Its 30 degrees outside, 500 degrees inside Casa de Blair---a casa that sadly on this day has no air conditioning and I'm talking about the start of another hockey season. The battle for the Ed Chynoweth Cup and what team will join host Brandon as WHL reps at the Memorial Cup is underway as the defending champs from Kelowna played Vancouver to get the season going. The Giants winning that game 6-5 with the winning goal coming on a shorthanded goal by Craig Cunningham in overtime on a penalty shot. That's a nice way to start the season.
Tonight, the Pats will open up their season in Saskatoon. I don't know about you, but I just don't know what to expect from this year's edition. Curtis Hunt is back and that's good because Curtis will have the respect of the players---at least he should. I'm not saying Dale Derkatch didn't last year, but he did lose his team sometime before Christmas and when it started to rain, it poured. I did think Brent Parker would make more change than what he did as besides the graduates, the only guy that has really left is Linden Rowat, but he didn't. It means Hunt gets the team Derkatch had and will try to turn it around.
The job becomes much more difficult if Jordan Eberle does not return from the Oilers. Despite the fact he was awesome in Wednesday's game against the Islanders, I think he will be back. The reason why is I don't know if Eberle would be a top six forward in Edmonton and he needs to be if he is going to stay in the bigs. Being a 3rd or 4th line player that might see 8-10 minutes a night is not beneficial to Ebs or any other player on that junior bubble. I think the Oilers are smart enough to see that and they know if they need him, he's just a flight away. I see this team battling Saskatoon for 2nd in the division. Once again though, it would appear as if the better division in the Eastern Conference will be the Central Division with Calgary still being strong, Edmonton getting better and Medicine Hat and Kootenay being their consistent selves. Red Deer and Lethbridge will struggle. Back to the East, I see it being Brandon, Regina, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert. If Eberle doesn't come back, I don't know if Regina makes the playoffs.
With the WHL season starting, the Regina Leader-Post showed why it possesses the best sports department in Western Canada. I have said it before, but I will say it again. The group consisting of Rob Vanstone, Ian Hamilton, Murray McCormick, Tim Switzer and Greg Harder show time in and time out that they are the best at what they do. The WHL preview in Thursday's paper was once again Grade A material. Well done guys!
I don't know if he will crack the Flames or any other NHL roster, but you had to feel good for Theoren Fleury last night. He gets the game-winner in the shootout to give Calgary an exhibition win over the Islanders.
Its time for Regina to show some support to one of the other football teams in town. I'm sorry, but 2100 people at the first Rams game was an embarassment to not only the football team, but the city in whole. For a city that is so football-crazed, that turnout was pathetic. The Rams have a good team this year and Marc Mueller is someone you want to watch. No better time than now as they play the University of Calgary tonight. A crowd of at least 5-thousand would be nice. I know the Riders deserve a majority of your entertainment dollar, but so do the Rams and with it being a nice night for football tonight, get out there.
A new poll out shows most people in this province back a ban on talking and texting on your cellphone while driving. 88 percent either are strongly for or would support the ban which is something Premier Brad Wall is calling for. The question I have is who are these people in the 12 percent that don't support such a move. I will admit I have talked on a cellphone while driving, but very, very rarely have I dialed up someone while driving and I have never, ever texted someone while driving. I can't believe someone would be that stupid to do that while behind the wheel. Sorry, your attention needs to be on the road in front of you instead of the screen on your phone. Sadly it would seem as if a majority of the 12 percent are that younger demographic that think they are invincible. It just makes me wonder what life will be like in the next 10 years if some of these "kids" don't smarten up.
There's a great story on the TSN website about what changes you would make to your favourite sport. One of those if you were commissioner for a day type of columns. For my two cents it would be
1)Hockey--get rid of the shootout. I hate the shootout for the fact that every one on the ice gets a chance during regulation and then the game is decided in a skills competition. A skills competition where not everyone gets a chance. I'm not big on a game ending in a tie, but there has to be a better way to finish a game.
2)Football---CFL)--eliminate the single point NFL) fix the current overtime format so that both teams touch the ball
3)Basketball--make the distance for a three pointer greater than it currently is. If that means the court has to be widened, so be it.
4)Baseball--do not allow an intentional walk. You have to pitch to everyone.
What would you do?
The past few Septembers have seen me glued to the TV or the computer or the satellite radio as the Cubs near the pennant. The Cubs were playing Milwaukee on WGN this afternoon and I had basically no interest in it with the fact it was on which increases daytime television tenfold. To me, they are the biggest disappointment of this season. All that talent and they are nowhere close to a playoff spot. Brutal!! Will they ever win? Damn you Steve Bartman...damn you I say!!! I wonder if the Cubs would have won the World Series had it not been for Stevie boy and his move that will pain long suffering Cubs fans like me for years to come. I don't know why but I'm guessing Steve was wearing a Steelers t-shirt underneath that hoodie. He looks like he could be a Steelers fan. GRRRRR!!!!
Another busy football weekend. I'll have the CFL and NFL picks later today. Have a good Friday. I'm hoping it is for yours truly.