Saturday, December 31, 2016

Week 17 NFL Capsules

The NFL regular season comes to a close Sunday with a few games of note including the Sunday nighter between the Lions and Packers to determine the NFC North. For a complete look at all the games, click here

Friday, December 30, 2016

This and That

2017 is upon us.  2016 wasn't the greatest, so let's hope for a better 2017. Here are a list of wishes for the upcoming year

FOR DARIAN DURANT -  Stay or go, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will live on without you like they have without the likes of Dressler, Chick, Jurasin, Austin and many others over the years. May you stay in Rider colours for a few more years, and you may stay employed by the organization in some capacity once your days are over.

FOR THE REGINA PATS -  That you get to see what Windsor, Ontario is like in the month of May, and that plans for what is expected to be a tremendous 100th Memorial Cup move forward

FOR NOAH PICTON  -  A repeat of 2016 and the hope that someone in the CFL starts to do something about the Canadian quarterback in the Canadian game. Time is running out.

FOR STEVE BRYCE - No sophomore jinx

FOR THE CALGARY STAMPEDERS -  A seven win season

FOR CFL FANS - A game we can watch and enjoy again.  Your game is broken and it shouldn't be. Please make the appropriate fixes! The fact we are a month into the off-season, and there has been very little from you makes me wonder.

FOR HENRY BURRIS - That you're days in the CFL are over. Do a Peyton Manning and go out on top. There is nothing left for you to do.  Unless of course, you wanted to apply to be commissioner because well you know.

FOR THE U OF R COUGARS WOMENS BASKETBALL TEAM - A 2nd national championship. Yes, it would mean I would have to tone down the grief I give to Dave Taylor, but I am willing to make that sacrifice.........................for a while!

FOR THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -  An offensive line. Ben Heenan, are you sure you don't want to give Pete Carroll a call? C'mon! I'm guessing Big Ben is better right now after not having played all year than the stiffs masquerading as o-linemen for that team right now.

FOR EDMONTON OILERS FANS - That in its first year of existence, Rogers Place does what Rexall Place didn't do in its last years. That is play host to a playoff game.  This just might happen and may prompt a 3rd visit to that facility in the spring.

FOR TSN - To please realize that you don't need to put the same program on 4 of your 5 channels.  Love the 5 channels, but the same thing doesn't have to be on all of them.  You could also refresh the CFL panel a little bit in the off-season. Keep the guys you have for Friday Night Football and bring in new blood for weekend or Thursday games.

FOR TIM AND SID -  To be replaced by Jackie Redmond!!

FOR HIGH IMPACT WRESTLER ALEXANDER PRIME -  That you find an opportunity to take your game to the next level. If it happens, you could see the kid on NXT within the next couple of years. He is a talent in the making.  So is fellow HIW wrestler Mike McSugar, but in a completely different way. The "man" is quite amusing when he wants to be.

FOR THE CHICAGO CUBS -  A repeat performance from 2016, but please let's not take it to extra innings in Game 7 of the World Series. That was almost too much for this blogger to take.

FOR THE REGINA THUNDER - To find a way back to the PFC Final. It has been three years in a row the team has been tripped up in the semis.  More games at Leibel Field would be nice too.

FOR REGINA DRIVERS - That many of you discover what your signal light is for!

FOR READERS OF THIS AND THAT - A Happy 2017! Thanks for reading, and that includes all members of the Anonymous family.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Mike Goldberg Out as UFC P x P After UFC 207

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Veteran play-by-play commentator Mike Goldberg will be leaving the UFC after his duties are complete on Friday night in Las Vegas when he calls the action for UFC 207: Nunes vs. Rousey.

UFC president Dana White confirmed the news when speaking to FOX Sports on Wednesday.

“That is true,” White said about Goldberg’s exit after UFC 207. “When these kind of things happen I’d rather not talk about it. If Mike wants to talk about it, ask Mike.”

Goldberg has been a stalwart of the UFC commentary team since first joining the promotion all the way back in 1997.

Goldberg has routinely called shows with color commentator Joe Rogan for more than a decade, but his time with the promotion will come to an end after Friday night.

As far as the future goes, White said he has a plan in the works for his new commentary team but it’s not likely to debut until sometime deep into 2017.

White teased that he has a new play-by-play person in mind, but wasn’t ready to reveal a name just yet.

“I do (know who’s going to replace him),” White teased. “We have guys right now from (Jon) Anik to several fighters who are involved but I’ve had a plan for a couple years now that I’ve been waiting for it to play out and it’s now playing out.


Ed Gainey Signs Contract Extension With Riders

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have announced  international defensive back Ed Gainey has signed an extension to remain with the team through 2019. As per team policy, financial details of the contract were not released.

Gainey (5’11 – 193) joined the Green and White after signing with the team as a free agent in February, 2016. Last season, the 26-year-old played 17 regular season games registering 49 defensive tackles, seven special teams tackles, three interceptions, and one fumble recovery that he returned 51 yards for a touchdown.  

Through five CFL seasons, the Appalachian State product has totaled 118 defensive tackles, 32 special teams tackles, five interceptions, and one quarterback sack in 60 career regular season games. Gainey spent the 2012 and 2013 with the Montreal Alouettes before spending the next two seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

(Ryan Pollock/Saskatchewan Roughriders)

Tampa Bay Lightning Sign Brett Howden

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 The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Brett Howden to a three-year, entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Howden, 6-foot-3, 191 pounds, has played in 21 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League this season, recording 16 goals and 32 points along with four power-play goals. He ranks fourth on the Warriors for goals and fifth for points despite missing time due to injury. Howden's current 1.52 points per game average would be a career high.

A native of Oakbank, Manitoba, Howden has skated in 162 career WHL games, all with Moose Jaw, with 63 goals and 143 points. He has also amassed 104 penalty minutes and 20 power-play goals. Howden played in 10 WHL playoff games last season and notched four goals and 15 points. He was named the Warriors' Rookie of the Year for the 2014-15 season.

Howden was selected by Tampa Bay in the first round, 27th overall, of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

(Tampa Bay Lightning PR)

Monday, December 26, 2016

NHL Three Stars Of Week


Florida Panthers right wing Jaromir Jagr, Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Dec. 25.

Jagr led the League with five assists in three games to move into second place in
all-time NHL scoring (755-1,134—1,889 in 1,664 GP) and power the Panthers (15-14-6,
36 points) to three out of a possible six standings points. He registered his 252nd career
three-point performance and 59th career three-assist game – in a 4-3 shootout win over
the Buffalo Sabres Dec. 20 – to tie Mark Messier (694-1,193—1,887 in 1,756 GP) for
second place on the League’s all-time points list. Jagr then collected one helper, in a 3-1
loss to the Boston Bruins Dec. 22, to move past Messier and into sole possession of
second place in all-time NHL scoring. He finished the week with another assist in a 4-3
shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings Dec. 23. The 44-year-old Kladno, Czech
Republic, native – who ranks second on the Panthers with 6-15—21 in 35 outings this
season – also places third in NHL history in goals (755), fourth in games played (1,664)
and sixth in assists (1,134).

Carter paced the NHL with five goals in three contests to lift the Kings (17-13-4,
38 points) to four out of a possible six standings points. He scored twice in regulation –
and also found the back of the net in the shootout – during a 3-2 loss to the Columbus
Blue Jackets Dec. 20. Carter added one goal in a 4-0 triumph over the Nashville
Predators Dec. 22 before capping the week with two more – his fifth multi-goal effort of
the season – in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Dallas Stars Dec. 23. The 31-year-old
London, Ont., native shares second place in the NHL with 19 goals and also leads the
Kings with 29 points in 34 games this season.


Talbot went 2-0-1 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .926 save percentage to
backstop the Oilers (18-12-6, 42 points) to five out of a possible six standings points. He
made 25 saves in a 3-2 overtime victory against the St. Louis Blues Dec. 19, 34 stops in
a 3-2 triumph over the Arizona Coyotes Dec. 21 and 28 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss to
the San Jose Sharks Dec. 23. The 29-year-old Caledonia, Ont., native is tied for fourth
place in the NHL with 17 wins in 32 appearances this season to go along with a 2.52
goals-against average, .917 save percentage and three shutouts.

Something To "Mitch" About

The visits have been had, the presents have been opened, the beast has been devoured and there are Boxing Day specials galore as we head back to work and get ready to ring out what for most cases has been a really bad 2016 on a variety of levels.  Here we go with the last STMA for the year.

A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE  -  I knew things would be better for the Edmonton Oilers as they moved into their fancy new digs. When the ping-pong balls fell their way allowing for Connor McDavid to become an Oiler, things had to change.  I didn't think we would see this in year 2 of the McDavid era though.

Yes, the Oilers are contending for a division title at Christmas time and a playoff spot may be there. Hey, if the Oakland Raiders can go for a long time with being in the playoffs after being so dominant, so can the Oilers!  There is a lot of work to be done and the season isn't even at the midway point yet, but there is optimism going into 2017 and Oiler fans haven't said that very many times over the past decade.  Calgary is right there too and that is good as well as it sparks a revival of the battle of Alberta.  I think there are many hockey fans in this province that would love to see that again come playoff time and soon!! 

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK---IS ANYONE HOME?? --  Since the Grey Cup ended, it has been extremely quiet around the CFL. Yes, there have been a couple of player signings and there was managerial change in Montreal and the announcement of no coaching changes in Ottawa, but that has basically been it. 

 Rider Nation awaits news on Darian Durant. the futures of Jim Barker and Scott Milanovich are still a question mark and there has been talk about another season that was less than stellar for the Canadian game.  Why wouldn't the CFL office be out there marketing this league like crazy on social media and having their teams do the same.  The Riders social media team have been doing a great job, but the league---not so much.  Start promoting CFL week guys! You could be sitting on a gold mine, but you have to start doing things to keep the awareness up if you want this to be successful don't you? 

SANTA DARIAN -  If you follow Darian Durant on social media, you know he had his elves out on Xmas eve leaving gifts for Rider Nation around Regina. Well played Darian! Well played indeed. The guy loves this community and wants to give back. I hope the Riders and Durant can come to terms on a new deal. I think most in Rider Nation wanted a new contract to be their Christmas present from the team. Some presents always arrive late. Perhaps this one will too. 

WHO GETS THE BLAME? -  Sportsnet's Shi Davidi had an excellent article on the weekend on how the Blue Jays lost Edwin Encarnacion.  There are many sides to this puzzle---one that ended with Edwin going to Cleveland. The article paints both sides in a bad light as the conversation that was needed sounds like it wasn't there. In the end, Edwin's agent didn't help his client out and Toronto moved---albeit way too quickly.  Edwin should still be a Blue Jay, but he isn't.  Spring training is a long ways off (too long), but I think the door is closed as far as going to the playoffs for a 3rd straight year. Time will tell, but Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce aren't filling that void left open by Edwin's departure. 

BLUE JAYS IN REGINA -  This just came out of the blue late last week. I received an e-mail from the team saying "TD Winter Tour Details Announced".  I opened it up to find out the Blue Jays winter tour is coming to Regina in mid-January.  The e-mail said two events are scheduled---one is a clinic involving kids in the North Regina Little League's Challenger Program with the other being a visit at a school.  That's it! It doesn't say if there are other events planned like an autograph session, what players are coming and stuff like that. 

 I would hope the team will make whoever is coming accessible to a fan base that will eat up a visit from current day players. It was thought this visit might coincide with the Pats-Blue Jays promotion where Regina will wear Blue Jays themed jerseys, but that visit happens before the planned visit.  Don't get me wrong, I think it is great the team is coming here to promote themselves, but they need to be in the community. 

BAH HUMBUG - I'm guessing Xmas morning wasn't extremely great for fans of the Raiders and Titans after seeing their quarterbacks go down for the year with broken legs. I think Tennessee would have made the playoffs with Marcus Mariota, and we know the Raiders were in the Super Bowl talk, but that talk will quiet after Derek Carr's injury. Once again, the path gets cleared somewhat for the Patriots. Funny how that works sometime.  Bill Belichick has sold his soul!

That's all I got. Have a great Boxing Day. If visiting the malls for a bargain or two, play nice! 

Friday, December 23, 2016

REDBLACKS Bringing Back Entire Coaching Staff

One month since being crowned Grey Cup Champions, the Ottawa REDBLACKS announced Friday that the entire coaching staff from the historic 2016 season will return next year.
“It’s exciting to have our entire coaching staff back for 2017, “ said Head Coach Rick Campbell, who has guided the REDBLACKS to back-to-back Grey Cup games and will return for a fourth year at the helm. “Their hard work and dedication played a huge role in us winning the 2016 Grey Cup.  This continuity allows us to continue to grow and build a winning team for 2017.”
In addition to Campbell, returning in 2017 are :
  • Jaime Elizondo, Offensive Coordinator
  • Mark Nelson, Defensive Coordinator
  • Bob Dyce, Special Teams Coordinator
  • Bryan Chiu, Offensive Line Coach
  • Leroy Blugh, Defensive Line Coach
  • Travis Moore, Receivers Coach
  • Ike Charlton, Defensive Backs Coach
  • Derek Oswalt, Linebackers Coach
  • Beau Walker, Offensive Assistant
  • Patrick Bourgon, Coaching assistant

This And That

Welcome to Friday! Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they come in no particular order.

Congratulations to a pair of players who are looking to take their game to the next level.  I couldn't be happier for Regina Rams receiver Riley Wilson after he signed a deal with the Ottawa REDBLACKS this week.  I've been a big fan of the Rams #83 for the past few years.  Yes, Noah Picton had many great receivers to choose from when it came to spinning the football downfield, but when a big catch was needed, he went to Wilson a lot and Wilson came through. If all goes well for him, I see him as being one of those dependable receivers that you throw to on 2nd down to move the sticks.

Meanwhile, it wasn't surprising to hear the Anaheim Ducks had signed Pats forward Sam Steel to a contract. Why wouldn't they? He's only leading the WHL in scoring at the Christmas break and has shown the Ducks were wise in making him their first round pick this season.  There is no reason to think that after a couple of  years in the American Hockey League that we will be watching Steel do his thing for the Ducks.

Many are still perturbed over the fact Steel isn't on the World Junior team.  I understand that and wonder how Steel could be left off the team. I'm still scratching my head over the fact the number 1 team in the Canadian Hockey League has NO representation on Team Canada this year.  I will be looking at the blueline very carefully because I am more shocked Connor Hobbs didn't get an invite than I am over Steel not making it.  I haven't seen any of the pre-tournament games so I can't even start comparing guys on the team to Steel and Hobbs.

I think it is safe to say there is a lot of interest in Imperial, Saskatchewan for what happens in Toronto and Montreal. The only Saskatchewan representation comes from the town about 90 minutes north of Moose Jaw on Highway 2. Connor Ingram and Kris Knoblauch have given the town a lot to be proud of and you know the town will close when Canada is playing.  There is still some chatter about Ingram ending up with the Pats.  I don't know if that happens, but we'll see. It sounds like John Paddock will make a deal if the deal is right for not only this year, but next.

When the WHL returns from its Xmas break, the Moose Jaw Warriors will be five points back of Regina in the East.  After seeing Moose Jaw hold their own for 5 of 6 periods in a back to back series before the break, I wonder if the Warriors would try to get a Jake Bean or a Tyler Benson to neutralize some of Regina's speed.  I get the feeling the Warriors are going to try and be a real thorn in Regina's side before this year is over, and you know they would LOVE nothing more than to knock off their Highway 1 rivals.

As discussed on the Sportscage Wednesday, while Rider fans want to see Darian Durant back, they have to come to the serious realization he may not be. If he doesn't, Durant will be the latest Rider to go elsewhere. Yes, it won't be his fault, but we have seen popular Riders come and go and we have survived.  The same thing will happen here.

Week 16 NFL Lock of The Week -- Seahawks over Cardinals
Week 16 NFL Upset of The Week -- Bucs over Saints

If Angel Hernandez is considered the worst umpire in MLB, than Chris Lee has to be the worst guy wearing the orange armbands in the NHL.  I'm not sure about what he is seeing out there, but it's not what we are.

Who had the Columbus Blue Jackets as one of the top teams in the NHL at Christmas? Who had the Oilers in a first place battle in the Pacific at Christmas?

Speaking of the Oilers, they did something the other night they have rarely done over the past few years and that is get down and get dirty.  The actions and play of Zack Kassian and Matt Hendricks against Arizona was the grit and nastiness that team has been missing. Oliver Ekman Larsson wanted to start something and Kassian finished it.

This just in---the current braintrust of the Cleveland Indians are smarter than the ones they replaced. That would be Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins. If  Edwin Encarnacion truly wanted to stay in Toronto, the Jays could have easily matchd what Encarnacion will get in Cleveland.  The Indians just took a step closer to being back in the World Series while Toronto took two steps back and may not even be considered a playoff team now. Edwin joins a team that was one game away from winning it all last year and Cleveland will also have Michael Brantley back after not having him last year. Your move American League!

There is no doubt in my mind the "resignation" of Brian Towriss was a basic repeat of what happened in Regina. The only difference is B-T doesn't get a farewell tour like Frank McCrystal did. The Moose Jaw native leaves with a resume second to none in Canadian university football. His 196 wins are the most of any Canadian university football coach and 196 more than Mike Gibson. B-T deserves every accolade he gets, and deserves a lot better from a University that he put on the football map. 

That's all I got. Merry Christmas to everyone. Thanks for checkin in! If you're travelling, be safe! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Encarnacion Goes To Cleveland

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Free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion has agreed to a deal with the Cleveland Indians, according to multiple reports.

The deal is for three years and $60 million, with a fourth-year club option of $20 million or a $5 million buyout.

The Indians add Encarnacion to a team coming off its first World Series appearance since 1997, losing to the Chicago Cubs in seven games.

Encarnacion, 33, tied with David Ortiz for the American League lead with 127 RBIs last season while hitting a career-matching best 42 home runs and batting .263. A first baseman and designated hitter, he was an All-Star this past year for the third time.
Encarnacion is the only player in the majors with at least 30 homers in each of the past five seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Week 16 NFL Capsules

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Week 16 of the NFL season begins tonight with Eli Manning, Brett Jones and  the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles going at it. For a complete look at that game and all the other ones this weekend, click here

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Stamps Sign Charleston Hughes To Extension

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The Calgary Stampeders have signed all-star international defensive end Charleston Hughes to a contract that will keep him with the Red and White through the 2018 season. The nine-year veteran had been eligible to become a free agent in February.

Hughes led the CFL with 16 sacks in 2016 – his second career CFL sack title – and he also had 47 tackles, three forced fumbles and a pass knockdown as he earned CFL all-star recognition for the third time. The Saginaw, Mich., native earned his fifth West Division all-star nod and was the team’s nominee for the league’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player award for a third time.

“Charleston is a cornerstone of our defence and 2016 was another great season for him,” said Stampeders president and general manager John Hufnagel. “He has maintained a high level of play since he first came to Calgary and I look forward to more of the same in the future.”

Hughes first joined the Stamps in 2008 and was the team’s sack leader as a rookie as he helped Calgary win a Grey Cup championship. He returned to Calgary in 2009 after attending training camp with the National Football League’s Philadelphia Eagles and has remained with the Stamps ever since.

His 88 career sacks are second all-time in Stampeders franchise history, trailing only Will Johnson’s total of 99.

(Calgary Stampeders) 

BC Lions Retain Services of Solomon Elimimian

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The BC Lions Football Club  wasted little time taking care of its biggest offseason priority as Solomon Elimimian has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the team through 2018. Elimimian, the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player for 2016 was set to become a free agent in February.

“Solomon’s achievements as a football player are significant and this is a very big signing for our club,” said Wally Buono. “He is an important part of our defence, a leader in our dressing room and I know how important it is for our fans to have Solomon back with us.”

The only player in the history of the CFL to win three different major player awards and its only exclusively defensive player to earn a Most Outstanding Player Award as he did in 2014, Elimimian’s resume already reads like a likely hall of fame candidate.

A three-time CFL All-Star and a four-time West Division selection, Elimimian is on the cusp of franchise history heading into next season. His 575 career tackles put him just 12 defensive stops behind Dante Marsh’s all-time team mark of 587 while his combined total of 605 stops (including special teams tackles) places him just behind Marsh’s 609.

Elimimian first came to the Lions as a free agent signing in May of 2010 and made an immediate impact north of the border: his 77 defensive tackles and 11 sacks paved the way for a CFL Most Outstanding Rookie nod. He returned to the Leos following a brief NFL stops with the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns in 2012.

(BC Lions)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Anaheim Ducks Sign Pats Forward Sam Steel

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The Ducks have signed first round draft choice Sam Steel to a three-year entry-level contract.

The 18 year old leads the Western Hockey League  in scoring this season (23-31=54 points) despite missing six games due to injury. He also ranks third in the league in goals and plus/minus (+27).

Steel was drafted by the Ducks in the first round (30th overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft. He played in 72 games with Regina of the Western Hockey League last season, scoring 23-47=70 points with 24 penalty minutes (PIM). He added 6-10=16 points in 12 playoff games. The 5-11, 178-pound center also played with Regina in 2013-14 (five games, scoreless) and 2014-15 (61 games, 17-37=54 points).

A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Steel played with the Sherwood Park Kings of the Alberta Midget Hockey League in 2013-14, scoring 7-16=23 points in 14 games. He also helped Team Alberta win a gold medal at the Western Canada Challenge Cup and was named to the tournament All-Star Team. Playing with Canada, Steel won a gold medal at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (1-2=3 points in four games).

(Anaheim Ducks)

Rams Receiver Riley Wilson Signs CFL Contract With REDBLACKS

Regina Rams receiver Riley Wilson is getting a CFL shot.

After exhausting his university eligibility, the Balfour high school grad has signed a free agent contract with the Ottawa REDBLACKS.

Wilson was one of many Rams receivers who had a fine season catching passes from Hec Crighton Trophy winner Noah Picton as he hauled in 37 passes for 627 yards and a TD.

In his time with the Rams, Wilson had 104 catches for 1489 yards and 4 TD's

Monday, December 19, 2016

Brian Towriss Stepping Down As U of S Football Coach

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After 33 years as head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team, Brian Towriss is stepping down.

Affectionately known as BT, Towriss, made the announcement Monday afternoon after four decades with the Huskie Athletics football program. Towriss took over the Huskie program in 1984 after serving as an assistant coach to Val Schneider since 1980. He spent four seasons as a defensive lineman for the Huskies from 1974-77 and was named a conference all-star in 1974.

Towriss, 60, holds the national record in wins by a football coach at 196 and has coached the most games in University sport with 315.

"I want to thank all of those that have supported me throughout my career at the University of Saskatchewan and all of the fans in Huskie Nation," said Towriss. "I have had a fulfilling and wonderful career here. It wouldn't have been possible without the support of my wife, Vicki, and my two wonderful children, Kellie and Jake. I have also had the pleasure of working with a loyal group of coaches and support staff that have shared my vision and passion for the program for a longtime. I am proud to say that we won a lot of football games and we did it with honesty, respect and hard work. I wish the program continued success and a return to national prominence."

The Moose Jaw native has led Saskatchewan to three Vanier Cup titles, 11 Hardy Cup titles and nine Vanier Cup appearances. He is a nine-time Canada West coach of the year and one-time national coach of the year. In his tenure, 154 Huskies have been named conference all-stars, 71 All-Canadians and 160 to a Huskie or national all-academic team. He has coached 47 players who went on to play in the CFL.

He joined an elite group in 2007 when he was handed Saskatchewan's highest honour by the Government of Saskatchewan, the Order of Merit.

"BT has had a long distinguished career as a coach, but moreover as a well-respected leader in sport across the Canada West and U Sports," said athletic director and long-time friend Basil Hughton. "He has impacted many young athletes, coaches and staff throughout his years of service as their mentor and friend. BT has devoted countless hours to the University of Saskatchewan as an ambassador promoting our University to not only prospective athletes but to many other audiences across Canada.

"While the term legend is reserved for only a select few, I truly believe that it is fitting to describe BT and his accomplishments as one. He is the consummate professional, the ultimate team player and a well-respected voice around our Huskie coaches table. I am truly happy for him and respect his decision to devote more time to himself, his family and to whatever else his future holds."

The search for a new coach will begin immediately. An interim coach will be named in the New Year.

(Huskie Athletics)

NHL Three Stars Of The Week

(Getty Images)

 Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Dec. 18.


Panarin paced the NHL with seven assists and 10 points in four games – all multi-point performances – to help the League-leading Blackhawks (22-8-4, 48 points) stretch their overall winning streak to five contests. He recorded assists on both goals in a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers Dec. 13. Panarin then posted consecutive three-point efforts, registering 2-1—3 in a 5-4 win over the New York Islanders Dec. 15 and 1-2—3 in a 6-4 triumph over the St. Louis Blues Dec. 17. He capped the week with another two-assist performance in a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks Dec. 18. The 25-year-old Korkino, Russia, native and reigning Calder Memorial Trophy winner ranks fourth in the NHL with 14-20—34 in 34 outings this season.


Lundqvist went 3-0-0 with a 0.98 goals-against average and .967 save percentage to backstop the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers (23-10-1, 47 points) to six out of a possible eight standings points. He recorded 27 saves in a 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars Dec. 15, combining with Antti Raanta for the first joint shutout in franchise history. Lundqvist then earned back-to-back shootout victories, making 31 stops in a 2-1 triumph over the Nashville Predators Dec. 17 and 29 saves in a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils Dec. 18. In doing so, the 34-year-old Are, Sweden, native – who owns a 15-8-1 record in 24 games this season (2.34 GAA, .920 SV%, 1 SO) – tied Dominik Hasek for the most wins by a European-goaltender in NHL history (389).


Staal shared the League lead with four goals (4-1—5) in three outings as the Wild (18-8-4, 40 points) extended their winning streak to seven games, their longest such run since March 14-27, 2013 (also 7-0-0). He scored once in a 5-1 triumph over the Florida Panthers Dec. 13, added two goals (including the winner) in a 5-2 victory against the Nashville Predators Dec. 15 and registered 1-1—2 in a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes Dec. 17. The 32-year-old Thunder Bay, Ont., native – who signed with the Wild during the offseason – paces Minnesota in goals (t-10), assists (14) and points (24) in 30 appearances this season.

Something To "Mitch" About

Something to Mitch About is taking a week off.  Back next Monday!

Friday, December 16, 2016

This And That

Welcome to Friday! Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they come in no particular order.

GAME ON!! Kavis Reed and Jacques Chapdelaine didn't publicly say it, but you know the Montreal Alouettes would love nothing more than to have Darian Durant under center in 2017 if he can't come to terms on a new deal with the Riders. Does this change anything? It gives Durant some leverage now that another team is (or should be) interested. Does this make Chris Jones open the wallet a little wider? I still say DD goes to free agency meaning Rider Nation has more time to twist in the wind.

The Saskatchewan Rush do a lot of advertising and marketing in Regina, but it would seem as if the team is happy in setting up roots in Saskatoon.  The Rush are playing a game in Saskatoon tonight called "The Christmas Showdown" against the Calgary Roughnecks as they get ready to defend their title. I have had many person ask me "Do the Rush do anything in Regina?" The answer is no.  Have their been any player appearances, clinics or exhibition games here?  Saskatchewan's other professional team does a good job in catering to their northern fan base. I know there's a solid Rush faction in Regina and southern Saskatchewan--so much so to the point they should do some things in Regina.

Steve Bryce just gets it.  The Regina Rams coach knows his bread and butter is right here at home and why wouldn't it be when there are some very talented football players playing for the Thunder and in the high school system. Bryce got 4 local recruits to commit to the program Wednesday including a pair of players from Leboldus who have won the last 5 provincial championships. Of the 16 players Bryce has gotten to commit, 13 are from Saskatchewan and of that 13, 9 are from the Queen City.  One Rams coach may have let some players get through the fence, but Bryce isn't.  What you saw this year was not an anomaly!

If Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid are the best two players in the NHL, who is the 3rd?

Zdeno Chara played his 1300th NHL game on Wednesday night. Is he a hall-of-famer? If they let Eric Lindros in, I say why not?

Week 15 NFL Lock of The Week --  Chiefs over Titans
Week 15 NFL Upset of The Week ---Broncos over Patriots

The "unis" worn by the Seattle Seahawks tonight in their game against the Rams are definitely one of the ugliest set of silks I've seen.  Who approves some of this stuff? Who's kidding who, they looked like sidewalk chalk out there.

The kid in me would love to go out and get this right now. The birth certificate reminds me I won't be. SIGHHHH!!!

I just want to make sure I have this straight.  The Regina Pats are the number 1 junior hockey team in Canada, but will have no representation on Team Canada at the World Juniors. OhhhhhK!

Is the WWE ever going to come back to Regina?  Perhaps the more important question is will I get my Christmas shopping done! 

That's all I got.  Have a great weekend. Stay warm! 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Week 15 NFL Capsules

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The Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams kick off Week 15 of the NFL season in Seattle tonight. For a complete look at that game, and the others that will be played this weekend. Click here

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Regina Rams Get Commitments From Six Players

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University of Regina Rams head coach Steve Bryce announced Wednesday the commitments of six more student-athletes for the 2017 season, including four local recruits and two out-of-province players.

Offensive linemen Theren Churchill (Stettler, Alta. / Edmonton Huskies), Matt Knight (Regina, Sask. / Regina Thunder), and Dawson Mucha (Regina, Sask. / Sheldon-Williams Collegiate), defensive back Zachary Moore (Regina, Sask. / Dr. Martin LeBoldus HS), defensive lineman Blake Turner (Calgary, Alta. / Bishop O'Byrne HS), and linebacker Ryder Varga (Regina, Sask. / Dr. Martin LeBoldus HS) have all signed a U Sports Letter of Intent to join the Rams.

The additions of two experienced CJFL players in Churchill (pictured, above) and Knight are expected to help immediately bolster an offensive line that loses Nathan Cugnet, Andre Smith, and Jeremy Zver to graduation. Churchill played four seasons with the Edmonton Huskies and spent three of them as a starter, earning Prairie Football Conference all-star honours this past season while helping the Huskies to a 6-3 record. Knight originally committed to the U of R after graduating from Michael A. Riffel HS in 2012, but decided to play junior football and comes to the Rams after playing for five seasons with the Regina Thunder. Knight – who played mostly left guard at the junior level – was a member of the Thunder team that won a CJFL national championship in 2013 and also participated in the Saskatchewan Roughriders' training camp this season as a territorial junior.

"Theren is an outstanding offensive lineman that we've been recruiting since last March, and we fully expect that his size and athleticism will allow him to make an immediate impact for us," Bryce said. "And Matt has tremendous strength, very good quickness, and experienced some great development with the Roughriders this year. He'll make our line much more physical."

Moore is a standout defensive halfback for LeBoldus, helping the Golden Suns to provincial championships in each of the past three seasons. He had 17½ tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery this past year as LeBoldus went a perfect 6-0 in league play then defeated O'Neill and Riffel to win the city championship before taking out Saskatoon's Holy Cross HS for the provincial title. Moore played at two Football Canada Cups for Team Saskatchewan, helping the team to a bronze medal in 2015.

"Zach is an aggressive and quick defensive back who has exceptional vision and plays with a very high football IQ," Bryce said. "He's another tremendous athlete from LeBoldus and also gained a great deal of experience over two summers with the Team Sask program."

Mucha comes to the U of R from Sheldon-Williams Collegiate in Regina. Playing on the line on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, Mucha helped the Spartans to a 3-3 record in the Stewart Conference and an appearance in the 3A city championship game earlier this year. He's also a double medalist at the Football Canada Cup, winning bronze with Team Saskatchewan at the 2015 tournament and a silver in 2016. Mucha will join Dilan Elgert and Ellis Richards as Sheldon-Williams graduates on next year's Rams roster.

"Dawson is one of the best offensive linemen in Regina and we consider him one of the top recruits in the province," Bryce said. "He's very strong, he plays with heavy hands, and he's aggressive from the start of the play to the finish."

Turner is a versatile player that comes to the Rams after playing at defensive tackle, middle linebacker, and fullback for Bishop O'Byrne High School in Calgary. He helped O'Byrne to a 4-2 record as a Grade 12 player, with the Bobcats placing third place out of seven teams in their pool to qualify for the Calgary Div. 1 playoffs.

"Blake is an incredibly athletic big man and his quickness and strength will allow us to find a spot for him in short order," Bryce said. "I expect he'll be able to compete immediately as an interior defensive lineman."

Varga comes to the Rams with an impressive résumé, having won provincial championships with LeBoldus in 2014, 2015, and 2016 and playing for Team Saskatchewan in both the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Football Canada Cup. He won a bronze medal with the provincial team at the 2015 event, then was named a tournament all-star while helping lead Saskatchewan to a silver medal in 2016. He compiled 21 tackles, three pass breakups, and a sack in six regular season games with LeBoldus this past season.

"We consider Ryder the top middle linebacker in Regina and we fully expect him to be a big part of our defence for years to come," Bryce said. "He's big, strong, and athletic and has been well coached over his time in the LeBoldus program."

The Rams have now announced a total of 16 players as part of their 2017 recruiting class.

New Leadership Team For Alouettes Introduced

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The Montreal Alouettes are pleased to announce their new leadership team, marking the beginning of the next era for the business and football operations. Patrick Boivin will join the Club as President and CEO, bringing to the organization a deep background in professional sports and the Montreal community. Kavis Reed has been elevated to General Manager, and will have responsibility for the Alouettes’ football activities. Jacques Chapdelaine will lead the team on the field as the team’s Head Coach in 2017, continuing the high standard he set in the interim role.

Patrick Boivin, 38, comes to the club with extensive experience in professional and university sports. He has the necessary leadership skills and acumen to successfully address the challenges and opportunities in this highly competitive market. His unique background includes 16 years of experience in the sports industry and a track record of success in each of his prior roles. Since 2013, he was Director of Recreation and Athletics at Concordia University, leading programming for the school’s 11 varsity teams and programming to students. Prior to that role and for nearly a decade, he held management positions across the Montreal Canadiens’ organization, both in the business and general manager offices, and was a corporate marketing manager for NHL Enterprises in Toronto.

“These appointments are the launching point for a new era for the Montreal Alouettes, and we are excited for what these gentlemen bring to the Club, on and off the field. We are convinced that Patrick’s skills and leadership in sports organization management and marketing will bring new and creative thinking to our approach to the Quebec community,” said Alouettes Lead Governor Andrew Wetenhall. “Together with the appointments of Kavis Reed and Jacques Chapdelaine in Football Operations, we are looking to build a sustainable foundation for the Club’s future. We hope to achieve success as soon as next season, bringing the players and fans a winning organization and a winning team.”

“I accepted the position of President and CEO of the Montreal Alouettes with great humility and pride. I know the scope of the challenge before me, and I am determined to take it up with the help and support of all the members of the organization,” said Boivin. “In 2017, our organization will undergo significant changes. Kavis Reed’s and Jacques Chapdelaine’s efforts will make it possible to take the team in a new direction, both on the field and off, which will be a source of pride for Montrealers and all football fans.”

Boivin will replace Mark Weightman, who has served in the President and CEO roles over the last 4 years, and who has served the Montreal Alouettes for 21 years. “We would like to thank Mark for everything he has done for the organization over the course of the last 21 years,” said Andrew Wetenhall. “Mark’s decision to resign was the result of our strategic planning conversations, and it is a demonstration of his tremendous class that he determined that new stewardship would best position the Club for its next era of success. We hope that Mark and his family enjoy some well-deserved time together. He will always be a valued member of the Alouettes family.”

Kavis Reed – General Manager
Reed becomes the sixteenth general manager in the Alouettes’ history, after being the club’s special teams’ coordinator for the two previous seasons. The Georgetown, SC native also served as the team’s Assistant Head Coach in 2016.

The 43-year-old former player has 21 years’ experience in the CFL; first as a player, in 1995, before becoming a coach in 2001. He was Head Coach of the Edmonton Eskimos from 2011 to 2013.

“We completed a thorough General Manager search process, evaluating over 15 candidates and interviewing five of them. Kavis proved the most prepared, thoughtful and well-rounded candidate to become our next General Manager,” said Andrew Wetenhall. “Kavis brings significant experience to the position, having long played direct and indirect roles in the personnel management area of the CFL, and his detailed review of how he plans to build a scouting and recruiting organization were truly differentiated. Additionally, Kavis brings a strong business background and business-like approach to the role, and we have seen the early returns of this during his first ten days on the job. Combined with his knowledge of our player and coaching personnel, Kavis best positions the Alouettes’ to achieve success on and off the field.”

Kavis Reed said: “I am very proud of this appointment and honored by the show of confidence, which will enable me to continue the work I’ve done with the Montreal Alouettes in developing an exciting and winning team. Montreal is a great football town, and I intend to do everything in my power to return this team to its glory days.”

Jacques Chapdelaine, Head Coach
After being appointed General Manager of the team, Kavis Reed confirmed Jacques Chapdelaine as Head Coach. The 55-year-old Sherbrooke native finished out the 2016 season as the Alouettes’ Interim Head Coach, leading the team to a 4-2 record over their last six games.

“I am very pleased to continue the work started with the team at the end of the season. In the last six games, the players clearly demonstrated a new winning identity, and what they are capable on and off the field. These results are encouraging, and I will work with all our coaching staff so that the team starts off the next season at full strength. The club has great potential, and 2017 will be an opportunity for us to demonstrate the fact clearly to our supporters,” said Chapdelaine.

(Montreal Alouettes)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Funeral for Joe McKnight in New Orleans; Memorial Service in Regina

Joe McKnight's funeral had a beautiful New Orleans feel to it Monday, with a brass band playing as several of his former New York Jets teammates carried out his casket after a stirring, emotional ceremony in front of nearly 1,000 loved ones and members of his hometown community.

"You think about teammates and what that means. It's an extension of family. You become family," former Jets linebacker Bart Scott said. "You're here to support him as an extension of his family. Support for his son, who's gonna need guidance and memories and stories of the type of man that his father was."

McKnight, a legendary high school football star in New Orleans who went on to play running back for USC, the Jets, the Kansas City Chiefs and in the Canadian Football League, played three seasons in New York and clearly left an impact.

Former Jets teammates including Mark Sanchez, Antonio Cromartie, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Willie Colon and Demario Davis and former USC and NFL running back LenDale White flew in for the funeral service at New Orleans' New Home Ministries.

"There's a brotherhood and a camaraderie that we shared," Sanchez said. "And so it's tough to lose someone like that. So we just wanted to show our support."

"He was a brother to me," said Scott, who said he vacationed with McKnight and their children played together. "It was a tough loss. Joe had the ability to make everybody feel like he was your best friend. He was a caring, thoughtful, cool cat.

"Stepping in front of the church, it really just got real. The emotions start to come, and you realize that you really lost somebody close. We have a very tight-knit fraternity. It's gonna be a tough one to handle. But what makes it easier is that we have each other to lean on. Everybody's taking this pretty hard."

McKnight's high school coach, J.T. Curtis -- a local legend in his own right for overseeing the football powerhouse at John Curtis Christian High School -- said Monday's ceremony was uplifting, and he hopes the message of having Christ in people's hearts will resonate in a community tormented by gun violence.

"If anything comes of this, I hope that we will come to a position and a place in our country, in our community, that we're gonna recognize we've gotta change," Curtis said. "We cannot continue to have the same behavior repeat itself over and over again without the leaders in our community, in our schools, to be able to change people's lives.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders were represented at the funeral by Chris Jones, John Murphy and a handful of players. 

Meanwhile in Regina, the football club held a 30 minute memorial service attended by staff and players, Team chaplain Jared Lacoste presided over the service and told a story about a conversation he had with McKnight --- the only one he had, but it was one that stuck with him for a variety of reasons. Lacoste said the Riders only received a small sample size of what McKnight was all about because he wasn't a Rider for long, but he was kind, thoughtful and well-respected. 

Those sentiments were echoed by fullback Spencer Moore who said he knew how good of a player he was on the football field, and he was just as good a guy off of it as well. Moore also recollected how at the end of the year, McKnight said he liked it in Regina and would like to explore staying here year-round. 

(With files from Associated Press) 

Major Hockey Canada Event Coming To Saskatoon

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The Paris of the Prairies has been selected to celebrate Canada’s game June 19-20, 2017, when Saskatoon hosts the 14th annual Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf.
The event is Hockey Canada Foundation’s largest annual fundraiser, and net proceeds from the gala evening and golf tournament go back to supporting the growth of the game across Canada, with half of the funds staying in Saskatchewan.
The announcement was made at a news conference Monday by Hockey Canada Foundation chair Barry Lorenzetti.
“Our mission at the Hockey Canada Foundation is to promote and foster accessibility to the game. We do that by supporting hockey programming aimed at recruiting new players, coaches, and officials; providing greater access for all participants to benefit from the game we love; and developing skills for players, coaches, and officials,” said Lorenzetti. “The Foundation’s Golf & Gala is an exciting event that celebrates hockey’s rich, Canadian heritage, and we are looking forward to bringing it to Saskatoon and the province of Saskatchewan.”
The two-day event features a star-studded gala, being hosted at TCU Place on June 19, where Canada’s national teams who have won gold at IIHF and IPC world championships throughout the season – be it the IIHF World Junior Championship, IIHF World Championship, IIHF Women’s World Championship, men’s or women’s IIHF under-18 worlds, or IPC Sledge Hockey World Championship – are honoured. A celebrity golf tournament will follow on June 20 at The Willows Golf & Country Club.
“Hockey is our national winter sport and it is particularly well-loved here in Saskatchewan,” Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said. “The Hockey Canada Foundation does exceptional work in providing an opportunity for all young Canadians to play hockey. We are pleased that Saskatoon and the Province of Saskatchewan have been chosen to host this national fundraising gala.”
“It is great news for Saskatoon to host Hockey Canada Foundation’s national fundraising gala event,” said Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark. “It’s a wonderful way to continue the legacy of Gordie Howe and his roots here. Thank you to the organizers for pulling this event together, we look forward to welcoming the hockey community from across the country and showing everyone our great Saskatoon hospitality.”
Order of Hockey in Canada
A cornerstone component of the Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf is the honouring of that year’s Distinguished Honourees of the Order of Hockey in Canada. First introduced in 2012, the Order of Hockey in Canada honours a select number of individuals annually whose role or service in the game in recognized as extraordinary in Canada. A total of 18 men and women have been named to the Order of Hockey in Canada, including David Branch, Geraldine Heaney, Mario Lemieux, and Bob Nicholson, who were added to the Order in 2016.
“The list of past honourees speaks for itself – Howe, Gretzky, Campbell-Pascall, King, Henderson, Quinn, and many more. The Order of Hockey in Canada is a special honour, and the Hockey Canada Foundation gala is a special night for us to celebrate some of our country’s legends of the game, alongside the women and men who have represented us at the highest level of international competition throughout the season,” said Tom Renney, president and chief executive officer of Hockey Canada. “We look forward to joining with the Saskatoon community in June to celebrate Canada’s game and the special people who have helped build it throughout the years.”
The 2017 Distinguished Honourees of the Order of Hockey in Canada will be announced early in the new year.
Funding gives back to hockey in the community
Renney noted the importance of bringing the Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf to cities across the country, and to supporting the growth of the game from coast to coast to coast.
“Hockey is about more than learning how to pass, shoot, and block shots; it’s about all of the life-lessons players, coaches, and officials take away from the game and apply to all aspects of their lives,” said Renney. “I believe that the character traits developed through participation in sport and organized activity – and hockey in particular – are what make us great citizens, and admired by countries around the world. So it’s very important for Hockey Canada to see an event like the Gala & Golf hosted in cities across the country, where those communities can craft meaningful legacies that continue to grow the game for years to come.”
Half of the proceeds from the 2017 Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf will support legacy programs and projects in Saskatoon and throughout the province. Team Canada alumnus Blair Davidson is chairing the local steering committee that will work with Hockey Canada and the Foundation on the event.
“I would like to thank Hockey Canada Foundation for giving Saskatoon the opportunity to host an event such as this that celebrates the game that we love so much,” said Davidson. “The opportunity to provide legacy funds for the sport and its builders as a result of this event is exciting for us. Working in partnership with Saskatoon Sports Tourism, we are in the process of building a strong committee of dedicated volunteers to help us make this the most successful Foundation event yet.”
Davidson indicated the committee will unveil the exact details of the event’s legacy plan for Saskatoon in the near future.
Partnering with the local steering committee and Hockey Canada on the successful planning and execution of the event is Saskatoon Sports Tourism.
“On behalf of Saskatoon Sports Tourism we are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with the Hockey Canada Foundation to host these prestigious events in our city in June 2017,” said Morris Smysnuik, chair of Saskatoon Sports Tourism. “We also want to thank everyone at the Foundation for recognizing the hosting expertise that Saskatoon has developed since the inception of our organization. We especially appreciate the fact that a portion of the net proceeds will remain in Saskatchewan for the development of hockey. We welcome you to Saskatoon and we look forward to working with you to make these events a success for everyone involved.”

(Hockey Canada) 

Something To "Mitch" About

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CFL VS MLS --I will be the first to admit I had no interest in Saturday's MLS Cup between Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders, but after going out Saturday night and turning on the TV upon my return, I saw the game was in the final stages of overtime. I stayed with it to see the Sounders win in penalty kicks. It didn't take me long to realize as I saw the pictures coming from BMO Field just how much trouble the CFL is in when it comes to the other "football" because like it or not, MLS may be getting ready to pass the CFL on the Canadian sporting scene and it may have already done so in the markets where both share teams---Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

In looking at the numbers, the Argos averaged 16,380 fans at BMO this year and that may be kind in 9 regular season games while TFC averaged 26,583 in 17 regular season contests.  In  Montreal, the numbers are almost the same with the Alouettes drawing an average of 20,377 and the Impact 20,669 while in Vancouver, the Whitecaps averaged 22,330 compared to the Lions 21,055.  The numbers show that the CFL's three biggest markets are seeing their teams get beat in attendance by a sport that while gaining popularity in this country doesn't come close to the entertainment value---and yes, this comes from a guy who thinks the overall product of the CFL has dropped significantly.  I have to wonder if this is another area where the CFL will simply hide its head in the sand and pretend there is no problem or if they will do something to try and combat a league which is seemingly ready to pass them by in Canada if they haven't already in the three biggest markets.   You can't tell me the league didn't notice the fanaticism of TFC supporters over the last month wondering why it is they can't come close to that with the Argos. Yes, wins and losses play a huge part in that, but would you have seen a crowd at Grey Cup like you did at the MLS Cup had the Argos been in the game. We know the answer to that.

It makes one wonder if MLS would ever look at going to Edmonton for a revival of the Drillers. I don't think they would have a chance at drawing more fans on a consistent basis than the Eskimos and I know it wouldn't happen in Regina. Saskatchewan has really warmed up on lacrosse over the past couple of years due to the Rush, but an MLS team here would never come close to being as popular as the Riders.

Like it or not, the CFL has a lot of work to do to stay right where they are on the Canadian sports ladder and not drop a rung.

WHAT'S UP GUYS?? -  The CFL had a great chance to be in the news this past week as there were some league meetings in Winnipeg. Did you know about this? The only way I did was watching a Winnipeg sportscast on Friday night while clicking channels after getting home from the Pats game. Why wasn't the CFL publicizing what was going on. For that matter, what was going on?  Why the veil of secrecy guys? The NHL board of governors just finished a meeting and baseball's winter meetings were going on with plenty of news from both. You would think the CFL would learn that you need to stay in the public eye. It's obvious they haven't. As a result, we heard more about Toronto FC. Bravo CFL!! 

NO MACIOCIA IN MONTREAL -  Former Eskimos coach Danny Maciocia apparently wants no part of the Alouettes new organizational structure being formed. If reports coming out of Montreal are true, Maciocia turned down a chance to be president of football operations. One of the reasons is he also wanted to be GM, but the team would have inherited him with Kavis Reed in that position. Another report goes on to say Danny would have hired Brendan Taman as his assistant GM. I'm just going to leave it there.

THE FUTURE OF KEVIN PILLAR -  As the calendar moves slowly to the end of 2016, it would appear as if the Blue Jays want to go in a different direction when it comes to centerfield.  While Toronto has Kevin Pillar, who as we know, can make highlight reel catch after highlight reel catch, it would appear as if the Jays either want him elsewhere or are looking to get rid of him.  They failed in their pursuit of former Cub Dexter Fowler who went to St. Louis, and now on the weekend, there was talk of a possible deal involving the Rockies that would see Charlie Blackmon come to Toronto, but only if Marcus Stroman was sent to Colorado. I don't think Toronto will make that trade, as tempting as it is.  It does make you wonder though if Pillar is on his last legs as a Blue Jay.

CALDER CONUNDRUM - Great question on NHL Radio Saturday.  Who is the NHL rookie of the year right now? Is it Patrik Laine, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner or Matt Murray. (Truthfully, I forgot Murray was still eligible) One other name got thrown into the mix and that was Columbus d-man Zach Werenski who has been rock-solid for what is turning out to be a very good Blue Jackets team. One would have to think Laine would have the edge right now, but who knows.  They also talked about who the Hart Trophy winner would be. While he has had a sensational sophomore season, I don't think Sidney Crosby is ready to pass the torch to Connor McDavid yet,

CAREY'S CLOBBERING GETS NOTHING? -  I'm somewhat at a loss for words as to how the NHL disciplinarians are allowing Carey Price to get off with no punishment for hammering Kyle Palmeiri of the Devils with his blocker.  Price smacked him several times while Jeff Petry held Palmeiri down. Would that be the same if it were Cam Talbot, Connor Hellebuyck or Tuukka Rask pulling off that act.  One can only imagine the furour if Ron Hextall did that---oh wait he did do it several times.  Price is sick and tired of being run into and I understand that, but the NHL has to give him some form of punishment for what he did.  With them not doing so, I expect to see more goalies getting physical with players who try rolling them over.  Speaking of the Habs, what the hell was that Saturday night? One can only imagine what would have been written and said had Patrick Roy still been the HC of the Avalanche.

DON'T SUGARCOAT IT POP - There are many great coaches out there, but none better in my mind than San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. He demands excellence and most times he gets it, but he didn't during a 95-91 loss to the Chicago Bulls, When asked after the game if he had his team motivated to play, Popovich responded with...

 "I don't remember playing tonight. No Knute Rockne speeches. It's your job. If you're a plumber and you don't do your job, you don't get any work. I don't think a plumber needs a pep talk. A doctor botches operations, and he's not a doctor anymore. If you're a basketball player, you come ready. It's called maturity. It's your job."

He's not wrong!

SEAHAWKS STINKER -  I'll say this about the Seahawks. When they want to stink out a joint, they do so in fine fashion. The Green Bay Packers laid a big time whuppin on the Hawks Sunday thanks to some concrete hands by receivers. Russell Wilson threw 5 INT's and four of them were a direct result of the ball going off the receivers hands into the able mitts of Green Bay defensive backs. Putrid doesn't even start to describe that effort. Yeesh!

That's all I got. We're now less than two weeks from Xmas. GULP!!!  Have a good week!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Adam Bighill To Explore NFL Options

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The BC Lions announced Friday that Adam Bighill has been granted his release from the club in order to pursue NFL opportunities. The transaction is the result of a clause in Bighill’s latest contract, which allows him to explore opportunities down south between now and January 27th, 2017. Should Bighill not catch on with a NFL club, he will remain with the Lions through 2018.

“When we did the extension last year one of the things Adam wanted to keep alive was a window to see what opportunities there would be in the NFL,” said GM/head coach Wally Buono. “When we negotiated the contract we thought it was good for him and good for us to get what we needed. The window starts now and he’s going to look at that.”

Bighill is coming off an outstanding season where he recorded 108 defensive tackles, good for second on the club behind Solomon Elimimian and third overall in the CFL. In addition, he was selected as both a CFL and Western Division All-Star. When you factor in all of those credentials, it no doubt makes sense for the 28-year old Central Washington product to kick some NFL tires.

“I am grateful for the club’s understanding that as a professional football player, father and husband, I want to maximize my career potential,” said Bighill. “I want to make it very clear to our incredible fans however, that I love being a BC Lion and if nothing comes to fruition in the NFL, I will be ecstatic to return to the club.”

Friday, December 9, 2016

Bombers Re-Up With Kyle Walters and Mike O'Shea

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers today are pleased to announce the club has agreed to three-year contract extensions for both General Manager Kyle Walters and Head Coach Mike O’Shea. Walters, entering his fourth season overseeing the club’s football operations, is with the club through 2020, while Coach O’Shea’s agreement keeps him on the sidelines through 2019.

“Since we began this journey together three seasons ago, we have maintained that stability and continuity in the organization are paramount,” said Blue Bombers President & CEO Wade Miller. “Although we have yet to reach our ultimate goal, both of these men are extremely critical in the foundation of Blue Bombers football, and we are thrilled to have them continuing to build a winning football operations department for years to come.”

In an near complete roster overhaul from when he took over in late 2013, Walters has been one of the most active General Managers in the CFL in both trades and free agency. He has modelled his franchise around strong Canadian talent and continues to build on that structure. The roster that finished the 2016 season featured 26 players having just completed their first or second CFL year (46% of the roster). His strong drafting has included starters Matthias Goossen, Sukh Chungh and Taylor Loffler, while most recently acquiring the first overall pick in the 2017 CFL Draft in a trade that also brought CFL all-star T.J. Heath to Winnipeg.

O’Shea joined the Bombers as the club’s 30th Head Coach in December of 2013, and in 2016 he led the club to its best record since 2003, including a seven-game win streak which spanned two months of the season. A coach who believes strongly in solid special teams play and core values, O’Shea saw the team boast the league’s top special teams player in kicker Justin Medlock, and match the club’s record for most road wins in a season at seven. The four-time Grey Cup champion is entering his fourth season as the club’s Head Coach and his eighth season coaching in the league, following a stellar 16-year playing career.

This And That

Welcome to Friday! Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they come in no particular order.

--3DownNation  put out a list of players this week who could seek NFL employment. The list includes Bryan Burnham of the Lions, Derel Walker of the Eskimos and the Riders Jeff Knox Junior. I don't know what his contract status is, but you can't tell me Bo Levi Mitchell doesn't have NFL aspirations. Like him or not, you have to admit the CFL's MOP this season is better than half of the slugs in the NFL who are back-ups or third stringers---especially third stringers. What is his contract status? Does the fact his head coach Dave Dickenson never got the career he wanted in the NFL weigh into the equation? You can't tell me Bo Levi hasn't had NFL discussions with Dickenson.  Other QB's in this league have tried their luck south of the border and have failed. Bo Levi could do that or he could succeed. I seem to think it might be the latter when I see some of the guys masquerading as NFL quarterbacks right now. I guess time will tell. 

--I like the Justin Cox contract extension by the Riders. Yes, the guy has a rapsheet, but to my knowledge, he has kept his nose clean here. If he does something that isn't right, I would hope the Riders would do the right thing and cut bait. Cox can play the game and he is only going to get better. 

--The CFL has parity. Consider in the last seven years, there have been seven different teams hoisting the Grey Cup. 
--Orioles GM Dan Duquette was pretty blunt this week when he said his team had no interest in free agent outfielder Jose Bautista because his fans don't like him. I guess this means the Texas Rangers haven't phoned and as Sportscage Baseball Insider Craig Slater tweeted this week---we may now know why there isn't a lot of interest in Bautista right now because I'm sure there are a lot of teams who aren't pro-Jose. 

--When the Blue Jays were eliminated, Edwin Encarnacion stated "I love this town, I love our fans, I love this city" When asked about returning, he said "this is my first choice".  If that is the case, why turn down the 4 year, 80 million dollar that was offered? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, greed once again shows its ugly head and now instead of accepting a 20 million per year offer, Edwin will be lucky if he gets 15 million a year now the way it is going as his agent badly misinterpreted the market. Edwin isn't the first player to let greed get in the way, and he won't be the last. It does make you wonder though just how much input the player actually has when it comes to these negotiations. I am guessing if Edwin wanted to be in Toronto that bad, he could just say this is good,. He didn't...end of story! 

--On Tuesday night, the Buffalo Sabres beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 in overtime.  When it came time for Sportsnet to dish out the three stars, they had Connor McDavid at number 1 after having a pair of assists. This despite the fact Buffalo d-man Rasmus Ristolainen had a three point night with his goal being the overtime winner, At the game, Ristolainen was named first star with McDavid getting third star honours. Cmon Sportsnet, be better!  Who makes this call? Is it the Kevin Quinn-Drew Remenda duo? Is it someone else? Whoever it is needs to peel back just a little when it comes to McDavid and yes, remember I am an Oilers fan. Take the 3 stars from what is given in the rink please. By the way, the 6-5 loss to Philly on Thursday was hockey the way it should be played. That was entertaining despite the end result although I'm sure neither Todd McLellan or Dave Hakstol share my view. 

--There is some talk around the NHL about having a wild-card play-in game. That would see the number 8 and 9 team having a one game showdown with the winner moving onto the playoffs. Does the NHL really need this? The  playoffs are long enough, Why extend them? I understand it might keep another fan base or two involved right until the end of the season, but I just don't see the overall need for such a thing to occur.

--If the Vegas Golden Knights can't exist because an NCAA school has the same name, how do the Carolina Hurricanes exist when the University of Miami Hurricanes share the same name? What about the Lethbridge Hurricanes? 

--Week 14 NFL Lock of The Week --  Buccaneers over Saints 
  Week 14 NFL Upset of The Week ---Giants over Cowboys
(BTW: If the Browns are going to win a game this year, it will be this week at home over Cincy) 

--If you are going to the Pats game tonight, make sure to take a stuffed animal and toss it on the ice when the home team scores its first goal as it is Teddy Bear Toss night. While the Pats do many great promotions over the course of a season, this is the best one they have as far as this blogger is concerned.  Those teddy bears can put a smile on a sick kids face at the hospital or for a child who wouldn't otherwise maybe get a "stuffie" for Christmas.  The way the Pats are playing this year, it shouldn't take too long for the ice to be littered with what is hopefully thousands of teddy bears,

--That's all I got. Have a great weekend! GO SEAHAWKS!