REDBLACK moving forward.”

(Ottawa REDBLACKS Football Club)

Ambrosie Talks Manziel During ESPN Visit

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 CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said Wednesday that he felt "good" about a conversation in September with quarterback Johnny Manziel but is awaiting the results of a multi-faceted expert analysis before deciding whether to approve him for play in the league.

Manziel's rights are held exclusively by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He triggered a process last summer that would require the Tiger-Cats to offer him a contract or relinquish is rights, but Ambrosie stepped in to ensure what he called a "thorough and thoughtful" decision was made about Manziel's eligibility to play in the CFL.

"He represented himself incredibly well [in the meeting]," Ambrosie said during a visit to ESPN headquarters. "He was thoughtful. I found him to be authentic and sincere. I also felt like he seems to have come to a good place in his life. He was talking a lot about his family. Now, I should say that's part of the problem. My bias is towards family. So when I'm with somebody in there talking about my family, immediately I feel good about the conversation."

"That's exactly why we feel for any player who has had some trouble in their past, it's important to not let the lay people be the only part of the decision-making process. That's why we've implemented a process where we'll lean very heavily on experts who have training and skill that will allow them to really understand where somebody is in their personal journey and be able to give me wise counsel."

Ambrosie's meeting with Manziel was the start of a process in which he will speak to investigators about his checkered past, including a 2016 domestic violence charge that ultimately was dismissed. Under the terms of the dismissal agreement, the former Cleveland Browns player and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback was required to complete an anger management class, attend a domestic violence impact panel and participate in the NFL's substance-abuse program or a similar program.

"If we reach a point where we make an announcement that someone can play," Ambrosie said, "we want to be able to look to the community and say to them that we've done our work, that we have not skipped a step."

Manziel has not played since the Cleveland Browns released him in March 2016. But Ambrosie said he could tell "very quickly" that Manziel genuinely wants to play in the CFL. And Tiger-Cats coach June Jones, the former Hawaii and SMU coach whom Hamilton hired last summer, made clear recently that he wants Manziel on his team.

"I think he'd be the best player to ever play up here," Jones said, according to the CFL web site. "He can throw it and he can run it like nobody ever has been able to do."

(ESPN.COM)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Riders Senior Management Sign Contract Extensions



Saskatchewan Roughriders President & CEO Craig Reynolds has announced Vice-President of Football Operations, General Manager and Head Coach Chris Jones has signed a one-year contract extension to remain with the club through 2019.

The Riders also announced that front office personnel Jeremy O’Day, John Murphy and Mike Davis have each agreed to two-year extensions, keeping them under contract with the Riders through the 2019 season.

“It was important for our organization to create continuity within our football operations to build on the strong foundation that’s been established,” stated Reynolds. “Chris is a proven winner and has surrounded himself with a valuable support system of experienced individuals. Under their guidance, we look forward to our football team taking the next step on-field.”

Originally hired on December 7, 2015, Chris Jones will enter his third season with the Riders. After going through a rebuilding season in 2016, the Riders increased by five wins under Jones’ guidance last year, and appeared in a division final for the first time since 2013.
 
Jeremy O’Day will remain with the Riders for his 20th consecutive season – his third in the role of Assistant Vice-President of Football Operations and Administration. O’Day originally joined the club’s front office in 2011 after playing 12 seasons on the Riders’ offensive line.

John Murphy will return for his third season as Assistant Vice-President of Football Operations and Player Personnel. Murphy will be entering his 13th year in the CFL after previously spending time in Calgary and Winnipeg. 

Mike Davis will return as the Riders’ Manager of Football Administration. Davis was added to the Riders staff in September, 2016 after coaching the Nebraska Danger of the Indoor Football League for six seasons.   

Monday, December 11, 2017

Moose Jaw Warriors Making Some Deals

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Moose Jaw Warriors General Manager Alan Millar has announced the acquisition of 18-year-old forward Ryan Peckford and a 4th round pick in 2018 from the Victoria Royals in exchange for 19-year-old forward Noah Gregor and an 8th round pick in 2018.

Peckford, 6’1”, 197lbs, is from Stony Plain, Alberta and has 13 goals, 14 assists, and 27 points in 33 games this season for the Royals.  In 2016-2017 Peckford had 13 goals, 21 assists, and 34 points in 45 games.
Peckford was drafted by the Royals in the 2nd round (31st overall) at the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.  In 140 WHL games he has 34 goals, 38 assists, ad 72 points.

Gregor, a 6-foot-0, 188-pound product of Beaumont, Alta., is heading back to the team that drafted him in the third round, 55th overall, of the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. The 19-year-old Gregor never played for the Royals, but has since become a star for the Warriors’ offensively-laden team with 176 points (71G-101A) in 164 WHL regular season games. This year, Gregor sits fifth on the Warriors in scoring with 36 points (14G-22A) in 30 games.

--

 Moose Jaw Warriors General Manager Alan Millar has announced the acquisition of 19-year-old forward Vince Loschiavo from the Kootenay ICE in exchange for 16-year-old prospect Jakin Smallwood and a conditional 3rd round pick in 2020.

 Loschiavo, 6’2”, 195lbs, is from Winnipeg and has seven goals, seven assists, and 14 points in 28 games this season with Kootenay.  In 2016-2017 Loschiavo led Kootenay with 29 goals and was second in team scoring with 57 points in 68 games.  Loschiavo was a 2nd round pick (31st overall) of the ICE at the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft.

(MJ Warriors Hockey Club)

James Franklin Is An Argonaut



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The Toronto Argonauts announced Monday that the team has acquired quarterback James Franklin and a third-round selection in the 2018 CFL Draft from the Edmonton Eskimos in exchange for Canadian offensive lineman Mason Woods.

Franklin, a 6-2, 225-pound native of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has dressed for 52 games in three years with the Eskimos. In 12 appearances, the University of Missouri product has completed 116-of-176 pass attempts for 1,449 yards, 12 touchdowns and just one interception while rushing for 145 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries.

In his lone career start, a Week 20 showdown with the Argos in 2016, the 26-year old pivot completed 18-of-23 attempts for 335 yards and four touchdowns.

BC Lions Announce Changes In Football Operations

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BC Lions GM Ed Hervey today announced that Torey Hunter has been named the club’s new Director of Player Personnel and Player Development. Hunter had been a regional scout on the staff of the Edmonton Eskimos for the past four seasons.

A graduate of Washington State and a draft selection of the Houston Oilers, Hunter played defensive back with both the Eskimos and Montreal Alouettes before moving into the NCAA coaching ranks in 2002. Serving on coaching staffs at Western Washington, Idaho State, Central Washington, Eastern Washington and Idaho, Torey made his way back to the CFL in 2014 with Edmonton.

“I am very pleased to be adding Torey to our personnel staff,” said Hervey, who was named Lions general manager last week. “He understands the kind of unique talent we need to be successful in the CFL and I’m confident he will be a tremendous asset to our organization as we begin the process of building our team.”

Hervey also confirmed that Neil McEvoy will remain in place as the Lions’ Director of Football Operations while Geroy Simon will retain his duties as the Director of Canadian Scouting and add the title of CFL Draft Coordinator to his portfolio. Director of U.S. Scouting, Ryan Rigmaiden will also return in his current role.

“Neil, Geroy and Ryan have done an excellent job of positioning the club for the future and I am excited about the foundation we have to work from right now,” added Hervey. “There is much work to be done, but I am confident about the track we’re on today.”

(BC Lions)

NHL Three Stars Of Week



St. Louis Blues center Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen and Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Dec. 10.

FIRST STAR – BRAYDEN SCHENN, C, ST. LOUIS BLUES
Schenn led the NHL with 6-1—7, including at least one goal in all four of his appearances, to power the Blues (21-8-2, 44 points) to a perfect week and the top of the Western Conference standings. He notched his third career hat trick, including the decisive goal, in a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens Dec. 5. Schenn then scored the winning goal in a 3-0 triumph against the Dallas Stars Dec. 7 and registered 1-1—2 in a 6-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Dec. 9. He closed the week with another tally, marking the second four-game goal streak of his NHL career (also Jan. 8-14, 2017: 4-0—4 in 4 GP w/ PHI), in a 3-2 overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres Dec. 10. The 26-year-old Saskatoon, Sask., native ranks fifth in the NHL with 16-21—37 in 31 outings this season. He also paces the League in game-winning goals (t-6), shootout-deciding goals (t-2) and plus/minus (+25).

SECOND STAR – JAKE ALLEN, G, ST. LOUIS BLUES
Allen went 4-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average, .944 save percentage and one shutout to guide the Blues to their third four-game winning streak of the season (also Oct. 4-10 and Oct. 25-30). He made 22 saves in a 4-3 victory against the Montreal Canadiens Dec. 5. Allen then turned aside all 29 shots he faced, earning his 16th career shutout in a 3-0 triumph over the Dallas Stars Dec. 7. He added a pair of weekend wins, recording 28 saves in a 6-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings Dec. 9 and 22 stops in a 3-2 overtime triumph over the Buffalo Sabres Dec. 10. The 27-year-old Fredericton, N.B., native shares second place in the NHL with 17 victories in 26 contests this season (17-6-2), compiling a 2.54 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and one shutout.

THIRD STAR – BRIAN ELLIOTT, G, PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Elliott posted a trio of victories – along with a 1.67 goals-against average and .954 save percentage – to help the Flyers (11-11-7, 29 points) bounce back from a 10-game skid (0-5-5) and complete a perfect road trip through Western Canada. He made 43 saves in a 5-2 victory over the Calgary Flames Dec. 4, 24 stops in a 4-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers Dec. 6 and 36 saves in a 4-1 triumph over the Vancouver Canucks Dec. 7. The 32-year-old Newmarket, Ont., native – who is in his first season with Philadelphia – owns a 9-6-6 record, 2.79 goals-against average and .912 save percentage through 22 appearances.

(NHL Communications) 

Something To "Mitch" About

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--Just two more Saturdays to go to get Christmas shopping done.  If its only going to get worse the next two Saturdays than what it was this Saturday, can I just stay at home? Yikes!!  It's getting ugly out there.  I don't even what to think what it would be like at Costco right now.  Godspeed to you all if you have to endure that between now and the 25th. 

--If what we are hearing is true, there could be some very acrimonious bargaining when it comes time for the CFL and the CFLPA to start working on a new CBA.  Santa may have to step in as an arbitrator. Word came out this week that the league is urging teams not to issue bonuses being paid to players as of January 1, 2019 despite the fact the current CBA doesn't expire until May 14, 2019.

The players association says this undermines their working relationship with the league.  How can it not?

The league has certainly fired a pre-emptive shot leading into bargaining for a new contract.  You remember last time, the players felt they didn't get a good shake and were muscled into the deal they have now.  I don't see that happening this time around.  I don't think there is a lot of common ground when it comes to the key areas.

--Is Nik Lewis suggesting we need to diminish the role of Canadian in the "Canadian" Football League?  By looking at a Twitter exchange he had with Rider receiver Rob Bagg, it would certainly seem that way.  Lewis is throwing it out there that the number of Canadian starters be dropped by two or three. Bagg is saying hold on there big fella. I see the argument Lewis is trying to make, but it doesn't hold water with this blogger.  In fact, I would like to see more Canadians on game-day rosters because there are USports players out there whose careers are over the moment they peel off that university jersey for the last time.  Some would likely get a chance and when Halifax gets into the league if that comes to fruition, more will get an opportunity.  One has to think this will also come up when it comes time for that new CBA.

--It would appear as if the buzz over the Argos winning the Grey Cup has ended in Toronto. That is if there ever was a buzz of significance.  Late Saturday afternoon, Toronto FC won the MLS Cup beating Seattle 2-0.  I like soccer, but MLS is not my cup of tea. To me, it is the season that never ends. By the way, do some MLS fans call for the final to be moved up one month?  I digress.  I happened to turn over to TSN moments before Toronto got on the board.  The place was jumpin, it was sold out.  They were loving it at BMO Field. It just begs the age-old question as to why we can't get that for the Argos. Imagine!

Within hours of the win, Mayor John Tory announced the parade route. Parade? The Argos got a reception at Nathan Phillips Square and the soccer team gets a parade? While many turned up for the rally when the Argos won, I am expecting the parade route in downtown Toronto to be packed.  As was mentioned to me on Twitter, while the Argos took the Grey Cup to a Leafs game, did they take it to BMO for a TFC playoff game where two were played after the Grey Cup win. If they did, I didn't see or hear about it.  Set up some booths and sell some tickets with a good share of "football" fans in attendance.   While Toronto doesn't help the Argos, sometimes the football club doesn't help itself out either.

--The Bills and Colts played in a snowstorm in Buffalo. Is anyone suggesting the NFL season move up a month so this doesn't happen? 

--Drew Brees was the latest NFL player to come out and criticize Thursday Night Football after his Saints lost to Atlanta.  Was Brees just trying to deflect attention with his comments away from the fact he pulled off a Bo Levi Mitchell and threw a pass he never should have that cost his team the game? That's for you to decide.

Brees is right when he says it is ridiculous playing on Thursday because your body can't heal properly and you can't get ready properly after playing the Sunday previous.  However, once again the players can say no to playing Thursday Night Football when it comes to a new CBA.  Players don't really want to get rid of it because it may cost them money because they see the revenue being brought in by Thursday Night Football and they don't want to give that up.  The players aren't going to sacrifice any extra $$$$ they can get.----Thursday Night Football brings in added $$$ to the league so guess what.  It will be the same way if the NFL proposes more games to the schedule. If it means players getting more money, they will do so even though they don't like it.

--I can't help but think the chances of the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl went out the window with what looks to be the season-ending  Carson Wentz knee injury much like the Raiders had their chance go last year when Derek Carr suffered a season-ending broken leg.  The Eagles have a better backup QB than Oakland had last year, but I don't see them being able to get it done. What a game that was in LA.  Hard to determine if that game or the Steelers-Ravens game was the better game.

--Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge in the same lineup? That news can't have pitchers in the American League or American League East very happy. Add someone who hit 59 HR's to Judge who cracked 50 plus last year and it is safe to say you have a very potent lineup.  I'm guessing new Yankees manager Aaron Boone just got a lot better in the eyes of many.

--There was anger at the Brandt Centre Friday night as the Kelowna Rockets beat the Pats.  The anger over the fact the team's blue-line has become extremely porous which doesn't make life any easier for a struggling Tyler Brown. I am hearing rumour after rumour after rumour of what players could be headed to Regina.  It's somewhat dizzying.  Some are conceivable while others are wayyyyy out there.   The job isn't getting any easier for John Paddock. I am guessing a win over Medicine Hat Saturday didn't really cool the heels of those who are getting impatient.



 

--Congratulations to  Rachel Homan and Kevin Koe for winning the Olympic curling trials.  Both finals were great and it capped off a great week of curling. The win for Koe means South Korea will get to enjoy Regina's Ben Hebert.  Those who know Ben know he will definitely make the most of the experience.  You have to think both are favoured to win gold.

That's all I got.  Have a great week!