Its time for the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always, these come n no particular order
--Goodbye to Neal Hughes. The news he was retiring didn't come as a surprise, but it was still tough to see someone who has been a favourite of this blogger since his days with the Rams come to an end. I still remember vividly Hughes completely tearing apart the University of Alberta Golden Bears on a Saturday afternoon at then Taylor Field as he ran for almost 300 yards. My colour man at the time was Keith Colhoun and he saw me writing down as I kept the stats Hughes had 250 yards. We went to a break and Keith said "Are you sure he has 250 yards? Have you added that right? I quickly double-checked my numbers and then responded "Have you been watching the game?". I don't know if I have ever seen a better performance by a running back in that stadium in my life and that includes what Kory Sheets did on that oh so magical November night in 2013. While I was in the room after that game talking to several Riders, the one guy I never got to see and congratulate when it was over was Hughsie. I don't know what happened to him and maybe he never ever came off the field as he soaked it in with everyone there, but I couldn't find him. I don't know what his future holds and he said on the Sportscage Wednesday afternoon that he doesn't know what he wants to do when he grows up, but whatever it is, he will be successful. That's just the way he is!
--Neal also answered a question for me when he was on the Cage Wednesday. What is it about fullbacks that play for the Riders that make them so popular? Neal might not have had the popularity Chris Szarka had, but there was some genuine love for the former Thom Trojan. He answered with this and I can not argue.
"It's a tough hard-nosed job and there are a lot of tough hard-nosed people in Saskatchewan. I think a lot of people say that guy isn't flashy, but he just gets the job done. There's a definite relation that's for sure!
--Does Roger Goodell go to Foxboro for the NFL season opener after what has happened between him and the Patriots? I am guessing he won't get a positive reception especially if number 12 is not on the field. He does have an obligation to be there, but perhaps there is a conflicting "family matter" that will prevent him from being in attendance.
--Congratulations to the Philadelphia Flyers! GM Ron Hextall went outside the box and didn't recycle an NHL coach or promote a current assistant. He went out and brought University of North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol to the world of professional hockey. Hakstol has been in charge of arguably the best Division 1 NCAA program and he has coached many NHL'ers like Jonathan Toews, Brock Nelson and T-J Oshie just to name a few. He will turn the Flyers around and leave North Dakota with a huge hole to fill even though assistant coach Brad Berry is taking over
--Is it just me or could Hakstol and Mike Babcock be brothers, You decide!
In the words of the immortal Stampede Wrestling manager J-R Foley---"Money Talks". I was shocked to see Mike Babcock leave Detroit for Toronto. I honestly thought he would stay in Detroit, but when the money comes callin, you answer it. Its my belief Babcock saw the job Todd McLellan did with Team Canada at this year's Worlds and said to himself he wanted to be the coach of that team next year. Good luck in Toronto Mike.....you'll need it! By the way, what the hell is with Saskatoon boy Babcock referring to the Leafs as "Canada's Team". All of us in Saskatchewan know who is "Canada's Team" and it sure the h-e double hockey sticks is not the Maple Leafs. Cmon Mike!! Babcock also told George S on Thursday night that he listens to country radio so he doesn't have to listen to talk radio......I'm just going to leave that one alone.
--Canada wins gold at the World Hockey Championship and there was no one from the Toronto Maple Leafs on the roster. Coincidence? Maybe Babs took the job because he wanted to be the coach of Canada's team at the Worlds next year and repeat what happened this year.
--Has Alexander Ovechkin ever beaten Sidney Crosby in an international game between Russia and Canada? Crosby's team beat Ovechkin's team at the World Juniors in Grand Forks, we know what happened at the Olympics in Vancouver and in Sochi, and now Sunday's win at the World Championship.
--I think its safe to say at this point, the Oilers have won the off-season with the ping-pong ball falling their way to get Connor MacDavid along with Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan and that Buffalo is the big loser with not getting MacDavid or Mike Babcock. Again, I have to think this is the hockey gods way of punishing them for tanking the final few weeks of the season. It looks good on them!
--I think its too bad MacDavid isn't getting the chance to go out with a Memorial Cup appearance. While a lot of us have seen MacDavid play some games this year, it would have been great to have a national audience watch his final week of junior hockey. That being said, I am sure the Memorial Cup won't suffer with four great teams going at it.
--The Prince Albert Raiders need a GM. Two names come to mind 1) Curtis Hunt 2) Chad Lang.
--How popular will Pats assistant coach Dave Struch be in the off-season when it comes to possible coaching gigs? There is no doubt John Paddock owes a lot to Struch for the success he had. QCSE might be wise to lock up Mr. Struch and perhaps be the successor to Paddock down the road if John has the desire to get off the bench. That being said, I don't think he does anytime soon,
--IF Montreal is successful in getting baseball back, what would it do to the Alouettes? I don't think there would be any desire to move into what would have to be a new stadium in Montreal as the Alouettes are fine in their cozy little locale, but a baseball team would take away from their fanbase I would think.
--Why doesn't the CFL have an Instagram account? Is this not a good way to get the younger demographic involved in the game? The Riders have one, but the league should also have one IMO.
--The pictures of the new stadium that were put out by many individuals on Thursday has to get you excited, Construction is nearing the halfway mark. I can't wait to see how much progress will be made by the time the Labour Day game comes. I think when that game hits, I will truly start to realize that games at the old Mosaic Stadium will be counting down to the last one. I don't know what gamut of emotions will run through yours truly on that afternoon and I think you can say the same about yourself. It will be a game to remember even if the Riders should lose by 40. How long will it take for everyone to leave?
--As the Foo Fighters played on Thursday night, the stark realization that something on my bucket list would not get accomplished occurred. David Letterman said goodbye with what was a great hour and 20 minute final show finished by the Foos. I didn't see Johnny Carson in his heyday, but I watched a lot of Letterman and enjoyed many laughs. I still think the suit of Alka-Seltzer was one of my favourites and after the horror of September 11, his monologue a few short nights later was just a sign that life could get back to normal after that terrible day in our history. I always wanted to see Letterman do his thing live and I guess I won't. Thank you Dave! To me, you are the king of late night television.
--NHL 16 will have a playoff beards feature. That is awesome! What will Crosby's look like? Can the game bring back Mike Commodore!
--That's all I got. Have a great weekend!