Thursday, June 30, 2011

Talking About A New Coach And Talking To A New Rider

Riders coach Greg Marshall was talking about a few things today as his team gets ready for Edmonton. One of them the hiring of assistant coach Jerry Friesen. Take a listen....

Gregmarshalljune30 by mitchellblair

Meanwhile, former Eskimo Elliott Richardson has been given a 2nd chance to continue his football career thanks to the Riders. I talked to Richardson about the opportunity he has been given and what he hopes his role is.

Richardson by mitchellblair

Riders Add Assistant Coach

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that Jerry Friesen has joined the coaching staff for the 2011 CFL season as a special teams/defensive assistant.

Friesen, who most recently served as the head coach for the University of Alberta Golden Bears, spent training camp with the Green and White as a guest coach and worked closely with Craig Dickenson and the special teams.

The Rosthern native played linebacker for the Saskatoon Hilltops before moving on to play for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. Friesen entered the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes in 1978 where he spent three seasons before moving back to Saskatchewan and signing with the Roughriders were he played six seasons. He was honoured with the CFL's Tom Pate Award for contributions to the team and the community in 1986 and later became the defensive coordinator with the Huskies in 1988, sharing in a Vanier Cup national title in 1990.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Conversation With The Coach

I spoke with Riders head coach Greg Marshall for a Riderville story that will be going up tomorrow. We basically just talk about the excitement he is feeling as he gets set to coach what will officially be his first game on Sunday against Edmonton.....

MarshallJune29 by mitchellblair

Dressler Extension Official

If Arash Madani reports it, chances are its true. He told you yesterday that the Riders are close on a contract extension with Weston Dressler and today the release came out.

The Saskatchewan Roughrider announced today import wide receiver Weston Dressler has signed a new multi-year contract with the team. Financial details of the signing were not released.

Dressler is in his fourth season with the Green and White since signing as a free agent with the team in May, 2008. The 26-year old has tallied 199 receptions for 3,258 yards and 16 touchdowns in 46 regular season games. In addition the North Dakota product has added 30 kickoff returns for 617 yards and 63 punt returns for 579 yards.

Since joining the CFL, Dressler has established himself as one of the premier receivers in the league. He was named the CFL Most Outstanding Rookie in 2008 and a West Division All-Star in 2009. Last season he finished with a career high 1,189 yards off 81 receptions and six touchdowns.

Dressler was set to become a free agent in February, 2012.

Stamps Make It Official

(Courtesy Calgary Stampeders)

CALGARY -- Calgary Stampeders head coach and general manager John Hufnagel is pleased to announce that import quarterback Michael Bishop has signed with the club. As per league policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“Michael is a veteran in this league and he instantly adds depth to our quarterback position,” said Hufnagel. “There isn’t much that Michael hasn’t seen in his eight years in this league.”

Bishop has played in 124 CFL games over eight seasons with Toronto, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg. His CFL rights originally belonged to the Stampeders and were traded to Toronto in 2002. Bishop was in Toronto from 2002-08 and was a member of the Argos when they won the 2004 Grey Cup. Bishop joined the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2008 and signed with Winnipeg in 2009.

During his career, Bishop has thrown for more than 11,000 yards and has 66 touchdowns. He also has nearly 1,400 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.

Bishop was a standout in college, posting a 22-3 record in two seasons at Kansas State and finishing second in Heisman Trophy voting in 1998. He established a school record with 2,844 passing yards and had 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions that season.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fess Up And Cash In

Free beer is always an enticing offer, so Boston Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference wouldn’t be surprised if one — or more — of his teammates admits to being a fan of Amstel Light.

Fessing up to drinking the light beer could be worthwhile, it turns out.

The Bruins’ bar tab of more than $156,000 US at MGM-Foxwoods Casino following their Stanley Cup victory drew plenty of attention, but none more so than the one Amstel Light that was on the receipt at the end of the night.

Now the brewery is offering free beer for a Canada Day barbecue or Independence Day party. Or the free beer can be had during the player’s day with the Stanley Cup for the Bruin who admits he was the one that ordered the Amstel Light.

“We want to reward the Bruin who ordered the Amstel Light to recognize him for making a great decision,” the company wrote to Bruins players Shawn Thornton, Shane Hnidy and the rest of the team.

In addition to wine, champagne and other liquor, the tab included 136 Bud Lights, two Coors Light, one Corona and one Heineken Light, along with the Amstel Light.

Ference said the brewery’s offer would be enough for a player to come forward.

“Yes, this is sufficient enough, considering how hard it is to wrestle $50 off some guys for a Masters pool,” Ference told Postmedia News on Tuesday. “Free anything works in most locker-rooms.”

In fact, Ference said he wouldn’t be surprised if more than one player took responsibility, seeing an opportunity to stock his fridge for the holiday.

“All of the young guys who will most likely need a solid supply at their parties,” Ference said.

Ference believes he knows the identity of the Amstel fan.

“My guess is (Brad) Marchand,” Ference said. “He had been spraying champagne all over himself all night and probably just wanted something that tasted a little better.”

One player Ference immediately eliminate from suspension was captain Zdeno Chara, the team’s 6-8 defenceman.

“Chara only drank from the Cup all night,” Ference said. “It is a perfect sized goblet for him, I will vouch for that."

Who's Number One?

TSN, taking a page from the NFL and the NFL Network, has unveiled its top 50 players going into this season. It won't be a surprise to hear Anthony Calvillo is the number one player. Take a look at the list and tell me what you think. I think I know where a lot of you won't be happy.

An Interesting First Pitch

I don't think you will be seeing a ceremonial first pitch like this being thrown out a ballpark near you for quite a while. Check out the CFP in San Diego last night.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pierre McGuire Leaves TSN

Courtesy Montreal Gazette

Canadian hockey fans will be seeing a lot less of Pierre McGuire in the future.

The ubiquitous analyst, who has been dividing his time between Canada and the United States since NBC regained the U.S. rights for National Hockey League games in 2006, has decided to concentrate on his duties south of the border.

“It’s a chance to spend more time with my family,” said the 50-year-old McGuire, who has an 11-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old. “I’ll be doing two games a week for Versus or NBC and spend one night in the Versus studio.”

McGuire, his wife Melanie and the kids will move in August from Westmount to New Canaan, Conn., which is a hop, step and a jump from the Versus studios in Stamford, Conn.

McGuire said he will continue to appear on TSN’s network of radio stations across Canada, and that includes his daily hit with Mitch Melnick on the Team 990. There have also been suggestions that McGuire may be involved in some special projects for TSN such as contributing to its draft coverage.

“I’ve enjoyed my time with both networks and I’m grateful for the opportunities TSN and NBC have provided for me,” McGuire said. “Concentrating my efforts on the NBC and Versus gives me more family time and there are some interesting professional opportunities.”

McGuire is referring to the fact that NBC recently renewed its contract to cover the Olympic Games.

“I’ll get a chance to work on the next three summer Games and two winter Games,” McGuire said.

NBC and McGuire have been working on a deal for several months and the final negotiations were delayed by the sudden departure of NBC Sports boss Dick Ebersol.

Sam Flood, the executive producer of the NBC games and McGuire changed the way hockey games are covered by introducing the “inside the glass” format that saw the analyst move to ice level between the opposing benches. This allowed the network to bring fans a closer look at the action and opened the opportunity for interviews during the game.

McGuire’s high-energy style is polarizing. Fans either love him or hate him, but there’s no doubt that he knows the game and I appreciate him as the anti-Don Cherry for his pro-visor stance and his appreciation of the fact that most hockey fights are unnecessary. McGuire was born in New Jersey and grew up there and in Montreal. He played hockey at a Division III school in the U.S. and later played in Europe. He has his name on the Stanley Cup as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992, had a brief head coaching stint with a very bad Hartford Whalers team and was in the Ottawa Senators’ head office before he began his broadcasting career.

Melnick hired McGuire to work at CIQC, and he was then hired by the late Ted Blackman in 1996 to work with Dino Sisto on Canadiens radio broadcasts at CJAD. McGuire moved to TSN in 2002 when it won the Canadian cable rights to NHL games.

Over the years, McGuire has been mentioned in connection with coaching or GM jobs with the New York Rangers, Minnesota, Ottawa and even the Canadiens, but it appears he realizes that broadcasting offers more security and more time for his family.

The Latest From Riderville

A good practice for the Riders as they start getting ready for Edmonton. Its an extra practice when you look at it because of the time between the last pre-season game in BC and the regular season opener.

--John Eubanks was taking Chris McKenzie's spot at defensive half. McKenzie has been bothered by a thigh and its unclear if he will be ready to go Sunday against Edmonton.

--The front four consisted of Montez Murphy, Keith Shologan, Tearrius George and Luc Mullinder.

--Graig Newman of the Hilltops was offered a spot on the practice roster, but he turned it down for now according to coach Greg Marshall. More of what he had to said can be heard below.

--Coach Marshall says he will find a way to work both Wes Cates and Hugh Charles onto the active roster for the season opener

Marshall's daily scrum can be heard here. You can also get the thoughts of Darian Durant.....

MarshallJune21 by mitchellblair

Durant by mitchellblair

Thoughts To Start The Week

Summer is here! At least for the kids it is. My 7 year old daughter's last day of school is Tuesday and then its
two months off. A kids delight and a parents nightmare. Many of you know exactly what I am talking about. By the way, the forecast calls for a high of 29 on Tuesday and 32 on Wednesday. 32??!!

Another sign that summer is here. The Riders have officially started preparing for Sunday's season opener against the Edmonton Eskimos in a 5 o'clock start at Mosaic Stadium. That's a weird start time for a Sunday night game, but I'm guessing TSN must have something on the grid for Sunday afternoon that delays kickoff. I'm sure those that are from out of town and have a few hours to drive won't be impressed with the late start, but you know they will be there. As I've said before, I don't think there is a perfect time for a Rider home game, but no matter the time, everyone shows up.

The question of the weekend when it came to the Riders were two-fold. 1)Have we picked up a kicker yet and 2) Why didn't the team keep Byron Bullock. To answer those 1) No, they haven't picked up a kicker and it looks like the job may belong to rookie Christopher Milo to start the season off. I am guessing the Riders were hoping a kicker would be cut like Damon Duval or Sandro DeAngelis, but teams kept their kickers around so it won't be happening. We've been spoiled in Saskatchewan over the past many years when it comes to kickers. We went from Dave Ridgway to Paul McCallum to Luca Congi. I can't remember if Congi struggled when he first came to Saskatchewan, but I'm sure he struggled a little. Perhaps we should give Milo a little rope. Some will want him to hang from that rope if he misses a couple of field goals against the Eskimos and they should lose, but you know what I mean. As for Byron Bullock, he obviously wasn't good enough to keep. If it hadn't have been Bullock, it would have been Kye Stewart or perhaps rookie sensation Chris Graham and there still would have been squawking, Bullock will re-surface in the CFL.

Speaking of re-surfacing, I just laughed when CKRM Sportscage contributor Sportsnet's Arash Madani broke the news that Michael Bishop was about to return to the CFL with Calgary. The Stamps need a quarterback after Drew Tate suffered a shoulder injury. Is there really no one out there that is better than Michael Bishop? Can Danny MacManus not be pried out of retirement? Can Khari Jones be offered a contract. Would Danny Barrett like to put the helmet on again.? Can the Stampeders not find another quarterback like a Chris Leak to come in for a couple of weeks. I'd rather have Marc Mueller than Michael Bishop.  Its a little insulting to Canadian quarterback Brad Sinopoli as well seeing the Stamps want him to stay at #3. Give him a chance as a backup.  Whatever, its not the Riders problem.

Ryan Smyth is an Oiler again and there is a lot of joy. My joy is tempered somewhat. There's no doubt that Smitty is on the downside of what's been a good career. What does he  have left in the tank? He will be great for the young guys in the room, but can he be a 50 point guy. I  hope so. Speaking of the Oilers, I am surprised that Andrew Cogliano and Ales Hemsky are still a part of the hockey team. I thought they would have been traded on draft weekend.

Sportsnet's Doug MacLean was saying on the weekend that some players aren't too happy with what the San Jose Sharks did to Devin Setoguchi. That is sign him to a new contract and then trade him away. I ask those players this question. If its not fair for a team to turn around and trade someone after signing them to a new contract, is it not fair for a player to say no to a trade because they have a no-trade clause in their contract? If the players association brings this up at some point, I hope the league fires the no-trade clause right back in their face.

How the weather can turn! I went to the Red Sox game yesterday and it was great when I left the house. The sun was out, there was a light breeze and it was a good day for a ball game. All of a sudden, the clouds came in, the sun disappeared, the wind picked up and it started to rain sending several home way too early. By 5 o'clock, it was once again a very pleasant afternoon.

Canada's womens soccer team is a treat to watch. Perhaps more attention should be paid to them than the mens team that seemingly has no hope in the near future at going to a World Cup!

Tims Souvlaki in the Golden Mile remains a secret. The souvlaki, fries and caesar salad is great eatin. If Tims was located in the Southland, I'm guessing there would be several long lineups for his staff to deal with. Speaking of the Southland, when is the Zellers store in there going to open?

I don't know what the pitching rotation looks like for this weekend, but both Roy Halladay and Ricky Romero pitched yesterday. Halladay makes his return to Toronto  as the Phillies come into town for games Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I would love to see Halladay go up against Romero as that would be a sensational matchup.

Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Rider Practice Roster

NIP DL Zack Evans (Jr.)
NIP DL Mathieu Boulay
NIP DL Ryan Lucas
IMP LB Chris Graham
IMP DB Eddie Russ
NIP DB Daryl Townsend
NIP OL Dan Clark
IMP WR Patrick Brown

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Whatever Dad!!!!!

The father of a player released by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats has gone a little overboard just because his kid didn't make the team. Check this story out....

The Cuts Are....

The following players have been released:

IMP QB Chris Leak

NIP WR Kolten Solomon

IMP WR Dominic Bolden

IMP WR Patrick Brown

IMP WR Mark Jones

IMP WR Jamal Smith

NIP DL Mathieu Boulay

NIP DL Zack Evans

NIP DL Ryan Lucas

IMP DL Calvin Fance

IMP DL Rod Wright

NIP LB Peter Thiel

IMP LB Byron Bullock
IMP LB Chris Graham

IMP DB Eddie Russ

IMP DB Jeremiah Weatherspoon

NIP DB Ludovic Kashindi

NIP DB Graig Newman

NIP DB Daryl Townsend
NIP OL Dan Clark

NIP OL Justin Glover

IMP OL Devin Tyler
NIP RB Kyle Exume

NIP K/P Tomas Silva

NIP LS Jocelyn Frenette

The following players have been added to the nine game injured list:

IMP DL Brent Hawkins
IMP WR Aaron Fairooz
NIP K/P Luca Congi
NIP DB Leron Mitchell
NIP WR Rob Bagg

The following players have been added to the injured list:

NIP WR Obed Cetoute
NIP OL Nick Hutchins
IMP RB Brandon West

The following players have been moved to the inactive list:

IMP DB Chris McKenzie
IMP DB Courtney Bryan

Remember that this list does not include practice roster players so some that have been cut will not necessarily be leaving.

For the thoughts of Brendan Taman,

taman by mitchellblair

Nick Charles Passes Away

Former CNN sports anchor Nick Charles died overnight at the age of 64 after a long battle with bladder cancer. At one time, Charles was perhaps the most recognizable sports personality in America. His battle with cancer was written about a few months ago. This is a very good read.

Friday, June 24, 2011


As expected, the Edmonton Oilers selected Red Deer Rebels forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the first overall selection in the 2011 NHL draft.

(photo courtesy of Edmonton Oilers)

Regina Red Sox Baseball Camp

The Regina Red Sox are holding their annual Summer Baseball Camp for players between the ages of 8 and 14 years of age on July 6 and 7, 2011 at Currie Field. The camp runs from 9:00 A.M until 12:00 noon both days. All instruction will be done by current Red Sox players and coaches. The cost of the camp is $75.00. Registration forms can be downloaded off of our web site, or by contacting Brad Pentz at 789-2271 or


The name game has apparently come to a close and it’s clear the people have spoken.

Although True North isn’t confirming, numerous outlets are reporting that they've decided to go with the Winnipeg Jets.

Following the press conference to officially unveil Claude Noel as the first coach of Winnipeg’s NHL franchise, co-owner Mark Chipman was asked if the public would find out the identity of the pick and his answer was concise.

“Possibly,” Chipman said, failing to expand or comment on the speculation.

True North has done an outstanding job keeping the secret under wraps and underwent an exhaustive process before returning to the old faithful.

Many believed True North would go with a new name, since the Winnipeg Jets franchise history still belongs to the Phoenix Coyotes.

However, public sentiment has been overwhelming in support of naming the team Jets.

It probably didn’t hurt either that co-owner and Canadian billionaire David Thomson endorsed the name during the introductory press conference, suggesting Jets was “a fine name.”

While the name is going to be revealed, it’s believed the new logo hasn’t been approved yet, so Winnipeg’s first round pick will receive a black and grey jersey with the NHL logo on it.

Just Some Random Friday Thoughts

---The NHL draft is tonight in Minneapolis. The Oilers have the number one draft pick and the consensus is they will talk Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Some believe the team could take defenceman Adam Larsson and some believe they could trade the pick with Florida believed to be the team that wants it. One story has said the Panthers are willing to part with blueliner Erik Gudbranson. He was arguably Canada's best blueliner at the last World Juniors. If Edmonton could get the #3 pick, Gudbranson and a roster player and then take Larsson at 3 and another good forward at 19 like Zack Phillips, I'd be happy. We'll see.

--Checked out my first Red Sox game of the year last night. My sked and their sked just hadn't meshed, but as expected it was a good time. They had a good crowd last night, but I really don't know why more people don't take in Red Sox games. It is great entertainment, it is cheap entertainment and it is the best baseball you will find in Regina in the summer. If you haven't been, you really need to go.

--I had two people refer to Rod Pedersen and myself as "The Dream Team" at the Red Sox game last night. I laughed both times.

--I had way too much fun doing the Sportscage on Wednesday leading into the Rider game. As you know, it was a three hour show as we took it right to Vancouver for Roughrider warmup and Countdown to Kickoff. Some wonder how one can do two hours and it isn't easy, three hours isn't easy either, but when you get the right guests and have the right amount of tape and start talking Riders, the time flies by. I haven't hosted many Cages over the first year, but I know I have walked out of the Harvard building feeling better and good about the shows I have done many more times than I did over my time at the other place.

--Why doesn't Kindersley have a WMBL team? They have a great facility and I think the town would be big enough to support a squad. They have teams in Melville and Weyburn so why not Kindersley. That would give Klippers play-by-play man Brendan Ullrich something to do in the summer time.

--The Riders do need a field goal kicker, but I firmly believe Eddie Johnson needs to continue on as the punter. Eddie just isn't comfortable for whatever reason in kicking the ball and in what will be a very competitive West, the Riders can't afford to lose a game in the last seconds due to a missed field goal. This being said, I do NOT want Sandro De Angelis here. Here's hoping he makes it in Montreal.

--The pictures out of Weyburn and Estevan have been unreal this week. The sad thing is the rain isn't going to stop anytime soon by the sounds of it. Thankfully, I haven't had any water in my basement yet. I hope that trend continues.

--While the people in charge of the Craven jamboree keep saying its a go, I keep hearing whispers that they just won't be able to because of the rain-soaked grounds which is still full of water. Here's hoping for the best. Time is running out!

--"Bad Teacher" may be a bad movie, but Cameron Diaz will likely make it worthwhile.

--Who hires a head coach first--the Warriors or Pats?

--The Raptors should really put out a book called "How to Screw Up A Draft". I didn't even know who the guy they took at number 5 was last night until earlier in the day. That team is destined to be in the lottery and they are destined to be bad for years.

--There are apparently still a lot of tickets left for the WWE show at the Brandt Centre in August. The stars of Monday Night RAW are supposed to be here meaning people like John Cena, the Miz, Kelly Kelly, Alberto Del Rio, Rey Mysterio, etc. etc. These guys don't come around every day and I KNOW Regina is a wrestling town. I also know that Evraz officials are trying to get a TV taping, but they can't if there's not a good crowd count for house shows. Bottom line---lets get some tix. I'll be there.

--Thumbs up to both Premier Wall for getting MLA's back to the House to end the crop insurance workers walkout and good on the Prime Minister for starting legislation to order postal workers back.

--Did Craig Slater of the LP lose a bet. A half page story on Red Sox voice Adam Geiger? Really? I kid. Adam does a great job on the Red Sox games and he does it by himself. Baseball is not an easy sport to do especially when you are by yourself, but he exceeds. He even throws in a little "doing the Red Sox on CKRM" quote. That couldn't happen could it?? If Red Sox baseball is going to get on the radio, that's the only place it will happen unless CJTR is interested.

-- I gotta wonder how Flyers fans are feeling today. I still don't understand those moves--especially the one to trade Mike Richards. Yeah, it was all done to get Bryzgalov signed, but that's another story in itself.

--My golf game truly sucks! Its extremely bad this year. Perhaps July will bring better fortunes.

--I predict the NFL lockout will be over before July 15. Is that the reason why I haven't seen any NFL preview mags on store shelves. Why don't Regina stores sell Pro Football Weekly anymore?

--Do cats burp?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just In Case You Missed It Friday

You may have missed this Friday if you got to the football game late or if you didn't go. There is a new Rider song out there before games that is played on the Maxtron. Paint the Whole World Green is out an"Ride On" is in. I don't know who Megan Nash is, but I don't mind this tune. Check it out.....

Flyers Shake Up Their Roster

On the eve of the NHL draft, the Philadelphia Flyers have made a pair of trades involving arguably two of their best players. Jeff Carter is now a Columbus Blue Jacket. He goes there for Jakub Voracek, the 8th pick overall in the draft and a 3rd round pick.

The Flyers then sent their captain Mike Richards to LA for Wayne Simmonds, Saskatoon's Brayden Schenn and a 2nd rounder.

With the money saved in those deals, they were then able to sign free agent goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine year, 51 million dollar contract. Is Bryzgalov really the answer to the Flyers goaltending woes. I don't know. Its safe to say the team will have a different look to them next year.

Getzlaf 2 Ryan 0

You probably missed it last night because of the football game, but Ducks forwards Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf went at it again in a sequel to their very funny "Olympic medals" spoof at last year's NHL awards during this year's event. Check it out...


Watch that film, evaluate who you need to and then burn that film and never look at it again. That is the advice I have for Greg Marshall and company after what was an ugly display of football. The Riders lost 34-6 and yes, the score was indicative as to how the night went.

Just some thoughts

--If he didn't play, I think Ryan Dinwiddie is the number two quarterback. Cole Bergquist and Chris Leak slugged it out for number three and I think Bergquist wins the battle. If Chris is let go, it will beg the question. Will any of the other 7 teams want to "Take a Leak".

--Darian Durant played way too long. Yes, he had to shake off some of the rust, but leaving him in for much of the 3rd quarter was a risk---especially when Darian plays the way Darian does. I don't know about you, but I just cringed every time he took off with the football last night.

--Ernie Wheelwright and Terrence Nunn have both made this team with their efforts. We did see both drop a couple and Wheelwright made a bad decision at the end of the first half when he didn't go out of bounds, but this guy can catch the football and you just don't set 6 foot 4 receivers with hands adrift. As for Nunn, he didn't make the long catch that many of us were hoping for, but he showed that he is capable of being one of the wideouts.

--Wes Cates will be the starting running back and I think Brandon West has supplanted Hugh Charles as the backup. Does Hugh make the team as a returner? I would suggest to Brendan Taman that perhaps it is time to trade Hugh to someone to get a rush end. Would the Lions be interested?

--I ask that last question and I say if they are--too bad. You don't want to make BC look any better. I said going into training camp that I thought BC was going to be the biggest challenger to the Riders this year and after what I saw last night, those feelings are stronger.

--I love Eddie Johnson the punter, however Eddie Johnson the kicker gives me no security whatsoever. Christopher Milo and Tomas Silva also didn't dazzle. Coach Marshall had the best line of the night when he said he thought those guys were kicking a curling stone. Nick Setta is out there, either Damon Duval or Derek Schiavone will be set free in Edmonton and either Sean Whyte or Sandro De Angelis will be cut in Montreal. This team needs a proven field goal kicker until Luca Congi is ready to go. I just hope its not De Angelis. I don't think I could stomach him wearing green.

--If you have room, and I doubt you will, keep Saskatoon Hilltops safety Graig Newman. He did not look out of place in either exhibition game and I think the coaches have to be very pleased with what he has done. He deserves a spot, but sadly there might not be enough room at the inn.

--After that, its still difficult to determine who the rush ends will be and what linebackers stay. I thought George Hudson did a better job than Marc Parenteau at center, but I know there's a lot more to o-line play than just how it looks.

I don't know if the decisions are easier or tougher after a game like that, but I know the time for evaluation is done. Its time to play some football as the regular season opener is just over a week away. Final cuts need to be made Saturday. Get a pot or two of coffee on cuz the coaches are going to need it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

R U Ready For Some Football???!!

I think its a first for the Sportscage tonight. We go past the six o'clock hour as we will go right to 7 o'clock before throwing it to Rod Pedersen and Carm Carteri in Vancouver for the pre-game show and the play-by-play of tonite's game. Bob Hughes will join me for the first two hours with Mark Rathwell sitting in for the final hour. Rob Vanstone and Rod will also join us. You will also hear from Darian Durant, Chris Graham and Terrence Nunn. You can actually hear them right here if you wish. Talk to you in a couple of hours.....

DurantJune22 by mitchellblair

Graham by mitchellblair

Nunn by mitchellblair

Continuing To Grow

Saskatchewan's population has hit a new all-time record of 1,053,960 as of April 1, 2011, according to the latest estimate released today by Statistics Canada.

Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration Minister Rob Norris said the province's continued population growth is a sign of a strong and vibrant economy.

"Saskatchewan continues to be a province of opportunity both for those who have lived here for years and for newcomers to our province," Norris said. "Our government will keep working to ensure those opportunities continue and Saskatchewan keeps on growing strong."

Saskatchewan grew by 1,910 people in the first quarter of 2011 (January 1, 2011 to April 1, 2011) and by 13,225 people over the past year (April 1, 2010 to April 1, 2011). Saskatchewan's annual growth rate of 1.27 per cent is the fourth highest among the provinces and ahead of the national average growth rate of 1.06 per cent.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Get Ready For These....

Chatting With Cuthbert

If you heard Tuesday's edition of "The Sportscage, you heard Derek "Duke" Meyers of Global TV in Regina and myself speaking with Chris Cuthbert. If you didn't hear it, you can catch it right here....

chriscuthbert by mitchellblair

I'll probably replay this interview for you tomorrow night on the extended Sportscage. Yes, pre-game coverage for the Riders-Lions tilt on Rider radio will begin at 4 with the Cage and instead of Casey Clarke coming on at 6, you will get an extra hour of the show leading into the pre-game show with Rod Pedersen and Carm Carteri at 7.

TSN To Mic Up Players And Coaches

TSN once again takes fans closer to the CFL than ever before.

For the first time, TSN will use LIVE microphones on players and coaches during a CFL game. Fans will be able to hear play calls, pep talks, grunts and groans as they happen during TSN’s special broadcast of the Toronto Argonauts @ Winnipeg Blue Bombers pre-season game on Thursday, June 23 at 8 p.m. ET.

TSN will have live microphones on Argos’ Head Coach Jim Barker and Blue Bombers’ Head Coach Paul LaPolice along with the starting quarterbacks – giving fans live unedited audio and a first-hand perspective on what happens in the huddle and on the sidelines.

TSN’s Rod Black and Duane Forde are in the booth providing play-by-play and analysis for the game.

“We are always looking to bring fans as close to the action as possible. The league and teams have been incredibly supportive and worked with us to give fans even more access inside the game,” said Paul Graham Vice-President and Executive Producer of Live Events, TSN. “

Tensions will be high on the field as players compete for jobs and coaches look to establish their teams. Having the live microphones on the quarterbacks and Head Coaches will deliver some compelling content.”

“Our league prides itself on its accessibility for our fans – and this initiative takes them inside our game in a very exciting way,” said Matt Maychak, the CFL’s Vice-President, Broadcast and Communications.

“It’s another example of how our partnership with TSN continues to grow stronger – and our fans and viewers continue to benefit from that partnership.”

TSN will look to use live microphones on players and coaches at other points throughout the season.

Celebrating The Cup

Yes, you're looking at that and wondering how Derek Meyers is going to pay off his bar tab for May at the Press Box, but that isn't his tab. Its not Pedersen's either. What you are looking at is the Boston Bruins bar tab after they celebrated their Cup victory in Boston on the weekend. 157-thousand dollars!!! Here's a little bit more on that party .

You may notice on this bill that someone ordered an Amstel Light. I figure the Bruins were being charitable and sent that via Fed Ex to Vancouver so that Henrik and Daniel could share it.
Nick Lidstrom is coming back for a 20th season in the NHL. Who does he think he is--Chris Chelios?
Word is Dwayne Casey, an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks, is the new coach of the Toronto Raptors. Talk about a precipitous fall.
Rob Vanstone not only "Robservates" me this week, but he then goes on a blasphemous and highly unsolicited attack on yours truly while visiting with Derek Meyers on the Global roundtable last night. What a cad!!
Speaking of Duke(his 3rd reference in this posting), he will join me today as I  host the Sportscage for the next two days with Rod Pedersen in Vancouver with the Riders. Sportsnet's Gene Principe will join me as I want to know for sure if the Oilers will take Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Friday's draft. I may also have to ask Principe if the story of another Ryan--Smyth is true. Apparently, the former Moose Jaw Warrior has told the LA Kings he wants to go back to Edmonton. The question is do the Oilers hierarchy want him back. Chris Cuthbert will also join us as will Arash Madani with his bi-weekly Madani Report. Arash is at the NHL board of governors meeting in NYC so perhaps he will tell us what Winnipeg's moniker will be and if the player that the Winnipeg team drafts will get an official sweater and hat on draft day.
Word Monday night that the Comedy Network has cancelled the Sports Show with Norm MacDonald proving once and for all that sports and comedy do not mix on TV  unless your names are Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole. (In a scary development, Onrait just did a bit on this as I was typing it up).
I tried forming a Rider roster on Monday night. All I have to say to Greg Marshall and Brendan Taman is GOOD LUCK!!!! Its not easy! You try it.
Life is not easy for those in the southeast. I hope all goes well for those in the Estevan and Weyburn areas. The pictures on TV are amazing.
What type of record would Ricky Romero have if he could get some offence from his Toronto teammates. I'm not saying Romero could be another Roy Halladay, but he could be a 20 game winner if his offence decides to co-operate with him.
If this isn't a reason to go to the Queen City Ex what is.....
Hugh Hefner's fiance calls off their wedding on the weekend and Hef is already back on the horse. I can only salute this man and credit him for fighting through the obvious pain he must be feeling. Who's kidding who, I think every fella that reads this would just like to spend one week in his smoking jacket.
A GOOD friend knows if you like Coke or Pepsi... A GREAT friend adds the VODKA!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Victoria's WHL Team Will Be Known As......

Rider Report

The Riders were back out on the practice field for just one practice today. Many more vets will play Wednesday in BC including Darian Durant. Several regulars were not practicing today though--they included Weston Dressler, Cary Koch, Brent Hawkins and Jerrell Freeman. With the exception of Hawkins, I don't think there is a lot to worry about. Here was Coach Marshall after the proceedings were done......

MarshallJune20 by mitchellblair


DAY 16

The following is the Day 16 report from the 2011 Roughrider Training Camp.


SUSPEND IMP DB Courtney Bryan

ADD NON-IMP K/P Tomas Silva


FB Graeme Bell (calf) day to day

OL Dan Clark (knee) day to day

WR Obed Cetoute (hamstring) day to day

WR Weston Dressler (groin) day to day

LB Jerrell Freeman (upper body) day to day

DE Brent Hawkins (shoulder) week to week

WR Cary Koch (knee) day to day

DL R.J. Roberts (knee) week to week


The most entertaining portion of today’s practice session came at the conclusion when a group of players decided to test their ball catching and balancing skills by seeing how many footballs they could catch and hold on to as they were fired by the jugs machine. In the end it was defensive back Eddie Russ who managed to catch and hold on to five footballs.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tough Decisions Need To Be Made

After one pre-season game, Riders coach Greg Marshall has difficult decisions to make. Yes, that's a good thing because it means he has to tell some talented football players that they don't have what it takes to make the 2011 edition of the team. It also means another Marcus Thigpen situation could develop.

Going into the last pre-season game, Marshall still has to decide

A) who will his backup quarterback be. It would appear that barring a great performance in BC that Chris Leak will be the odd man out so does that leave Ryan Dinwiddie or Cole Bergquist as the backup to Darian Durant. I would tend to lean Dinwiddie because of his experience.

B)Can Brandon West and Hugh Charles stay on the active roster. West showed flashes of what he can do in limited reps against the Eskimos while Charles reinforced that he should be on the roster with his play on special teams. I can't see all three making it so has Charles won the backup running back spot thanks to his return skills.

C) Who are your receivers. We know Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf are starters, but then where do you go. Where does Jordan Sisco fit in? Where does Jason Clermont fit in? Even though he didn't do anything spectacular on Friday, has Terrence Nunn got a starting spot? What about Cary Koch? Where does Ernie Wheelwright fit in after a good game.

D) What will the d-line look like. Brent Hawkins (if healthy) and Keith Shologan appear to be shoo-ins as does Dario Romero. Who takes the other end spot. What happens to guys like Montez Murphy and Tearrius George.

E)Chris Graham established himself as someone that needs another solid look. Could he fit in as the other end? Jerrell Freeman, Sean Lucas and Barrin Simpson look to be the starters so where do Byron Bullock and Kye Stewart fit in the equation. You know Mike McCullough isn't going anywhere.

Marshall needs to see his starters perform, but there are many more players that need some more time on the field. How he juggles things around on Wednesday in Vancouver will be interesting.
Rory McIlroy made the final round of the US Open boring--at least for me. Take nothing away from his game because he was fabulous, but there was no drama and no excitement to speak of. When you are up by as much as what McIlroy was going into the final round, you have to almost hope for a blow-up so that its interesting coming down the stretch. That didn't happen Sunday. Its like when Tiger had a big lead--you knew he wasn't going to relinquish it. I loved it when a guy would at least make a charge at Tiger. He didn't win, but he made you watch. That didn't happen on Sunday.
If you watched the golf yesterday, you saw McIlroy's dad quite a bit. If you are a WWE fan, you also saw Vince MacMahon's son Shane in his entourage. Why? Apparently Shane is part of McIlroy's management team. That's an intriguing marriage.
Thousands of young people were on the street in Toronto for the Muchmusic Video Awards Sunday night. Those young people didn't riot in the streets when everything was over.
The NHL draft is Friday in Minneapolis. Will Winnipeg's team have a name by then? How about a coach?
I still don't understand how Pats GM Chad Lang can praise his 1995 and 1996 kids ---kids that Todd Ripplinger brought into the system, yet turnaround and gas Ripplinger. Chad has a plan and only time will tell if that plan works or not, but I'm shaking my head over that part of it. We'll see.
Curtis Hunt will find another job. Despite what many say, he is a good coach. You don't become an assistant on two World Junior teams and an assistant in the NHL if you are garbage.
Marc Mueller was released by the Eskimos Sunday night. That is a crock if you ask me. The kid deserved a couple of series against Calgary. Hopefully his performance Friday at Mosaic wasn't the last CFL game he is in.
There is talk the Edmonton Oilers are dangling their 2nd first round pick--19th overall and their first round pick next year in order to land a 2nd pick in the top 5 this year. That's a risky gamble by a team that I hope makes the playoffs next year. If they don't, they could be giving up wayyyyyyyy too much. Florida is said to be the team they want to dance with. How about offering up Andrew Cogliano, number 19 and a 3rd next year for Florida's first pick this year. I could stomach that.
How is it Canada can have the Oprah network on, yet the CRTC will not allow ESPN. This is crimony!!
If Rider holdout Matt O'Donnell makes the NBA (and word is he will now work out for the Raptors), will he become the next Oliver Miller. How about Big Country Bryant Reeves. I think its about time that you admit to making a mistake and cut bait.
If laughter is the best medicine, who's the idiot who died laughing.

Rider TC Report Day 15

The following is the Day 15 report from the 2011 Roughrider Training Camp.



FB Graeme Bell (calf) day to day

LB Byron Bullock (knee) day to day

WR Obed Cetoute (hamstring) day to day

LB Jerrell Freeman (upper body) day to day

DE Brent Hawkins (shoulder) week to week

WR Cary Koch (knee) day to day
DB Tad Kornegay (hamstring) day to day

DL R.J. Roberts (knee) week to week

DB Jeremiah Weatherspoon (achilles) indefinite


The Rider offence was putting on an air show today at Mosaic Stadium as the quarterbacks were enjoying a wind free day in Regina. Darian Durant connected with Chris Getzlaf downfield in the end zone under double coverage while Ryan Dinwiddie threw a long bomb to Mark Jones who was also under heavy pressure. On the defensive side, Rider draft pick Craig Butler snagged an interception.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Riders Help Out Saskatchewan Amateur Football

Saskatchewan Roughrider Chairman Roger Brandvold announced today that the organization has created a $650,000 legacy fund to help support amateur football throughout the province. The fund will consist of profits generated from the Roughriders centennial celebrations held throughout 2010.

“The centennial legacy fund will make an incredible impact on minor football across the province and these additional funds will help us broaden the reach so that more kids will enjoy the benefits of participating in sport,” stated Brandvold.

Through a partnership with Sask Sport and the previously established Sport Legacy Fund, the funds will be dispersed for amateur football capital projects. A committee has been formed in partnership with Football Saskatchewan and Sask Sport that will establish application guidelines and criteria for making the grant decisions.

The committee has announced that $100,000 will be allocated to Regina Minor Football to support the Liebel Field refurbishment project along with another $100,000 to support the Hilltops and Saskatoon Minor Football with new field lights at Ron Atchison Field.

“Investments like this ensure that the centennial celebrations legacy lasts well beyond 2010,” stated Brandvold. “This is a great first step for our legacy plan to be built upon.”

Random Weekend Thoughts

-- As much as we have yelled and cursed and screamed at Mother Nature over the past few months, we have to thank her for allowing 98 percent of the football game to be played without rain falling. We can deal with the wind, but the rain we had yesterday until about 6 would have been a little too much.

--Those that came to the game and were loud and proud should be saluted. With the game on TSN. there really wasn't much of a reason to come out and cheer the Riders on because of the weather and the fact it was an exhibition game.

--I wonder how many Canucks fans turned the TV on to the Boston affiliates this morning only to see the Stanley Cup parade.

--After seeing him implode at the Masters, I am not conceding the US Open to Rory McIlroy.

--What does Hockey Canada have against Pats forward Jordan Weal. I thought he would get an invite to the national junior camp. Is there something there that we're not seeing.

--Plans went awry, but I was supposed to be at Wrigley Field this weekend watching the Cubs and Yankees. Three guesses as to what I'll be doing this afternoon at 2 and Sunday night at 6 as those games are on FOX and TSN2.  Yes, that picture of me in the Bartman seat and that Ryne Sandberg jersey at Wrigleyville Sports that has my name on it will have to wait until next year. SIGHHHH!!!

--Who was the best TV dad of all time? Is it Al Bundy, Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Steven Keaton, Bill Cosby, Ward Cleaver or Archie Bunker. I'm sure I've forgotten someone. Remember Dad tomorrow.

Riders Win Pre-Season Opener

(Picture courtesy JC_Fotos)

It doesn't count in the standings, but a win is a win and the Riders have one under their belt after a 23-22 win over the Eskimos. Greg Marshall says it wasn't tough evaluating his players as you might think when it was so cold and windy out, but make no doubt about it, it was tough for both teams to do what they wanted to offensively. Here are just random thoughts on the games followed by some post-game scrums.

--Marc Mueller looked fine. He didn't get a lot of reps, but did you really think he would? He showed nice touch on that medium range pass he completed and its too bad that drive ended in a fumble as it would have been nice to see him put one in the endzone.

--Is returning kicks the way for Hugh Charles to get on the roster on a full-time basis. Many Rider fans are hoping so.

--Was this pre-season or the middle of the year for Rod and Carm. Both sounded in mid-season form for game #1. Kudos as well to Phil "The Thrill" Andrews for a bang-up job at half time.

--Thank god it didn't rain! I thought I would have the look of a drowned rat when that game was over, but nope! It was windy and it was miserable, but I was warm and that is what matters.

--I just don't know what the Riders will do with the linebackers they have. They can't keep everyone. Simpson, Freeman and Lucas should be the starters, but Stewart, Bullock and Graham are all very good players as well. That's a decision that the coaches don't mind having, but its a damn tough one.

--There were some special teams issues, but Craig Dickenson's work with this unit is already showing drastic improvement from last year.

--The battle for the backup isn't over as both Ryan Dinwiddie and Cole Bergquist played well. My nod goes to Dinwiddie though,

--My nod also goes to Darren Szabo as the new public address announcer.

--Why oh why would a majority of you vote for "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate" as the 4th quarter stretch song. You had a chance to change things and you didn't. SHAME!!!

Here's some post-game audio.

MarshallJune17 by mitchellblair

Marc Mueller by mitchellblair

Hugh Charles by mitchellblair

Friday, June 17, 2011

Its GameDay!!!

Gainer is ready for some football.....are you??

(Photo Courtesy TSN)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Marshall's Pre-Game Thoughts

Here's what Greg Marshall had to say on the eve of his team's first pre-season contest of the year against the Eskimos in what it appears will be a wet Mosaic Stadium.

Marshall by mitchellblair

Hunt and Ripplinger Are Fired

Regina Pats General Manager, Chad Lang announced today that they have released Head Coach Curtis Hunt of his duties and will not renew the contract of Director of Scouting Todd Ripplinger for the 2011-12 season.

“These decisions are always tough to make, especially when you are deal with two quality people like Curtis and Todd, however after a lengthy evaluation process we felt strongly that it was the right time to make a change." Regina Pats General Manager Chad Lang continues, "We need to go in a new direction with a fresh approach and philosophy as it relates to our head coach and the head scout positions. The entire Pats organization would like to thank Curtis and Todd for their hard work and service to this franchise and wish them all the best in the future.”

Curtis finished his sixth season as Head Coach of the Regina Pats with a combined record of 185-201-46 leading the Pats to a division title in 2007-08.

Todd took over the role as Director of Scouting prior to the 1997-98 season and over 13 seasons he drafted the likes of Josh Harding, Logan Pyett, Jordan Eberle and Jordan Weal.

George "Wings" His Way To Sacred Heart

Regina product Drew George is going to continue his hockey career south of the border while getting an education to boot. I spoke with the Weyburn Red Wings forward this morning and he tells me he is off to Sacred Heart University to play Division 1 NCAA hockey. Congrats to Drew. He is the 26th SJHL player to move on to Canadian or American college hockey next season.

My Realtor---And Maybe Yours Too Ladies and Gentlemen

So there I am watching the tremendous coverage of the riot on CTV Vancouver (led I might add by the best damn reporter I've ever worked with---former CJME senior reporter Les Staff) while on the computer last night. I'm going through Twitter and I'm going through Facebook when I see my friend and my realtor Craig Adam sending a pic from the riot scene in Vancouver. I texted him to see if he was OK and where he was. This is what I get in response...

Yes, he's a block away from the action, but at a time where a city is burning because of young thugs he finds time for a photo op. Unreal!! Surprising though---absolutely not! Well done Pek!

Rider Roster For Tomorrow

#17 Cole Bergquist
#8 Ryan Dinwiddie
#4 Darian Durant
#3 Chris Leak

#66 Chris Best
#67 Dan Clark
#68 Alex Gauthier
#62 Justin Glover
#64 Dan Goodspeed
#52 George Hudson
#69 Nick Hutchins
#51 Alex Krausnick-Groh
#60 Gene Makowsky
#53 Patrick Neufeld
#57 Marc Parenteau
#61 Devin Tyler

#26 Graeme Bell
#20 Wes Cates
#21 Hugh Charles
#49 Kyle Exume
#22 Stu Foord
#32 Neal Hughes
#9 Brandon West

#85 Dominic Bolden
#72 Patrick Brown
#82 Jason Clermont
#7 Weston Dressler
#89 Chris Getzlaf
#80 Efrem Hill
#87 Mark Jones
#84 Cary Koch
#88 Terrence Nunn
#12 Jordan Sisco
#78 Mark Smith
#86 Ernie Wheelwright

#77 Mathieu Boulay
#76 Zack Evans
#92 Calvin Fance
#93 Tearrius George
#96 Ryan Lucas
#95 Luc Mullinder
#91 Montez Murphy
#94 Dario Romero
#74 Keith Shologan
#99 Shomari Williams
#98 Rod Wright

#5 Byron Bullock
#50 Jerrell Freeman
#70 Chris Graham
#47 Cory Huclack
#31 Sean Lucas
#45 Mike McCullough
#2 Barrin Simpson
#46 Kye Stewart

#43 Courtney Bryan
#28 Craig Butler
#1 John Eubanks
#15 Lance Frazier
#37 Tamon George
#27 Nick Graham
#38 Tristan Jackson
#41 Ludovic Kashindi
#24 Tad Kornegay
#42 Graig Newman
#14 James Patrick
#16 Eddie Russ
#48 Darryl Townsend
#35 Jermiah Weatherspoon

#11 Eddie Johnson
#19 Chris Milo
#59 Jocelyn Frenette


This might be one of the best pictures of what happened in Vancouver last night. Really???!!!!! That's unbelievable!

Bruins Win, Vancouver Embarasses Themselves

The Boston Bruins are Stanley Cup champions and there is no denying it. They manhandled what looked to be a very disinterested Vancouver Canucks 4-0 to take it in 7. Was it just me or did Vancouver come out flat in this one. Tim Thomas maybe made one tough save the whole night. Once again, the Sedins were invisible and well, what can you say about Roberto Luongo. He didn't soil the linen like he did in Boston, but he was far from good.
As you all know though the story of the night is not what happened inside Rogers Arena, but what happened in Vancouver. Punks, degenerates, hoodlums, waste of skins, etc. etc. etc decided to make a repeat of 1994 by rioting. Hooliganism at its best. British soccer fans would be so proud. The thing is these jackholes are so f#in stupid that in this day of video cameras and everything, they did nothing to hide themselves so it shouldn't be hard for Vancouver police to find them and prosecute them----and prosecute them they should. Hard time is what some of these idiots need. A lot of questions need to be asked, but one of them is this. Will Vancouver police ever allow what we saw last night during the game to happen again. I don't know how many thousands of people were on the street to watch what they hoped would be a Canucks win, but I'm guessing that next year should the Canucks make another Cup run that people will be told to stay home or else.

Am I the only one that just wishes Vancouver police would have started cracking heads and asking questions later. These hoodlums didn't deserve a warning, they deserved a baton to the bag or a water cannon shot or something. Not only did these people embarass themselves, they embarrassed their city and their country. While many of them were wearing Canucks jerseys, I can't blame the team on this one. Why did this happen? Would it have happened had Sidney Crosby not scored the golden goal? As I said, these clowns were caught on video and I hope a large majority of them are caught and they are given jail time---no fine, but jail time. Is Guantanamo Bay available?
Did anyone see TSN's Ray Ferraro last night. Word is he walked into a glass wall and broke his nose. Ferraro--being a hockey player though---continued on with his TSN duties even though he looked like he had been through a war. I wish there was footage of said incident.
I now know what happened to my Grandmas old couch. Don Cherry turned it into his sportsjacket last nite. That one might have been his all time worst. WOW!!!! Speaking of HNIC, they did another stellar job post-game making sure that every member of the Bruins they could find got at least two minutes of air time. Great stuff!!
Just to lighten it up, Vancouver police were going to ask Roberto Luongo to come out and voice a message to stop the riots. However, they were quickly reminded that Luongo can't stop anything! (Thanks to Adam Geiger for that)
If you are a Bruins fan like my buddy Rob Swallow, congrats.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WHL AGM Concludes

The Western Hockey League Board of Governors wrapped up their Annual General Meeting today in Calgary by announcing they have adopted a Seven Point Plan to reduce blows to the head and concussions. The WHL Seven Point Plan is a comprehensive approach to addressing this important matter and includes the adoption of new playing rules; more severe suspensions for repeat offenders; production of an educational video on risks of concussion; educating the players to be more responsible for themselves on the ice; a seminar for all WHL Head Coaches and General Managers; new soft cap elbow and shoulder pads; expanded research data and a review of all WHL arena facilities safety standards.

The WHL Playing Rule changes includes the adoption of a Checking to the Head penalty for lateral and blind side hits to an unsuspecting opponent in open ice where the head is targeted or is the principle point of contact. The WHL also tightened the standard on late hits as well as charging and interference penalties to address players building up significant speed and hitting the opponent along the boards with excessive force. The WHL also adopted a new embellishment rule and introduced automatic suspensions for players who receive multiple penalties for checking to the head, checking from behind, embellishment and kneeing.

“The WHL is fully committed to addressing head blows and concussions in a comprehensive manner,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “We believe the Seven Point Plan we have adopted will not only create a safer environment for our players but will also enable us to better educate our players, coaches and officials as to what constitutes a legal hit.”

The WHL Board of Governors also adopted revisions to their Regulations and Constitution and received an update on their new WHL franchise in Victoria.

The WHL also announced that the Kelowna Rockets, Red Deer Rebels and Saskatoon Blades have been short listed as the final three candidates to host the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup. The final bid presentations will be made at the October 12, 2011 meeting of the WHL Board of Governors in Calgary.

One Day Closer

The Riders continue to get ready for Friday's exhibition opener at home against Edmonton. Coach Greg Marshall admits he is excited to step out on the sidelines for the first time as a Head Coach, but he adds he is excited for the players to show what they can do. Marshall also admitted he will be cheering for the Boston Bruins tonight and that he has tweaked the sked so that coaches and players can watch the game if they wish. When asked if he has the thought of turning to TSN2 to watch BC and Calgary, he responded with "We'll get the game tape."

Another special teams practice was held today and part of that practice was a fun drill in which players sprinted about 20 yards and then raced back to determine quickness. Tristan Jackson had Weston Dressler in one race, but he slowed up allowing Dressler to win. That had Richie Hall screaming "Why did you slow up? Why?" I don't know who eventually won, but John Eubanks was most impressive. That's the first time that I've really noticed Eubanks.

It was Weston Dressler's birthday yesterday and no one did anything. It was Luca Congi's birthday today and he got pied. I don't know if Dressler was the culprit.

I don't think Cary Koch is lobbying to get into the game to quarterback a couple of series despite what this pic shows.

I should also tell you Coach Marshall said Brent Hawkins won't play because of his shoulder injury. At what point do you start getting concerned about that injury considering he was really the only pass rush the team had last year.

For Some Reason I Feel Like A Bud Light Lime

Can't imagine why??????

Midget Nationals Sked & Ticket Info Announced

The schedule for the 2011 Baseball Canada Midget (AAA) Championship was confirmed today by
chairman Cas Pielak.  The 10-team tournament featuring players 18-and-under begins August 18th and concludes August 21st. Games will be played at Optimist Park and Currie Field.

Action begins at 9 a.m. August 18th with two games, Quebec against British Columbia at Currie Field and Ontario facing Nova Scotia at Optimist Park.

Saskatchewan will be represented by two teams, a host Regina team and the team that wins the Saskatchewan championship. The host team will see its first action against Alberta at 12 noon at Optimist Park while Team Saskatchewan will face Ontario in its opener, also at Optimist Park.

Official opening ceremonies will take place at Optimist Park at 6:15 p.m. August 18 and will be followed by the hosts taking on B.C. at 8 p.m. The tournament winds up August 21st with the bronze medal game at 1:30 p.m. , followed by the gold medal game at 5 p.m., both at Optimist Park.

Pielak also announced that advance tickets for the tournament will go on sale July 15th at Optimist Park. Full tournament passes sell for $25.00 and a family pack for two adults sell for $40.00. A day pass for games at either park will be $10.00 and single game ticket are $5.00.

Child under 14 accompanied with an adult are free.

U-18 Selection Camp Named


CALGARY, AB – Hockey Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Hockey League and Western Hockey League, announced Friday the 42 players who have been invited to attend Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team selection camp, which runs from July 30 to August 2 at Father David Bauer Olympic Arena in Calgary, home of Canada’s national teams.

The roster includes four goaltenders, 14 defencemen and 24 forwards. 15 WHL players are among the 42 named to the selection camp, including 6 defenceman and 9 forwards.

Of the 15, players of note to Saskatchewan are defencemen Derrick Pouliot (Weyburn-Portland Winter Hawks), Morgan Rielly (West Vancouver-Moose Jaw Warriors), Ryan Olsen (Tsawassen BC, Saskatoon Blades), Tyrel Seaman (Choiceland-Brandon Wheat Kings), Chandler Stephenson (Saskatoon-Regina Pats)

The players, born in 1994, were selected by Hockey Canada head scout Kevin Prendergast, in consultation with head coach Steve Spott (Waterloo, Ont./Kitchener, OHL) and assistant coaches Mario Duhamel (St-Bruno, Que./Drummondville, QMJHL) and Don Nachbaur (Kitimat, B.C./Spokane, WHL). Prendergast evaluated the players over the course of the 2010-11 season, following them along with numerous other candidates for the program during league play, as well as during the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge held from December 29 to January 4 in Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie, Man.

“This selection camp will be competitive and exciting,” Prendergast said. “These players represent the future of Canadian hockey and are a testament to the strength of the Canadian Hockey League and the skill development taking place in minor hockey associations across the country.”

The camp roster includes 19 players from the Ontario Hockey League, 15 from the Western Hockey League, six from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, , one from the Central Canada Hockey League (Junior A) and one from the Ligue de hockey midget AAA du Qu├ębec. In total, 37 players (two goaltenders, 14 defencemen and 21 forwards) competed at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Of the 42 players who have been identified for the selection camp, 22 will be selected for Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team, which will play in the 2011 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament, scheduled for August 8-13 in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Who Ya Got?

I'm thinking most of you that read this blog on a daily basis (and I thank you for that) will be glued to a television somewhere tonight to watch the end of what to me has been the most entertaining Stanley Cup Final that we have seen in a long, long time.

The Vancouver Canucks are more than deserving of the Cup if they win even though they were badly outplayed in Boston while the Bruins are also deserving having outplayed Vancouver in this series. It should be a great Game 7 and chances are it won't be a superstar that plays a big part in the win. Here are 5 recent Game 7 heroes...

2009: Maxime Talbot, Penguins -- The enduring image of Pittsburgh's first Stanley Cup title in 17 years will be Marc-Andre Fleury's lunging stop on Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom in the closing seconds, preventing what would have been the game-tying goal. That Fleury saved the day came as no surprise. Less expected was Talbot, a pest and grind-line skater who never has scored more than 13 goals in an NHL season, would provide all the offense for the Penguins in a 2-1 victory. There were, however, some signs Talbot had this clutch moment in him. The previous year, when the Red Wings beat the Penguins in six games for the Cup, it was Talbot who delayed the celebration in the Motor City by scoring late in Game 5 to tie a game Pittsburgh went on to win in triple overtime. He finished the 2009 postseason with 8 goals.

2006: Aaron Ward, Hurricanes -- It would be pretty safe to term Ward a "stay-at-home" defenseman, given he scored all of 44 goals in 839 career games, and never more than 6 in a season. That career season came for Carolina in 2005-06 as the franchise made a bid to win its first Stanley Cup. Ward had just 1 goal in 24 postseason games as the Hurricanes entered Game 7 of the Final looking to stave off a comeback by the upstart Oilers, who had rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to draw even. The opening goal figured to be critical, and it was Ward who got it just 1:26 into the game. Another unheralded defenseman, Frantisek Kaberle, doubled their lead and Cam Ward brought the Cup home with a 3-1 win.

2004: Ruslan Fedotenko, Lightning -- Save for a breakout 26-goal season in 2005-06, Fedotenko has been a forward you generally can count on for 10-19 goals per season throughout his career. During the 2004 postseason, he nearly matched his regular-season output (17 goals in 77 games) in 53 fewer games. Fedotenko erupted to score 12 goals for Tampa Bay, but you couldn't find two any more important than the ones he put up in a decisive Game 7 victory against Calgary, as the Lightning won 2-1 for the franchise's first championship. Fedotenko would be similarly prolific for the Penguins in their 2009 run, with 7 goals in 24 games, giving him 19 goals in 46 games over those two Cup runs. Talk about opportunistic -- Fedotenko has 1 goal in 42 games during seven other trips to the playoffs.

2003: Michael Rupp, Devils -- There couldn't have been a more unlikely Game 7 hero when the Final began that year, because at that point Rupp hadn't skated in an NHL game since March 28. An injury to Joe Nieuwendyk opened the door, and Rupp finally got his first taste of the playoffs in Game 4 of the Final. He had an assist in Game 5, but that was his only point in his first three games. Then came the all-or-nothing Game 7 in New Jersey. Martin Brodeur was flawless in goal, but he needed a little assistance from his offense. Rupp would be the go-to guy, getting the deflection on a Scott Niedermayer shot early in the second period to put the Devils on the board, and then setting up a pair of insurance goals by Jeff Friesen in a 3-0 win that gave New Jersey its third Stanley Cup inside of a decade.

2001: Adam Foote, Avalanche -- It's more of a stretch to find an "unsung hero" in Colorado's vanquishing of New Jersey, as the key contributors in Game 7 for the Avalanche -- Alex Tanguay, Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy -- all were household names, as was Ray Bourque, the veteran defenseman whom the team so badly wanted to make a Stanley Cup champion for the first time. The steady, underrated Foote helped set up Tanguay's decisive goal in a 3-1 victory by clearing a puck off the boards and ahead to Sakic for a breakaway. Brodeur denied the chance, but Tanguay buried the rebound. Foote also was instrumental in the Avalanche even seeing a Game 7 -- with the Devils leading the series 3-2 and looking to finish it off at home two nights earlier, Foote had the opening goal and added 2 assists in a 4-0 win.

Mark Recchi is no stranger to a Game 7. This will be his 11th. The Sedins are Vancouver's Game 7 leaders having played in 5 each.

So once again, the biggest hockey game of the year will happen in Vancouver with a team from Canada taking on a team from the U-S with the winner getting the glory at night's end. In February of 2010, I cheered for the home team, but I won't be doing that in June of 2011. I wasn't a big Canucks fan going into the playoffs and they haven't endeared themselves to me at all during this playoff run. The latest came on Tuesday when predictably the Canucks complained about the play where Mason Raymond was injured saying Johnny Boychuk should be disciplined by the league. I don't think anyone in the rink realized Raymond had been hurt as bad as he was when he was helped off the ice. While Vancouver complains about that, you don't hear Boston complaining about the big elbow that Alex Edler threw at Rich Peverley. You didn't really hear Boston complain about the Burrows-Bergeron incident in Game 1 as well. They have just gone about their business.
My thoughts on Game 7. The earlier Boston scores, the better their chances. If Luongo gets on a roll, it could be another one of those 1-0 or 2-1 games. If the Bruins score early, it could be 5-2 or 6-2 or worse.
Sportsnet is reporting if Nathan Horton gets medical clearance, he could play in Game 7. Watch the Canucks howl if that happens.
When it is over, it will be interesting to hear from both teams just who was playing hurt and how hurt they were. While not many are 100 percent healthy, I will be interested to see what was wrong with guys like Zdeno Chara and Ryan Kesler.
UFC fighter Diego Sanchez is going to be in La Ronge in a couple of weeks. I'm also hearing he might be participating in a golf tournament in Saskatoon. Organizers are also trying to get Clay Guida and ring-girl Brittney Palmer to that event. I think Guida and Palmer need to get into the Sportscage if indeed they are coming to Saskatchewan. I wonder if I should get in contact with Sanchez's people and tell them that Ice Wolves play-by-play man Daniel Fink has been badmouthing him. I couldn't that to Daniel. If it was Melfort's Gino DePaoli, I wouldn't hesitate and if it were Flin Flon's Rob Hart, well he'd probably take Sanchez down so never mind.
Speaking of SJ play-by-play guys, those of you in Yorkton can agree or disagree on this one. Were GX94 sports guy Craig Stein and CTV Regina weatherdude JC Garden separated at birth. Take a good look at them.
The forecast is calling for rain Friday night, but I could care less. I'm very excited for Friday's game due to the fact that I am going to be a part of Rider Radio this year. It was a big thrill as a Saskatchewan boy to have a chance at doing that last year for two games, but it will be great to have a full time role on the broadcasts this year working with the likes of Rod, Carm and the rest of the gang. Its going to be a lot of fun.
The Jays are 6 1/2 back of the Red Sox in the AL East and 5 out in the wild card chase. Do they have a shot at the playoffs? If they don't, do they start peddling guys like Aaron Hill and Corey Patterson. I'd throw Edwin Encarnacion into that mix, but who would want EE.
Who ya got to win the US Open?
Are ya going to watch the Stamps-Lions pre-season game?
Quote from Ray Ferraro: Its hard to imagine the Canucks winning Game 7 if they don't score. REALLY?????!!!! CMON Ray!
Rob Vanstone went to Bridesmaids last night. He must be in some serious you know what with Mrs. Rob to have to endure that. If he went of his own volition, he should be forced to hand in his man-card.
Speaking of Rob, he had a bit in his weekly "Robservations" stating that a young man in Redvers by the name of Chris Thibault had recently drowned. I met Chris going to the Grey Cup in Montreal and ran into him quite a few times that week. He had seen me at games and had Facebooked me quite a bit asking how the Riders were looking. I hadn't received any Facebook messages from him this year, but didn't think anything about it. My way overdue condolences to Chris and his family.
Someone should really tell Mark Cuban that he can hand the NBA championship trophy off for a few minutes.....

When you think about it, this picture could have been a lot worse.
If I understood Morse code, I'm guessing a tap dancer would drive me crazy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Oh Daniel!!

Less than an hour after his team missed a chance to clinch the Stanley Cup in a blowout loss, Daniel Sedin was still confident enough to guarantee his Vancouver Canucks will beat the Boston Bruins in Game 7 on Wednesday night.
"We're going to win Game 7," Sedin told the Vancouver Sun.

"We're 3-3 and we won all three games at home and we have the fourth game at home," he said of the series, according to the report. "So we have the seventh game at home and we'll take that. We are confident."
Sedin's prediction came as he was discussing a first period in which everything went right for the Bruins and nothing went right for the Canucks. Vancouver coughed up four goals in the first nine minutes and pulled starting goalie Roberto Luongo, who struggled mightily in all three games in Boston.

"Like I said, it happened and we have to deal with that as a team," Sedin said, according to the report. "It's enough with the blaming and all that. We lose as a team and win as a team and we're going to win Game 7."