Thursday, May 31, 2012

This And That

Rider season has started, the Regina Red Sox season has started and the Stanley Cup is winding down. Its time to switch into summer mode is it not?

Yes, it is rookie camp and it is only a couple of days long, but the Riders have returned and that means we can strap ourselves in for another six months of twists and turns. I resemble this time to being on a great big roller-coaster. This is the time when the cars leave the start line and slowly makes its way up that first incline before starting the ups and downs that a Rider season usually brings. Hang on! Lets hope this ride isn't as scary as last season.

Wednesday night marked the start of the Western Major Baseball League season and the Regina Red Sox opened it up with a 5-0 win over the visiting Moose Jaw Miller Express.

A good crowd was on hand for the season opener and it was great to see virtually all of the media at the park to take part in opening night festivities. The Red Sox's image is getting bigger and bigger thanks to a championship season, the efforts of guys like Bernie Eiswirth and Gary Brotzel and a bigger media push by most to get the people interested. If you haven't been to a game at Currie Field, I highly recommend it. Yes, parking is a problem, but nothing is perfect right?

Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final is Saturday night and one would have to think we will see another tight-checking affair with goaltending coming up big for both sides and shots at a premium. I thought the Devils were the better team in Game 1, but a serious brain cramp by the New Jersey defence left Anze Kopitar all alone and he made no mistake on what was an outstanding effort to give L-A the game and get the early advantage again. If the Devils can come back to win Saturday night, we will have a series. If L-A wins, it could be a short final.

My best friend is a Devils fan and has been for a number of years. My question is is he the only Devils fan in Regina? I don't see many with the New Jersey logo around town.

Its been a very weird and very disturbing week when it comes to news stories. The story coming out of St. Walburg is extremely sad and just indicates that perhaps all is not being done when it comes to fighting depression. I can't imagine how anyone could shoot their wife and young child, but then again I probably can't imagine the demons that were unsuccessfully fought.

What is going through the head of the guy who is killing people and mailing body parts everywhere? Just when you think you have heard it all, you hear that story and the one of the guy in Miami that was shot when he was found eating another guy's face. WTF??? Oh yeah, I forgot about this story too which is just as gruesome

The Edmonton Eskimos announced this week that musical acts 'Salt n Pepa" and "Vanilla Ice" will perform at half-time during home games this season. Was Bobby Curtola not available? Why weren't "The Stampeders" invited? Rod and I made fun of this during the Sportscage on Wednesday when we did the show live from Currie Field. One fan got a chuckle out of it, but reminded me that at least the Eskimos are doing something and not treating their fans to something like the dog show. I couldn't disagree with them.

With Andy Fantuz gone, I think it is safe to say that the jersey that will be most prevalent at Mosaic Stadium this year will be the number 7 one worn by Weston Dressler. Who's kidding who, Mrs. Scruffy even has a number 7 uniform.

The Seattle Mariners pushed 21 runs across the board against the Texas Rangers this week. It prompted CTV's Chris Hodges to tweet me telling me the Mariners had scored more in one game than the Seahawks in more than half of their games. Well played Hodgie, well played!

What Regina media member headed to the first day of Riders rookie camp only to pull up outside Mosaic Stadium and wonder where everyone was? Oh yes, it happened!

This might be the one most bizarre sports stories of 2012.

I was sad to read that Craig Stein of Yorkton radio station GX94 was resigning his position. Craig is a good guy and a good play-by-play guy who just for one reason or another couldn't get that Western Hockey League shot. In my one year with the SJHL, I worked with a lot of talented broadcasters---many of them are now no longer with their stations for various reasons. As I said, Craig is a good guy and I hope that somewhere down the road he gets back behind a mike and gets to do what he wants. He deserves the opportunity.

I am one to watch Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole do Sportscenter in the morning. On Thursday, TSN had French Open Tennis on while TSN2 had the Scripps Spelling Bee. Can someone please tell me how this classifies as something that is sports. Cmon TSN, you are better than that.

Speaking of TSN, it looks like Sportsnet is ready to give them a battle. Rogers is telling people they did more hockey than TSN this year as they look to outbid them and CBC for Hockey Night in Canada, they want a piece of the CFL if what you hear is right when the current TSN contract runs out, they have taken the Indy 500 and other IRL from TSN and are looking at other properties as well. What Sportsnet really needs is better on-air personalities to compete with the on-air guys at TSN. Hazel Mae or Rod Smith? That decision is crystal-clear.

I don't know what direction the WWE is going in these days, but without stars like Randy Orton, Chris Jericho and Mark Henry for the next little while, I don't like it. There is talk that "Stone Cold" Steve Austin is about to return to make life difficult for John Laurainaitis. If writers can make the Austin-Lauranaitis feud as funny as the Austin-Vince McMahon feud, it will be entertaining.

The debate has started over Nick Lidstrom's spot in hockey history. The Red Wings defenceman had a first ballot hall of fame career and he is deserving of every accolade he receives. When I think of defenceman during my time, I would have to put Nick 3rd behind Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey. Yes, putting him below Coffey may be blamed on my love for the Oilers, but I just think Coffey was more of a complete d-man because of his offensive skills. If I had to rank d-men, I would go Orr, Coffey, Lidstrom, Niedermayer, Stevens, Chelios, Bourque, Robinson and Leetch. Sorry, but Doug Halward doesn't make the list.

NHL GM's met in New York this week to talk about rule changes and one of those changes discussed was having minors or majors stretch over to the next game in the playoffs. ????? Really? In an NHL where head shots are still prevalent and no-touch icing is still not used, this is an idea that was actually discussed? If they gave more than 30 seconds of discussion to this, it tells you that perhaps the GM's themselves can take some of the blame for the way the game is.

It is said average weekly earnings in the province are increasing 6 percent year-over-year-over year. It isn't and hasn't at Casa de Blair. How about you?

Face your problems, but don't Facebook them!

That's all I got. I'm out! Have a good one!

Odell Says I'm Sorry

Riders rookie camp started today, but it was a veteran who captured the headlines. Odell Willis, who received a DUI charge in Georgia shortly after being acquired in a trade with Winnipeg, spoke to the masses today and as you will hear, he sounded apologetic for what he had done.

Hours after signing his name to his first pro contract, Ben Heenan was out there showing his stuff. This guy carries a tremendous amount of confidence to him. He's not cocky, but you know he is looking to come into camp and make an immediate impact.

It was a day of getting out there and running a few drills. Main camp will begin Sunday, but for Corey Chamblin, it was his first practice as head coach. Here's his comments....

The team also announced two more signings today. Defensive back Karl Paymah spent six seasons in the NFL with the Texans, Vikings, Broncos and Vikings while Canadian d-lineman Renaldo Sagesse comes to Riderville after a four year career at Michigan. He was taken by the Alouettes in the 4th round of the 2011 CFL draft.

A couple of other notes. Receiver Justin Harper was impressive on day one of rookie camp. The former Baltimore Raven looks like he could be a very inviting target over the middle. He has size and he has hands. I joked at camp that they should have given him 83 instead of 82. Yes, while Harper did impress today he has a long ways to go before he makes this roster. I am not going to get caught up in Terrence Nunn like hype.

Dwayne Jarrett was not at camp. He is expected in town tomorrow. Jarrett may be the most high profile rookie at camp having been a starter with Carolina and being the leading receiver at the USC team that featured Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and Clay Matthews that lost to Vince Young and Texas in the national championship game.

Flames Hire New Head Coach

Bob Hartley, who was rumoured as a favorite to land the head coaching job with the Montreal Canadiens, will be named the new head coach of the Calgary Flames at a news conference today.

Hartley spent the 2011-12 season coaching the ZSC Lions in Zurich to the National A League Championship.

Having coached 651 career NHL games, Hartley brings a wealth of experience as well as a winning pedigree to the Flames bench. Hartley coached the Colorado Avalanche to a Stanley Cup in 2001, the first of four consecutive years that he would guide the Avalanche to the Western Conference Final.

Hartley also coached the Atlanta Thrashers for parts of five seasons between 2002 and 2008, guiding the franchise to its only playoff appearance in 2007. He was also a panelist on RDS before taking the coaching job in Zurich.

He was also present at the Memorial Cup as a volunteer advisor to Shawinigan Cataractes head coach Eric Veilleux. The Flames finished 37-29-16 last season and missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season.


Lidstrom Retires

The guy the Detroit Red Wings nicknamed "The Perfect Human" – their captain for the past six seasons and a sure lock for Hall of Fame status – is officially hanging up his winged-wheel sweater and retiring after 20 remarkable years in the Motor City.

Lidstrom made the announcement Thursday during a press conference at Joe Louis Arena, an event attended by coach Mike Babcock, GM Ken Holland, Lidstrom's family and several current and former teammates from the Red Wings.

Lidstrom helped the Red Wings win four Stanley Cups and seven times was awarded the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman.

Lidstrom, who turned 42 on April 28, played in a whopping 1,564 regular-season games in his NHL career to put him second behind only Gordie Howe on Detroit’s all-time list. He also piled up 1,142 points, fourth most in franchise history, by scoring 264 goals and adding 878 assists. His plus-450 career plus-minus rating ranks No. 8 in League history and nearly equals the paltry 514 minutes he spent in the penalty box.

Lidstrom's career numbers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs are just as impressive.

No other Red Wings player appeared in more postseason games (263), as he never missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He also scored 54 goals to go with 129 assists for a total of 183 career playoff points and finished with a sterling plus-61 rating.

Lidstrom also decided 11 postseason games with game-winning goals and became the first European-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (2002) before becoming the first European to captain his team to a Stanley Cup title in 2008.

Lidstrom, who made 12 NHL All-Star Games and was voted a First-Team All-Star 10 times, also holds the NHL record for most games played by a player who spent his entire career with one franchise.

This past season, he also became just the sixth Detroit-based athlete in the four major North American professional sports to play at least 20 years all in the Motor City. Red Wings legends Alex Delvecchio (24) and Steve Yzerman (22), Detroit Tigers stars Al Kaline (21) and Alan Trammell (20) and Detroit Lions kicker Jason Hanson (20) are the others.

Rider News/Pats News

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today they have signed all four of their 2012 Canadian Draft picks. Non-import offensive lineman Ben Heenan, non-import linebacker Samuel Hurl, non-import linebacker Kevin Regimbald-Gagne and non-import wide receiver Ismael Bamba have agreed to contracts. Financial details of the signings were not released.

Heenan (6’4 – 310) was selected by the Riders with the first overall selection in the 2012 Canadian Draft. The offensive lineman spent four seasons at the University of Saskatchewan where he helped the Huskies to three Canada West regular season titles and four straight playoff appearances. While with the Huskies, Heenan picked up a number of CIS Awards including 2008 Canada West Rookie of the Year; 2010 and 2011 Canada West All-Star; 2010 First Team CIS All-Canadian; 2011 Second Team All-Canadian and played in the East-West Shrine Game. Prior to joining the U of S, the Grand Coulee native was a standout offensive lineman at Sheldon Williams high school in Regina.

Sportsnet (and Sportscage insider) Arash Madani is reporting Heenan's deal is a three year one (two plus option) and will pay him between 57 and 60 thousand per year with bonuses and incentives.

Hurl (6’1 – 225) was selected in the second round (12th overall) by the Riders. The linebacker played three seasons in his hometown at the University of Calgary. Hurl has twice been named the Canada West Defensive Player of the Year and led the Dino’s last season with 97 defensive tackles and four tackles for a loss.

Regimbald-Gagne (6’1 – 230) was the Riders fifth round pick (35th overall). The native of Rouyn-Norand, QC attended the University of Sherbrooke where he was a standout linebacker. In 2011, Regimbald-Gagne was named a First Team CIS All-Canadian after registering 40 defensive tackles. He was also named to the RSEQ all-star team in each of the past two seasons.

Bamba (6’1 – 195) was selected in the sixth round (39th overall) by the green and white. Last season, Bamba played his senior year with the University of Sherbrooke where he finished with 50 receptions for 543 yards and four touchdowns. He also added 12 kick returns for 310 yards and one touchdown and 18 punt returns for 208 yards and one touchdown. Prior to transferring to Sherbrooke, Bamba spent two seasons at the University of North Dakota.

· The Riders have also announced that they have invited three members of the Regina Thunder Junior Football Club to participate in training camp. Quarterback Asher Hastings, wide receiver Clay Cooke and defensive tackle Zach Evans will be in uniform when Rookie Camp opens Thursday, May 31st.


General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with defenceman Brandon Davidson on a three-year entry level contract.

Davidson, 20, played in 69 games last year with the Western Hockey League's Regina Pats, finishing the season with 49 points (13G, 36A) and 83 penalty minutes.

The 6'1", 202-pound Lethbridge, Alberta native has collected 134 career points (22G, 112A) with the Pats in 200 games along with 191 penalty minutes.

Davidson, who was the captain of the Pats, also made his professional debut when he appeared in two games last season with the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League.

The Oilers selected Davidson in the 6th round, 162nd overall, in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rookie Camp Roster

Saskatchewan Roughriders 2012 rookie camp roster

Thursday and Friday at the University of Regina

No. NamePos.N/I Ht.Wt.Age School/Jr.

0 Dominic Noel DB N 5-10 175 24 Laval

1 Kory Sheets RB I 5-11 208 27 Purdue

2 Colt Brennan QB I 6-3 207 28 Hawaii

3 Macho Harris DB I 6-0 200 26 Virginia Tech

4 Darian Durant QB I 5-11 214 29 North Carolina

5 Drew Willy QB I 6-3 215 25 Buffalo

8 Dwayne Jarrett WR I 6-4 219 25 USC

10 Levi Brown QB I 6-4 225 25 Troy

13 Chris Bodnar K/P N 5-11 190 24 Regina

16 Eddie Russ DB I 6-0 185 25 Harding

17 J.T. O’Sullivan QB I 6-2 232 32 California-Davis

20 DeShawn Wynn RB I 5-11 232 28 Florida

25 Demetrius Crawford RB I 5-8 195 25 Montana State

27 Talmadge Jackson DB I 5-10 188 23 Oregon

29 Jock Sanders WR I 5-6 185 West Virginia

31 Jalil Johnson DB I 5-10 181 23 Jackson St.

33 Louis Rankin RB I 6-1 216 27 Washington

35 Daniel Sheffield LB I 6-4 210 24 Troy

37 Chris Graham LB I 5-11 235 27 Michigan

41 Tyron Brackenridge LB I 6-0 189 27 Washington St.

42 Graig Newman DB N 6-1 195 22 Saskatoon Hilltops

43 Chris Francis LB I 6-0 229 23 Baylor

48 T.J. Rushing DB I 5-9 186 28 Stanford

49 Chris Ellis DL I 6-5 260 Virginia Tech

50 Daren Stone LB I 6-3 215 26 Maine

52 Abraham Kromah LB I 6-0 227 24 Duke

52 Jamar Williams LB I 6-1 235 27 Arizona State

58 Xavier Fulton OT I 6-4 300 26 Illinois

59 Curtis Gatewood DE I 6-3 255 26 Vanderbilt

62 Nerraw McCormack OT I 6-5 302 25 Penn State

63 Johan Asiata OT I 6-4 300 24 UNLV

65 -x Ben Heenan OL N 6-4 310 22 Saskatchewan

71 Bodgan Raic WR N 6-2 218 Ottawa

72 Nathan Riva RB N 5-11 195 22 Western

75 -x Kevin Régimbald-Gagne LB N 6-1 230 24 Sherbrooke

79 -x Sam Hurl LB N 6-1 225 22 Calgary

81 Jason Chery WR I 5-11 188 26 Louisiana-Lafayette

82 Justin Harper WR I 6-4 213 27 Virginia Tech

83 Sinorice Moss WR I 5-8 185 28 Miami

85 -x Ismael Bamba WR N 6-1 195 24 Sherbrooke

87 Patrick Brown WR I 6-1 178 25 Bethune Cookman

88 Taj Smith WR I 6-1 198 28 Syracuse

94 David Veikune DE I 6-3 270 26 Hawaii

95 Mick Williams DL I 6-1 282 25 Pittsburgh

96 Boo Robinson DT I 6-1 310 24 Wake Forest

98 Kenny Rowe DE I 6-2 244 23 Oregon

-x­Denotes unsigned 2012 draft pick

Single Game Tickets on Sale Friday

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are reminding fans that single game day tickets will go on sale Friday, June 1st. All remaining tickets for the 2012 season will be available for purchase starting at 9:00am Saskatchewan time. Fans are encouraged to buy their tickets online at

“Season ticket sales have once again been a big success. With the many exciting changes around Mosaic Stadium, we are encouraging fans to purchase their game day tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment,” stated Roughrider President /CEO Jim Hopson.

Meet The Riders

The Saskatchewan Roughriders will be holding their first full training camp practice on Sunday, June 3rd at 1:30pm at the University of Regina. This and all other training camp practices are open for fans to attend.

Immediately following Sunday’s practice fans in attendance will get a chance to meet their favorite returning Riders as well as the newest players in green and white. Players will remain on field to sign autographs and take pictures with fans of all ages.

Free parking at the University of Regina has been designated to Lot #17 on the Southeast side of the campus for those planning to take in training camp.

A Perfect Night For Ball

Yes, I know its Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final tonight, but get out and enjoy some baseball. The 2012 Western Major Baseball League season opens up tonight at Currie Field with the defending champion Regina Red Sox taking on the Moose Jaw Miller Express. Game time at Currie is 7 PM.

There are many young men who have just gotten into Regina and don't know a lot about the city, but lets show them that Regina is a great baseball town and that we support our teams.

I'll be joining Rod in "The Sportscage" as we go live from the ballpark at 5 and take you right up to first pitch. Hope to see ya there!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Breaking Down The Stanley Cup Final

2012 Stanley Cup Final
New Jersey Devils vs. Los Angeles Kings

How They Got Here

The sixth-seeded Devils advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2003 by defeating the top-ranked New York Rangers in six games in the Eastern Conference Final. After the Devils defeated the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in Game 5 with the series tied 2-2 -- matching the result from the clubs' epic Eastern Conference Final in 1994 -- 22-year-old rookie forward Adam Henrique reversed the series outcome of 18 years ago by sending the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final with the winning goal in overtime of Game 6. Goaltender Martin Brodeur again proved a nemesis to his cross-Hudson rivals, posting a 4-2 record, 2.01 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Facing another bitter Atlantic Division rival in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Devils eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers in five games. New Jersey rallied with four consecutive victories after dropping the opening game of the series, capturing each contest despite surrendering the first goal. Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk led all scorers despite missing Game 2 due to injury, notching seven points (two goals, five assists). Both goals scored by New Jersey forward David Clarkson were game-winners.

The Devils faced their toughest test in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, outlasting the Florida Panthers in seven games thanks to overtime victories in both Game 6 and Game 7. Travis Zajac scored at 5:39 of the first extra period to extend the series to a seventh game, followed by Adam Henrique's goal at 3:47 of double overtime in the cliffhanger finale. Martin Brodeur collected his 24th career playoff shutout in Game 4, passing Patrick Roy into sole possession of first place on the all-time list.

The Kings advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in franchise history and first since 1993 by eliminating the Phoenix Coyotes in five games in the Western Conference Final. The Kings won all three games at Phoenix, capped by the series-clincher in overtime of Game 5, to extend their playoff road winning streak to an NHL-record eight games. They also became the second #8 seed to advance to the Final under the current playoff format and the first club to knock off the #1, #2 and #3 seeds in order to get there. Rookie forward Dwight King led all goal-scorers in the series with four, including two game-winners, and goaltender Jonathan Quick posted a 1.52 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.

The Kings roared through the Western Conference Semifinals with a thoroughly-dominating four-game sweep over the St. Louis Blues, who had finished with the NHL's third-best overall record during the regular season. The Kings’ top line of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams collected 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in the series, while the Blues’ top three scorers from the regular season -- David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Alex Pietrangelo -- combined for just five points (one goal, four assists). The Blues went 0-for-17 with the man advantage in the series.

The Kings eliminated the #1 seed Vancouver Canucks in five games in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, shocking the defending West playoff champion and the club that had captured the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's best during the 2011-12 regular season. Captain Dustin Brown scored the insurance marker to wrap up Game 1, notched a pair of shorthanded goals in Game 2, tallied the winner in Game 3 and led all players in goals (four) and plus-minus (+4) during the series.

First Playoff Meeting: The Devils and Kings are meeting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time.

Season Series: The Devils swept a pair of early-season games from the Kings, posting a 2-1 shootout victory Oct. 13 in New Jersey and a 3-0 win Oct. 25 at Los Angeles. Goaltender Johan Hedberg posted both victories in relief of Martin Brodeur, who played one period in the teams' first encounter before being sidelined with an upper-body injury that kept him out of the lineup until Nov. 2. Hedberg stopped all 16 shots he faced, plus shootout attempts by Simon Gagne and Anze Kopitar, in his winning relief appearance Oct. 13 and made 31 saves for his 18th career NHL shutout in the return match on Oct. 25.

Devils Go for Cup #4: The Devils are vying for their fourth Stanley Cup championship, following wins in 1995 (4-0 vs. Detroit), 2000 (4-2 vs. Dallas) and 2003 (4-3 vs. Anaheim). The Devils have suffered just one series defeat in the Final, dropping a seven-game series to the Colorado Avalanche in 2001. Goaltender Martin Brodeur is the only active Devils player to have represented the club in each of those four series. Forward Patrik Elias skated with New Jersey for its three Final appearances (and two Cup wins) in the four-year span from 2000 through 2003.

Kings' Historic Quest: The Kings are in quest of their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. In their only previous Stanley Cup Final appearance, Los Angeles dropped a 4-1 decision to the Montreal Canadiens in 1993.

Giant Killers: The Devils and Kings eliminated the #1 seed in their respective conferences (New Jersey over NY Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final, Los Angeles over Vancouver in the Western Conference Quarterfinals), marking the first time that both Stanley Cup Finalists had done so since 2007 (#4 Ottawa over #1 Buffalo and #2 Anaheim over #1 Detroit in the respective Conference Finals).

Against All Odds: The Devils are the first #6 conference seed to reach the Stanley Cup Final since the 2004 Calgary Flames, who were directed by current Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter. The Kings are only the second #8 seed to reach the Final since the conference-based playoff format was introduced in 1993-94 (Edmonton Oilers, 2006).

Two members of this year's Kings team also played on that #8-seeded Oilers squad -- center Jarret Stoll and defenseman Matt Greene.

Star-Spangled Captains: For the first time in NHL history, both Stanley Cup Finalists will be led by captains born in the United States. The Devils' captain is Minneapolis native Zach Parise, while the Kings are led by Dustin Brown of Ithaca, New York. Both 27 years of age, Parise and Brown were teammates on the 2010 United States Olympic team that captured a silver medal in Vancouver. The only previous U.S.-born captain to raise the Stanley Cup is defenseman Derian Hatcher (Sterling Heights, Michigan) of the 1999 Dallas Stars.

Brown leads the Kings in playoff scoring and ranks third in the League overall with 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 14 games. He is tied with teammate Anze Kopitar for the League lead in plus-minus (+13) and has tallied five shorthanded points (two goals, three assists), the highest playoff total since Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg in 2008.

Parise leads the Devils in playoff goals (seven) and ranks second on the club in points (7-7--14). He topped all New Jersey scorers in the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers, notching six points (three goals, three assists) in six games.

Road to Glory:The Kings are 8-0 on the road in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, outscoring their opponents 30-13. With their series-clinching victory at Phoenix in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final, they became the first team to win eight consecutive road playoff games in a single year and the first to notch 10 straight away from home over multiple playoff years. They also are the first club to carry an unblemished road record into the Stanley Cup Final since the introduction of the conference-based playoff format in 1993-94.

The Kings are two road wins shy of the NHL record for one postseason (10), shared by a group of clubs that includes the New Jersey Devils in their Stanley Cup-winning 1995 and 2000 playoff campaigns.

Turnarounds: Both Stanley Cup Finalists surged after indifferent starts to the regular season. The Devils were 12-12-1 through Dec. 3 but went 36-16-5 the rest of the way. The Kings entered Darryl Sutter's first game behind the bench on Dec. 21 with a 15-14-4 record and went 25-13-11 thereafter. As late as March 28, the Kings were on the outside looking in of the playoff race. Los Angeles went 3-0-3 down the stretch to claim the eighth seed in the West.

Express Train to Final: The Kings needed just 14 games to reach the Stanley Cup Final, eliminating the Vancouver Canucks in five games, the St. Louis Blues in four and the Phoenix Coyotes in five. That equals the fewest games needed to reach the Final since the best-of-seven format was adopted for all four rounds in 1986-87.

Fewest Games to Reach Stanley Cup Final (Since 1986-87)

Year SC Finalists GP, Rounds 1-3 SC Final Result
1987 Edmonton 5-4-5 Defeated Philadelphia 4-3
1988 Edmonton 5-4-5 Defeated Boston 4-0
1992 Chicago 6-4-4 Lost to Pittsburgh 4-0
1995 Detroit 5-4-5 Lost to New Jersey 4-0
2003 Anaheim 4-6-4 Lost to New Jersey 4-3
2008 Pittsburgh 4-5-5 Lost to Detroit 4-2
2012 Los Angeles 5-4-5

Rest vs. Rust: The Kings will play Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final eight days after capturing the Western Conference title in Phoenix. The following is a list of years in which a Stanley Cup Finalist entered the series off a break of equal or greater length (since 1967-68):

1984 - 9 days, Edmonton (ended CF May 1, started Final May 10) (won Cup)
1993 - 8 days, Montreal (ended CF May 24, started Final June 1) (won Cup)
1999 - 8 days, Buffalo (ended CF May 31, started Final June 8) (lost Final)
2003 - 11 days, Anaheim (ended CF May 16, started Final May 27) (lost Final)
2006 - 9 days, Edmonton (ended CF May 27, started Final June 5) (lost Final)
2007 - 9 days, Ottawa (ended CF May 19, started Final May 28) (lost Final)

Now Opponents, DeBoer, Richards Share Championship Past: The Stanley Cup Final will pit New Jersey head coach Peter DeBoer against Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards, nine years after the pair teamed to capture the 2003 Memorial Cup with the OHL's Kitchener Rangers -- DeBoer as coach and Richards as captain and leading scorer. Another key player on the DeBoer-coached 2002-03 Kitchener squad: current Devils forward David Clarkson.

Dream Goaltending Match-up: The 2012 Stanley Cup Final promises a compelling match-up in goal between New Jersey's Martin Brodeur and Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick:

---------- 2012 PLAYOFF STATISTICS ----------
Goaltender GP Mins Avg W L SO GA SA SV%
Jonathan Quick 14 858 1.54 12 2 2 22 406 .946
Martin Brodeur 18 1090 2.04 12 5 1 37 479 .923

* Quick leads playoff goalies in goals-against average and save percentage. He has eight road wins in as many starts, posting a 1.55 goals-against average and .948 save percentage in those games, and has won each of his past 10 road playoff games dating to last year, matching the record streak set by Billy Smith (NY Islanders, 1979 to 1980). Quick allowed two goals or fewer in eight consecutive playoff starts, matching the single-season mark set by Terry Sawchuk with Detroit in 1952.

Coming off a franchise-record, 39-win season in 2010-11, Quick is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy after posting a 35-21-13 regular-season record to become the first Los Angeles goaltender to record 30 wins in three consecutive seasons. The 26-year-old Milford, Connecticut native led all NHL goaltenders with a franchise-record 10 shutouts and also ranked among League leaders in goals-against average (second, 1.95), save percentage (fifth, .929) and victories (T-fifth, 35).

* Brodeur is a four-time Vezina Trophy winner and three-time Stanley Cup champion. He has played in 24 career Stanley Cup Final games, posting a 15-9 record with a 1.91 goals-against average. The Montreal native is set to become the fifth goaltender in NHL history and first since Jacques Plante in 1970 to appear in the Stanley Cup Final after his 40th birthday:

Goaltender Club, Year Age GP in SC Final
Lester Patrick NYR, 1928 44 1 GP
George Hainsworth TOR, 1936 40 4 GP
Johnny Bower TOR, 1967 42 3 GP
Jacques Plante STL, 1969 40 2 GP
Jacques Plante STL, 1970 41 1 GP

* Brodeur picked up his fourth assist of the postseason, an NHL record for a netminder in one playoff year, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against New York. He has 13 career postseason points (one goal, 12 assists), one shy of Grant Fuhr's all-time goaltending record.

Grant Fuhr 0 14 14
Martin Brodeur 1 12 13
Patrick Roy 0 11 11
Tom Barrasso 0 7 7
Kirk McLean 0 6 6

Other notable achievements by Brodeur in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs:

* posted his 24th career playoff shutout Apr. 19 against Florida, passing Patrick Roy into sole possession of first place on the all-time list.
* recorded his sixth career Game 7 victory Apr. 26 vs. Florida, tying the mark set by Roy.
* defeated Philadelphia 4-2 on May 6 -- his 40th birthday -- to become the first goaltender in NHL history to appear in a playoff game as a teenager and as a 40-year-old.
* extended his record streak of consecutive NHL playoff starts to 188 entering the Cup Final.

Unheralded Heroes: The Devils and Kings have received heroic performances from unheralded players in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs:

* Kings rookie forward Dwight King has five goals, including a pair of game-winners in the Western Conference Final against Phoenix. A fourth-round pick (109th overall) in the 2007 NHL Draft, King was recalled from the team’s minor league affiliate on Feb. 10 and recorded 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 27 regular-season games.

* New Jersey’s fourth line of Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier was a force in the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers, combining for nine points and a +9 rating. Gionta posted his first career multipoint game (one goal, one assist) and Carter notched the game-winner in the Devils’ pivotal 5-3 victory in Game 5.

* New Jersey's Bryce Salvador has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 18 playoff games, ranking second in scoring among NHL defensemen. Salvador's playoff points total is the most ever by a player who recorded fewer than 10 points during the regular season (min. 70 games). He tallied 0-9--9 in 82 regular-season games.

* Los Angeles forward Dustin Penner has scored two monumental game-winning goals that have served as bookends to the Kings' run to the Stanley Cup Final: he tallied the winner at 16:46 of the third period of the Kings' 4-2 win at Vancouver in Game 1 of the their Western Conference Quarterfinal Apr. 11 and notched the series-winner in overtime at Phoenix in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final May 22 that sent the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 19 years. Penner ranks fifth on the Kings in playoff scoring with 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 14 games after tallying 7-10--17 in 65 regular-season games.

Eye on the Calendar: Defenseman Willie Mitchell, who turned 35 last month, is the oldest player on the Kings roster and is appearing in the first Stanley Cup Final of his career. Devils players age 35+ (min. 1 playoff GP) also making their Stanley Cup Final debut are defenseman Marek Zidlicky (35), defenseman Bryce Salvador (36) and goaltender Johan Hedberg (39).

Change for the Better: Hired by the Kings on Dec. 20, Darryl Sutter is the ninth head coach to advance to the Stanley Cup Final after joining his club midseason. The Kings did not suffer a regulation loss in Sutter's first eight games behind the bench (5-0-3) and went 25-13-11 in the regular season overall for the new coach.

1932 Dick Irvin (TOR) took over for Art Duncan (defeated NYR in Final)
1959 Punch Imlach (TOR) took over for Billy Reay (lost to MTL in Final)
1968 Scotty Bowman (STL) took over for Lynn Patrick (lost to MTL in Final)
1971 Al MacNeil (MTL) took over for Claude Ruel (defeated CHI in Final)
1982 Roger Neilson (VAN) took over for Harry Neale (lost to NYI in Final)
2000 Larry Robinson (NJ) took over for Robbie Ftorek (defeated DAL in Final)
2009 Dan Bylsma (PIT) took over for Michel Therrien (defeated DET in Final).
2010 Peter Laviolette (PHI) took over for John Stevens (lost to CHI in Final)

Hired by the Devils in July 2011 after three years as head coach of the Florida Panthers, Peter DeBoer is attempting to win the Stanley Cup in the first season behind the bench with his new club as well. The Dunnville, Ontario native will celebrate his 44th birthday on June 13 -- the date of a potential Game 7.

Storybook Season for Henrique: New Jersey forward Adam Henrique has scored two playoff overtime goals, tying the NHL rookie record set by Montreal's Jacques Lemaire in 1968 and equaled by Montreal's Claude Lemieux in 1986. Both of Henrique's overtime goals have been series-clinchers, eliminating the Florida Panthers at 3:47 of the second overtime period in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals and ending the New York Rangers' season after 1:03 of extra time in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final. Henrique is just the second player in League history to tally multiple series-ending overtime goals in one playoff year, joining Calgary's Martin Gelinas in 2004.

Henrique joins forwards Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers as finalists for the 2011-12 Calder Trophy as the League's top rookie. A third-round pick by the Devils in 2008 and winner of back-to-back Memorial Cups with the OHL's Windsor Spitfires in 2009 and 2010, Henrique filled a crucial void in the Devils lineup following an Achilles injury to No. 1 center Travis Zajac, who missed all but 15 regular-season games. Henrique made the most of his opportunity by tallying 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists) in 74 games. He led all rookies in assists and shorthanded goals (four) and ranked third in rookie scoring.

Shorthanded? Really?: The Kings power play has yet to click in the postseason (6-for-74, 8.1 percent) but their penalty killing has been brilliant (52-for-57, 91.2 percent). They have scored as many goals as they have allowed while shorthanded (a League-leading five SHG, five GA).

Regular-Season Ranking: The Devils and Kings finished ninth and 13th, respectively, in the NHL overall standings during the regular season, marking the first time since the League went to the best-of-seven format for all four rounds in 1987 that both Stanley Cup Finalists are from outside the regular season's top eight.

Year S.C. Champ Runner-Up Series Result
1987 EDM (1) PHI (2) 4-3
1988 EDM (3) BOS (4) 4-0
1989 CGY (1) MTL (2) 4-2
1990 EDM (5) BOS (1) 4-1
1991 PIT (7) MIN (17) 4-2
1992 PIT (6) CHI (8) 4-0
1993 MTL (6) LA (11) 4-1
1994 NYR (1) VAN (14) 4-3
1995 NJ (9) DET (1) 4-0
1996 COL (2) FLA (7) 4-0
1997 DET (5) PHI (4) 4-0
1998 DET (3) WAS (8) 4-0
1999 DAL (1) BUF (9) 4-2
2000 NJ (4) DAL (6) 4-2
2001 COL (1) NJ (3) 4-3
2002 DET (1) CAR (16) 4-1
2003 NJ (4) ANA (11) 4-3
2004 TB (2) CGY (12) 4-3
2006 CAR (4) EDM (14) 4-3
2007 ANA (4) OTT (9) 4-1
2008 DET (1) PIT (4) 4-2
2009 PIT (8) DET (3) 4-3
2010 CHI (3) PHI (18) 4-2
2011 BOS (7) VAN (1) 4-3

Kings' Cup Final Experience: The Kings boast nine players who have played in the Stanley Cup Final: Jeff Carter (PHI in 2010), Colin Fraser (CHI in 2010), Simon Gagne (PHI in 2010), Matt Greene (EDM in 2006), Dustin Penner (ANA in 2007), Mike Richards (PHI in 2010), Rob Scuderi (PIT in 2008 and 2009), Jarret Stoll (EDM in 2006) and Justin Williams (CAR in 2006). Four of these players (Fraser, Penner, Scuderi, Williams) own Stanley Cup rings.

Devils' Cup Final Experience: Three players on the Devils roster -- Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora -- previously have won the Stanley Cup with New Jersey. Brodeur has been a part of each Devils run to the Stanley Cup Final, winning three times (1995, 2000, 2003) and finishing as runner-up to Colorado in 2001. Elias went to the Stanley Cup Final with New Jersey three times in a four-year span from 2000 through 2003, winning twice. Sykora had back-to-back trips with the Devils in 2000 and 2001, winning once; he opposed the Devils in the 2003 Final with Anaheim; and advanced with Pittsburgh in 2008 and 2009, losing the 2008 series to Detroit and winning the re-match the following year. Devils fourth-line sensation Ryan Carter won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

Welcome Back: Devils forward Dainius Zubrus is making his first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final since 1997, when the 18-year-old rookie was part of the Philadelphia Flyers squad that was swept in four games by the Detroit Red Wings. Zubrus has played in 1,151 career games (1,065 regular-season, 86 playoff), the most among this year's Finalists without a Cup ring.

Devils Opponents Better Watch Out Early: New Jersey has been overpowering its opponents in the first period during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, owning a 23-9 advantage in goals. By contrast, the club has been outscored 17-6 in the second period.

Kings Opponents Not Faring Well Late: The Kings have been tough late in games, outscoring their opponents 15-4 after the second intermission (13-4 in the third period, 2-0 in overtime).

European Travel Provides Passport to Final?: This marks the fourth consecutive year that a club that opened the regular season in Europe as part of the NHL Premiere series has advanced to the Stanley Cup Final seven months later. Each of the past three Stanley Cup champions (Pittsburgh in 2009, Chicago in 2010, Boston in 2011) started the season in Europe.

Season Team Cities Reg. Season Conf. Rank Playoffs
2008-09 Pittsburgh Stockholm 45-28-9, 99 pts 4th, East Won Stanley Cup
2009-10 Chicago Helsinki 52-22-8, 112 pts 2nd, West Won Stanley Cup
2010-11 Boston Prague 46-25-11, 103 pts 3rd, East Won Stanley Cup
2011-12 Los Angeles Stockholm/Berlin 40-27-15, 95 pts 8th, West

Tale of the Tape: How the playing rosters of the Stanley Cup Finalists compare (among players to have dressed for at least one game in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs):

Avg. Height and Weight: New Jersey 6'1", 204 lbs; Los Angeles 6'1", 208 lbs.
Avg. Age: New Jersey 30.0; Los Angeles 26.5.
New Jersey -- USA 7, Canada 6, Sweden 3, Czech Republic 3, Russia 2, Ukraine 1, Lithuania 1
Los Angeles -- Canada 13, USA 6, Russia 2, Slovenia 1

(Courtesy NHL media)

Moose Jaw Unveils Plan For Civic Centre

Residents of Moose Jaw had their first glimpse Tuesday of what might replace one of the city’s most iconic features.
A developer unveiled a $25M retail, restaurant and office development called Civic Centre Plaza that would replace the Civic Centre arena, or Crushed Can, which hosted hockey in Moose Jaw since 1959’s.
“It brings more items that people want to come and see, and it's going to be a compliment for a new development like this,” Brian Martynook, the CEO of Moose Jaw and District Chamber of Commerce, said.
Bill Babey, the developer, says he is already fielding questions from potential tenants. He says there will be stores and restaurants that are not already in Moose Jaw, and calls the land “spectacular”.
“With the golf course behind it, we've got a lot of interest from people backing onto it,” he said.
Originally, the plan was to include some part of the arena in the development, but due to its age, that became more difficult. The designers wanted the project to honour the legacy of the space, so it will mimic the old arena’s distinctive roof line.
“They wanted to maintain some of the look of the Civic Centre,” Babey explained.
While there is a lot of excitement about the project, the Town & Country Mall, which would share a parking lot, has some concerns.
“Part of it is the parking arrangement that's been there for almost 30 years,” said Douglas Richardson, a lawyer from McKercher LLP, which is representing the mall. “There's cross parking between the old Civic Centre and the (mall), and we want to make sure there's going to continue to be a free flow for the benefit of not only our customers, but the citizens of Moose Jaw, as well.”
Martynook says there were never any parking problems when events were held at the Civic Centre arena. He believes both retail developments should compliment each other.
“People that come to a mall, they're going to be going to other stores around here, so it's going to work for both,” he said. “Really, it's not going to be detrimental.”
At Monday’s city council meeting one councillor argued there had not been enough public consultation, delaying the zoning decision for two weeks. Richardson hopes during that time, city council and representatives from the mall can discuss the situation. In June, council will vote on the zoning bylaw again.

(Courtesy Global Regina)

Edmonton Journal Columnist Agrees With Me

In Monday's weekend thoughts, I congratulated the Shawnigan Cataractes for winning the Memorial Cup, but I added that it doesn't seem fair that the host team win the tournament especially when they weren't even a league finalist. Cam Tait from the Edmonton Journal is also of the ilk that something needs to be done to change the format of the Memorial Cup and the RBC Cup to prevent host teams from being Canadian champs when perhaps they don't deserve to be. Here is Cam's take

New Format For World Jrs.

The IIHF Ice Hockey U18 and U20 World Championships will have a new competition format, with four teams from each group making the playoffs and playing traditional quarter-finals. This means that the semi-final bye for the preliminary round winner is eliminated. Also the relegation system will be changed.

The new format was proposed by the participating nations and the decision to change was taken during the Annual Congress in Helsinki 18-19 May. The old format has been in place since 2003.

The new format will first be implemented at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in Sochi, Russia (18-28 April). As the playing schedule for the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship in Ufa, Russia (26 December 2012 Р5 January 2013) was set already before the congress, the new format will be applied for the 2014 World Juniors in Malm̦, Sweden.

Under the old format, three teams from of the five-team preliminary round groups qualified for the playoffs with the two group-winners enjoying a bye to the semi-final, while teams placed 2nd and 3rd played cross-over quarter-finals.

This consequently meant that teams placed 4th and 5th went to a relegation round where the last-placed team was relegated to Division I.

The new format will see teams placed 1-4 in each of the two groups qualify for the playoffs where the eight teams will play cross-over quarter-finals, paired against teams placed 1-4 in the other group.

The two teams placed fifth and last in each group will play a best-of-three series to avoid relegation. The loser of this series will be relegated to Division I.

This also means that the 5-6 placing game (between the losers of the old-system quarter-finals) will be eliminated. The losers of the quarter-finals will be ranked according to their preliminary-round placement and records.

This means that – providing that the best-of-three relegation series goes full length – the new format will feature a tournament total of 31 games, just as the old one. If the relegation series will end after two games, the total will be 30 games.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Riders Name Guest Coaches

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are pleased to welcome a group of guest coaches to the 2012 Training Camp beginning June 3rd at the University of Regina.

Cheston Blackshear joins the Riders after spending the last three seasons at the University New Mexico working with the Offensive Line and Tight Ends and has nine years’ experience coaching at the collegiate level. Blackshear entered coaching after an outstanding playing career at the University of Florida where he was a four-year letter winner (1996-99) with 28 career starts at offensive guard. He will work alongside Offensive Line Coach Kris Sweet.

Jeff Cummins is the head coach of the Acadia University Axemen. In his seven years at Acadia, Cummins has captured back to back AUS Football Championships (2005, 2006) and was named AUS Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2005. Following his graduation from the University of Oregon, Cummins played six seasons in the Canadian Football League with stops in Las Vegas, Toronto, Ottawa, and Hamilton where he captured the 1999 Grey Cup with the Tiger-Cats. Cummins will work with Rider Coach Mike Walker and the Defensive Line.

Richard Kent spent the 2011 season with the United Football Leagues Omaha Nighthawks. Kent comes to the Riders with over 20 years of coaching experience at the collegiate and professional levels. Previous to Omaha, Kent spent the 2009 season as the secondary coach with the Toronto Argonauts. As a player, Kent was a quarterback and receiver at Appalachian State from 1979-81. Kent will spend time with Special Teams Coordinator, Craig Dickenson and Linebackers Coach, Alex Smith.

Ben Norton guests with the Riders after spending the 2011 season with the UFL’s Hartford Colonials where he filled the triple role of offensive line assistant, special teams assistant and offensive quality control coach. In addition, Norton has over 17 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level, working mostly with offensive linemen. As a player, Norton was a four year letter winner at Stephen F. Austin State in Texas and was a member of the team that played in the 1989 NCAA FSC national championship game. Norton will spend time working with Running Backs Coach, Bob Dyce as well as Coach Kris Sweet and the offensive line.

Jamie Stoddard joined the University of British Columbia in 2010 as a Receivers Coach. Before getting into coaching Stoddard enjoyed an impressive nine year professional career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as a non-import wide receiver. While with Winnipeg, Stoddard had 191 receptions and amassed 2,808 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. Stoddard will work with Receivers Coach Jason Tucker.

Ted White joins the Riders from Howard University where he is currently the Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach. From 1994-98 White attended Howard where he is the Bison and MEAC all-time passing leader and total offense leader with almost 10,000 yards during his productive collegiate career. Following that, White played professionally for five years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and also had stints with the Barcelona Dragons of NFL Europe and the Montreal Alouettes. White will join Coach Khari Jones working with Rider quarterbacks.

Riders rookie camp will now start Thursday instead of Wednesday at the U of R.

Stuuuuu Gets Used To Being A Lion

Born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan, Stu Foord grew up loving his hometown Roughriders.

After having signed with the rival BC Lions this past offseason though, he’s had to change his tune.

“I was playing at home and I loved it. I love the Roughriders, I always will,” said Foord. “But it’s a short career, so I just wanted to get out there and see if I’ve got what it takes to play in the CFL.”

Foord had been primarily a back-up running back or special teams player for Saskatchewan, and since he was looking for a more involved role, he decided to look elsewhere.

The Lions felt like a good fit for Foord, so he decided to take a leap and move out to the west coast.

“This is my career and I feel you should take your career as far as it can go,” he said. “And if that means that you have leave home, the ones you love, the place you love and the team you love, then that’s something that you have to do and I’m ready to step forward and make the best of it.”

The four-year CFL veteran started playing football almost by accident. When he was a kid, Foord and his friends had often played pick-up football in the park, but he had never played in an organized league. That all changed one day when he was 12. His buddies, who played organized football, convinced Foord to tag along with them to watch their practice. He ended up participating with the team that day and loved it.

“I was a bit timid, I was young, I didn’t want to go and put the equipment on and meet new people,” said Foord. “Next thing you know, I’m signed up for the league and I’ve been playing ever since.”

Starting with the Regina Thunder of the CJFL after graduating from high school in 2003, Foord thrived. He lead the Prairie Football Conference in kick return yards, receiving yards and rushing yards during the 2007 season, and earned club MVP in his last two seasons (2007-2008) with the Thunder.

Stu made his CFL-debut with the Roughriders during Week Two of the 2008 season, and a couple months later, was named Canadian Player of the Week in honour of his two-touchdown performance against the Lions, which he said is his favourite football memory to date.

His success against BC hasn’t caused any friction in the clubhouse, though.

“Football’s football and football guys are football guys. All these guys have been on several teams before and the new guys come in every year and they know how to welcome them,” said Foord. I’ve been playing sports my whole life and it’s coming out and hanging out with the boys.”

And although his team has accepted him into the ranks, his family and friends still have yet to get used to Foord putting on the orange and black his season.

“When I talk to friends and family, they’re like ‘BC? Seriously, BC?’” said Foord. “It is a rivalry and we’re going to be playing each other five times this year, if you include the preseason and I think that’s going to be very interesting, to say the least.”

(From BC

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Weekend Thoughts

I'm guessing it may be a pretty quiet day in the tiny Quebec city of Shawnigan after what was likely a chaotic night. The host Cataractes won the Memorial Cup in dramatic fashion beating the London Knights in overtime 2-1. Congrats to the Cataractes (french for waterfall from what I'm told) for winning the event, but it always leaves a bitter taste in my mouth when the host team wins the title at an event like this or the RBC especially when they don't go in as a league finalist.

The Knights, the Oil Kings and the Saint John Sea Dogs all had to go through a championship season in their respective leagues to get to the Memorial Cup while the Cataractes were waiting for them having had a month off. I know you can't change it, but I just don't like that scenario. If Shawnigan had won the Quebec title or been the runner-up, I'd be OK with it, but they didn't. One could argue that the Cataractes proved to be the best by beating all three league champions, but one could counter back that other teams could have had that opportunity as well. I don't know what you do to fix it and the Canadian Hockey League and Canadian Junior "A" Hockey League likely don't care, but it is a sports peeve of mine. A couple of years ago I suggested expanding the Mem Cup to involve league finalists and the host team to prevent something like this from happening, but that would stretch out the event.

What was great about the final is that we saw hockey the way its supposed to be played. One goal takes all. It was 5 on 5 hockey, no shootouts, and the refs put their whistles away and didn't call anything. Nothing cheap was just good hockey.

If you went to Vegas before the Stanley Cup playoffs and bet a few dollars that the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings would be playing in the finals, how much money could you have won. I'm guessing not many thought it would be the number 6 seed vs the number 8 seed in the finals. New Jersey goes in having home ice advantage after not having it in the first three rounds. Its a series that I think sees two teams that mirror one another in a way. LA has to be favoured, and those of you voting on the poll seem to think Kings in 6. I can't disagree with that, but something also seems to tell me that fate may be on the Devils side.

I would love to see both teams go retro for Game 1 with the Kings breaking out the purple and gold and the Devils donning the red and green. That would be great!

With the Devils in the final, a lot of people are now asking who would you rather have, Ilya Kovalchuk or Alex Ovechkin? It would seem as if Kovy has become a complete hockey player, but he still takes some shifts off and you can't afford that at this time of year.

If New Jersey wins, is Kovy the Conn Smythe Trophy winner or do you go with Zach Parise or Marty Brodeur. I think Parise has the slight edge right now, but if Brodeur outplays Jonathan Quick, the old man may get his hands on that hardware.

The Kings trailed the Leafs in the NHL's overall standings with 30 games to go in the season.

I forget who Darryl Sutter replaced behind the LA bench.

I did not know who Ryder Hesjedal was before today.

I did not know that Canada was home to Indy 500 racer James Hinchcliffe before today.

I like reading the columns of the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons, but I have to respectfully disagree with him today. He is also on TSN's "The Reporters" and he gave a thumbs down to the University of Ottawa for hiring Gary Etcheverry as their head coach saying the University should have hired someone Canadian. Etcheverry may not be Canadian, but the former Rider defensive co-ordinator has spent a great deal of time in this country coaching football so it shouldn't matter. The university hired the best guy. Does this mean when Canadian hockey coaches get a job overseas that they shouldn't have gotten it because they are not from that country. No, they get the job because they are chosen to be the ones who can teach whoever the game the best. That's a ludicrous argument by Simmons.

What a reality slap for the Blue Jays this weekend! That hurt! If this team is going to contend for a playoff spot, it has to find better relievers because the current crop of guys just are not getting the job done. Brandon Morrow, Ricky Romero and Kyle Drabek all got knocked around pretty bad in their last starts as well, but I don't think the rotation is the problem and that all just had a bad turn. One can no longer ignore the fact though that after the starters, there is once again a huge void of talent.

Speaking of a huge void of talent, how about my Chicago Cubs! I didn't think they would contend in year 1 of the Theo Epstein era, but I didn't think they would lose 12 in a row---most since 87 and be tied with Minnesota for worst record in the majors. That's just unacceptable, but then again so have the last 100 plus years!

How does a moose get all the way into downtown Regina before being captured, tranquilized and sent back into the wilderness? Reports say he got into city limits by Douglas Park. I don't know what would go through my mind if I was driving along and encountered Mr. Moose sauntering down Broadway Avenue or Albert Street. Talk about a double-take. When I lived up in the Peace Country of northwestern Alberta, it was common-place to see moose, but in downtown Regina?

I read an interview with Vince Li, the guy who went berserk on that Greyhound bus a few years ago and beheaded a passenger. Why is this man out? I know it sounds harsh, but why didn't RCMP just finish this guy off on the bus when they had the chance? I wouldn't want a guy like this anywhere around my community. Sorry, but that's the way I feel.

This is pure rumour, but I heard it on NHL Radio Sunday morning. The Rangers are heavy in the trade talks for Rick Nash. The talking head (didn't catch who it was) said Columbus will get a 2nd round draft pick, a defenceman (Del Zotto or Staal) and a forward (Kreider, Stepan or Hagelin). They will then turn around and swap the defenceman in the deal to Edmonton to get the number one pick which will allow them to take Nail Yakupov and allow the Oilers to take the guy they want to which is White City's Ryan Murray at number 2. I can't say I really don't see that happening. There is actually some merit to that deal. Could rumour become fact? Having Del Zotto or Staal would certainly make that Edmonton blueline better.

Dario Franchitti won the Indy 500 fair and square. Takuma Sato tried to take the inside lane, but he got squeezed out by Franchitti--end of story as far as I'm concerned. There was no cheap chicanery there.

UFC ring girl Arianny Celeste was arrested on domestic violence charges hours before Saturday's event in Las Vegas. No other details have been released. I will just say this---I'm guessing Arianny knows how to handle herself and I'm guessing several of the MMA fighters would have her back and love to get some guy in the cage for 5 minutes to dish out some justice if you know what I mean.

Also in Vegas on the weekend, porn star Jenna Jameson (wife of MMA star Tito Ortiz) was arrested on DUI charges in or near L-A. The report I saw said Jameson was charged after her car went off the road and she blew a breathalyzer. The jokes just write themselves sometimes I guess.

I didn't watch much of it, but my Twitter feed was exploding with comments on the San Antonio-Oklahoma City NBA West final. If its as good as what people were saying, I may have to tune in and watch a game.

What's Brendan Taman thinking as the Riders approach the start of the 2012 season. I spoke to the congenial Riders GM on Friday for a story that's on If you haven't seen it, here it is.

I checked out roller derby for the first time on Saturday night at the Callie Club. I was entertained, but I was greatly confused as well. It wasn't like being at High Impact Wrestling for a variety of reasons. Being at the Callie though made me wonder why the HIW guys can't get the Callie or the Tartan or some place like that in the summer when the ice is out of the curling rinks. The Victoria Club is just too small a venue for them. Its gotta be $$$$.

A former co-worker of mine let me know over the weekend that he had sampled "deep fried steak" and that it was not greasy and some kind of delicious. This is something I may have to sample.

Dominik Hasek wants back in the NHL at age 47? Does Chris Chelios want to get back too?

When will I go to a restaurant and hear that "whiskey" is the soup of the day!

Have a good Monday and stay dry!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stanley Cup Dates

The National Hockey League has announced the schedule for the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.

Based on their superior regular-season point total, the New Jersey Devils will host Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven Final, as well as Games 5 and 7, if necessary. Games 3 and 4 -- and Game 6, if necessary -- will be hosted by the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Kings.

In the U.S., NBC will broadcast Games 1 and 2 and, if necessary, Games 5 through 7, while NBC Sports Network will telecast Games 3 and 4. In Canada, CBC and RDS will cover the entire series. All games also will be carried on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

NHL Network, the League's 24-hour, all-access pass to the most comprehensive hockey coverage, will feature special programming surrounding the Stanley Cup Final. will continue to provide extensive digital coverage.


HDIC To Lloydminster

Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada is heading west to Lloydminster, Alta./Sask., in February 2013 for its 13th annual broadcast.

Ron MacLean will host the live broadcast that culminates a week of community activities and events celebrating the game across Lloydminster – Canada’s only border city that straddles the boundary between Alberta and Saskatchewan, and is home to more than 30,000 residents.

The event will also be available live and on-demand at

“Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada is one of our favourite events each year and we’re thrilled to be bringing our annual celebration of grassroots hockey to Lloydminster in 2013,” said Julie Bristow, CBC’s executive director of Studio and Unscripted Programming.

“The 2013 season represents Hockey Night in Canada’s 60th year and with an eager group of volunteers ready to get started, Lloydminster will be enthusiastic and welcoming hosts for this extra special event.”

The Lloydminster minor hockey program has produced dozens of NHL alumni as well as current NHL players Scott Hartnell, Andrew Ference, Braden Holtby, Colby Armstrong and Clarke MacArthur.

Winner of three Gemini Awards, Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada was recognized for Best Sports Program (2004) and Best Host in a Sports Program (Ron MacLean in 2004 and 2006).

“One of the best parts of Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada every year is the chance we get to highlight local hockey heroes from coaches to homegrown NHLers to volunteers that keep the game growing in communities across the country,” said Trevor Pilling, head of programming, CBC Sports and Hockey Night in Canada.

“The Lloydminster community has a rich hockey heritage and is a shining example of why the game continues to be such a great source of pride and passion for players and fans of all ages.”

Previous host locations include:
Prince Edward Island (2012)
Whitehorse (2011)
Stratford, Ont. (2010)
Campbellton, N.B. (2009)
Winkler, Man. (2008)
Nelson, B.C. (2007)
Stephenville, Nfld. (2006)
Shaunavon, Sask. (2004)
Iqaluit (2003)
Windsor, N.S. (2002)
Red Deer, Alta. (2001)
Toronto (2000)

World Jrs Make Huge $$$

The 2012 World Juniors in Alberta may not have seen Canada get the gold, but it was a huge moneymaker. The details of that can be seen right here

Knoblauch Gets Iced In Kootenay

(From Kootenay Ice)

Cranbrook, BC – Jeff Chynoweth, General Manager of the Kootenay ICE Hockey Club today announced the Club has terminated Kris Knoblauch’s contract effective immediately. No other comments will be given at this time.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

This And That

May 25th and we could see snow. I wonder what those who are getting their first taste of Regina, Saskatchewan and Canada as they come here to start playing for the Regina Red Sox think of this. The same can be said for those coming into town for the beginning of Rider rookie camp. Yes, if that isn't a sure sign that summer is right around the corner I don't know what is and I am excited for both the start of the WMBL season and the CFL season.

The Regina Red Sox will open up defence of their WMBL crown on Wednesday night at Currie Field when they take on the Moose Jaw Miller Express. It would be nice to see a great crowd show up at Currie for the game and celebrate the league title. Bernie Eiswirth and Gary Brotzel have done a lot for this city and for baseball in it with the tireless work they have done and it was great to see their efforts get rewarded with a championship last year. What would be great now is for the people of this fine city to show their support of this club and the young men that represent it. Crowds were good last year, but it would be nice to see a solid gathering at Currie Field on what hopefully will be a nice night for ball.

Meanwhile, Rider fans are getting ready for rookie camp. Like you, I am interested in seeing some of the talent that Brendan Taman has recruited and whether or not some of the high profile American signings can adapt to the Canadian game. I'll post something next week about the rookies I am looking forward to see along with what players I think are under the spotlight when main camp begins. I do know that this team will be better than last year's abominable 5-13 record and I do think they can compete for a home playoff game. There seems to be a different vibe emanating from Riderville this year from last. There seems to be a quiet confidence. Time will tell if we are right. Some players will definitely shine at rookie camp and go on to shine at main camp as well, but as we found out from the Terrence Nunn situation last year, all that glitters is not gold.

The Leader-Post is reporting that this week's visit by Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles cost us under 150-thousand dollars. Like many people it would seem, there wasn't a lot of interest in this royal visit. Was it because this generation is tied of Charles and would rather see the younger royals like William and Kate? I was one that wouldn't go across the street to see the royals and while many were excited to see them, I have to ask where those who are protesting the cuts to the film industry or those protesting the stadium development were. Why weren't they out saying the money spent by the government could be used to help their causes? Both of those groups lost some credibility in my mind with their seeming permission of this.

CTV's Chris Hodges was with Rod and I on "The Sportscage" Thursday afternoon. Nothing against Julie Stewart-Binks, but I miss seeing Chris on the tube every night giving sports. He has a great reason for not working weekends and evenings anymore and I would be doing the exact same thing as he is if I were in his position.

Will it be the Rangers or Devils facing the Kings in the Stanley Cup final? Will it matter? If its New York, they will have gone the limit in all 3 of their series and will have to contend with a Los Angeles team that has been the best team in these playoffs. If its the Devils, I think its a better series because both teams can generate some offence if need be.

If New Jersey were to win the Stanley Cup, would Martin Brodeur retire. I would. What else would the goalie have to do? Would Brodeur be considered for the Conn Smythe. I would think that would have to go to teammate Zach Parise.

Airchecker--a source of Canadian radio news--released the latest Regina radio ratings on Thursday. These are the numbers for everyone and not the male 18-34 or female 25-54 demographic.

CIZL-FM: 19.8 CKRM-AM: 11.9 CFWF-FM: 11.7 CHBD-FM: 11.1 CKCK-FM: 9.1 CHMX-FM: 7.4 CJME-AM: 7.0

I can't say I'm surprised by this.

The CBC partnering with a womens group that wants to talk about the look of players and if a coach needs a makeover is a complete and total insult to female hockey fans and female members of the media that work hard to gain credibility. The Mother Corp deserves every bit of criticism they are getting for this exercise. One has suggested it could cost them NHL rights down the road.

The stupidity of the NHL presenting the conference championship trophy was shown again when the Kings beat Phoenix. Dustin Brown wanted nothing to do with the Campbell bowl when it was presented to him by NHL deputy commish Bill Daly. The same thing will happen with the Prince of Wales trophy when it is presented to either Ryan Callahan or Zach Parise once the Devils-Rangers series is over. The winning team doesn't want to touch that trophy, they want the holy grail. With that being the case, why stage a trophy presentation. If this is to continue, the PA in whatever rink should belt out MC Hammer "Can't Touch This". That would be apropo.

The Edmonton Oil Kings went out of the Memorial Cup with a dull thud as they were throttled by Shawnigan in a tie-breaker game. Its been too long since a WHL team that wasn't the host won the trophy. That has to change. Sportsnet's Sam Cosentino said last week prior to the tournament that the time zone change would hurt the WHL champs, it would appear he was right.

Lebron James has been in the NBA for 10 years? It doesn't seem that long and makes his bid for his first championship that much more important. For what its worth, I don't think he will get it this year as the two best teams in the NBA right now are the Spurs and Thunder.

Consider this. If the Simpsons aged as the years of the show went on, Maggie Simpson would be 24. Out of all the Simpsons episodes, what is the best sports-related one?

I don't know if Stephen Larose at the Prairie Dog is trying to pick a fight with me or not, but it would seem as if he is taking a couple of shots here and there. He used a recent column to take a potshot at me over my Seattle Seahawks saying I was the only Seahawks fan in town that he knows and that more attention should be paid to the Seattle Sounders Major League soccer team. I kindly informed him I wasn't the only Seahawks fan in town and then reminded him that Regina's own Jon Ryan kicks for the team so there are likely many others out there that I don't know. He then goes on to wonder why Seattle fans embrace the sport so much and if I have any interest in the game. For the record, I have never watched a Major League Soccer game. In fact, the only soccer that interests me is international soccer like the World Cup or the upcoming European championships. I don't watch the Premier League or any of the other stuff. If that makes me a bad man, sorry!

If you watch ESPN's SportsNation with Colin Cowherd and Michelle Beadle on TSN2 weekday afternoons, get ready to say goodbye to Beadle. She is leaving the network to join NBC and will supposedly be prominent in their Olympic coverage. Word is Charissa Thompson will replace her. I have no problem with that.

Congrats to former Rider d-coordinator Gary Etcheverry on his appointment as head coach of the University of Ottawa football program. Etch made it no secret he wanted to be a head coach in the CIS and now he has a shot.

Paulina Gretzky made MAXIM magazine's hot 100 women of 2012 this year. I think she came in at 84. Wouldn't it have been great if she had come in at 99. Put yourself in these shoes for a second---imagine what it would be like for some young Canadian kid to be going out with Ms. Gretzky when the time came to meet the parents. I don't know about you, but I think I would be more excited at that than dating his daughter. Imagine what the kids parents would think when he said he was going out with Wayne's daughter. By the way if interested, model Bar Refaeli was number one. Still with Wayne, where would the NHL be today had he not been traded to Los Angeles?

We are just over a third of the way through the baseball season and the division leaders in the American League are Baltimore, Cleveland and Texas while the National League leaders are Washington, Cincinnati and the Dodgers. That's a refreshing change from seeing the usual teams in there. Yes I know, there is a long ways to go yet. I would have to see Cleveland has been the biggest surprise with the biggest disappointment being the Angels.

I was going to finish this off with a couple of jokes about unemployment, but they need some work.

Have a good Friday!

4 Pre-Season Games On TSN

The gridiron is heating up across the country, as Canada's Sports Leader kicks off the 2012 CFL season with live pre-season double-header action on June 13 featuring Toronto @ Hamilton at 7 p.m. ET immediately followed by Saskatchewan @ B.C. at 10 p.m. ET on TSN.

In total, TSN and TSN2 have live coverage of four pre-season games with live coverage also available on TSN Mobile TV, TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto and Team 1410 in Vancouver. In addition, games are available on-demand online at (see complete CFL pre-season broadcast schedule below).

The networks' CFL pre-season coverage features play-by-play commentators Chris Cuthbert and Rod Black in the broadcast booth alongside game analysts Glen Suitor and Duane Forde. The popular CFL ON TSN panel is back to break down all the action on – and off – the field with host Dave Randorf and analysts Chris Schultz, Matt Dunigan, Jock Climie and Milt Stegall.

Throughout the pre-season, gives fans a comprehensive CFL season preview package featuring an in-depth look at all the teams as they prepare for the regular season and analysis from TSN's stable of football experts and Insiders.

Bell Media Sports Radio
Bell Media sports radio stations have live pre-season game coverage on June 13 as TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto is the official radio station of the Argonauts and Team 1410 in Vancouver is home to the Lions. In addition, TSN Radio 990 in Montreal and TSN Radio 1290 in Winnipeg, along with Team 1200 in Ottawa and Team 1040 in Vancouver, have complete coverage of the 2012 CFL season.

TSN is the official television broadcaster of the CFL with live coverage of every single game including the playoffs and the 100th GREY CUP in Toronto on November 25.

TSN and TSN2's CFL pre-season broadcast schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, June 13 – Toronto @ Hamilton at 7 p.m. ET on TSN
Wednesday, June 13 – Saskatchewan @ B.C. at 10 p.m. ET on TSN
Friday, June 15 – Edmonton @ Calgary at 9 p.m. ET on TSN2
Wednesday, June 20 – Hamilton @ Winnipeg at 8 p.m. ET on TSN2