Saturday, June 30, 2012

Marincin Impressing Oilers Brass

At 6'5" and 190 pounds, Martin Marincin is impossible to miss.

The 20-year-old is quite literally a monstrous presence among his peers, but it's his ability with the puck 77 inches south that's most impressive. In 2011-12 split between the WHL's Prince George Cougars and Regina Pats, Marincin collected 11 goals and 40 points in 58 regular-season games.

Highlighting his overage season was an appearance at the 2012 World Junior Championship in Calgary, where he was the leading scorer among Oilers prospects with one goal, three points and a +2 rating in six games.

"I think I had a pretty good season -- and improvement over the last one, which is good," he said. "I worked hard and will keep working hard here [at Development Camp] to make an impression on the coaches so I can get closer to playing for the Oilers."

When Marincin's season came to a close, he was assigned to the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons where he got to play a little, practice a lot, and experience the club's deep post-season. In total, he appeared in six regular-season games, notching an assist and a +4 rating.

Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson, who's keeping a close eye on all the prospects at camp this week, was impressed with Marincin's composure. And it didn't come as too much of a surprise, considering he coached the Slovak at this past September's Young Stars Tournament in Penticton.

He was also prepared to slot him into the lineup during the post-season if he needed to.

"Excellent. He looked really good [with us in OKC]," Nelson said. "He has a very hard shot and his one-timer is very impressive. He sees the ice well and moves the puck well.

"He's very strong in his own end as well. He's so big and lanky that he has great reach and can use his stick very well. In today's game, having a good stick on the puck is very important. He's very well-rounded."

"It was a great experience for me," Marincin added. "I learned a lot and got to play with some older guys. It showed me that I have to keep getting better and I need to get stronger to make it full-time -- but I'm working at it and this camp is good."

Just he did in Penticton, Marincin orchestrated some high-risk, high-reward plays that ultimately showed the talent and creativity that earned his 46th overall selection in 2010. It's something the coaches like, but want quelled if a simpler play will do.

"He caught our attention last year when he tried a backhand spin-o-rama right in front of the net," Nelson laughed. "That's the thing that we have to be careful of. We want creativity and we want confidence, but if you try to do too much, that's when you get in trouble.

"He was excellent early on in OKC because he was keeping it simple and was moving the puck real well. Then he started getting some more confidence and started trying those things, so we had to scale him back and tell him that less is more. For a younger guy, sometimes it's hard to comprehend that."

Under the circumstances, it's right to assume that Marincin will be a full-time Baron next season. That's A-OK by Nelson, who's eager to continue the Kosice native's development en route to the show in Edmonton.

Mastering the physical game is next on the checklist.

"I hope he does [fill out]," Nelson said, noting that in a one-game stint with the Barons to end 2010-11, Marincin was challenged in the corners. That's no longer an issue.

"He wasn't this year. He's maturing as a hockey player, and that comes with age and experience. If he's with us next year, he's going to have a very strong season. The American Hockey League is a great training ground.

"You don't have to rush guys to the NHL. Sometimes teams rush guys because they want to get better. But right now we're (the Oilers) in a situation where the second wave -- it might take them more time to mature. We're happy with letting Marty develop at his own rate, because he's such a valuable piece to this organization."

"I need to be more physical," Marincin agreed. "I need to be stronger -- and when I do that, I know I can play at a high level in the NHL one day.

For now, Marincin is making the most of his opportunity at Development Camp. Not only is he developing his skill on the ice, but he's also building lifelong friendships with future teammates. It's all part of the process in becoming an Oiler.

"It's been a busy week with a lot of practice and workouts, but it's been great. I love the group here, we're doing good things and it's been great for my development and the team's. It's been a great time."

(Story: Courtesy Edmonton Oilers)

The Morning After

The only way the Canada Day Long Weekend could be better for Rider fans is if you won the Lotto Max last nite or win the 6-49 tonight. What a performance by the green guys---uh I mean the white guys. I didn't see this team racking up 43 points on night one of the season and admittedly, I picked them to lose. Its OK to be wrong though. Someday, I will stop using the Rob Vanstone methodology of picking sporting events. Just some thoughts on the night at Ivor Wynne

--The white helmets made the Riders look like stormtroopers from the Star Wars movies. If that is the case, does this mean "The Empire Is Striking Back". Is Weston Dressler actually Luke Skywalker? It doesn't look right, but as I said with the uniforms, it doesn't matter what colour they are or what they look like, its what the guy inside them does and the guys inside them did a helluva job Friday night.

--If there were any first night jitters, head coach Corey Chamblin certainly didn't show them. He had a helluva gameplan and the guys bought in. This team sent a message to the CFL last nite that the Riders are back. Yes, its just one game, but I think everyone saw that the 2012 edition was better than the 2011 one.

--Once again, it is only one game, but Darian Durant looked like the QB of 2009 and 2010 which is good news for everyone concerned. As I said earlier, he has a quiet confidence around him this year and it showed on the field. When all is said and done, the move to bring Khari Jones in as quarterbacks coach might be the biggest thing the Riders did all year. As for Weston Dressler, well, he was Weston Dressler and you can't really say anything more about this guy can you?

--The biggest series of the game in my mind was the first Rider possession of the 2nd half. The Riders had a shot at putting what would have been a gift three pointer on the board only to see Chris Milo bounce one off the upright. Hamilton was in the football game at the half and that could have been a real momentum changer. The Riders needed to do something with the football to start the 2nd half and they did as Durant moved the team 72 yards in just three plays on completions to Bagg, Getzlaf and Dressler for the touchdown. From that moment on, it was all Riders as that drive just seemed to end any hope that the Ti-Cats might have had.

--Kory Sheets had a great game running the football and his blocking was superb as well as he helped Durant out at times when it was needed.

--Keith Shologan had an outstanding game (a sentence that will likely be repeated many times this year)

--While they are raw and inexperienced to the CFL game, linebackers Abraham Kromah and Tyron Brackenridge showed they belong. They will just get better as they learn.

--Odell Willis didn't make any sacks, but his presence was felt out there. Was it him being held on the long touchdown pass to Chris Williams that was negated? I think it was.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that the Riders are a much different squad than what we saw last year. There is once again a fire there---a fire that I didn't see for much of last season. Corey Chamblin promised us a young group that would be full of energy and on night one he delivered. It is only one game and one game does not a season make, but Rider fans should be feeling optimistic that 2011 was just a bump in the road as the organization suggested and that good times have returned. It will be interesting to see what the Eskimos bring to the table tonight and if the Riders can keep the momentum going into the home opener next Sunday. Oh yeah, I'll be taking the home team to win that one---but I would have been doing that regardless of the outcome last night.

(picture courtesy

Friday, June 29, 2012

Starting 2012 With A Bang

I took the Ti-Cats in the weekly CKRM pool and I was wrong. Was I ever! I didn't see that one coming. Did you? If you answered yes, did you think it would be by 27! The Riders went out and thrashed the Tiger-Cats 43-16 in the 2012 CFL season opener. Here's the story from yours truly on

Here's what Chamblin had to say in the dressing room when it was over. Listen to the end!

Canadiana At Its Best!!


10 Questions As 2012 CFL Season Begins

The 2012 CFL season begins in just a few hours. The road to the 100th Grey Cup will once again be an interesting one with many twists and turns. Here are some questions I have as we prepare for kickoff

1. Are the Lions once again the head of the class? On paper, you would have to say yes as they have the best team, but we all know you don't win games on paper. Wally Buono is no longer the coach, but I don't think Mike Benavides should have many problems considering he has been around the organization for years.

2. Is this the year the Ti-Cats break the door down? Hamilton has been right there for the last few years in the East, but they haven't been able to get to the Grey Cup. It reminds me of the Riders under Danny Barrett. Marcel Bellefeuille was let go and replaced by George Cortez. They picked up Henry Burris via trade, Andy Fantuz via free agency and patience has finally paid off as Sam Giguere comes back from the NFL. If Hamilton can't do it this year, they might not do it for a long time.

3. The balance of power The Western Division has been the stronger of the two divisions for years. Teams from the West have routinely crossed-over, but it could be the other way around this year. We know the CFL is a quarterback league and that your teams fortunes depend largely on the play on the QB. Ricky Ray and Henry Burris have changed conferences and one could now argue the East teams collectively have better QB's than the Western teams.

4. Drew Tate The Stampeders decided it was time to part ways with Henry Burris so he was sent to Hamilton. Is Drew Tate ready? He played well enough in the regular season last year to get Burris benched, but the last time I saw Calgary, Burris replaced an ineffective Tate in a playoff game. The Stamps rolled the dice big-time when they made this move. Will it pay off or blow up in their face.

5. Ricky Ray It was perhaps the most discussed move of the off-season. Ricky Ray has the task of making the Argos a good football team and one that can possibly compete for the 100th Grey Cup on their own turf in November. Ray certainly doesn't have the pass-catching talent he had in Edmonton and he isn't getting any younger either. I thought trading Burris to Toronto would have made more sense, but Burris is much older than Ray so throw that theory out the window. Good luck Ricky!

6. New blood Corey Chamblin may be the youngest head coach in the CFL at the age of 35, but he isn't alone when it comes to being a first time coach. Chamblin is joined by Mike Benavides in BC, George Cortez in Hamilton and Scott Milanovich in Toronto. What one of these four has the most success?By the way, when you consider that Paul Lapolice is only in his 3rd year in Winnipeg and that Kavis Reed goes into his 2nd in Edmonton, I think its great that there are so many new guys in charge of their team.

7. Officiating CFL fans are always upset over the state of officiating and well they should be as we seemingly see one boondoggle after another in the league on a week-to-week basis. The CFL is a great product that seems to get watered down by the performance of the stripes. The league needs better and we as fans deserve better.

8. Rising and Falling Who makes the biggest leap and who takes the biggest fall? Did anyone see BC doing what they did last season? Did anyone see the Riders implosion? I would have to say the team that will rise the most is the Riders as they will get back to being a playoff team and a team that I think will finish 2nd in the West. I just can't see Edmonton being strong with Steven Jyles at the helm so I have them falling the most.

9. New Stars What players will quickly become household names? Who grabs that spotlight a la Weston Dressler in 2008 and Chris Williams last season? A lot of talk centers around Hamilton receiver Sam Giguere, but I think you have to add the Riders Kory Sheets into that equation as well. Every team has brand new starters looking to make an impact. It may take a couple of weeks to see what rookies are shining and what ones are ordinary or struggling.

10. The 100th Grey Cup The Argos would love nothing more than to play in the big game at Rogers Centre. The games in 89 and 07 in that facility were great for the Rider Nation. In the end, I see Montreal knocking off BC and then seeing Anthony Calvillo ride off into the sunset. The final standings will see Montreal, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Toronto in the East with BC, Sask, Calgary and Edmonton rounding out the west.

Strap that chinstrap on tight. Its time for kickoff!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

This And That

Its been a long winter boys and girls, but after a couple of pre-season games, the CFL season starts tonight with the Riders taking on the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton. Are you ready? Of course you are. I may be guilty of buying into the hype, but I think this team is a lot better than what some of the “pundits” think and that this team can host a playoff game in 2012. I won’t sit here and try and tell you they are better than BC because they’re not, but I do think the Riders are better than both Calgary and Edmonton and can finish 2nd in the West with a record of 10-8 or 9-9.

If you listened to Wednesday’s Sportscage or if you’ve seen the picks on Pedersen’s blog, you will see that I have taken Hamilton tonight. The reason for doing so is I look at the Ti-Cats team and I see a team that I think is a little more experienced than the Riders –especially on offence and that the Riders need a game to gel and mold together. That and the fact that Hamilton just seems to be a horror-show for this team over the last few years. Hey, I hope I’m wrong and if the football happens to bounce the right way for the Riders, so be it, but I don’t see them winning this one.

Things to watch

1)The play of the DB’s. Barron Miles brings a different mentality to the Rider secondary as their coach. Chris McKenzie told me this week that Miles is telling them to be very aggressive and play some tight coverage. It will be interesting to see what type of coverage schemes the Riders have against what arguably is the best receiving group in the CFL with Andy Fantuz, Dave Stala and Chris Williams to go along with Sam Giguere. Remember that Corey Chamblin was the DB’s coach in Calgary when Brandon Browner virtually shut Andy down. The Riders don’t have a Browner like body back there, but can they find a way to stop him from getting a head of steam at the line of scrimmage. Speaking of McKenzie, did you know that he is the oldest Rider at 30. A few other Riders are 30 as well, but of that group McKenzie is the oldest.

2)Odell Willis. The talk time is done. Its time now for Willis to show us what he can do. Is he the guy that terrorized CFL quarterbacks for the first half of the season or is he the guy that was real quiet in the second half. Odell hasn’t gotten off to a good start with his time in Riderville thanks to his off-the-field problems. For his sake, we better see the good Willis because I don’t think the honeymoon is a long one when it comes to Rider fans.

3) Ben Heenan. He is starting maybe a little sooner than what the football club expected, but he has shown he is worthy of being the number one overall pick this year and its his time to show whether he can play effectively in a CFL game that matters or if he needs some more seasoning.

4)Darian Durant We all know his 2011 was nothing to write home about. Despite his tough season, the football team invested in Durant by giving him a contract extension because they believe he is the quarterback we saw in 2009 and 2010. Something didn’t seem right with Durant right from the start of last season. He seems a little more focussed. One game won’t make a season, but a strong performance from the Rider quarterback might silence some of his critics---some who actually believe Drew Willy should be given more of a consideration to play.

Remember that CKRM's coverage starts at 3 o'clock as Michael Ball and I will have "The Touchdown Club" followed by Rod and Carm from Ivor Wynne at 430 and kickoff at 530.

Other odds and ends

--I guess some media members must read this blog and pursued the little Southland Mall tidbit that I uncovered in last week's edition of "This and That" as indeed the mall will finally be filling up the old Walmart space with a Canadian Tire, a Sportchek and a Marks Work Wearhouse. I don't unearth news tidbits very often, but you're welcome to whoever grabbed it first and got it out there. By the way, its about time that space was finally filled because each time I go to the Southland, it seems as if fewer and fewer people are in it.

--For the first time ever, I was in a CFL fantasy football draft on Wednesday night. It is much, much tougher than an NFL draft because there are only eight teams to choose from. For what its worth, I had the 4th overall pick and took Anthony Calvillo. He went behind Lulay, Durant and Burris. I thought it would go Lulay, Burris and Calvillo thus paving the way for me to take number 4 at number 4. Nope!
--When was the last time the Stampeders opened on the road? Is it just me or do they open at home every year?
--I wasn't happy with the Oilers selection of Nail Yakupov because the guy seems to be too much of a free-spirit and the fact that Edmonton had enough talented young forwards. With that being the case, I wasn't enamoured with the selection of Ralph Krueger as head coach. Krueger was with Tom Renney who couldn't get the job done. I don't know if Brent Sutter would have been the right choice, but Krueger to me seems to be a disciple of Renney and I don't think that's good news.

--The New York Islanders apparently offered Columbus all of their draft picks to take the number 2 pick---Ryan Murray. The Jackets turned the deal down. Did the Islanders make this offer to the Oilers? If so, why would Steve Tambellini have turned it down when he would have been selecting 4th and likely taken Griffin Reinhart. The team could have really stocked their cupboard and made the Islanders look like a laughing stock even if Murray pans out to be a solid NHL'er.

OK tell me the truth, had you ever seen those clouds that hung over Regina Tuesday night after that storm blew through. I've lived in the good old #YQR for many years and I have never ever seen that before. I didn't quite know what to think about it.
TSN on CFL host Dave Randorf was on "The Sportscage" Wednesday. Randorf came on right after the Regina Red Sox report and said it was his goal to see the Red Sox play at Currie Field. I'm sure Bernie Eiswirth and Gary Brotzel would help him out in achieving that goal, but I hope Randorf has an arm because I think he would likely throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
While on the Cage, Randorf said the panel will see less of Jock Climie and more of Milt Stegall this year and that Doug Brown will also make several appearances. The CFL panel is getting a little too Winnipeg-esque for me. I hope they don't decide to dust off Chris Walby!
I'll admit it. I think it will take some time to get used to the Riders wearing white helmets. I don't understand the rationale behind it. The Eskimos have never changed their iconic helmet and either have teams like the Packers, Steelers and Cowboys. I don't think the move was necessary, but that's just my two cents.
The decision by Corey Chamblin to shut fans out of two days of practice appears to be going over well as several coaches have applauded his decision while a Leader-Post poll overwhelmingly said they supported the move. If the truth be known, Rider fans have been spoiled over the years by watching their favourite team do their thing on a day to day basis. Someone decided to take the privilege a little too far so Chamblin put a stop to it as he felt his team was put at a competitive disadvantage. He wants to win and he doesn't want his secrets to be put out there so he has taken this approach. I do feel sorry for the seniors that can no longer make Mosaic a part of their routine twice a week, but Chamblin has showed everyone that its going to be done his way whether you like it or not. For what its worth, I like it!
Who is in charge of the Raptors draft day activities?
If you haven't seen the last 10 minutes of the season finale of "Locker Talk" on Access, you simply must see it. That's all I am going to say.
Is "Rock of Ages" the movie as good as the musical that rolled through here. I think I will be attending said movie with Mrs. Scruffy this weekend.
The kids are out for summer holidays. How many parents are counting down the days to September already?
Th-Th-Th-That's all folks.

$id $igns Mega-Deal With Penguin$

The Pittsburgh Penguins have agreed to terms with Sidney Crosby on a 12-year, $104.4 million contract extension that will keep Crosby with the team through the 2024-25 season.

The extension calls for an annual cap hit of $8.7 million.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the new deal cannot be signed until July 1.

Crosby, 24, will play the 2012-13 season under the terms of his current contract. The extension will kick in at the start of the 2013-14 season.

“This is a great day for hockey and tremendous news for the Pittsburgh Penguins and our fans,” co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle said in a joint statement. “We are grateful for all that Sidney Crosby has done for our franchise since coming to Pittsburgh in 2005, both on and off the ice, and we look forward to having him in a Penguins uniform for the rest of his career. He is an excellent player and an even better person, and he is a great ambassador for the Penguins and for Pittsburgh.”

Crosby led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 2009 – becoming, at age 21, the youngest captain to hoist the Cup in NHL history. He also has won the Hart Trophy as MVP, the Art Ross Trophy as league scoring champion, the Rocket Richard Trophy as goal-scoring champion and the Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player in his seven NHL seasons. In 434 games he has registered 223 goals and 386 assists for 609 points. He has added 90 points in 68 playoff games.

“In an era when players often move from team to team, it’s gratifying to see a young man who is so committed to one city and one franchise,” said David Morehouse, CEO and President of the Penguins. “He’s meant so much to the Penguins, to the growth of youth hockey in Pittsburgh, and to the NHL and the game of hockey in general. It’s a tremendous feeling to know he’ll be here through 2025.”

“He’s a very special player and knowing that he will be here long-term is outstanding news for our players, coaches, staff and fans,” said Ray Shero, the Penguins general manager. “Sidney also brings those extra dimensions as our captain, with his leadership in the room and on the ice. We’re all very excited to reach this agreement on an extension.”

SaskParty Commits Some Gov't Money To Stadium

Another turn in the ongoing saga of Regina's potential new stadium today and this is another encouraging sign. For all the details, check out the story here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pats Release 2012-13 Sked

The Regina Pats and the WHL have released the 2012-13 schedule. For a look at the Pats sked, click here.
The WHL sked can be found by going here

SHAW To Televise Two Rams Road Games

SHAW TV released its Canada West football sked today. The University of Regina Rams will be shown three times---once at home, twice on the road.

The season opener in Calgary will be shown Saturday, September 1 as will their home game the next weekend against UBC. The other broadcast will see the Rams taking on the Huskies in Saskatoon on September 21.

It is my guess that Access will pick up these games like they have been doing in the past.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bombers Suffer Huge Injury

Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Chris Garrett suffered a torn Achilles tendon in his left leg at practice Tuesday and is lost for the season.

The third-year back fell to the turf after catching a pass and trying to cut underneath a would-be tackler. He couldn’t put any weight on his left leg as he was helped into the cart, and was spotted on crutches as he left the Bombers facility after the two-hour workout.

It looked like Garrett turned his ankle when trying to cut on the Canad Inns Stadium turf. The club issued a statement about the injury Tuesday afternoon.

"We are extremely disappointed after hearing the news from the doctors about how serious Chris’ injury exactly is," Bombers GM Joe Mack said in the release. "It is unfortunate for the club, but also for Chris as he was someone who was looking forward to being a big part of our offence this season.

"Chris is a tough young man who will overcome this and we wish him a quick recovery."

With backup running back Chad Simpson also dealing with a lower leg injury (he missed his second straight practice Tuesday), the Bombers running back duties look to fall to Bloi-Dei Dorzon in the season-opener against the B.C Lions (Friday, 9 p.m.).

Dorzon, who was added to the practice roster after failing to make the club out of training camp, took the sudden promotion in stride Tuesday.

"If I’m needed to step up, I’m ready," Dorzon said.

"Out of the backs we had, (Dorzon) performed just as well as everybody else – if not better than all the guys in pre-season," Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice said. "If that’s any indication, I think he’s ready to step in."

LaPolice said Simpson has not officially been ruled out for the B.C. game.

And just like that, the Bombers are in big trouble in the backfield.

The only other tailback on the Winnipeg roster is rookie Canadian Anthony Woodson. Second-year Bomber Carl Volny, who's getting back from a torn ACL last season, is on the one-game injured list and cannot come off that list until after the Lions game.

Chamblin Closes Practice (At Least Some Of Them)

Shortly after Riders practice started today, a letter from coach Corey Chamblin was issued to reporters and I believe some of the railbirds who attend each and every practice. The letter went as follows....

On behalf of the Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club I would like to inform you that we will be closing Day 2 and Day 3 practices to the public, effective tomorrow (Wednesday).

It has become apparent that some individuals attending practice sessions have created a competitive disadvantage by posting intricate personnel and play schemes on message boards.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders want to ensure fans that their support is appreciated. However in the team's best interest, Day 2 and Day 3 practices will remain closed until a solution is found that meets everyone's needs.

Corey Chamblin
Head Coach
Saskatchewan Roughriders

Once practice was over, Chamblin talked about it. I could post that audio, but for some reason the site I use to do that is not working. However, the ever-able Rob(Slim) Vanstone transcribed it all and it can be read right here. Thanks Rob.

The Hockey Hall of Fame Announces 2012 Class

Joe Sakic became a legend in hockey by winning everything he could have possibly won during his 20-year NHL career. In November, he'll take his rightful place among his fellow legends in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Hockey Hall of Fame announced Tuesday that the 18-member selection committee voted for Sakic and fellow first-time eligible candidate Mats Sundin along with holdovers Pavel Bure and Adam Oates to make up the Class of 2012, which will be inducted on Nov. 12 in Toronto.

Sakic was considered a shoo-in in his first year of eligibility after putting up 625 goals and 1,016 assists for 1,641 points during 20 NHL seasons all with the Quebec/Colorado franchise. He won the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001. In 1996 he was also awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy and in 2001 he won the Hart Trophy. He owns every important offensive record in the Quebec/Colorado franchise.

Sundin wasn't considered to be a lock in his first year eligible for the Hall, but the ex-Maple Leafs captain got in because he put up 1,349 points in 1,346 games during 18 NHL seasons, including 13 in Toronto. Sundin never won the Stanley Cup, but he did captain Team Sweden to an Olympic gold medal in 2006. He scored 564 goals and 785 assists in his career, including 420 goals and 567 assists for 967 points as a Maple Leaf.

Sundin holds the Toronto franchise records for most points, goals, power-play goals, shorthanded goals, game-winning goals and overtime goals.

Bure, who retired after the 2002-03 season due to chronic knee injuries, registered 437 goals and 779 points over 702 games in 12 NHL seasons played with Vancouver, Florida and the Rangers. He never won the Stanley Cup, but he did reach Game 7 of the Cup Final with the Canucks in 1994. Bure averaged 36.7 goals per season. He scored 60 twice and also had seasons with 58 and 59 goals.

Bure was the League's Calder Trophy winner in 1992.

Oates, whose memorable day started when he was named the head coach of the Washington Capitals, is known as one of the greatest passers in League history. He also never won the Stanley Cup, but he dished out 1,079 assists and added 341 goals for 1,420 points over 1,337 career games played with Detroit, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Anaheim and Edmonton.

Oates teamed with Hall of Fame member Brett Hull in St. Louis to form one of the most lethal combinations in the game, but his best season came as a Bruin in 1992-93, when he had 45 goals and 97 assists for 142 points. All were career highs. He added 80 assists and 112 points in 1993-94. Even at 39 years old, Oates was still dishing it out. He led the NHL with 64 assists in 2000-01.


CFL Postal Stamps On The Way

As part of a comprehensive philatelic program planned to commemorate the 100th Grey Cup® Game, Canada Post will issue on Friday eight (8) team PERMANENT™ domestic rate stamps, one for each Canadian Football League team. Each stamp is available in a roll of 50. The souvenir sheet - a collector item - offers all eight logo stamps in one sheet.

"There are few sports in this country that garner enthusiasm and spirit as the CFL does," says the Honourable Steven Fletcher, Minister of State (Transport). "These stamps are a great way to start a new and memorable season."

In 2012, the Grey Cup - one of the oldest trophies in North American professional sport - will be celebrating the 100th Game. To mark the occasion and commemorate its legacy in Canadian sports history, Canada Post will be issuing 17 individual stamps in all, one of the largest single-year issues produced by the corporation in several years.

"We're excited to offer CFL fans great new products that will allow them to show their colours," adds Mary Traversy, Senior Vice President, Mail at Canada Post. "This is only a glimpse of things to come and we hope that football fans, philatelists and Canadians will enjoy and cherish this memorable collection for years to come."

"The 100th Grey Cup will be a celebration of our game, our country, and the bond they share together," said CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon. "And this partnership is an important example of how we will be paying tribute to our proud past. We are excited to unveil these commemorative CFL products in the near future and I'm sure fans will love them."

The 2012 CFL season kicks off on June 29 and culminates with the 100th Grey Cup game on Sunday, November 25, 2012 in Toronto.

The Grey Cup 100th Game commemorative program will be unveiled in August.

About the stamps
The eight (8) Permanent™ stamps were designed by Bensimon Byrne, the official advertising agency for the CFL. The self-adhesive stamps measure 24 mm x 20 mm with simulated perforation and are printed by Lowe-Martin on Tullis Russell paper using lithography in two to four colours. They are general tagged on four sides. The souvenir sheet of 8 stamps is printed on gummed paper using lithography in 9 colours. The Official First Day Cover, bearing the souvenir sheet of eight (8) stamps, will be cancelled in Toronto, Ontario.

Additional information about Canadian stamps and photos of these new stamps are available on Canada Post's website under About Us/News. You can purchase stamps and other products at participating post offices, or order them online by following the links at and by mail from the National Philatelic Centre. From Canada and the USA, call toll-free 1-800-565-4362 ; from other countries, call 902-863-6550 .

Monday, June 25, 2012

CFL's Top 50 2012 Edition

1 Travis Lulay BC
2 Jamel Richardson Montreal
3 Anthony Calvillo Montreal
4 Brandon Whitaker Montreal
5 Jovon Johnson Winnipeg
6 Ricky Ray Toronto
7 Geroy Simon BC
8 Fred Stamps Edmonton
9 Josh Bourke Montreal
10 Jon Cornish Calgary
11 Cory Boyd Toronto
12 Chad Owens Toronto
13 Chip Cox Montreal
14 Jovon Olafioye BC
15 Nik Lewis Calgary
16 Khalif Mitchell BC
17 Jonathan Hefney Winnipeg
18 Keron Williams BC
19 Brendon Labatte SK
20 Jon Bowman Montreal
21 Darian Durant SK
22 Jamall Johnson Hamilton
23 SJ Green Montreal
24 Korey Banks BC
25 Andy Fantuz Hamilton
26 Ben Archibald BC
27 Paul Mccallum BC
28 Rey Williams Hamilton
29 Buck Pierce Winnipeg
30 Terrence Edwards Winnipeg
31 Weston Dressler SK
32 Henry Burris Hamilton
33 Odell Willis SK
34 Chris Williams Hamilton
35 Dmitri Tsoumpas Calgary
36 Arland Bruce BC
37 Marcus Howard Edmonton
38 Drew Tate Calgary
39 Markeith Knowlton Hamilton
40 Keon Raymond Calgary
41 Aaron Hunt Montreal
42 Chris Garrett Winnipeg
43 Lin-J Shell BC
44 Adarius Bowman Edmonton
45 Ricky Foley Toronto
46 Avon Cobourne Hamilton
47 Dante Marsh BC
48 Byron Parker BC
49 Andrew Harris BC
50 James Patrick SK

100th Grey Cup Sold Out

The 100th Grey Cup Festival Committee is excited to announce that tickets to the 100th Grey Cup Championship game are officially sold out following a 100-hour lottery for the remaining 1,000 pairs of seats. As announced tonight on TSN’s CFL Season Preview show, the demand for the most iconic sporting event of the century has been unparalleled. Tickets to the 100th Grey Cup have sold out five months to-the-date before the big game takes place! Canadians from coast to coast will converge on Toronto to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime cultural and sporting event.

“We are convinced that all of Canada will join us in Toronto to celebrate the 100th Grey Cup Championship game,” said Chris Rudge, Executive Chairman and CEO of the Toronto Argonauts Football Club and Chairman and CEO of the 100th Grey Cup Festival. “Ticket sales have surpassed expectations by selling out this early, confirming that our nation is accepting the invitation to be a part of history. The 100th Grey Cup Festival in Toronto will be the place to be this November.”

“The speed with which the 100th Grey Cup game has sold out is a testament to the passion of our fans, the importance of this milestone event to our country, and the organization of the 100th Grey Cup Festival Committee,” said Mark Cohon, Commissioner of the Canadian Football League. “We wish there was room for everyone who wanted a ticket, but while we can’t accommodate everyone at the game itself, we do encourage all Canadians to join in the celebration this year, by attending the 100th Grey Cup Festival in Toronto this November, enjoying the events we have planned across the country this Fall, and supporting your favourite team.”

“It was important as Hosts of the 100th Grey Cup Championship game and Festival for the Toronto Argonauts Football Club to open this amazing opportunity up to as many fans from across the country, knowing how passionate they are about the CFL and their desire to be part of the legacy that is the 100th Grey Cup. To accomplish that, we knew a lottery was the fairest way to distribute the remaining tickets and are thrilled by the fan response to this system.” said Daniel Steinfeld, Vice President, Ticket Sales and Service, Toronto Argonauts Football Club.

Don’t forget there is much, much more to take part in beyond the Grey Cup Game itself. An ‘Invitation to Our Nation’ has been extended for everyone to come to Toronto for 100th Grey Cup Festival, longer in length and larger in scope than any past Grey Cup festivals. With something for absolutely everyone, November 15 – 25, 2012 will be a time in Toronto where there will be no escaping the incredible energy surrounding this centennial celebration of such a treasured national icon.


Tough Talk From Anderson Silva

Anderson Silva on Monday responded unlike ever before to rival middleweight Chael Sonnen, when he promised to "break his face and break every one of his teeth" in their upcoming rematch at UFC 148 on July 7.

The comments were made through a translator during a media conference call.

"What I'm going to do inside the Octagon is something that's going to change the image of the sport," Silva said. "I'm going to make sure every one of his teeth are broken, his arms are broken, his legs are broken.
"He's not going to be able to walk out of the Octagon by himself. I can guarantee that."

Silva (31-4) is widely considered the top mixed martial artist in the world. He has successfully defended the 185-pound title a UFC-record nine times since 2006, including a fifth-round submission win over Sonnen when the two met in August 2010.

Prior to and after that bout, Sonnen (27-11) launched a verbal attack on the Brazilian champion, heavily targeting his native country in the process.

Following a win at UFC 136 over another opponent, Sonnen issued a pro-wrestling type challenge to Silva, vowing to retire from the UFC if he lost the rematch. He's also commented on Silva's wife and training partners, among other things.

Silva has more or less declined comment up to this point and even admitted in the past he thought Sonnen's charade was "funny." His animated response Monday came as a surprise to many.
"I've promoted every Anderson Silva fight since he's been in the UFC and I've never heard him talk even remotely close to this," UFC president Dana White said.

Sonnen, who was also on the call, mostly shrugged off his opponent's comments but he did speak on the magnitude of the fight.

"There is no fight in combat history that's got as much weight and as much emotion, not just from the fans and media but from the athletes participating, as this one," Sonnen said. "So, the stakes are completely different."

The rematch was originally planned to take place at a soccer stadium in Rio de Janeiro, but was moved to Las Vegas when the UFC had trouble booking a venue. According to White, the promotion anticipates UFC 148 to produce more than 1 million pay-per-view buys.

Riders Practice Roster

Import OL Johan Asiata
Non-Import WR Ismael Bamba
Non-Import OL Dan Clark
Non-Import WR Clay Cooke
Non-Import DL Zach Evans
Import DB Macho Harris
Import WR Jock Sanders
Import WR Taj Smith
Import DL David Veikune

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Something To Mitch About

I can’t imagine cutdown day is easy for those involved. Coaches and general managers telling players that their dreams of playing professional football have reached a dead end, with said player wondering what the next step in their life is going to be, and how they are going to achieve it. It has to be even tougher when that player is one of the good guys who have been a veteran and a leader for many years.

That was the case Saturday when the Riders told defensive back Lance Frazier his services were no longer needed by the football club. In all the years I have dealt with the football club, Frazier was a guy who would always talk to you win or lose and was always a guy that would never sugar-coat anything. Its why I have a lot of respect for the old 96er Scott Schultz. He got out before he got got if you know what I mean. Schultz could have still played for a couple of seasons before he retired, but he got the chance to get out of football and he left before the Riders told him to leave. Have we seen the end of Frazier? Time will only tell if that is the case on the field, but Riders coach Corey Chamblin said he could see Frazier being a front-office guy at some point and that wouldn’t surprise me. Thanks for the years Lance and good luck at whatever you do next.

I can’t say the cuts announced by the team on Sunday surprised me. Kenny Rowe was a huge disappointment to me as I thought the way the guy ended 2011 that he could perhaps be an impact player in 2012. Nope! Davonte Shannon was a guy that played well at practice but when it came to game time, he couldn’t make the cut. He’s not the first to do that and he won’t be the last. Let the regular season begin. I don’t think this team can be mentioned in the Grey Cup debate at this time, but I do think this team will be better than the 6-7 wins that some are predicting. Of course, if Darian Durant should get injured for a lengthy amount of time, all bets are off.

Other odds and ends from the weekend….

--I will never get tired of being around Mosaic Stadium on game day. You just feel “it” as you get closer and closer to the park. Like I’ve said before, there is no better spot to be in Canada than at the park on gameday. I hope the new facility provides the same feeling.

--Now that people have gotten a good look at the new Mosaic, the question is out there as to whether or not this is good enough. The answer is NO! A new stadium is needed and a new stadium is coming like it or not. The people of Saskatchewan deserve a new facility and they deserve to sit in comfort while watching football or whatever. There really shouldn’t be any debates, but some just want to stir it up so go at it if you absolutely have to.

--One mayoral candidate tweeted on the weekend that he hasn’t spoken to one person in favour of the new stadium. I’m guessing this candidate hasn’t really gotten out there and I’m guessing this candidate won’t be seeing an “X’” besides his name on my ballot when I vote.

--If you couldn’t tell, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the Oilers selection of Nail Yakupov with the number one pick in the NHL draft. The Oilers needed a young defenceman and with so many of them out there, this was the year to get one---and a damn good one at that. Taking Ryan Murray or Griffin Reinhart at one would not have upset me and trading the pick wouldn’t have upset me either. Yakupov had better deliver and get the Oilers into the playoffs next season. This BS that Edmonton hockey fans have had to go through should be over. Steve Tambellini is now under the gun to get this team some quality defencemen whether it be through free agency or trade. If he can’t and the Oilers don’t perform this year, he can hit the highway.

--The clear draft winner was the Pittsburgh Penguins. They trade Jordan Staal (not interested in him Mr. Tambellini???) and get a good hockey player in return in Brandon Sutter and then they take Weyburn’s Derrick Pouliot with the 8th overall pick while clearing out enough cap room to likely take a run at soon to be UFA Ryan Suter. If Suter ends up a Penguin, they are the odds-on favourite to win the Cup next year and for the next couple.

--Luke Schenn gets dealt (again, not interested in him Mr. Tambellini) for James Van Riemsdyk in a deal that could once again bite Brian Burke in the hindquarters. There is no doubt Schenn lost his confidence in Toronto and Ron Wilson can take a lot of the blame for that. The kid can still play and play at a high level if given the opportunity unless Wilson completely shattered him. As for Van Riemsdyk, he has a bad hip and that will likely plague him for years. I don’t know if Toronto made a good deal on this one.

--Morgan Rielly getting drafted by Toronto probably spelled the end of Schenn. It’s a good job Wilson isn’t in Toronto now so that he could do the same things with Rielly that he did with Schenn. I hope the kid can do well in Toronto---but not too well since I hate the Leafs if you know what I mean.

--A tip of the cap to CTV Regina's Julie Stewart-Binks. She did a great job in bringing the NHL draft to our living rooms with her coverage from Pittsburgh.

--Being a goaltender when a game goes into penalty kicks in soccer must really, really suck.

--It amazes me that more people aren’t killed or seriously hurt on the Ring Road the way some people “drive”. The actions of some on that stretch of road is something to behold.

--My oldest daughter graduates from Grade 12 today. HOLY CRAP! I still remember her first day of school as if it was yesterday and I can’t believe she has now gone through and is ready to enter a new stage of her life. I’ll be a proud papa when I see her get that little piece of paper. Just don’t trip! That’s the only thing that went through my mind when I graduated high school and college when my name was called to get the diploma---DON”T TRIP!!

--Graham DeLaet has inched a little closer to getting his PGA Tour Card. He earned just over 12-thousand dollars this weekend at the Travellers. He would have gotten more if it wasn’t for a final round of 5 over 75.

--A tip of the hat to Sportsnet (and Sportscage) Insider Arash Madani. The guy is in Miami covering the NBA final and the Jays series and he still has time to work his CFL contacts to break several transactions this weekend. There is no one better than Madani out there. I'm glad he's on the same team as me.

--Some have asked why I wasn't a part of the Riders broadcast on Friday night. Relax!!! I will have a role once Michael Ball and Phil Andrews get busy with the Rams and the Pats. For those that did send a message asking where I was, Thanks!

--It was a classy move by the Riders to remember Cal Murphy during the game Friday night. It was different being back in the pressbox after not being up there for over a year. It was strange not seeing Cal in there though. Somehow, I think he was watching.

--I don't know how they managed to get him to do it, but Jim Hopson as Commissioner Gordon from Batman in the SGI ads that ran Friday night were hilarious. Is there an award that he can be nominated for? Can he wear that garb on the sidelines? I hope those ads find their way onto a TV screen near you and that they aren't confined to Rider game day.

--As we approach the end of June, the Jays are six games back in the American League East and three games back in the wildcard chase. Are they a buyer or a seller? As much as I hate to say it, I think its time to sell some guys because of the damage that has been inflicted on their starting rotation. I thought at the start of the year Toronto could make the playoffs, but the injuries they have suffered to their starting pitching likely means that won’t happen. To trade some of their assets for starting pitching that may or may not return next year will help short term, but not long term.

--What did we do as the human race to have Justin Bieber and Adam Lambert bestowed upon us?

--Can the US justice system put Jerry Sandusky in with the other inmates for just a week? Please? Is that too much to ask?

Rider Roster Moves

Import DL Jay Alford

Import OL Johan Asiata

Non-Import WR Ismael Bamba

Non-Import K Chris Bodnar

Non-Import FB Mathieu Boulay

Import WR Patrick Brown

Non-Import OL Dan Clark

Import LB Chris Francis

Import DB Lance Frazier

Import DB Macho Harris

Non-Import OL Nick Hutchins

Import DB Talmadge Jackson

Import DB Jalil Johnson

Import LB Karl Paymah

Non-Import LB Kevin Regimbald-Gagne

Import DL Kenny Rowe

Import WR Jock Sanders

Import LB Davonte Shannon

Import LB Daniel Sheffield

Import WR Taj Smith

Import DL David Veikune

Import RB DeShawn Wynn

The following players have been added to the injury list:

Non-Import FB Graeme Bell

Non-Import OL Chris Best

The following players have been added to the 9 game injury list:

Import WR Dallas Baker

Import OL Dan Goodspeed

Import QB Levi Brown

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lance Frazier Is Out

The Saskatchewan Roughriders will not let us know until tomorrow what players have been released, but Sportsnet's (and Sportscage's) CFL insider Arash Madani has tweeted this afternoon that he has learned defensive back Lance Frazier has been let go. Frazier has spent the last six years in Rider green.

Veteran o-lineman Nick Hutchins has also (via Twitter) said his time is done in Riderville after three years.

Capitals Take Stephenson

The Regina Pats saw one player get taken in the 2011 NHL draft. The Washington Capitals took forward Chandler Stephenson in the 3rd round (77th overall) of the draft which wrapped up today in Pittsburgh. Stephenson had 42 points in an injury shortened season that only saw him play 55 games.

The Pats also had two players that they hope will forego the US College route and play major junior with them. Defenceman Brady Skjei went to the Rangers in the first round while Phoenix took defenceman Rhett Holland in the 4th round. Skjei has been playing with the US Under 18 team while Holland is currently playing in Okotoks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

In all, the WHL had 32 players selected this year. Here is a list.

1st Round
#2. Columbus Blue Jackets - Ryan Murray; White City, SK; Everett Silvertips
#4. New York Islanders - Griffin Reinhart; North Vancouver, BC; Edmonton Oil Kings
#5. Toronto Maple Leafs - Morgan Rielly; Vancouver, BC; Moose Jaw Warriors
#7. Minnesota Wild - Mathew Dumba; Calgary, AB; Red Deer Rebels
#8. Pittsburgh Penguins - Derrick Pouliot; Weyburn, SJ; Portland Winterhawks
#27. Phoenix Coyotes - Henrik Samuelsson; Scottsdale, AZ; Edmonton Oil Kings

2nd Round
#32. Edmonton Oilers - Mitchell Moroz; Calgary, AB; Edmonton Oil Kings
#39. Winnipeg Jets - Lukas Sutter; Lethbridge, AB; Saskatoon Blades
#50. Nashville Predators - Colton Sissons; North Vancouver, BC; Kelowna Rockets
#51. Montreal Canadiens - Dalton Thrower; North Vancouver, BC; Saskatoon Blades
#54. Dallas Stars - Mike Winther; Trochu, AB; Prince Albert Raiders
#58. Phoenix Coyotes - Jordan Martinook; Leduc, AB; Vancouver Giants
#60. New Jersey Devils - Damon Severson; Melville, SK; Kelowna Rockets

3rd Round
#64. Montreal Canadiens - Tim Bozon; Lugano, SUI; Kamloops Blazers
#72. Colorado Avalanche - Troy Bourke; Onoway, AB; Prince George Cougars
#76. Ottawa Senators - Chris Driedger; Winnipeg, MB; Calgary Hitmen
#77. Washington Capitals - Chandler Stephenson; Saskatoon, SK; Regina Pats
#84. Florida Panthers - Steven Hodges; Delta, BC; Victoria Royals
#89. Nashville Predators - Brendan Leipsic; Winnipeg, MB; Portland Winterhawks

4th Round
#105. Calgary Flames - Brett Kulak; Stony Plain, AB; Vancouver Giants
#116. St. Louis Blues - Nicholas Walters; St. Albert, AB; Everett Silvertips
#117. Philadelphia Flyers - Taylor Leier; Saskatoon, SK; Portland Winterhawks

5th Round
#133. Buffalo Sabres - Logan Nelson; Rogers, MN; Victoria Royals
#134. Dallas Stars - Branden Troock; Edmonton, AB; Seattle Thunderbirds
#135. New Jersey Devils - Graham Black; Regina, SK; Swift Current Broncos
#149. Chicago Blackhawks - Travis Brown; Winnipeg, MB; Moose Jaw Warriors

6th Round
#160. Winnipeg Jets - Ryan Olsen; Tsawwassen, BC; Kelowna Rockets
#165. Calgary Flames - Coda Gordon; Cochrane, AB; Swift Current Broncos

7th Round
#187. Anaheim Ducks - Kenton Helgesen; Fairview, AB; Calgary Hitmen
#192. Colorado Avalanche - Colin Smith; Edmonton, AB; Kamloops Blazers
#197. Washington Capitals - Jaynen Rissling; Edmonton, AB; Calgary Hitmen
#206. St. Louis Blues - Tyrel Seaman; Choiceland, SK; Brandon Wheat Kings

No player from the SJHL was taken.

(picture courtesy Washington Capitals)

Morning After Thoughts

(picture courtesy JC-Fotos)

The pre-season is over and now the real work starts for the Saskatchewan Roughriders as coach Corey Chamblin and his assistants make the decisions as to who stays and who goes. As Chamblin said last night, some guys played themselves on the roster and others played themselves off.

One player who definitely played himself on the roster was Regina Thunder defensive lineman Zack Evans. Chamblin basically said he won't have good news for the Thunder when it comes to the status of Evans and his career with them as he will be making this team. The kid knows how to play the game and learning from Keith Shologan means he is just going to get better and better.

It would appear as if Drew Willy has become the number 2 quarterback or has he? JT O'Sullivan showed some veteran savvy in leading the team downfield to their last minute touchdown and how about the Eli Manning-esque spin to get out of trouble and find a wide open Ismael Bamba? Some young guys wouldn't have that poise. Will a 32 year old accept being a clipboard holder or not. I could see O'Sullivan being number 2 and Willy being the developmental guy. Willy has certainly shown that he can play the game----at least to this point. You know that the schemes will become a little different now from opposing defences and defensive co-ordinators now have some film on him. I have already seen some discussion and tweets suggesting Willy move up to number one on the depth chart and that's ridiculous. Durant is the starting quarterback on this team and will be the starting quarterback barring injury. This team is not about to make a rookie who has not seen a snap of regular season CFL football their starter so lets throw away any talk of a quarterback controversy. Durant is the guy and will be the guy.

Kory Sheets should be the starting tailback and he should provide us with a breakaway threat that this team hasn't had since the days of Kenton Keith. The Purdue Boilermaker can make something out of nothing and is explosive when he gets the football. I don't know what type of pass-catcher he is, but if he can be utilized with a screen or short pass, he could be special.

The one thing I did take out of last nite's game that I didn't like was the play of the secondary. It seemed to me as if the Stampeders weren't having many problems in getting their receivers open. Was this because the Rider d-backs weren't getting it done or was there too much time for the quarterback to make his read and find the right guy. With the likes of Fantuz, Stala and Williams on deck, that group needs to be better. Again though, how much did the Riders show as they don't want to throw their defensive playbook out there for other teams to see when it doesn't matter. It is a veteran group back there with guys like Nick Graham, Lance Frazier and James Patrick so perhaps I shouldn't be as worried about that area as I was leaving the ballpark last night.

How anout the new ballpark? The old girl looks pretty good, but the bottom line is she's still an old girl that needs replacing. Some are saying the stadium looks darker. Really? I didn't find that. I heard several people in the north endzone say their seats broke which isn't good, but construction crews now have until July 9 to fix that and make the stadium look even better. The new improved Maxtron is something else.

Who stays and who goes? We will find out Sunday afternoon when Chamblin meets the media. I would love to be in the room when the discussions are made as to who has made this team and who hasn't as I'm sure the chatter will be intense.

Sounds From The Rider Room

Here is what was being said after the Riders 33-31 loss to Calgary. Comments on the game from yours truly in another post.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Yakkity Yak -- Yakupov Goes To Oilers

General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers, with the first overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft have selected Nail Yakupov from the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League.

Yakupov, in his second season with the Sting, played in 42 games collecting 69 points (31G, 38A).

In 2010-11 the 5’11”, 190-pound right-winger recorded 101 points (49G, 52A) in 65 games. That year he was named the OHL Rookie of the Month three times as well as the OHL Rookie of the Year and BMO Rookie of the Year in the CHL.

Yakupov, who hails from Nizhnekamsk, Republic of Tatarstan, was part of Team Russia in the 2011 World Junior U18 Championship. He collected 13 points (6G, 7A) and scored a hat trick in the bronze-medal game, including an empty-net goal with four seconds left, helping defeat Team Canada 6-4.

Yakupov was also part of the 2012 World Junior Championship with Team Russia that lost 1-0 to Sweden in the gold medal game, acquiring a silver medal. In seven games he had a team-high nine assists and was +5.

The Clock Is Ticking Mr. Tambellini

Ryan Murray swore he hadn’t leaned on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to find out which way the Edmonton Oilers were leaning.

As for general manager Steve Tambellini, he wasn’t saying whether the Oilers would take Murray, a defenceman, or Russian winger Nail Yakupov with the first pick in Friday’s NHL entry draft.

Tambellini did say that he hadn’t had an offer that was intriguing enough to warrant flipping picks. He did suggest on Thursday that the Oilers’ second-round pick (32nd overall) might be of some interest to a potential trade partner.

The Oilers hold the first pick for the third straight year.

“I’m very comfortable that if it stays as is, we’re going to make our (first) pick,” Tambellini said. “We have an asset coming to this organization who could join Hopkins, Hall, Eberle and Petry.

“There’s going to be a lot of opinions out there and the 30 different teams will probably have 30 different lists. We’re just trying to do what’s best for the Oilers.”

So that leaves the short list. The Oilers scouting staff converged in Pittsburgh earlier in the week and began whittling away at their options. This draft, unlike the previous two, has been described as unpredictable. Many of the prospects were injured during the regular season, affecting their rankings, and there’s not a significant gap between, say, one and two.

Oilers head amateur scout Stu MacGregor indicated earlier in the day they had zeroed in on two players.

Tambellini said the final decision would come down to positional need only if the players were ranked equally — which includes everything from talent to the intangibles, like character.

Yakupov is the dynamic winger who left Russia to play with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League so that he could get acclimatized quicker to the North American game. He and Murray are the players that Edmonton will focus on.

Murray, who captained the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, was ranked second behind Yakupov on Central Scouting’s final list of North American skaters.

“I won’t stop playing hockey if I’m second or third. I’m ready (to play) in the NHL,” Yakupov said he sat perched on a chair on the upper deck of the Empress, which ferried the players and the media for a quick river cruise on a hot, humid Thursday afternoon.

A scowl had crept across his brow when the line of questioning reverted back to Russia. If there was an NHL lockout, would he play in the Kontinental Hockey League? Had he been approached by any of the teams in Russia?

Russian prospects have been asked these questions by NHL teams as well, given that the league does not have a transfer agreement with the KHL. Players like Alexander Radulov are also being pegged as red flags.

Radulov, despite having a contract with the Nashville Predators, signed a deal with Salavat Yulaev in July 2008 and left the NHL until he made his way back in March. He was then suspended for missing curfew during the 2012 playoffs, essentially ending his time with the team.

The Predators elected not to extend Radulov’s contract. He has since been linked to a lucrative deal with CSKA Moscow.

“I want to play in the NHL. I’m only thinking about the NHL,” said Yakupov.

Needless to say, Yakupov, for one, can’t wait until all the preamble is over with. It was a sentiment shared by several of the top prospects.

“It’s been a long wait,” said Murray, who was still being interviewed by some of the teams on Thursday. “Now we’re one day away.”

The Oilers brought a few players into Edmonton following the NHL combine, including Murray and Yakupov. They did not meet with either player in Pittsburgh. Nor did they talk again to forwards Mikhail Grigorenko or Alex Galchenyuk.

“I’m hoping I’m in contention, but it’s not in my control. I’ll just be sitting ther e tomorrow. There’s a lot of talent (on the club). I think anybody in this draft would want to go to Edmonton,” said Murray. “But it’s so tough to say what’s going to happen. There are so many rumours out there about trades and teams moving up and down, so the whole draft could completely flip-flop.

“I never tried to look at any draft rankings to not let anything get in my head, but now I’m thinking about it a little bit more.”

Murray has the same agent as Nugent-Hopkins and the Oilers’ prized pick from the 2011 draft will be at the table on Friday in Pittsburgh.

The Oilers won’t have a head coach with the group. Tambellini still hasn’t named a replacement for Tom Renney, something he said he’d get to after the draft.

“This week we’ve talking about a lot of different things, including player movement, and obviously the No. 1 pick,” Tambellini said. “We don’t need to rush anything.”

(Courtesy Edmonton Journal)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

This And That

Its going to be a busy Friday. The day will culminate of course with the new-look Riders playing at the new-look Mosaic Stadium. Before the game kicks off, we will know who has done what at the NHL draft and another team will have advanced to the semis of Euro 2012.

It will be an interesting night at Mosaic. I have only seen pictures of the what the old girl looks like now and I like what I see. Its now time to witness it first hand while trying to watch the game and seeing what questions get answered. Questions? There are many going into this week as there are every week. Some of the questions I have are

1) Say what you will about last week, the Riders offence did not look crisp in their brief opportunity. Darian Durant needs to have a couple of confidence-building drives. He will get more of an opportunity to do so.

2) Who will emerge as the starting running back? I would have to think Brandon West is the odds on favourite right now, but Kory Sheets can't be far behind.

3) Can Dan Goodspeed hold off the challenge by newly acquired Chris Patrick to hang on to his position?

4) Can the Rider front four get some pressure on Drew Tate and whoever?
5) Can Shomari Williams show us that he is deserving of being the middle linebacker. I'm still not sold on that one.

Meanwhile, the NHL draft will be going on in Pittsburgh. I hope Oilers GM Steve Tambellini either trades the number one pick and gets some assets for it or he takes White City's Ryan Murray. Murray has shown he is NHL ready and Edmonton has enough skilled forwards (Eberle, RNH, Hall, Gagner, Hemsky). Murray would be a great fit and if the Oilers can snag highly touted free agent Justin Schultz as has been suggested and they are in the running for Phoenix's Keith Yandle which has also been suggested at the time of writing this, Edmonton will have improved themselves greatly on the blueline. If Edmonton does trade down, (and I think they will) I wouldn't be surprised to see them end up with Griffin Reinhart. He is also NHL ready and if he's anything like his dad in the NHL, the Oilers will have a player---a player they got to see all last year when he played with the Oil Kings.

Draft night is always full of intrigue. I get the feeling we are going to see a couple of big trades with guys like Rick Nash, Ryan Miller and Patrick Kane coming into play, Yes, I said Ryan Miller and Patrick Kane. I also think Brian Burke has a trick or two up his sleeve. Lets see what transpires.

The day will start at the 4 Seasons. George Yannitsos has invited me down to watch the Greece-Germany Euro 2012 quarterfinals. The Germans are the heavy favourites, but the Greeks have won this thing before and there's nothing saying they can't again. Get the dry ribs ready George, here I come!

Just some other random thoughts...

Lebron James has his first championship. YAY!!! Although if I had a choice between Lebron or Kobe winning, I would take Lebron any day of the week.

Sportsnet's Jeff Marek has asked an interesting question when it comes to the Oilers. Are they better off with Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and what would they be like had they gone with Tyler Seguin and Gabriel Landeskog instead?

I was shocked to see Landeskog win the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year. I thought for sure that award would go to RNH or Adam Henrique and even this Oilers fan thought Henrique would get it.

The best part of the NHL awards ceremony was Will Arnett's Brendan Shanahan parody. That was funny.

Its great seeing Peter Loubardias working this week for the NHL Network. Hopefully this leads to a permanent gig with them.

Happy 40th birthday to my good friend Kelly "The Silver Fox" Remple. The man is always telling people to "stay young". He's now 40 so he needs to take his own advice.

Whatever happened to Regina comedy duo "James and Kevin"? Someone asked me that the other night seeing I do stuff at Access. I couldn't answer them. The only James and Kevin show on right now was the NBA final and its over.

I won't be patrolling the sidelines for CKRM tonight meaning I will once again view the festivities from the press box. Is the elevator working to get up there this year? What? I have to go up the ramps again???? SIGHHHHH!!! Apparently, they didn't do enough upgrades.

With the Riders having made another fistful of money, have they found enough cash to buy Gainer some pants???

Will fans on the east side see Calgary and automatically start chanting Hennnnnn-reeeeeeee!!!!

Who do you take first in a CFL fantasy draft? My guess would be Travis Lulay or Anthony Calvillo

TSN isn't televising tonite's game because of the NHL draft. I can understand that. TSN2 is showing a repeat of the Greece-Germany soccer game.

Wednesday night's hail storm that hit Regina was quite the little storm. I get the feeling we will see several more of those before the summer is over.

Word is the Southland Mall will be getting a Canadian Tire and a Sportchek along with another store where the old Walmart used to be. Its about time. Remember where ya heard this. I wonder what happens to the Sportchek that currently sits beside Chapters.

36-thousand people were at Rogers Centre for the Argos-Als exhibition game. Most of them were kids as they were there on a fieldtrip. Apparently some kids in the GTA had the history of the CFL, the Grey Cup and the Argonauts on their curriculum this semester and it culminated with the game. I love the idea! I know the Edmonton Oil Kings have a game that is played late in the morning so that kids can go watch. I'd love to see the Pats do something similar.

Speaking of the Pats, they have hired former La Ronge Ice Wolves p x p man Daniel Fink to be their new media guy. In my one year with the SJ, I had a talented group of broadcasters to work with and many have moved on which is great. Daniel is in Regina, Dan O'Connor is in Prince George, Gino DePaoli is in Okotoks and Brenden Ullrich is in Edmonton albeit he is now in news and not doing any hockey broadcasts.

With the CRTC now officially giving the go-ahead for Rogers to buy SCN, I wonder if the future plan is for a news-staff to be hired to give Global, CTV and CBC some added competition. Is Regina/Saskatoon big enough for a 4th news outlet?

I don't know if his next start is at home or not, but if you hear that Daniel Jones is starting for the Regina Red Sox, head to Currie Field and watch this kid pitch. He might be one of the best pitchers I have seen in the WMBL since the Red Sox got back into the league a few years ago. Word is the scouts aren't looking at him because he's too small. That's too bad.

Twitter went down for an hour on Thursday. Some reacted as if the end of the world was right around the corner.

10 of the last 11 Grey Cup champs have won their last exhibition game so GO RIDERS!!

Pats Pre-Season Sked

The Western Hockey League announced its 2012 Pre-Season Schedule today.

The Regina Pats begin the Pre-Season in a home and home series with the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Pats host the Wheat Kings at the Cooperators Centre, Thursday September 6th before heading to Brandon for the back half of the set Friday, September 7th.

To round out the Pre-Season, the Pats welcome the Saskatoon Blades Friday September 14th followed by their final exhibition game in Saskatoon on Saturday, September 15th.

The Pats and the WHL will release their full 2012-13 schedule Wednesday, June 27th.

Warriors Lock Up Alan Millar

Moose Jaw Warriors President Chad Taylor announced today that the WHL franchise has officially named Alan Millar the hockey club's General Manager and signed Millar to a multi-year contract extension. Millar just completed his second season as the Warriors Director of Hockey Operations.

"On behalf of the Warriors Board of Directors we are very pleased with Alan's direction of the hockey club and his commitment to the Warriors and the city of Moose Jaw" stated Taylor. "We are very fortunate to have such an experienced hockey executive leading our franchise" concluded Taylor.

The Warriors further announced that the hockey club has signed Director of Business Operations Corey Nyhagen to a new multi-year agreement.

"We look forward to Corey's continued leadership of our business team" stated Millar. “Corey led our hockey club to the WHL's Business and Marketing award this year and was instrumental in the team's move into Mosaic Place last year. We are very pleased with Corey and his family’s ongoing commitment to the City of Moose Jaw and the Warriors organization” concluded Millar.

Nyhagen, is entering his fourth year with the Warriors in his current position and fifth year overall. He was the hockey club's Director of Sales and Marketing in 2008-09 before assuming the role of Director of Business Operations.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Claude Giroux To Be NHL 13 Coverboy

Electronic Arts Inc. and announced today during the live broadcast of the 2012 NHL Awards that Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux has been selected by fans as the EA SPORTS NHL 13 cover athlete.

Giroux beat Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne in the final of the first ever EA SPORTS NHL Cover Vote campaign by less than a one percent margin, in what was the closest matchup of the entire campaign. NHL 13 will be available on September 11, 2012 in North America and September 14, 2012 in Europe.

"The support fans have given me throughout the campaign has been unbelievable," said Flyers forward Claude Giroux. "I am very excited to be on the cover of NHL 13 and I want to thank everyone who campaigned and voted for me -- especially my teammates, the Flyers organization, and of course all the NHL fans who voted and tweeted."

Between March 29 and June 4, fans cast nearly 26 million votes on throughout the campaign, which was sponsored by BlackBerry. During the finals alone, more than two million votes were cast.

"The level of passion that the fans, players, and NHL teams have displayed throughout the first ever EA SPORTS NHL Cover Vote campaign has been overwhelming," said Dean Richards, General Manager, NHL, EA SPORTS. "The EA SPORTS NHL Franchise has had a rich tradition of outstanding cover athletes and quality games, and we feel privileged to introduce Claude Giroux as the face of NHL 13 as selected by the fans. With Giroux on the cover and our revolutionary new True Performance Skating engine, we feel great about delivering our most innovative title yet with NHL 13."

"The EA SPORTS NHL 13 Cover Vote campaign presented by BlackBerry was a success in every measurable way," said Dave McCarthy, NHL Vice President of Consumer Products Marketing. "From nearly 26 million votes cast, to fan and player engagement across social media platforms, to the validation of's standing as the number one destination for hockey fans, the NHL 13 Cover Vote campaign exceeded our expectations."

2013 Memorial Cup Legacy Project Announced

The host committee for the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup unveiled the event’s legacy project Wednesday at Credit Union Centre.

With financial support from the provincial government and the City of Saskatoon, the arena is currently being outfitted with new boards and protective glass. The state-of-the-art system – manufactured and installed by Cascadia Sport Systems – will make the playing area safer for all users and enhance the viewing experience for spectators.

“Planning for the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup bid began almost a year ago,” said Tim Gitzel, co-chair of the event with Saskatoon Blades president Jack Brodsky. “We knew from the outset that we wanted to incorporate a legacy project – something that would benefit not only the MasterCard Memorial Cup event, but also serve users of this facility for decades to come.”

Most of the funding was supplied by the provincial government ($250,000) and the City of Saskatoon ($100,000). Saskatoon Silver Springs MLA Ken Cheveldayoff said the province’s contribution is part of an ongoing commitment to support major events which, in turn, leave an infrastructure legacy.

“The addition of new seats and the centre-ice scoreboard are legacies of past world junior hockey championships in 1991 and 2010,” said Cheveldayoff. “Now we have the new boards and glass, making the arena safer and even more attractive for major events such as the upcoming MasterCard Memorial Cup.”


Getting Into Mosaic Stadium

With the recent construction at Mosaic Stadium and the Farm Progress Show at Evraz Place currently taking place, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are encouraging fans to come down to Friday’s preseason game early in order to familiarize yourself with parking availability and stadium entrances.

Fans with game tickets in the North End Zone will continue to enter the stadium through the North Gate.

Fans with game tickets in the new South End Zone seats will enter through the gates at the Southwest corner of Mosaic Stadium.

With the addition of the green theatre style seats in the North and South end zones, Mosaic Stadium capacity has now reached 32,898. Capacity will again increase when construction of the corporate boxes is completed.

Mosaic Stadium Facts:

· The new SaskTel Maxtron in the Northeast Endzone will be an incredible 1,692 square feet (28x60). That's 262 times larger than your 46" flatscreen TV at home! The "old" Maxtron was 700 (20x35).

· The secondary video display board that will sit next to the new SaskTel Maxtron is 686 square feet (37x14).

· The second SaskTel Maxtron that will hang from the West Side grandstand is 1,090 square feet (20x54). That's 172 times larger than a 46" flatscreen.

· In total, there are 7 new digital displays (3 large video screens and 4 banner or “ribbon” boards) plus 2 score board/time clocks and 2 “twenty-second” clocks.

· In total, the three (3) large Video screens utilize 2,424,576 individuals LED lights!

· The new Grandstand SaskTel MaxTron weighs 7,300kg. (16,103 lbs.) Not including the steel frame, support structure or catwalk!

· The LED digits (time and score) on the new field level scoreboard are 1.22 meters (48”) tall.

· Approximately 4,500 seats have been added in the South end zone

· Approximately 2,500 seats have been added in the North end zone

NHL'ers Get After Lebron

As well they should......

There may be no tougher group of athletes on the planet than hockey players. They regularly block 90 mph shots without so much as grimacing, they are happy when a high stick causes them to bleed so that their teams will get extra power-play time, they lose teeth and don’t miss a shift, and they play through serious injuries in their quest for winning a Stanley Cup.

So when it comes to toughness, hockey players can’t really be questioned. And if they want to have a little fun at the expense of an NBA player being praised for playing through some leg cramps? Well, they’ve kind of earned that right, too.

That NBA player was LeBron James on Tuesday night. The Heat superstar went down in the fourth quarter with leg cramps. At first, he was able to stay in the game, hitting a one-handed bank shot before nailing a crucial 3-pointer minutes later. It wasn’t exactly a Willis Reed moment, but given that he’s the biggest basketball star on the planet, LeBron was receiving a healthy amount of praise for playing through the pain.

But color some NHL players unimpressed.

Thanks to the miracle of Twitter, we were able to see some of their thoughts as they were happening.

“Lebron James is embarrassing himself and the NBA or actually all athletes,” tweeted Ryan Potulny, a forward in the Washington Capitals system.

“I wonder what kind of face LeBron would make if he took a slapper off the laces?” wondered Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler.

“What a gutsy performance by lebron #not” wrote Dallas Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski.

“Oh my god guys, Lebron has a cramp, everyone get on their feet, standing O for somehow staying in the game,” wrote Scott Valentine of the Milwaukee Admirals, the AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators, before sarcastically adding, “If Lebron somehow manages to pull off winning a ring after fighting through a thigh cramp.. it will be a story I tell my children’s children.”

Taylor Hall, the No. 1 pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, didn’t take a shot directly at LeBron, but rather at the whole sport.

“So much flopping going on.. Wondering what these bball players would do if they got a skate in the face haha,” wrote Hall, who himself received a cut on his face that required 30 stitches this season.

NHL players weren’t the only athletes taking shots at LeBron, as Jordan Lewis, an Australian Rules Football player, thought the injury ought to have been serious, considering the way James was acting.

“Anyone heard what Lebron’s injury was??” he tweeted. “I’m tipping Torn hamstring, ACL or dislocated knee cap by the way he was carrying on!!”

It’s all fun and games, and criticism is to be expected for a player who incites so many emotions, but it’s LeBron who can have the last laugh, as his effort helped his team take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Riders Make Getzlaf Extension Official

As was reported first earlier this month by Sportsnet's (and Sportscage insider) Arash Madani, the Riders have made the Chris Getzlaf contract extension official this morning. Here is the release from the football club.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today they have signed non-import receiver Chris Getzlaf to a contract extension. The financial details were not released.

Getzlaf is entering his fifth season with the Riders after being acquired from Hamilton in August of 2007. Last season, Getzlaf started all 18 regular season games on his way to establishing career highs with 60 receptions, 1,071 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. He was the Roughriders 2011 nominee as Most Outstanding Canadian. The 29-year-old Getzlaf enters the 2012 season with 171 career receptions for 2,795 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Prior to entering the Canadian Football League the Regina product played two seasons for his hometown University of Regina Rams.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Wanted: One proofreader

Does Patrik Elias Have Something That Belongs To The Kings?

The L-A Kings have won the Stanley Cup. The party has been going on for over a week and will do so all summer. There are many things that the Kings want for their trophy case and there are things the Hockey Hall of Fame would like as well. One of the things is the puck that was on the ice at the end of Game 6. The Kings never got the puck and no one knows where it is, however Patrik Elias might. Here's a video taken by a Kings fan of the final two minutes and the celebration that ensued. You will have to make this video fit the entire screen, but at about the three minute mark, watch Elias retrieve what looks to be the puck at his own blueline before skating over to Martin Brodeur.

The Latest From Riderville

Mother Nature was kind to those watching Rider practice this morning. She held off on the rain until after practice was over which was appreciative I'm sure to all who were there.

Center Dominic Picard wrenched his back during a drill late in practice and had ice on it when all was said and done. Coach Chamblin could not give an update when we spoke to him.

Chris Getzlaf did not practice because of what Chamblin is a kink in his neck. Getzlaf did not take part in the Moose Jaw workout on Monday either. The coach doesn't believe it is that serious.

I asked Chamblin how much we can expect to see the starters Friday night against Calgary and he responded by saying they would play into the third quarter. Chamblin also said there are some positions that are still open and will be figured out after the performance of some on Friday.

You can hear what Chamblin had to say for yourself right here......

Josh Harding Staying In Minnesota

Josh Harding has spent his entire NHL career with the Minnesota Wild, and will spend a few more seasons in the State of Hockey.

The Wild has re-signed the 28-year-old goaltender to a three-year contract.

“I love being here, I love the city, I love the fans,” Harding said. “It was really important for me to stay here and work towards my goal (of being a starting goaltender in the NHL).”

Harding would’ve become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, had he chosen to test the free agent market. However, signing before the July 1 deadline shows his commitment to the club that drafted him in the second round (38th overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Harding said he believes the Wild is on the right track and is excited to be a part of an organization on the rise.

“I like the way the organization is heading and I want to be a part of it,” Harding said. “We’re maturing, we’re still young and have a lot of talent. I’m ready to get back at it.”

Harding missed the entire 2010-11 season with a devastating knee injury. However, the netminder spent a full year rehabbing and was signed to a one-year contract with Minnesota last summer. He came back strong, posting 13 wins, .917 goals against average and a 2.62 save percentage. He was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week ending Nov. 7.

“Last year was a big stepping stone, but it’s just a start,” Harding said. “I know I have a lot more to give.”

Re-signing Harding gives Minnesota two proven NHL-caliber goaltenders returning next season. Harding and Niklas Backstrom helped backstop the Wild to the best record in the NHL before a multitude of injuries sidetracked the team. However, Harding believes the club became stronger because of the adversity.

“We went through the downfall last year,” Harding said about the Wild’s midseason struggles. “You have to learn from your mistakes, we’ve been there before and know what to change.”

Eventually, the Regina, Saskatchewan native would like to be a starting goaltender in the NHL. He believes the three-year deal gives him an opportunity to do so in Minnesota.

“Ever since I was drafted I’ve wanted to be the number one goalie for the Minnesota Wild,” Harding said. “Obviously that’s not going to be given to me.

“Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to take over

Monday, June 18, 2012

Barrett Jackman Re-Ups With Blues

St. Louis Blues defenseman Barret Jackman, currently the longest-tenured athlete among the major sports teams in the city, won't be going anywhere when free agency begins on July 1.

The organization announced Monday that Jackman has been signed to a new three-year contract. Financial terms were not released, but media reports indicate it's worth $9.5 million over the length of the deal.

Jackman, 31, dressed in 81 games for the Blues last season recording one goal, 13 points and 57 penalty minutes while tying for second on the club with a plus-20 rating and leading the team overall in blocked shots (153) and shorthanded time on ice per game (3:26).

"St. Louis is our home and my family and I are excited to be staying," Jackman said. "I am proud of the progress we made this season but our fans deserve a championship and our team will not be satisfied until we achieve that goal."

The 6-foot, 205-pound defenseman has spent his entire 10-year NHL career with the Blues compiling 20 goals, 139 points and 843 penalty minutes in 598 games while also becoming the club's only Calder Trophy winner in 2003.

Jackman is currently tied for 10th in franchise history in games played, ranks seventh in penalty minutes and 10th in points among Blues defensemen.

"Barret has been a solid leader for our club, on and off the ice, and we're happy to have him in the fold for the next three years," general manager Doug Armstrong said. "He's a staple of the organization and the community and his positive influence on our young core has and will remain an invaluable asset."

The Trail, B.C., native was originally drafted by the Blues in the first round (No. 17) of the 1999 NHL Draft.