Friday, February 24, 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.

--Regina lost a true great this week. Gord Currie was a great football coach, a great educator and a tremendous man. The words of wisdom that he gave to many in this community will not be forgottten by those he spoke to. Many that played with him for the Rams know what type of individual he was as he shaped them to be the person they are today. His departure leaves a big hole in our community.

--We are in the homestretch of the WHL season, and it is safe to say someone has some explaining to do in the scheduling department.

Wednesday night's Pats game in Saskatoon was the end of a 5 game roadie which saw them play 6 games in 9 days in 6 different cities. On the March 3 weekend, they will play three games in three days with that third one being an afternoon game in Brandon.  That's insane!  I realize the league tries to do things in mind with keeping education at the forefront, but what the Pats are going through right now is just stupid as far as I am concerned.  I am sure if I looked at other teams I could find anomalies in their schedule too.

--Since when did NHL goalies become unable to play back-to-back nights?  Several times this year I have heard coaches say they didn't want their guy playing on back-to-back nights  because of the toll it would take on them.  I'm sure the legendary Glenn Hall laughs at that when he played over 800 consecutive games.  Goalies do need nights off, but I think its OK if you play them in back-to-back games.

--I have said before I think its ridiculous when a guy gets laid out in open ice with a hard, clean check that he then has to drop the mitts and stand up for himself as someone comes in.  The idea was floated out this week on NHL Radio that if a player comes after someone for delivering what is a clean check, he should be given a 10 minute misconduct and a game misconduct. I could not agree more!

--The Seattle Seahawks held a media combine this week for you know whats and giggles. I can truly hope the Saskatchewan Roughriders do not try to do the same thing. Then again, training camp is in Saskatoon and I won't be there so go ahead and do it up there.

--The Arizona Coyotes told their fans to stop doing the wave.  1) God bless the Arizona Coyotes and 2) They have fans??

--Baseball is back!!

--FS1 is getting rid of Jay and Dan. ?????   How that network can release those two and keep Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe around is beyond explanation.  I can't see it being much longer till TSN snaps them back up. Would they go in where Dutchy and Hedger are or would they take over their old slot and bump Kate and Natasha.  Can they go head to head against Tim and Sid doing the same type of show and rid of us of those two?  For that matter, would they go to Sportsnet? No matter where they go, many Canadians will follow including this guy.

--Thank you Chris Best!

--It may only be one win, but Penny Barker has one at the Scotties. It has been a tough week for the Moose Jaw rink, but at least she can take one positive away from the week. Maybe she can finish things off with another "W" today to finish off round-robin.  As for Michelle Englot, she just continues to roll along. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her game as this week has shown. I'm not betting against her in the playoffs.

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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gord Currie Dies at the Age of 93

Gord Currie, a legendary coach, teacher and Saskatchewan politician, has died at the age of 93.

Currie is best known for being a football coach.

He was the head coach of the Balfour Redmen high school football team leading them to eight provincial titles including six in a row from 1959-65.

During his time at Balfour, the team won 40 straight games at one point.

After leaving Balfour, Currie became the head coach of the Regina Rams and had as much success with them as he did with Balfour.

During his tenure, the Rams won 109 of their 136 games, one Alberta Junior League Championship, eight Manitoba-Saskatchewan League Championships, seven Western Canadian Junior Championships and six Canadian Championships. The final national crown coming in his last game in 1976.

Currie also spent time in politics as the Conservative MLA for the riding of Regina-Wascana and spent time in cabinet as the province’s minister of Advanced Education and Science and Technology.

He was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1979, and was enshrined in the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 1978 and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

Currie Field, the home of the Regina Red Sox, was named after him.

Chris Best Calls It A Career

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today national offensive lineman Chris Best is retiring from the Canadian Football League.

Best is a veteran of 10 CFL seasons and played 114 career regular-season games after making his Rider debut July 8th, 2007. The Calgary native was originally selected by the Green and White in the first round, fourth overall, of the 2005 CFL Draft after spending four seasons at Duke University before transferring to the University of Waterloo to obtain his Masters in 2007.

Best also played in seven career playoff games and three Grey Cup games, winning in 2007 and 2013. He was named the Riders’ Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 2011.

"I want to thank the Roughriders and entire province of Saskatchewan for everything they have done for me. It’s been an incredible privilege to play for the Roughriders for the past 10 years,” said Chris Best. “I want to give a special thanks to my coaches, teammates, and especially Rider fans for your continuous support over the years.”  

The 33-year-old Best, his wife Emily, and their daughter Libby have made Regina their home.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

This Week In Cougar Athletics

Home Schedule – Thursday
Women’s Basketball – vs. Trinity Western, 7:00 p.m. (CKHS)

Home Schedule – Friday
Track & Field – at Canada West Championships, 2:00 to 8:30 p.m. (Regina Fieldhouse)
Women’s Basketball – vs. Trinity Western, 7:00 p.m. (CKHS)

Home Schedule – Saturday
Track & Field – at Canada West Championships, 11:00 to 4:30 p.m. (Regina Fieldhouse)
Women’s Basketball – vs. Trinity Western, 7:00 p.m. (CKHS) – if necessary

Away Schedule – Friday
Swimming – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 1 (Sherbrooke, Que.)
Wrestling – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 1 (Winnipeg, Man.)

Away Schedule – Saturday
Swimming – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 2 (Sherbrooke, Que.)
Wrestling – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 2 (Winnipeg, Man.)

Away Schedule – Sunday
Swimming – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 3 (Sherbrooke, Que.)
Wrestling – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 3 (Winnipeg, Man.)

Women’s Basketball (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 3) – The Cougars host a best-of-three conference quarterfinal series against Trinity Western starting on Thursday, with the winner advancing to the Canada West Final Four next weekend. Regina and the Spartans will tip off at 7 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday, with the same start time set for Saturday if a third and deciding game is required. The two teams met twice in Langley in late November, with Regina taking 57-51 and 85-47 wins.

Track & Field – The Cougars host the 2017 Canada West Track & Field Championships this Friday and Saturday at the Regina Fieldhouse. Events are scheduled for 2:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday and 11:00 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. The women’s team is led by fifth-year athlete Joy Becker, who enters the meet ranked first in the conference in both the 60-metre dash and the long jump and second in the triple jump. Reagan Fedak is also ranked first in Canada West in the weight throw, while the men’s squad features No. 1-ranked Tevaughn Campbell (60-metre dash) and the top-ranked 4x400-metre relay team.

Swimming – The Cougars are in Quebec preparing for the 2017 U SPORTS Swimming Championships, which will be hosted from Friday through Sunday by the UniversitĂ© de Sherbrooke. Noah Choboter, Mitchell Hebert, Jong Hoon Lee, Brian Palaschuk, and Noah Wasyliw will all represent the men’s team, while Kendall Horan, Georgia Kaluznick, Lexy King, and Eva Madar qualified on the women’s side.

Wrestling (Women’s U SPORTS Ranking: No. 6 / Men’s U SPORTS Ranking: No. 7) – Also getting ready for nationals this weekend are the wrestlers, who will make the relatively short trip east for the 2017 U SPORTS Wrestling Championships hosted by the University of Winnipeg. Amber Wiebe (51 kg), Dalynn McKay (67 kg), and Inga Hammer (82 kg) will compete for the women’s team, while Daniel Amberson (54 kg), Joshua Zimroz (57 kg), Lucas Hoffert (68 kg), Geraldo Fox (72 kg), Brett Kryger (76 kg), Gaelan Malloy (82 kg), and Waylon Decoteau (100 kg), and Jordan Tholl (120 kg) will all participate on the men’s side.

Men’s Basketball – The Cougars’ season ended in the Canada West play-in round with a series loss to Manitoba last weekend. The Bisons won Game 1 by a 94-84 score, then held off a late U of R rally for an 88-80 series-clinching win in Game 2. Travis Sylvestre and Matthew Augustine both had strong games in the final U SPORTS games of their careers, with Sylvestre scoring 13 points and Augustine ending up with nine points and three assists.

Women’s Hockey – The U of R lost out in the Canada West quarterfinals last weekend at Saskatchewan, losing a pair of hard-fought battles by scores of 4-3 and 2-1. Merissa Zerr, Tamara McVannel, and Jaycee Magwood all scored in Game 1, while Jolene Kirkpatrick provided the offence in Game 2. The series marked the final times in a U of R uniform for fifth-year players Kylie Gavelin, Alexis Larson, Krista Metz, and Meghan Sherven.

Women’s Volleyball – The Cougars closed out the 2016-17 season with a pair of Canada West losses at Calgary, losing in straight sets both nights to finish the year with a 3-21 conference record. Taylor Ungar fell just short of setting a school single-season digs record, as she finished with 293 – just two behind Kelly Cowan’s record of 295 set during the 2006-07 season. Jenna Krahn and Molly Wade-Cummings both played their final matches for the U of R, with Wade-Cummings finishing third in school history with 280 blocks over her five seasons with the Cougars.

Men’s Volleyball – The Cougars finished the year at Calgary, losing to the Dinos in three sets on both Friday and Saturday at the Jack Simpson Gym. Matthew Aubrey had 19 kills in the two matches as the rookie right side finishes the conference schedule with a team-leading 212 kills and an average of 2.68 kills per set. The Cougars could return their entire roster next season with the exception of fifth-year middle Nathan Wiggins.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

REDBLACKS Get Drew Tate in Trade with Calgary

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The Ottawa REDBLACKS have acquired quarterback Drew Tate from the Calgary Stampeders in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick in 2018, the club announced Tuesday.
Tate, 32, has spent his entire eight-year career with the Stampeders, completing 380 of 572 passes for 4,670 yards and 32 touchdowns in 45 games. Frequently used in short yardage situations, Tate had a CFL-best 10 rushing touchdowns in 2014.
“It’s always paramount in the CFL to have at least two veteran quarterbacks that you know you can win with,” said REDBLACKS Head Coach Rick Campbell. “Drew is a proven performer in this league and we’re happy to have him in Ottawa.”
The former Iowa Hawkeye has also spent time on the practice rosters of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2007, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.


Saskatchewan Roughriders Sign DL Zach Minter

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed international defensive lineman Zach Minter.      

Minter (6’2 – 300) joins the Riders after spending last season with the Calgary Stampeders where he picked up six defensive tackles and two quarterbacks sacks, starting three of five regular season games played.

The 26-year-old Montana State product spent the previous season with the B.C Lions after signing with the team in March, 2015. Starting seven of 10 regular season games, Minter registered 16 defensive tackles and three quarterback sacks.

Before coming to the CFL, Minter spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals during 2014. He signed with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent in April, 2013 where he went on to play two regular season NFL games.

The team also confirmed the signings reported last week of WR Bakari Grant and LB Glenn Love

(Saskatchewan Roughriders)  

Monday, February 20, 2017

NHL Three Stars Of Week

 Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine, Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Feb. 19.


Laine led the NHL with five goals and eight points in four games to propel the Jets (28-29-5, 61 points) to seven out of a possible eight standings points. He recorded his third career hat trick, including the winning goal, in a 5-2 triumph over the Dallas Stars Feb. 14. In doing so, Laine became the first player in NHL history to register three hat tricks before his 19th birthday as well as the first rookie to collect three hat tricks in one season since 1992-93. He scored again in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Feb. 16. Laine then finished the week with consecutive multi-point efforts, notching 1-1—2 in a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens Feb. 18 and two assists in a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators Feb. 19. The 18-year-old Tampere, Finland, native paces rookies with 52 points in 54 games this season and also shares third place in the entire NHL – as well as the rookie lead – with 28 goals.


Kadri picked up points in each of his four games, totaling 4-2—6 to lift the Maple Leafs (27-20-11, 65 points) to a split of their four contests. He recorded 1-1—2, including the decisive goal, in a 7-1 victory over the New York Islanders Feb. 14. Kadri then scored twice, his fifth multi-goal outing of the season, in a 5-2 defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets Feb. 15. He closed the week with one goal in a 6-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators Feb. 18 and one assist in a 4-0 triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes Feb. 19. The 26-year-old London, Ont., native already has established a career high with 24 goals in 58 appearances this season, while his 46 points are four shy of his personal best set in 2013-14 (20-30—50 in 78 GP).


McDavid continued his quest for the Art Ross Trophy, racking up 2-4—6 in three games to guide the Oilers (32-19-8, 72 points) to three straight wins. He began the week with two assists in a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes Feb. 14. McDavid then posted 1-2—3, his eighth three-point performance of the campaign, in a 6-3 triumph against the Philadelphia Flyers Feb. 16. He capped the week by scoring his 20th goal of 2016-17 in a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Feb. 18. The 20-year-old Richmond Hill, Ont., native paces the NHL with 47 assists and 67 points in 59 games this season.

(NHL Media)

Something To "Mitch" About

IS IT 2018 YET?   -  As I saw Regina mayor Michael Fougere outside the Regina Pats dressing room on Sunday morning, I asked him if he was going to re-brand the city as Canada's Sports Capital. Why not? 2018 is going to be a very busy one in the YQR and arguably the biggest one we've ever seen, You could stretch it out and make it 18 months as when the calendar hits July 1 and Regina showcases New Mosaic Stadium to the rest of Canada, it will be something never before seen here as Regina will be opening its new jewel while preparing to host events like the Grand Slam of Curling, Skate Canada, the Tim Hortons Brier, the USports Canada university womens basketball championship and now the Memorial Cup. 

When word got out about how good the presentation Shaun Semple and the Pats bid committee made to the Canadian Hockey League, I think we were all just patiently waiting for approval to be given. There were rumblings the announcement was going to be made, and I was sent a text Friday night saying it would be announced in Regina during "Hockey Day in Canada" festivities.  Sportsnet's Carly Agro was in Regina for the day, but it was just coincidence as it turned out. When Ron McLean ever so casually mentioned that a special surprise for Saskatchewan was coming, we all knew what i was.

Queen City Sports and Entertainment told us good times were coming for Regina hockey fans, and they have delivered.  The Brandt Centre started becoming the place to be late last season, and the momentum has carried on.   The Pats have not disappointed this season, and John Paddock will make sure they don't disappoint next season either. There is no guarantee the Pats will hoist the Memorial Cup trophy this year or next, but they will have as good a shot as anyone. Git your popcorn ready.  It is going to be a helluva show as this team celebrates its 100th anniversary with the 100th Memorial Cup being played as well.

Some have asked if Regina can handle so many events in such a short time. We will find out!  This city is known for the passion it has for sports and its volunteers.  Many an event whether it be the Grey Cup, the Queen City Marathon, the Junos, the Memorial Cup or Brier has succeeded because of the volunteer committment this city has.  I have no doubt that by the time all these events are over, Regina can be referred to as "Canada's Sports Capital".  Oh yeah, we will have a Grey Cup soon at NMS so get ready for that too.   In the words of John Frenzy, "it's just gonna be fantastic!"

HEY MOOSE JAW, CAN YOU JOIN US?  -  As Rob Vanstone so aptly said it on Saturday, the Moose Jaw Warriors-Regina Pats rivalry has become one of mutual respect. Yes, the two teams still don't like one another on the ice, but there is now some love between the two organizations. The Warriors allowed the Pats to use one of their board-rooms to watch the Memorial Cup announcement before the two teams played at Mosaic Place. Hell, years ago, the Warriors would have told the Pats if they wanted to watch the announcement to trudge across the parking lot from the old Civic Centre to Zellers in the Town n Country Mall to watch it on TV there.  When the announcement was made, I couldn't help but think if the Warriors could join the Pats May 17-27, 2018. If that happened, I don't know if Belle Plaine, Pense and Grand Coulee would survive.  Highway 1 between the two cities would be a steady stream of traffic.  With the likes of Brett Howden, Josh Brook, Jayden Halbegewachs and Zach Sawchenko, they will give it a good chance!

IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?  - It started Friday night at High Impact Wrestling, continued Saturday morning at London Drugs and went all the way through the weekend. Many asked the same question.  That question being "Is Vince Young really coming here?".  You know what, I think he is.   Will he take a snap for the /=S=/? That is another story.

   Agent Leigh Steinberg was with Rod Pedersen Friday on Saskatchewan's #1 sports show--the Sportscage, and he said everything an agent should say. He said Young still has a desire to play the game, that he isn't using the Riders and CFL as a stepping stone back to the NFL, and that he is healthy.  The fact remains he has not played in a game or thrown a pass in a professional football game since 2011.  Doug Flutie and Tommy Maddox are the only other QB's to have that distinction according to ESPN, but I think the four-letter is forgetting about Flutie's time in Canada.

   The fact also remains Vince Young will be 34 when training camp starts. He will be learning a new version of a game he is familiar about. The wider field, the 12th man, the motion, etc. etc. etc.

   I put a poll up on Twitter asking if you think Vince Young will ever take a snap for the Riders or any team in the CFL in a regular season game and 70 percent of you said no.  I tend to agree.  Dwayne Jarrett and Limas Sweed (remember them) came to Saskatchewan with hopes of reviving their football career, and both didn't last.  I see that scenario happening here as well.  If I am wrong, then it may be good news for the Riders.

WHO IS GOING WHERE AND WHEN? -  The Riders already had a talented receiving group with the likes of Naaman Roosevelt, Rob Bagg, Duron Carter and Caleb Holley to name a few.  Add the names Chad Owens and Bakari Grant to that list and it has some wondering about the stockpiling of receivers and what it means.  With the ongoing chatter about James Franklin or Vernon Adams Junior wearing Rider colours in 2017, it has many wondering about who is going to go since all the pass-catchers can't stay.  With Ottawa losing Ernest Jackson and Chris Williams to free agency, do they enter the equation? I can't see Trevor Harris coming here and I can't see Brock Jensen being the guy either.  We will wait and wonder I guess.  Chris Jones has something up his sleeve, but what it is remains a mystery. Will this take us up to draft day or not? That's my question!

FIND A GOALIE CHEVY! -  It is no secret that I am an Oilers fan, and even this Oilers fan was skeptical whether or not the team could get to the playoffs.  They could still collapse down the stretch, but I don't see it happening, Playoff hockey appears to have a date at Rogers Place in its first year of existence thanks to Connor and company.  While an Oilers fan, I do keep a close eye on the team to the east of us as well and I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to cheer for the Jets. Some weeks they are on, and others they are off.  A win over Ottawa yesterday has them within a point of a playoff spot. They have the talent with the likes of Schiefele, Laine, Little, Byfuglien and Myers, but its obvious they need a goalie they can depend on.  Connor Hellebuyck, Ondrei Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson can't be counted on from game-to-game.  A "tender" is needed at the deadline, but where.  Could they get Mike Smith from Arizona? Could they get Marc-Andre Fleury from Pittsburgh? Could they get Ben Bishop from Tampa.  The Jets have a lot of good young assets. They need to make sure a top-notch goalie is calling Winnipeg home by the time the trade deadline expires. It may be the deciding factor as to whether or not GM.

COME BACK!!!  -  Many Regina wrestling fans made the trip to Saskatoon Sunday night for a WWE card.  The stars of "Smackdown Live" made an appearance at Sask-Tel Centre. How long has it been since the WWE came to Regina? It's been too long! For those who were there, how was the show?

UH-OH! -  Saskatchewan has started 0-3 at the Scotties.  YIKES! It is safe to say early on that the debut of Moose Jaw's Penny Barker has not been what they wanted it to.  It is never easy making your first appearance on the big stage. Hopefully the jitters can go away and Penny can calm down to roll off a few wins before the week is over.  Hey, she won her last 5 to win in Melville, so who knows.

WELCOME BACK WASKIMO -  The Waskimo Winter Festival was a great thing that was put on ice (no pun intended) when the Big Dig of Wascana Lake started.  It is great to see the event get revived. The weather is more than co-operating so if you get a chance, spend some time on the lake today and have fun while out there enjoying the activities that will be going on. 

That's all I got. Enjoy the holiday Monday and the rest of the week.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Regina Pats To Host 2018 Memorial Cup

The Mastercard Memorial Cup is coming back to Regina.

The Canadian Hockey League announced Saturday afternoon that the 100th version of Canada's junior hockey championship will be hosted by the Regina Pats and played at the Brandt Centre May 17-27, 2018.

“The 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup and the celebrations around this centennial event will truly capture, preserve, and enhance the legacy of one of the most prestigious trophies in all of sport while honouring the brave men and women who served and continue to serve our country,” said CHL President David Branch. “I applaud our national Site Selection Committee who were challenged with the decision of choosing between three outstanding bids.  On behalf of the CHL we look forward to working with the City of Regina and the Regina Pats to engage the entire nation in what will truly be a historic event.”

The event, which was last staged in Regina in 2001 when Red Deer won the title, will once again see the Pats welcome the top teams from the Western, Ontario and Quebec Hockey League

“Our local team worked hard to put together a great bid, and we are extremely excited, and honoured, to be able to host the 100th Mastercard Memorial Cup,” says Shaun Semple, President and CEO of the Brandt Group of Companies and Chair of Regina’s Host Organizing Committee. “We’ve got some great ideas and plans, and we look forward to the opportunity to engage with junior hockey fans across the country, as we celebrate this historic centennial year.”  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Thaddeus Coleman Returning To Riders

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed international offensive lineman Thaddeus Coleman.      

Coleman (6’8 – 320) returns to the Riders after becoming a free agent on February 14th. The 31-year-old Mississippi Valley State product was originally acquired by the Riders in a May, 2016 trade with the Edmonton Eskimos where he spent his first three CFL seasons.  

Last year, Coleman started all 18 regular season games for the Green and White spending time at both right and left tackle. He was named the Riders Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman at seasons end.

(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.

--How ya feelin Rider Nation?  You got Doubles back this week (Derek Dennis) and he comes with the Flyin Hawaiian. With Chad Owens in Rider green, are you trading watermelon helmets in for pineapple ones? I think you have to be very satisfied with what Chris Jones and the /=S=/ organization have done in free agency. Yes, there was that excitement last year and the free agent class fizzled tremendously, but I think Jones has learned from his mistakes in year 1 as a general manager and is maybe doing a little more homework as to what is/was out there and who can help this football team moving forward. Then again, it looks like the Vince Young story has legs to it and he may be coming north of the border. Like many of you, I don't really understand that move and don't see a lot of positives in it. 

--I can't help but think Vernon Adams Junior will be a Saskatchewan Roughrider by the time training camp starts. It seems as if he has no future in Montreal, and it seems like he isn't a Kavis Reed guy. Many of you have suggested the Riders have enough receivers and could afford to give one up to get the former Oregon standout whom Montreal acquired for a first round pick from BC last year. I can't see Naaman Roosevelt joining Darian Durant in Montreal and you know Duron Carter isn't going back. It sounds like Armanti Edwards is now out of the equation leaving guys like Ricky Collins Junior and Caleb Holley. If a trade is made, my money is on one of those guys. That being said, Ernest Jackson is now an Alouette so perhaps they don't need another pass-catcher.

--What ever happened to Compete Street? Where's the sign? Questions that need answering.  If anyone knows where that sign is, they should send it over to Michael Ball. It would look great in his backyard!

--If the Edmonton Oilers knew what they were going to get out of Patrick Maroon this year, would they have signed Milan Lucic to the contract they did? Maroon definitely let Brandon Manning know what happens when you mess around with Connor McDavid.  Its not like Semenko with Gretzky, but the muscle is there if needed.

--Who saw Claude Julien coaching the Habs before the season was over after he was fired by Boston?  I don't know about you, but I really want to see a Boston-Montreal playoff matchup now.

--Why doesn't anyone talk seriously about Patrik Laine when it comes to rookie of the year talk. Take nothing away from the Leafs duo of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, but Laine is right there and is arguably ahead of the pack. For that matter, why isn't Matt Murray involved in the ROY conversation?

--What has happened to the Toronto Raptors? Oh wait, this is Saskatchewan.....not many people care.

--Congrats to Cliff Mapes.  He is back in the WHL working with the Saskatoon Blades as their new VP of business operations. Great hire! If Cliffy could have success in Regina dealing with some bad Pats teams and other factors, he can succeed in Saskatoon.  The Blades imprint on Saskatoon is about to get larger.

--While passing out congrats, one also goes to perhaps the biggest all-around degenerate in Regina, but also an overall good schmuck and that is Josh Shaw.  He has been named  the director of operations at the new Mosaic Stadium.  I'm guessing this means he will have a big office where he will sit in a big chair and do absolutely nothing, but hey why not.  I shudder to think what could play on the big screen late at night though.

--When watching the Scotties this week, remember Penny Barker is representing Team Saskatchewan and Michelle Englot is representing Team Manitoba.  I think many of us will be confused as the week goes on. 

--Canadian tennis star/model Genie Bouchard paid up after a Patriots fan asked her if she would go out with him if New England came back to win the Super Bowl via Twitter.  The two went to a Brooklyn Nets game Wednesday.  C'mon Genie, as a Canadian you couldn't have taken the guy to a hockey game?  Doesn't really matter though as the two are going to go out AGAIN! As one friend has says, it will prompt men to start sending messages via Twitter to models.  Why not! It apparently works!!!

--The stars of "High Impact Wrestling" do their thing at the Hungarian Club Friday night at 7.  What does the monthly meeting of Gronkville have in store this time around? 

--If you haven't read Corey Hirsch's article for "The Players Journal", do so.  It is worth the time you will take to read it.

--Has anyone seen the ESPN 30 for 30 on the XFL yet? I hear it is one of their better efforts. Who scored the first points in league history.  The answer would be Paul McCallum. 

--The Salt Lake Screaming Eagles of the Indoor Football League allowed fans to call their offensive plays via an app Thursday night in a game vs the Nebraska Danger (love that name).  Let's hope the CFL doesn't turn to this to engage the fans.  Oh yeah, as I type this, the Screaming Eagles were losing 63-39.  Did the fans turn on one another for their shoddy play-calling as the game progressed?  I wonder if the Eagles have Vince Young on their neg list? 

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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Vince Young's Agent Starts Negotiations With Riders

And with that from Leigh Steinberg, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have people in the football universe talking about them again.

Last week, it was Johnny Manziel, and now it is Vince Young as Leigh Steinberg has confirmed talks are underway on bringing the soon to be 34 year old to the Riders and the CFL.

Chosen as the third-overall pick in the 2006 draft by Tennessee after taking Texas to a national chapionship in a dramatic win over USC at the Rose Bowl, Young had his moments under center for the Titans. Compiling a 30-17 record, Young threw 42 touchdowns and 42 picks in Tennessee before later starting three games for the Eagles during the  2011 campaign.

Young later emerged to sign a one-year deal with the Browns in 2014, but Cleveland released him less than two weeks later. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound passer announced his retirement from the NFL soon after.

Alouettes Sign Ernest Jackson

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The Montreal Alouettes announced Thursday they have concluded a two-season pact with sinternational receiver Ernest Jackson.

Jackson (6'2 ", 220 lbs.) Joins the new Alouettes' offensive unit after an unforgettable season with the Ottawa REDBLACKS with which he won the first Grey Cup in his career last November . He brings with him a wealth of experience and a remarkable track record. Jackson enjoyed a breathtaking 2016 year, winning 1,225 yards on reception, a good mark for seventh in the league in this regard. He was one of the favorite targets of quarterbacks Henry Burris and Trevor Harris, as shown by his 88 catches and 10 touchdowns.

The dangerous and dynamic 30-year-old receiver averaged 13.9 yards per catch in 17 regular season games. As has been the case since the beginning of his career, he has continued to multiply dramatic catches, demonstrating that he is an offensive threat at all times. Jackson also showed consistency throughout the 2016 season, totaling five games of 100 yards or more on receiving. He crowned his dream season with Eastern Division All-Star team nominations and the CFL All-Star team as well as being named the Eastern Division's nominee as Most Outstanding Player

"The contracting of Ernest brings new possibilities for our attack in view of the next season. Its addition is part of our plan to do everything we can to make our offensive unit spectacular and productive for our supporters next year, "said Alouettes chief executive Kavis Reed. "Ernest is one of the most formidable recipients of the League and I am confident that he will be among the favorites of the crowd," concluded Reed.

Cito Gaston To Speak At Regina Red Sox Dinner

The man who guided the Toronto Blue Jays to their two World Series titles in the 90's is coming to Regina to speak at the Regina Red Sox dinner.

Red Sox President Gary Brotzel was on 620 CKRM's Sportscage Wednesday afternoon to make the announcement that Cito Gaston would be their guest speaker as he joins a long list of former Blue Jays who have spoken at the event.

Gaston had two different stints as manager of the Blue Jays over a 12 year period and was their manager when they won the World Series in 1992 and 1993.

He was six games shy of 900 career wins when he left the Toronto dugout at the end of the 2010 season.

The dinner will be held on Saturday, April 29 at the Turvey Center.  Tickets are $90 each or $750 for a table.  For more information or to purchase yours, please email or visit the team's website at

Chicago Cubs Ready to Repeat

Image result for chicago cubs world series

Cubs manager Joe Maddon has his slogans ready for 2017. Get the T-shirts ready.

After guiding the club to its first World Series championship since 1908, Maddon arrived in camp this spring with a three-pronged approach to the new season, plus a throwback to one that started before he showed up.

The Cubs' themes for 2017? Be uncomfortable, authenticity, and don't forget the heartbeat.

"It's really important to become uncomfortable," Maddon said "If you become comfortable, that subtracts growth from the equation. I think if you remain uncomfortable, you continue to grow, you don't become stagnant or complacent. On every level, I want us to be uncomfortable, and I think that's a really positive word."

That's a message Maddon will deliver prior to the team's first official workout for pitchers and catchers. The full squad will hear it on Sunday.

Part two is authenticity.

"It's not to remind them that they're authentic, but the pertinent part is that if you are in fact an authentic person, you can repeat what you've done in the past naturally," Maddon said. "I really want us to understand the authentic part of who we are and for that to sustain what we've done in the past just by being us. Don't try to do anything different."

Which means Maddon and his creative coaching staff have ideas on how to keep Spring Training interesting, and it will begin on Sunday prior to the first full squad practice. After live bear cubs and mimes last year, it could be anything.

The heartbeat theme became obvious in Game 7 of the World Series, Maddon said.

"Things went badly for a bit," he said of a 5-1 blown lead against the Indians, who tied it with three runs in the eighth inning. "We came back and regrouped because our guys got together in a room, void of any kind of statistical, video, or analytical information. They went in there as human beings and came out unified. You do that, and it's kind of antithetical to what's going on right now. I don't want us to forget the heartbeat ever."

That moment came prior to the 10th inning when Jason Heyward called the Cubs players together in the weight room during a rain delay.

Maddon's messages in the past have included "Do Simple Better," "The Process is Fearless," and "Try Not to Suck." But there's also a theme that started in the Cubs' Minor Leagues before Maddon arrived that he'll emphasize as well, which is "That's Cub." President of baseball operations Theo Epstein explained it.

"When a player in a Minor League game or instructional league or on a back field in Spring Training would make a great play or back up a base or do something positive for a teammate, just organically, the other players started to say, 'That's Cub right there,'" Epstein said. "It really stood out. For a century, 'That's Cub' had a different connotation."
It's not a boast, Epstein said.

"It's a two-word celebration of what they've created," he said. "It means something to be a Cub now, and we shouldn't back away from that and we should be proud of that."

Catcher David Ross also delivered a message immediately after the team won the World Series, which was "Turn the Page."

"Obviously, we'll ride the energy of last year -- we just won the world championship -- but it is a new year," Kyle Schwarber said. "We've got to take that energy that we had last year into this year."
So, expect new T-shirts.

"Yeah -- 'Turn the Page,' with David's face on the back," Schwarber said.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

This Week In Cougar Athletics

Away Schedule – Thursday
Men’s Basketball – at Manitoba, 7:30 p.m. (Winnipeg, Man.)

Away Schedule – Friday
Women’s Volleyball – at Calgary, 6:00 p.m. MST (Calgary, Alta.)
Women’s Hockey – at Saskatchewan, 7:00 p.m. (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Men’s Basketball – at Manitoba, 7:30 p.m. (Winnipeg, Man.)
Men’s Volleyball – at Calgary, 7:30 p.m. MST (Calgary, Alta.)

Away Schedule – Saturday
Women’s Volleyball – at Calgary, 4:00 p.m. MST (Calgary, Alta.)
Men’s Volleyball – at Calgary, 5:30 p.m. MST (Calgary, Alta.)
Women’s Hockey – at Saskatchewan, 7:00 p.m. (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Men’s Basketball – at Manitoba, 7:30 p.m. (Winnipeg, Man.) – if necessary

Away Schedule – Sunday
Women’s Hockey – at Saskatchewan, 7:00 p.m. (Saskatoon, Sask.) – if necessary

Men’s Basketball – The Cougars came up with a huge weekend sweep over Thompson Rivers last weekend at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport to clinch a postseason berth for the second year in a row. They beat TRU by an 81-54 score on Friday, then held off the WolfPack for a thrilling 79-74 win on Saturday. The Cougars enter the conference playoffs as the No. 12 seed and will travel east this weekend for a best-of-three Canada West play-in series at Manitoba. The series will be played on Thursday, Friday, and – if a third game is needed – Saturday, with all games scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start time.

Women’s Hockey – The Cougars closed their Canada West regular season with a split against Calgary and will head to Saskatoon this weekend for a conference quarterfinal series against the Saskatchewan Huskies. Regina (10-13-4-1) took three of the four regular season meetings against the Huskies, including wins in both games at the University of Saskatchewan’s Rutherford Rink. The best-of-three series is scheduled to be played Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) at 7 p.m.

Women’s Volleyball – The Cougars were defeated twice by UBC in Vancouver last weekend, falling in straight sets on both nights to the No. 4-ranked Thunderbirds. Regina (3-19) will finish off the 2016-17 schedule this weekend against another ranked opponent, as the Cougars will square off with No. 5 Calgary on Friday and Saturday in Calgary. Third-year libero Taylor Ungar enters the final weekend of the season leading Canada West with an average of 3.89 digs per set and needing just 16 more digs to break Kelly Cowan’s school single-season record of 295 set during the 2006-07 season.

Men’s Volleyball – The Cougars lost twice in Vancouver last weekend to the No. 6-ranked UBC Thunderbirds, falling in straight sets on Friday and in four sets on Saturday. The U of R (1-21) plays its final matches of the season this weekend at Calgary against a Dinos team that will come into the series with a 7-13 record. First serve is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (MST) on Friday and 5:30 p.m. (MST) on Saturday.

Wrestling (Women's U SPORTS Ranking: No. 6 / Men's U SPORTS Ranking: No. 7) – Nine Cougars captured top-three finishes at the Canada West Championships in Saskatoon on the weekend, including Amber Wiebe (51 kg) and Daniel Amberson (54 kg) who both won gold medals for the U of R. The Cougars finished in fourth place in the team standings on both the men’s side and the women’s side at the conference championships, while the U of R’s nine medal-winning wrestlers will advance to the U SPORTS Championships hosted by the University of Winnipeg on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25.

Women’s Basketball (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 3) – The Cougars finished their Canada West schedule with a pair of home wins over Thompson Rivers, winning 74-36 on Friday and 76-36 on Saturday over the WolfPack. Regina finishes the Canada West schedule with a 17-3 record and will enter the postseason as the No. 2 seed in the conference. The Cougars will get a bye through the first round of the playoffs before hosting either Trinity Western or Brandon in a best-of-three Canada West quarterfinal series beginning Thursday, Feb. 23.

Track & Field – Alex Eiswerth and Joy Becker both had two first-place finishes and set new school records over the weekend at the Golden Bear Challenge in Edmonton. Eiswerth won the 1000-metre run in a U of R record time of 2:28.71 and also placed first in the 1500, while Becker broke her own school record in the long jump (6.29 m), won the triple jump, and hit the U SPORTS standard in the 60-metre dash. The Cougars have this weekend off to prepare for the Canada West Championships, which they’ll host at the Regina Fieldhouse on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25.

Men’s Hockey – The Cougars wrapped up the Canada West schedule with two losses on home ice against the No. 8-ranked Calgary Dinos. The Cougars (3-22-3) fell 2-1 in overtime on Friday and 4-2 in Saturday's rematch. Cody Fowlie, Tyler Bell and Ian McNulty had goals for the Cougars.

Flyin Hawaiian On His Way To Riderville

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed international receiver/returner Chad Owens.        

Owens (5’7 – 180) spent last season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after signing with the team as a free agent in February, 2016. Through 12 games, the Hawaii native racked up 58 receptions for 808 yards and five touchdowns. He missed the final six games due to injury.

Before joining the Tiger-Cats, Owens spent six seasons with the Toronto Argonauts where he was named the CFL’s most outstanding player in 2012 and the CFL’s most outstanding special teams player in 2010. He won his first career Grey Cup with the Argos in 2012.    

Through his career, Owens has registered 504 receptions for 5,982 yards and 25 touchdowns while adding 365 punt returns for 4,027 yards and six touchdowns.  


The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed national safety Marc-Olivier Brouillette.        

Brouillette (6’1 – 220) is a veteran of seven CFL seasons after originally being selected by the Montreal Alouettes in the 3rd round (23rd overall) in the 2010 Draft. 

In 103 regular season games with the Al’s, Brouillette has picked up 202 defensive tackles, 30 special teams tackles, eight quarterback sacks and five interceptions. 

Last season, the 31-year-old Montreal native started all 18 regular season games for the Alouettes, totaling 34 defensive tackles, three special teams tackles and one interception. He was named a 2016 East Division All-Star at seasons end.     

The Riders also announced the signing of Canadian OL Ryan White and Canadian RB Aaron Milton on Wednesday

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Riders Sign OL Derek Dennis & RB Kienan Lafrance

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed international offensive lineman Derek Dennis

Dennis (6’3 – 341) joins the Riders after playing 23 regular season games with the Calgary Stampeders over the previous two seasons. Last year, the 28-year-old Queens, New York native started all 18 games, the West Final and Grey Cup for the Stamps and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman and a CFL All-Star.

Before joining the Stampeders in September, 2015, the Temple University product spent time with the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.     


The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed national running back Kienan Lafrance    

LaFrance (5’9 – 205) signs with the Green and White after spending the previous two seasons with the Ottawa Redblacks. The 25-year-old joined the Redblacks after being selected by the team in the sixth round (45th overall) of the 2015 CFL Draft.

In 16 regular season appearances last year, LaFrance had 37 carries for 163 yards while adding 12 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. The University of Manitoba product broke out during the East Final where he racked up 157 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. He then followed it up with 42 yards on 11 carries and six catches for 31 yards as the Redblacks won the 2016 Grey Cup.          

(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR) 

Claude Julien Becomes New Canadiens Coach

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Montreal Canadiens general manager, Marc Bergevin announced Tuesday the appointment of Claude Julien as the Club's new head coach. Michel Therrien has been relieved of his duties.

"I would like to sincerely thank Michel for his relentless work with the Montreal Canadiens over his eight seasons behind the bench, including the last five seasons when we worked together. The decision to remove Michel from his coaching duties was a difficult one because I have lots of respect for him. I came to the conclusion that our team needed a new energy, a new voice, a new direction. Claude Julien is an experienced and well respected coach with a good knowledge of the Montreal market. Claude has been very successful as an NHL coach and he won the Stanley Cup. Today we hired the best available coach, and one of the league's best. I am convinced that he has the capabilities to get our team back on the winning track," said Canadiens general manager, Marc Bergevin.

Claude Julien, 56, enters his second tour of duty as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens after assuming the role of head coach from January 2003 to January 2006 with a record of 72-62-10-15 in 259 regular season games at the helm of the team (holding a .531 winning percentage).

Claude Julien has coached 997 regular season games in the NHL (Montreal, New Jersey and Boston), including the last 10 season as the Bruins bench boss (2007 to 2017). Throughout his NHL career, Julien managed a record of 538 wins, 332 losses, 10 ties and 117 overtime losses for a .603 winning percentage.

(Montreal Canadiens)

Stamps Sign Two Key Veterans Before Free Agency Hits

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The Calgary Stampeders have signed international receiver Marquay McDaniel to a contract that runs through the 2018 season. The eight-year CFL veteran had been eligible to become a free agent today.

McDaniel was the Stamps’ leading receiver in 2016 with 83 receptions for 1,074 yards in 16 games. He had four touchdowns and one two-point convert reception. It’s the third time in the past four seasons McDaniel has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark.

“Marquay is one of the most reliable and well-rounded receivers in the CFL and I’m pleased that he has chosen to remain with the Red and White,” said president and general manager John Hufnagel. “He has been a key contributor to our offensive success since joining the team and I’m confident that will continue to be the case.”

McDaniel signed with the Stampeders in 2011 after spending two full seasons and part of a third with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In 115 career CFL games, McDaniel had 489 receptions for 6,441 yards and 34 touchdowns. He was a CFL all-star in 2013 and was a member of the Stamps’ 2014 Grey Cup-championship squad.

“I’m really happy to finally get this deal done,” said McDaniel. “Staying with Calgary was always my first choice and I’m looking forward to being with the Stamps for the next two years.”


The Calgary Stampeders have signed international defensive lineman Micah Johnson to a contract that runs through the 2018 season. Johnson, a 2016 CFL all-star, had been eligible to become a free agent today.

Johnson started 17 games in 2016 and recorded career highs with 36 tackles and seven sacks. He had two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and three knockdowns. The fourth-year Stamp also played a key role in a run defence that gave up a league-low 4.6 yards per carry to the opposition.

“Micah has established himself as one of the premier interior linemen in the CFL and he is a key part of our defence,” said president and general manager John Hufnagel. “I’m pleased that we were able to come to an agreement and I look forward to seeing Micah continue to perform at a high level.”

Johnson joined the Stamps in 2013 after spending time with several National Football League clubs including the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers. In 46 career regular-season games with the Red and White, the University of Kentucky alum has recorded 103 tackles, including nine tackles for loss, 18 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, seven knockdowns and one interception.

“This is just the perfect situation for me from top to bottom,” said Johnson. “From the coaches to the guys I play with to the city of Calgary, this is just the right place for me.”

(Calgary Stampeders)

Blue Jays Ready For 2017

The four-month-long wait that seemed like it would never end is finally over. Blue Jays baseball is back for another season.

Spring Training officially opens this week at Toronto's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla. That's where the work begins for a journey the Blue Jays hope results in a third consecutive postseason appearance.

Toronto made a lot of changes this winter, but this team still looks strikingly similar to 2016's model, and that's probably a good thing. Jose Bautista re-signed, the starting rotation remains intact and Josh Donaldson isn't going anywhere. The loss of Edwin Encarnacion will hurt, but wholesale changes for a team that still has unfinished business might have stung even more.

Here's a closer look at some things you need to know with Toronto's Spring Training set to open at the Bobby Mattick Training Center at Englebert Complex.
Pitchers/catchers report: Tuesday.
First full-squad workout: Saturday.
First Spring Training game: Feb. 25 @ Atlanta, 1:05 p.m. ET.

New faces: DH Kendrys Morales, 1B Steve Pearce, LHP J.P. Howell, RHP Joe Smith.
Morales faces the toughest task of having to replace Encarnacion. But the role isn't exactly new, as the 33-year-old has spent most of his 10-year career as a middle-of-the-order bat. He's coming off a season in which he posted a .795 OPS, but the Blue Jays believe a switch to the hitter-friendly ballparks of the American League East will help Morales get closer to the .847 mark he put up in 2015.

Pearce is the type of player that every contending team would love to have. He can play all over the field, but most of his work is expected to take place at first base in a platoon with Justin Smoak. Even though Pearce was signed primarily because of his numbers against lefties, if Smoak struggles, he could move into more of a full-time role.

Toronto's additions to the bullpen came very late in the offseason, but the club found a way to plug its holes at a relatively cheap price. Howell and Smith should be expected to pitch a lot of high-leverage innings in middle relief, but if one of them doesn't work out, the $3 million price tag means the club still has the ability to look elsewhere. Low risk, with the upside of some moderate reward.

Interesting non-roster invitees: IF Gregorio Petit, RHP Gavin Floyd, RHP Lucas Harrell, LHP Brett Oberholtzer, LHP TJ House.

Petit won't make the team out of camp, but he could serve as an important depth piece if the Blue Jays eventually lose Ryan Goins on waivers. Goins is out of options and cannot be sent to the Minors without clearing waivers, which seems to be the likely course of action, given that Darwin Barney is projecting to be the backup infielder.

Floyd, Oberholtzer and House are competing for a job in the bullpen. Floyd has a pretty good chance at securing a spot, and while Oberholtzer and House are more longshots, that could change if anything happens to Howell. Harrell could also be in the mix for the bullpen, but more realistically, he provides some much-needed starting depth at Triple-A Buffalo.

Prospects to watch: OF Anthony Alford, 1B Rowdy Tellez, RHP Conner Greene, RHP Sean Reid-Foley, IF Richard Urena, IF/OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

None of these prospects are a threat to crack the Opening Day roster, but how they perform this spring will say a lot about their future development. Alford needs to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2016 campaign, Greene needs to re-establish himself as a top pitching prospect and Urena needs to continue his development as a reliable switch-hitter.
Tellez might be the most interesting prospect on this list to follow over the next few months. Pearce and Smoak will open the season in a platoon at first, but if that plan doesn't work out, then Tellez could enter the mix later on with a strong start to the year. Guerrero is still years away from the big leagues, and he'll spend Spring Training on the Minor League side, but it shouldn't be long before he becomes Toronto's top prospect. The club might even reward him with a temporary call-up for an exhibition game this spring.

The Blue Jays play their first spring game against Atlanta on February 25 with their season opener April 3 in Baltimore.

(Toronto Blue Jays)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Plans For CFL Week Announced

REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN (February 13, 2017) – Mark’s is partnering with the Canadian Football League to deliver something new and exciting for Canadian football fans.
Mark’s CFL Week – coming to Saskatchewan March 21-26 – will bring together the game’s biggest stars, leading coaches, top prospects and most beloved legends in the same place for one amazing fan experience.

“We couldn’t be more excited to take our CFL partnership to the next level by becoming the title sponsor of Mark’s CFL Week. As a Canadian company, we want Canadians to know we love football just as much as they do and what better way to do that, than this,” said David Lui, Vice-President of Marketing at Mark’s.

“This will be the biggest off-season event in the long and storied history of the league,” said Christina Litz, Senior Vice-President of Marketing and Content at the CFL.

“We’re combining some of the most important events on our calendar, such as the CFL Combine for draft eligible prospects, with new opportunities for fans, including a week-long Fan Fest, a VIP reception unveiling the 2017 Class of the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame, and much, much more.”

At a special media event today at the Victoria Square Shopping Centre’s Mark’s store, details of the Mark’s CFL Week line-up was unveiled.

Here are some of the highlights:
Star players are coming: 50 of the CFL’s top players will be in town for the week to attend various events, including a massive TSN/RDS/adidas photo and video shoot for the upcoming season. Stars confirmed so far include Bo Levi Mitchell, Jerome Messam, DaVaris Daniels, Alex Singleton, Charleston Hughes, Mike Reilly, Adarius Bowman, Almondo Sewell, John White, JC Sherritt, Naaman Roosevelt, Rob Bagg, Henoc Muamba, Willie Jefferson, Kevin Glenn, Duron Carter, Andrew Harris, Jamaal Westerman, Weston Dressler, Matt Nichols, Taylor Loffler, Zach Collaros, Simoni Lawrence, Luke Tasker, Ted Laurent, Drew Willy, Shawn Lemon, Trevor Harris, Brad Sinopoli, Antoine Pruneau, Darian Durant, SJ Green, Bear Woods, Manny Arceneaux, and Samuel Giguère.

Legends will be honoured: For the first time, the names of the 2017 Class of the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame will be unveiled to fans at a VIP Reception on March 22 at the sparkling new Mosaic Stadium. A Who’s Who of CFL greats past and present – including Don Narcisse, George Reed, Gene Makowsky and Damon Allen -- will join fans for an intimate look at the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ new home and news about one of the most anticipated classes in the Hall’s history. Tickets go on sale March 1.

The next generation will be on display: The CFL National Combine, presented by adidas, where the 60 best prospects from Canadian university football and the NCAA strut their stuff for CFL coaches and general managers, takes place March 24 and 25 at Evraz Place. It’s preceded by the Western Regional Combine, on March 23, the last chance for local talent to earn an invite to the national event.

CFL brass will tackle the state of the game: The coaches, general managers and team and league executives will meet to chart the course for the upcoming season, with the Rules Committee gathering on March 21 and 22 and the Competition Committee meeting March 22.

CFL coaches will hold court: East and West Division head coaches will talk about their plans for the upcoming season at special media conferences on March 23.

Young arms will impress: The Canada West Passing Showcase on March 25 and 26 will feature first- and second-year football athletes from the University of Regina, University of Calgary, University of Manitoba, University of Alberta and University of Saskatchewan in a fun but ferocious touch football showdown.

Fans in Saskatchewan can experience it: The CFL FanFest at Evraz Place from March 21 to 25, features autograph sessions with players and alumni, your chance to take your photo with the Grey Cup trophy, the opportunity to participate in your own CFL Combine, and prizes and activities delivered by Kal-Tire, BOKS, Athabasca University, Michelin and other members of the CFL family. And the Fan Cave beer garden will be open on weekday afternoons and all day Saturday.

Fans everywhere can be a part of it: Mark’s CFL Week Live will be streamed LIVE each day at 4pm CT on Facebook. Host Brodie Lawson will connect fans with their favourite CFL personalities.

For more details and future updates on Mark’s CFL Week, please visit

(CFL Communications)

Something To "Mitch" About

There is still a lot of buzz about the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Johnny Manziel. Did they work him out? Is Justin Dunk's story wrong? Did White House press secretary Sean Spicer give the news to Dunk? OK, that's my thought as to how that might have happened.  It doesn't matter what sources Dunk had for the story, the bottom line is it has tongues wagging not only here, but across the nation and really across the football universe.

ESPN was talking about it. NFL Radio was talking about it and even TMZ was talking about it. By the way, credit the above pic to U of R Rams quarterback Noah Picton. Well done!

Do I think Manziel worked out for the Riders? The answer is no! I put up a poll on Twitter asking if you thought the Riders had done it and over 60 percent of you said no as well.  Yes, Chris Jones has not played by the book, and he has been punished for it, but Jones isn't that stupid.  He would know Manziel's rights are owned by another club and that working him out would be a huge violation and one that would rightfully see the CFL come down on the organization in harsh fashion. If it is discovered that it actually did happen, then some serious questions have to be answered.

If there is one positive, it has people talking CFL before free agency because there hasn't been a lot of CFL talk for whatever reason as the league has seemed content to let the other sports have the spotlight while hibernating.  That will obviously pick up on Tuesday though as free agency begins.

As for CFL Week, we will get some information on that later today as the CFL is holding a news conference in Regina to give some details on the event which goes next month.

LET THE FREE AGENT FRENZY BEGIN -  Valentine's Day takes on a little more significance for CFL fans as they hope their team can get some "sweet treats" delivered to them Tuesday.  Will the Riders be a big player in free agency?  I would think they would try to get some o-line and perhaps a running back. You would have to think that in saving money after the Durant trade, there might be some money to throw at guys like Derek Dennis and Nolan McMillan.  Could some money be used to upgrade the secondary? I don't know how big of a splash the Riders will make in free agency, but I would think they will be active.

RUNNING BACK TO SASKATOON -  Rider assistant GM Jeremy O'Day let it slip while appearing on Saskatchewan's #1 sports show that training camp will go in Saskatoon. O'Day made the revelation on the Sportscage while discussing the schedule. Nothing against Saskatoon and the facilities at the U of S, but I thought with the first year at the new stadium that training camp would be in Regina. I do have to wonder though when Regina will once again be the training camp home for the green and white. I would have to think this is the last year in S'too, but I'm not making that call.

WELCOME BACK -  The Regina sports scene suffered a blow a couple of months ago when Leader-Post reporter Ian Hamilton "retired" as did several others.  Ian has re-surfaced though as the senior writer for That's a solid pickup in free agency by the green-and-white. A solid pickup indeed.  Welcome back Hammy!

IS THE SHIP STILL FLOATING?  -  CFL free agency is upon us, and the Toronto Argonauts don't have a general manager or a head coach! Who is going to do their bidding for them? Moving to BMO Field was supposed to save the Argos, but ever since that move happened, the situation has gotten worse. How much longer can this last?  Maybe TSN's Chris Cuthbert was right when he said the Argos should trade for Manziel's rights and then try to lure him north of the border.  There may be more wrongs than rights to that scenario, but there would certainly be more eyes on the team. By the way, whatever happened to Michael Sam?

CMON HENRIK!!  - If you haven't seen what Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist did to Minnesota's Jared Spurgeon on Sunday, go check it out.  After you have seen it, listen to Henrik Zetterberg when he tells a reporter "I don't think he meant to spear him in the face." Really?  Henrik, what was he trying to do then?  By the way, what type of suspension will Nyquist get.  I am thinking a minimum of five, but these days who knows!

ON TO THE PLAYOFFS -  There was no doubt going into the weekend that Dave Taylor's U of R women's basketball team was playoff-bound. They got ready for the playoffs with a couple of dirty beatings to Thompson Rivers.  The men's team had to sweep Thompson Rivers just to get in. After winning Friday, it looked like the Wolfpack would earn a split as Regina just couldn't get their game together missing some easy baskets. However, Steve Burrows' squad showed some character as thanks to some big efforts by 5th year Travis Sylvestre playing his last game at home, Brian Ofori, Johneil Johnson and Alex Igual, the Cougars came back to get the win they needed.  They will be in tough next weekend in Winnipeg as they play Manitoba. They can pull off an upset, but it won't be easy. The women will wait to see who they get as they have a first round bye with their playoff series at home starting Thursday, February 23. I hope on that night that A) the gym is full  and B) Dean Kleisinger--father of Cougar super soph Michaela and all around good man does not wear the same sport jacket he wore Saturday as he took some good-natured and dare I say well-deserved grief. You knew that jab was comin Dean! :) The only thing worse was the warm-up garb for Thompson Rivers!

BACK TO WORK -  Pitchers and catchers report this week. Another baseball season is here! I have no problems with that whatsoever!

That's all I got.  Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Can The Oilers Hold On To A Playoff Spot?

Twenty-seven games.

That is all that stands between the Edmonton Oilers and their first playoff berth in 11 years.

If they can navigate these last eight weeks without any major stumbles, they’re in.

“It’s exciting. It’s the first time the Oilers have played meaningful hockey in February in a long time,” said captain Connor McDavid, as the Oilers returned to practice Friday after their last extended break of the season. “It’s something that we can be excited about and the fans can be excited about. We’re eager to get it going.”

With 27 games left and the Oilers sitting three teams and seven points clear of the playoff cutline, it’s not an absolute lock that they’re going to make it – ask the Atlanta Falcons if stranger things have ever happened – but their fate is most definitely in their own hands.

And that’s a good feeling.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good spot,” said McDavid. “We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

Their push to the finish line – or starting line, to be more exact – begins Saturday when they host the Chicago Blackhawks. Right out of the box, it’s a big, tough game.

“The cushion that we created closed a little bit in the four games from All-Star break to this break, with us only getting two points,” said head coach Todd McLellan, who is a long way from comfortable even though it’s been over a decade since the Oilers were in this solid a position this late in the season.

“There’s no such word as comfort. We’re well aware of what’s going on around us and how much hockey is left.”

Twenty-seven games is a lot of hockey – and during the Death March days it always seemed like the season would never end – but it goes by fast when you’ve got something to play for.

“It’s tight, and it’s going to be tight for the rest of the season,” defenceman Oscar Klefbom said of the playoff push. “Every game is going to be so important. We have some big games coming up, so we have to be ready from the start here.”

The Oilers had their troubles coming out of their previous break, losing three straight to Minnesota, Nashville and Carolina after the All-Star weekend before beating Montreal in a shootout to end the drought. They scored just three goals in the four games and were shut out twice (2-0 against Nashville and 0-0 at the end of overtime in Montreal).

So there is concern that it might take time to get back up to speed this time, too.

“We failed once miserably coming out of a break, so we’ve adjusted some things practice-wise,” said McLellan. “And we expect the players to adjust a few things individually Saturday so we have a better opportunity at success.”

Because of CBA fine print, the Oilers couldn’t practice until 5 p.m. Friday, which didn’t help with the preparation. McLellan couldn’t run the team hard or he’d risk seizing up their legs.

“They’re going to be rusty, we expect that, so they’ll have to adjust their games a little bit,” he said. “Hopefully, we can put together a better effort than we did against Minnesota and be happy with the results.”

Because he didn’t have much practice time, McLellan decided to leave his lines the same as they were heading into the break, even though the chemistry wasn’t really working anywhere.

“We haven’t scored at the pace we wanted to, but I also look t the way we defended and we haven’t given up much, going all the way back to the Anaheim road trip,” he said. “Coming out of a break like this we’re going to stay with some familiarity and give these guys an opportunity to try and find a little more offence.”

After Chicago, the Oilers don’t play again until Tuesday, so it’s a stretch of one game in eight days, followed by a stretch of six games in 11 days.

Welcome to the NHL!

“We’re trying to figure out a five day break after a four day break,” sighed McLellan. “It’s just a confusing time for a lot of teams right now. It is what it is.”

(Edmonton Journal)

Friday, February 10, 2017

CFL News

The BC Lions Football Club today announced that it has parted ways with international defensive back Ryan Phillips.

“After a number of conversations with Ryan this off-season regarding his role in our defence, we have mutually decided at this time that the best path for both parties is to grant him free agent status,” said GM and head coach Wally Buono.

“I have tremendous respect for Ryan and everything he has contributed to our organization during the past 12 years. Decisions like this are never easy and are made after careful consideration. Our organization is extremely grateful for his service to the club both on and off the field and we wish him the very best.”

Phillips departs the Lions after 12 seasons, 212 regular season appearances and two Grey Cup championships (2006, 2011).

 (BC Lions)


REDBLACKS receiver Greg Ellingson has signed a contract extension that will keep him in the Nation’s Capital for the next two seasons, the club announced Friday.

The signing ensures that another key piece of the REDBLACKS Grey Cup-winning offence will be back in the fold as they look to defend their title in a year in which Ottawa will play host to the championship game.

“Greg is an integral part of our offence and we’re very pleased to have a player of his caliber, experience and character in the REDBLACKS organization for another two years,” said REDBLACKS GM Marcel Desjardins. “Trevor and Greg have a good relationship and this continuity will only benefit our offence.”

After signing with Ottawa following the REDBLACKS’ inaugural 2014 season, Ellingson quickly endeared himself to RNation as one of four receivers on the roster to hit at least 1,000 yards in 2015. His fan base only grew when Ellingson hauled down the now-legendary 93-yard game-winning touchdown pass in the 2015 East Final to send the REDBLACKS to their first Grey Cup.

This past year, Ellingson finished with 1,260 yards and four touchdowns, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark for the second-straight year that ended in a Grey Cup Championship – the first of Ellingson’s career in his fourth straight trip to the Grey Cup.

Ottawa’s latest signing comes with CFL Free Agency set to open February 14.

(Ottawa REDBLACKS Football Club)


It  appears the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have locked up one of their most dangerous pass catchers, signing Terrence Toliver to a contract extension just days before the February 14th deadline.  Toliver tweeted out a photo of himself inking the deal late Friday night stating that it was a two-year deal.

The club has yet to issue any confirmation.


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 schedule's out, the schedule's out!! Rider fans are now planning their summer as the schedule came out Tuesday afternoon,  The Riders first game will be against Darian Durant, but it will be in Montreal. Durant won't be here until late October.  ???  Yes, as some as mentioned it could mean the former Rider quarterback who has had problems playing a full season may not make it to that date. The game could be a meaningless affair for one or both teams when he shows up,  By the time that game comes, the Durant buzz will be gone.  Maybe the Riders wanted it that way.  I am guessing not many will categorize that season opener as Duron Carter's return to Montreal!

--The home opener comes in Week 2. I can't think of a better place to spend Canada's 150th birthday than at the new Mosaic Stadium watching the home opener. Will there be fireworks after the game? Will there be cake before the game? Will some of the events you normally find at Wascana Park move to Evraz Place for some pre-game festivities?  How about a pre-game concert of some kind in Conferedation Park?  While it's OK having the Bombers come in for that first game, I have to ask why it couldn't be Calgary.  I am guessing the CFL didn't want the Stamps to start the year with two straight road games seeing they will be in Ottawa Week 1 in what has come a Grey Cup rematch.  That just leads me to ask why you would have Ottawa and Calgary play at McMahon in Week 2. That will be it for those two teams in the regular season after two weeks.  ???

--What happened to teams getting a bye week in the first half of the season and the second half?  The Rider bye weeks are Week 4 and 9.  Ottawa gets their byes in Week 18 and 20. Who approved that in REDBLACKville?

--Who might be the happiest in Rider Nation with the sked? Those that bought or are going to buy Country Thunder tickets. There is no conflict this year as the Riders have their first bye.  Yes, you can party at Craven and not worry about missing a Rider game at home or on the road.

--The Riders can't be THAT desperate for a QB that they worked out Johnny Manziel can they? It would appear as if the report stating they worked him out is false, but even if it is true, why? I can't imagine the circus Riderville would be if Manziel came north of the border.  Lee Jones would likely be doing daily hits for ESPN and O'Hanlons would be waiting for a Johnny Football sighting. No thanks! Let's move on!

--How will we remember the Shawmaud Chambers era in Riderville? Will we even remember there was one in two to three years?

--Are the Oilers going to ditch their blue jerseys for the orange ones?  Teams won't be wearing third jerseys next year and the word in the Alberta capital is they are going to stick with the orange ones to wear at home. A poll was done in Edmonton with the results being almost 50-50. I say the blue ones have to stay.  That being said, the Oilers are really pushing orange-coloured merchandise. SIGHHHHH

--Did you steal Tom Brady's jersey? Has anyone checked Roger Goodell's bag?  Didn't Vladimir Putin steal a Super Bowl ring? Maybe he has it!

--Face it guys, you have to admire the young man who asked Genie Bouchard if she would go out with him if the Patriots came back and you have to admire the Canadian tennis star for saying yes after it happened. Make the most of your opportunity son!  Don't cheap out!

--How did we go through life without putting bacon on a Big Mac?

--Christie Brinkley is 63!  Remember that when you see her Sports Illustrated swimsuit photos from this year.  The woman hasn't aged one bit.  #amazing

--Who in their right mind thinks its a good idea for baseball to put a runner on 2nd to start things off if the game goes into extra innings? There are plenty of ways to shorten up a game, but this isn't one of them.  How about stopping the endless trips to the mound? How about having a pitcher face one batter before replacing him? How about getting rid of the intentional walk with teams just saying what they plan to do instead of the time it takes to lob four balls wide of the plate. If baseball follows through with this move, it will be laughable.

--With the Pats not home tonight or tomorrow, go check out some Cougar basketball as they play Thompson Rivers with everything starting at 6 both nights. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Shawmaud Chambers Returns To Edmonton

The Edmonton Eskimos have signed free agent national receiver Shamawd Chambers.

Chambers returns to Edmonton where he was originally selected in the first round (6th overall) of the 2012 CFL Draft.

In four seasons with Edmonton, the six-foot-three native of Markham, Ontario amassed 112 receptions for 1,234 yards and seven touchdowns in 50 games. In 2012, he was the Eskimos nominee for Most Outstanding Rookie.

Chambers spent last season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders where he recorded 25 receptions for 269 yards and one touchdown.

DUNK: Riders Workout Manziel

Image result for johnny manziel

This isn't a joke!

3 Down Nation's Justin Dunk is reporting the Saskatchewan Roughriders have worked out quarterback Johnny Manziel even though they don't own his CFL rights.

Dunk's story can be found right here

TSN's Gary Lawless states the Riders are completely refuting the report and are that HC and GM Chris Jones is considering legal action against the website.

The Riders released a statement from Jones on Thursday afternoon stating

“The Saskatchewan Roughriders have not held or attended a workout involving Johnny Manziel,

With that, I will not be commenting further on the report.” 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Xavier Fulton Re-Signs With Ti-Cats

Image result for hamilton tiger-cats

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced Wednesday that the football club has re-signed international offensive lineman Xavier Fulton to a two-year contract.

Fulton, 30, split the 2016 season between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Tiger-Cats, starting 14 regular season games (10 with Saskatchewan, four with Hamilton) and the Eastern Semi-Final at left tackle. He was acquired by the Tiger-Cats on October 10, 2016 along with defensive end Justin Capicciotti from the Roughriders in exchange for defensive tackle Linden Gaydosh, wide receiver Tommy Streeter, and fourth and seventh round selections in the 2017 CFL Draft.

Fulton has started in 79 games over five CFL seasons (2012-16) with Saskatchewan and Hamilton. The 6-4, 300-pound offensive tackle also spent time with the National Football League’s Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts in 2010, and the United Football League’s Virginia Destroyers in 2011. Fulton was originally selected in the fifth round, 155th overall, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Prior to turning pro, the native of Flossmoor, Illinois, played four seasons (2005-08) at the University of Illinois. Fulton recorded 13 total tackles, two tackles for loss, one pass defended and 0.5 sacks at defensive end in 2005 before switching to offensive tackle.

(Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

Eskimos Entire Coaching Staff Returning in 2017

The full coaching staff of the Edmonton Eskimos will return for the 2017 season, once again led by Head Coach Jason Maas.

The sole change is naming Carson Walch offensive coordinator. He served as the receivers coach and pass game coordinator last season.

Eskimos 2017 Coaching Staff:
· Jason Maas – Head Coach
· Mike Benevides – Assistant Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator
· Carson Walch – Offensive Coordinator/Receivers
· Mike Gibson – Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator
· Cory McDiarmid – Special Teams Coordinator
· Casey Creehan – Defensive Line
· Tim Prinsen – Running Backs
· Barron Miles – Defensive Backs
· Jordan Maksymic – Quarterbacks
· Demetrious Maxie – Linebackers
· Dave Jackson – Special Teams Assistant

(Edmonton Eskimos)