How ya feelin Rider Nation? It was a rough weekend for you, but its one you should have realized was coming.
BOOM!!! - Darian Durant said during the season, there would be another picture like this. If there is, it sadly won't see him wearing that uniform. As I was getting ready to leave my hotel after my getaway to watch some Oilers game, the e-mail came from Ryan Pollock saying Durant had been traded to Montreal. Did this surprise me? NOPE! I think all of us knew Doubles wouldn't be back, but I think we thought that day would come in a months time when free agency hit. The words were as much a slap in the face to the best fanbase in the CFL as the -45 degree weather Saskatchewan endured this past week.
As I sat in the Edmonton airport and listened to Chris Jones' newser on 620 CKRM, I like many of you were disappointed and mad, but the reality of professional sports once again turned its ugly head. Chris Jones made it sound like things went haywire when Durant's agent got involved. We will likely never know the true story behind negotiations, but the bottom line is Jones has angered this loyal fan base again. It's a repeat of last year with Weston Dressler and John Chick. The only difference is the football team didn't get anything in return for those two all-time Rider greats and they did for this one.
Did Jones bring up some valid points? Yes he did! Did he make some statements that left one scratching their head? Yes he did! Does he have a plan B? We don't know, and to tell you the truth I don't know if the organization does right now either. While listening to Saskatchewan's #1 sports show--the Sportscage on Friday, a caller said to Rod Pedersen "Please don't let it be Drew Tate!". That made me laugh. Others don't want to see a return of Kevin Glenn. I don't argue that because of his age.
As I returned to the Regina airport, I was getting ready to come down the stairs when the commissionaire gladly informed me the city wasn't burning. I have to admit as the plane was coming in I was looking for smoke. As I grabbed my bag from the carousel, a person said is there any chance of Darian coming back as a free agent? My look said it all for him. He was grasping at straws and he knew it. He then asked "Now what?". I could only shrug my shoulders because I don't know.
The question is where do the Riders go now? Is Brandon Bridge the guy? Could this team go with a raw rookie in Jake Waters or GJ Kinne. Mitchell Gale is a free agent so until the ink is dry on a new contract, you can't put him in the equation.
Let's go around the CFL
BC: Jon Jennings, Travis Lulay, Keith Price --- I still like the former University of Washington Husky and wish he had never gotten away. Seeing him return would be OK for this blogger. There isn't a lot of experience there, but there is at least some.
CALGARY: Bo Levi Mitchell, Drew Tate, Andrew Buckley --- Let's move on
EDMONTON: Mike Reilly, James Franklin, Jordan Lynch -- Franklin is obviously the guy Jones wants, but what does it take to pry him out of Edmonton now? Can the football team afford to wait one year for him to become a free agent. I think we all know the answer to that. There's no way the Eskimos would give the keys to Franklin and set Reilly adrift is there? I know, put down the pickle juice!
WINNIPEG: Matt Nichols, Dominique Davis: I don't see the Riders out-bidding the Bombers for the services of Nichols. Chris Jones would know what Nichols is all about though. Was he a one year wonder or not?
OTTAWA: Henry Burris, Trevor Harris, Brock Jensen: I still think Burris retires after winning the Grey Cup and the REDBLACKS aren't getting rid of Harris.
TORONTO: Drew Willy, Ricky Ray, Logan Kilgore: I have been asked if the Riders would go with Ricky Ray for one season as a bridge to Franklin. I can't say no to that, but I don't see it happening. Then again.......
HAMILTON: Zach Collaros, Jeremiah Masoli, Jeff Mathews: Could the Riders pry Masoli away from the Ti-Cats? Hmmmmmm!!!
MONTREAL: Vernon Adams Junior, Rakeem Cato: What do the Als do with Cato? It doesn't sound like they are getting rid of Adams anytime soon as they have a progression place already in place.
There's a snapshot of the QB picture around the league. It is going to be tough in a couple of months when CFL week arrives and Durant shows up wearing Montreal colours. I am guessing it won't be easy for him as well, and it certainly won't be easy for Chris Jones who some think has put his job on the line with this move. As TSN's Dave Naylor stated on Friday night, is this move one that could cost him his job in 2017 if the Riders have another terrible season. If they do, could Craig Reynolds get caught up in the shrapnel as it was him who made the decision to have Jones leave Edmonton for Regina. The soap opera continues!
By the way, there is one quarterback that I'm sure the Riders could get. He wears the same number as Darian, and is pretty damn good!
While I would love to see this happen, I know its not going to. Besides, I think Steve Bryce has plans for him the next couple of years!
So now the question is "What is the legacy of Darian Durant and where does he go down in Rider folklore?" Kent Austin was booed here and so was Ron Lancaster. For whatever reason, Durant didn't resonate with some in the fan base for reasons I can't answer, but these are probably the same people who jeered Austin and Durant. There is no doubt everyone will remember his play in the 2013 Grey Cup and his play in the playoffs as he put this team on his back to make sure that magical late Novembr night at Mosaic Stadium could happen. We will never forget the emotion he showed that night. There were many photos from that night that I fondly remember, and this will be one of them.
I forget who is was from the Riders who said this picture needed to be taken, but Darian was more than willing to do it. It was one of the greatest nights of his life. I think every Rider fan was hoping he could do it here again, but he won't.
Darian is a definite POH inductee and while he may be wearing Alouette colours to finish off his CFL career, he will always be a Rider to this fan-base who can thank him for giving them a memory he will never forget. Is he the 2nd best QB in franchise history behind Lancaster? I would say yes, but those who say Kent Austin would have a valid argument.
One more thing. There has been some debate as to what team should come to Mosaic Stadium to officially open the new place. I would like it to be Calgary, but I am guessing they have an opening week game against Ottawa. I now say it should be against the Alouettes. Doesn't Darian deserve the opportunity to play in the first game at NMS?
THANK YOU HAYLEY - How much gratitude should we have for Saskatchewan's own Hayley Wickenheiser. The GOAT when it comes to womens hockey called it a career Friday with this simple tweet.
She is thanking us when it is us who should thank her for helping the grow the game we love so much in this country. 16,000 girls were playing womens hockey when she started on the national team with that number now at 87,000. A lot of that can be credited to Hayley. Canadian womens hockey should permanently retire "22" and her call to the Hockey Hall of Fame shouldn't be long. When it comes to a highlight, who can forget this memorable interview in 2002.
I loved that then, and I still do now! By the way, a great job by both the Oilers and Flames to recognize Hayley before their game Saturday at Rogers Place with Wayne Gretzky in attendance. However, my best friend did ask me a very valid question. What was Gretz doing in Edmonton on the same night they had a ceremony in L-A to honour Jari Kurri? Wayne also said Hayley was the female version of Gordie Howe as she is the greatest female hockey player to hit the ice. What do Gordie and Hayley have in common? That's easy, they are both from the best province in Canada that loves their hockey.
KP1000 - I've done a lot for Cougars basketball over the past many years, and I have seen many good athletes come and go. One of those is Katie Polischuk.
I remember Dave Taylor saying he had a good one in Polischuk when he recruited her from Ontario, and she has been everything as advertised. On Saturday night, she became the 11th person in the history of the womens program to register 1000 career points in a win over Manitoba. The fact I remember seeing her in her first year and now she is in the last half of her university career is just another example in the "I am feeling old" category. She is one of the top 5 I have seen in those years of watching that women's team. Congrats to Katie on the accomplishment.
NFL PLAYOFF RECAP - Full credit to the Atlanta Falcons for their dismantling of the Seahawks Saturday. Like the Giants-Packers game changed with the Aaron Rodgers hail mary at the end of the first half, this game changed on an unfortunate series of events for the Seahawks. When Devin Hester took a punt back inside the Atlanta 10 in what at the time was a Seattle 10-7 lead, there was a great chance to take a 10 point lead. That return was called back because of a penalty (which it was) putting the ball inside the Seattle 10. Moments later, Atlanta got a safety when a Seattle offensive lineman tripped Russell Wilson as he took the snap and after that, it was all Falcons.
When you go 99 and a half yards in 9 plays and do it with surgical precision, you are done and that is what happened to Seattle. See ya! They will be a tough out next weekend. That game could see 100 points scored as Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan go up and down the field. What can you say about Rodgers. He didn't have his best stuff against the Cowboys, but whenever Green Bay needed a play, he gave it to him including that last second pass to Jared Cook to set up the game-winning Mason Crosby field goal end what was an incredible contest and a great season for Dallas.
No one was surprised to see the Patriots hang one on Houston, and while the Texans kept it close, you knew it was just a matter of time before Tom Brady and company took control. As for the Pittsburgh-Kansas City game, I didn't get a chance to see a lot of that game, but it just seemed as if Leveon Bell took over another game. Can he do against the Patriots what he did against Miami and Kansas City. If he does, the TB12FU tour will come to an end next Sunday night.
THE CALIFORNIA GOLDEN SEALS - Why would I be talking about the old team that didn't last many seasons in the NHL. The reason is simple. If you haven't got your hands on the Hockey News with the new Las Vegas logo on it, you need to get it for the story on the Seals. I'm not giving the story away, but what a circus they were. Some of the highlights in the article included eccentric owner Charles Finley have a naked woman zoom across the ice in nothing but her skates with the word "Seals" painted on her body. Can you imagine some team trying that today? I also didn't know the Seals were the first team to have player names on the back of their jerseys. Broadcasters everywhere can thank the Seals for this.
There is apparently a documentary that has just been released on the team that is 95 minutes in length and goes through their history. I need to find that!
What I also need to do is end this. Have a great week!