The Rider Nation is in a state of panic. It must be the off-season. Once again, many Rider fans are thinking nothing but doom and gloom is on the horizon after a day that saw Paul LaPolice leave as offensive co-ordinator to become head coach of the Bombers with Stevie Baggs defecting to the NFL as he signs a one year deal with the Cardinals. If there was good news, it was the fact Andy Fantuz didn't sign with an NFL team---at least not yet.
Haven't we been on this merry-go-round before? After the championship season of 2007, it was an off-season that saw Kent Austin, Kerry Joseph, Fred Perry and Reggie Hunt leave. Many believed the team's good fortunes were over after just one year. The team did just fine in 2008 if you excuse the Michael Bishop fiasco. The 2008 off-season saw Anton McKenzie, Maurice Lloyd and Richie Hall leave. Once again, disaster was predicted and we all know what happened. This off-season has seen Eric Tillman, John Chick, LaPolice and Baggs leave. Guess what? Chances are this team will be fine. As much as I love Rider fans for their passion, I laugh at them for their negativity. Can we not go through an off-season and consider the glass to be half-full instead of half-empty? Does it always have to be this way? Have we not learned from the past? Yes, this team has been hit hard, but that is going to happen when you are successful. If no one was raiding our available players and coaches, it would mean you're not a very good organization. The Riders are a good organization. They have taken punches before and they have survived.
The loss of Chick and Baggs means players like Willie Evans, Joe Sykes and Mike Stadnyk will get a chance. Guys will be brought in. Perhaps free agency will bring someone here.
As for who replaces LaPolice, I have no idea. Would Marcus Crandell be considered the favourite? One name I'd like to throw out there, but I don't think he will come is Dave Dickenson. I'm guessing he is pegged to be Calgary's O-C after George Cortez left. Perhaps the best answer is to have Ken Miller serve as O-C and head coach. Remember he was the O-C in 2007.
The positives with this football club far outweigh the negatives. They will be fine!
One more thing. In an eight team CFL, the Riders stamp is all over the head coaching ranks. Richie Hall, Marcel Bellefeuille, and LaPolice are all former Rider assistants. What does that say about the organization? Teams know where to come when looking for someone to run their team. That's very flattering if you ask me.
Ilya Kovalchuk is a Devil. If you ask me, Atlanta got fleeced on this deal big-time. I guess it will depend on what type of draft picks Atlanta gets and what type of NHL'er Patrice Cormier will be. Johnny Oduya and Niclas Bergfors? That's all Atlanta could pry out of New Jersey. They couldn't get Travis Zajac or David Clarkson? They couldn't get Matt Halischuk? Is this really the best deal they could have gotten or could Boston, Chicago or Los Angeles have come up with something better. I think Don Waddell panicked here and sold Kovalchuk to the first bidder. Edmonton could have offered up Tom Gilbert and Andrew Cogliano and draft picks and it would have been a better deal. If you are a Devils fan, you have to like your top six forwards now. They have once again become a legitimate Cup contender.
By the way, Waddell said Kovalchuk turned down a 12 year, 101 million dollar contract. You gotta have a set of you know whats to turn that down. It only begs the question what Kovalchuk will ask for when he does become a free agent. I can't see any team giving Kovy that type of money and I can't see him being signed for 12 years either. That might be the only good thing here for the Thrashers. Locking Kovalchuk in for 12 yers at 8.4 million a year would have been a huge cap headache in a few years.
Amber Holland's Scotties is done. She split her games on the last day to finish with a record of 6-5, but that wasn't good enough. Amber let a couple of games get away from her in Sault Ste. Marie and you just can't let that happen. At the start of the week, Holland along with BCs Kelly Scott, Team Canada's Jennifer Jones and Ontario's Krista McCarville were expected to challenge for the title. Scott, Jones and McCarville are all there and one of those three will likely win it. As good as PEI has been all week(they are easy on the eyes aren't they), their inexperience will likely cost them before all is said and done.
Did anyone see the Jim Pankiw press conference in Saskatoon? WTF?? Who would vote for this guy? The Leader-Post had the conference on their website. I don't know if they still do. Speaking of websites, if you want to see a good website, check out Global Regina's new one at www.globalregina.com. Its not as good as the LP's, but its definitely number 2 when it comes to local news. Hey, its even got the blog of Derek "Just call me Duke" Meyers and that's a must read for me on most days. CBC's would be a close 3rd.
Who's the better team right now? Is it the Senators or Capitals?
The head of the NFL players association says you can expect a lockout in 2011. That's not news this football fan wants to hear.
Another member of the Canadian junior team has been suspended for a head shot. This time its defenceman Marco Scandella. I've seen this hit a few times and I'm OK with it. Maybe I'm desensitized to some of the other hits I've seen in recent months, but this one didn't turn my stomach the way the Cormier one did. What are your thoughts?
Speaking of the juniors, the 2011 pools are now known. Canada will be grouped with Russia, the Swedes, Czechs and Norway. The U-S will be in the other pool with Finland, Slovakia, Germany and Switzerland. The tournament will be in Buffalo if you didn't know.
UFC wants to have Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell step into the octagon for a 3rd time against one another when they make their first ever stop in Vancouver--that happens in June. Is that a selling card?
The Pats are home tonight to Saskatoon and tomorrow to Kootenay. They looked tired on Tuesday against the Rebels, but every team must be tired at this time of year. You simply can't afford to lose opportunities at points at home. The Blades and Ice are both very tough, but there aren't many easy ones to finish off the year. In fact, when you are fighting for your playoff lives, there are no easy ones.
As you begin your Friday, here's a question for you....
Whatever happened to preparations A through G?
Have a good one!