Friday, April 29, 2016

Rams/Thunder Spring Camps This Weekend

Under the tutelage of first-year head coach Steve Bryce, the University of Regina Rams will kick off the 2016 season this weekend with the Laurentian Bank Securities Spring Camp from Friday to Sunday on campus at the U of R Field.

Bryce will address the players and staff at a team meeting on Friday at 4 p.m. That will be immediately followed by position meetings, and the first on-field activity will stretch from 6 to 8:15 p.m. on Friday night.

“The first couple of months I’ve been trying to get familiar with the program and with the University, but really this weekend marks the first moment of what I’m hoping will be an exciting new era for the Rams,” Bryce said. “Our goals this weekend are to establish the depth chart and trim the roster, and set the tone and expectations for our level of performance moving forward.”

Saturday and Sunday will both see the players on field from 10:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The Rams have 97 players on the camp roster, including 64 returnees from last year’s team. Among the returning players are nine offensive starters and eight starters on the defensive side of the ball.

A complete position-by-position breakdown for the Rams as they enter the Laurentian Bank Securities Spring Camp will be released on Friday afternoon.

Laurentian Bank Securities Spring Camp – On-Field Schedule
Friday – 6:00 to 8:15 p.m.
Saturday – 10:15 to 1:30 p.m.
Sunday – 10:15 to 1:30 p.m.

(Braden Konschuh-University of Regina)


The Regina Thunder Football Club will continue their 2016 roster selection by hosting their annual Spring Camp April 29th to May 1st presented by Leak Technologies.

Spring Camp is an invite only camp and one of the final stages of the selection process for our 2016 roster. The Regina Thunder have hosted three off season indoor workouts in Moose Jaw since January to identify participants as well as one out door session at Mosaic Stadium. Spring Camp will host approximately 130 players from throughout the province.

Schedule for the Spring Camp is as follows.  All events take place at Mosaic Stadium:

Friday, April 29th
7:30pm – 9:30pm (General Practice)

Saturday, April 30th
10:30am – 12:30pm (General Practice)
3:30pm – 5:30pm (General Practice)

Sunday, May 1st
9:30am – 11:00 am (General Practice)
2:00pm – 4:00pm (Warm Up and Scrimmage)

The Regina Thunder go into the 2016 season looking to get back on top of the PFC (Prairie
Football Conference) and Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) where they were the Canadian
Champions in 2013. The 2016 Regular Season starts at home Saturday August 14th vs the
Edmonton Huskies.

This And That

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

--If what I am hearing is right, there are some who make the decisions when it comes to the Riders Plaza of Honor who are against Kerry Joseph being enshrined. ????? How can he not be?


 Ron Lancaster, Kent Austin, Kerry Joseph and Darian Durant are the only four QB's to take this team to a Grey Cup. Joseph did it in a year when he was named the Most Outstanding Player. This shouldn't even be a debate. Word is Joseph doesn't meet the "stipulations" needed to get in. Stipulations,  shmipulations. Put KJ in and stop the nonsense. By the way, in this farewell season of Mosaic Stadium, the Riders should commission a print featuring the stadium and its 4 GC winning quarterbacks. I think a few Rider fans from near and far would plunk some money down to get one of those.

--Are the Regina Pats contemplating a bid for the Memorial Cup in 2019?  When Pats president Todd Lumbard was asked that question during the Access/SHAW broadcast of Game 7 between his team and the Red Deer Rebels, he didn't say no. Regina hosted the Memorial Cup back in 2001 and it was a very successful event even though the home team had to basically re-shape their roster as the season went on because of poor play which resulted in the cupboard being left bare for years to come. I would think after 18 years, it would be time to bring back Canada's major junior hockey championship to the Brandt Centre, but could that come at Moose Jaw's expense.  Mosaic Place is one of the best "small" venues in Western Canada. It has hosted many events like the Telus Cup and the Scotties and many concerts like Carrie Underwood and Toby Keith.  I think the city could go a tremendous job of hosting the event, but a solid business plan would be needed much like it would be here.  2019 is a long ways away, but I don't see the event going back to Alberta---although I am sure the Edmonton Oil Kings would love to have the event at Rogers Place.  It was just in Saskatchewan in 2013 when the Blades hosted so perhaps there is a desire by WHL and CHL brass to take the event to BC or perhaps the U-S.  Only one bid can be successful, and perhaps neither city will make a bid, but if Regina or Moose Jaw could host the 2019 Mem Cup, you would have one backer right here. It would be fantastic.

--As the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, we are now without the Canadian teams, Los Angeles, Anaheim, the Rangers and Chicago. I am thinking many in the hockey world are hoping the Washington-Pittsburgh series will keep the hockey universe interested.

--The Canadian hockey universe will obviously be interested in the NHL draft lottery on Saturday.  Just for you know whats and giggles, I ran the NHL draft simulator one last time and here is how it came out. 

--On a personal level, I would love to see Auston Matthews end up with the Calgary Flames. Having Matthews on the Flames and Connor McDavid on the Oilers would spruce up "The Battle of Alberta". It will never be the same as it used to be, but it would be good for the rivalry. I just don't want him going to Toronto. Much like McDavid, the kid doesn't deserve that.  There is also a rumour going around about PK Subban being an Oiler with players like Oscar Klefbom, Andrej Sekera, Taylor Hall and perhaps Matthews if the Oilers get the pick going the other way. I just have one word to say that and I will say it several times. NO, NO and NOOOOOOOO! My thoughts on Subban over the years on this blog haven't changed. I'm not a fan of his game at all.  A guy who I have become a fan of with his play in the playoffs has been St. Louis' Colton Parayko. That kid can play and will be a top 10 blueliner within the next three years.

--I have blocked some rubber in my younger years, but for the life of me, I can't imagine why anyone would want to stand 15 feet in front of Shea Weber when he blasts one. It shocks me that more guys aren't injured blocking his devastating howitzers from the point.

--The Game 5 win for the Raptors was improbable the way they had played for three quarters, but firing the confetti cannon was a little much. You didn't do anything!! Do that if you win the series, but doing it after a win that puts you up 3-2 is a little over the top. By the way, I just one want to see someone rifle a ball off of Drake's face before the playoffs are over.  This just in----YOU"RE NOT ON THE TEAM!

-- A study came out this week saying dogs don't like to be hugged. ????? Are the people responsible for this study going to come out and say young men between the ages of 15-24 have no idea what online porn is. The sad thing is someone paid money to whoever did this study.

--High Impact Wrestling's version of Wrestlemania goes tonight at the Highland Club as "Spring Meltdown" takes place.  Those who know me know I love my wrestling---it has been that way since I was going to the old Exhibition Auditorium for Stampede Wrestling in the 80's. It is always an interesting night when I journey into "Gronkville" (my name for some of the "creatures" that come out of the woodwork to attend the event) to witness what is about to take place. These guys don't do it for the fame or the money, they do it because they love it and they love to entertain.  BTW, two thumbs up to the Leader-Post's Mark Melnychuk for his great profile piece on HIW wrestler Alexander Prime this week. If there is anyone from the current roster who will make it in the business, it is this kid. What he does in the ring is outstanding, and I think the surface has just barely been scratched on his potential.

--I've got some more thoughts bouncing around the brain, but I will save it for Monday's column or perhaps throw it into next Friday's "This and That"

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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

New Player and Health Safety Measures From CFL

The Canadian Football League (CFL) and Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA) announced Thursday a number of player health and safety initiatives for the 2016 season and beyond.

The announcement is highlighted by the implementation of an injury spotter that will monitor every CFL game in 2016.

Other new health and safety measures include:

• An update to the concussion protocol to facilitate for a player, if he so requests, a second opinion from an independent physician with concussion expertise when a player has been diagnosed.

• A provision that prohibits contact on the first day of training camps, and one which caps the number of padded practices allowed during the regular season at 17.

• The CFL will continue its research using the King-Devick Test, often called the K-D Test, across all CFL teams in 2016. (CFL piloted this research with four CFL teams in 2015)

• A joint CFL-CFLPA research initiative to collect general data to learn more about the diagnosis of concussions and athletes’ understanding of symptoms.

CFLPA President Jeff Keeping says injury spotters and other significant player safety improvements respond to the concerns of players in a time of increased attention to concussions in every sport.

“Our players are very pleased that we are taking important steps to protect their lives, health and careers – by quickly diagnosing and treating possible concussions and other serious injuries,” said Keeping, a Winnipeg Blue Bombers player. “Making the game safer is good for players, good for fans and good for the League.”

“The new measures we are announcing today represent the next step in our continuing commitment to this objective,” added Jeffrey L. Orridge, Commissioner of the CFL. “Protecting and maintaining the health and safety of our players, elite athletes who are a tremendous asset to our league on the field and in the community, is a top priority for our league.”

The injury spotters will monitor all games from the CFL Command Centre, which for the first time, will have access to a continuous feed featuring all 24 players on the field, as well as the feed of the game as covered by TSN, including replays.

The Spotter will be able to identify when a player is in distress and may require medical attention. This individual will be in direct communication to field level and will have the ability to stop the game should it be necessary.


Saskatoon's Mitch Clarke Ready To Step Back Into the Octagon

Canadian lightweight Mitch (Danger Zone) Clarke returns to action July 7 against (Irish) Joe Duffy on a televised UFC Fight Night card in Las Vegas.

Clarke, a Saskatoon native who trains in Edmonton and Arizona, is coming off a loss by decision last April to Michael Chiesa, who is currently ranked ninth among lightweight contenders. The loss was the third against two wins in the UFC for Clarke (11-3-0).

The main event of the card pits lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos against No. 2 contender Eddie Alvarez.

Clarke's return to the cage was delayed by an injury to his arm sustained undergoing intramuscular stimulation treatment. A small needle broke in his arm and had to be removed surgically.

Duffy (14-2-0) is 2-1 in the UFC with a loss last time out to Dustin Poirier. He has a submission win over countryman (The Notorious) Conor McGregor outside the UFC back in 2010.

The July 7 card is one of three UFC shows that week in Las Vegas, culminating with UFC 200 on July 9.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

U of R Rams Coach Stephen Bryce Unveils Coaching Staff

University of Regina Rams first-year head coach Steve Bryce announced his coaching staff for the 2016 season on Tuesday afternoon, with well over half of the coaches returning from last year’s staff.

The offensive side of the ball will see all five coaches return, including coordinator Mark McConkey. Also back are offensive line coaches Steve Hanson and Sheldon Neald, running backs coach Dwayne Masson, and receivers coach Nathan Hoffart. The only changes to the offensive staff are in the form of a pair of additions, as former Rams player Campbell Antonini comes aboard as the team’s quarterbacks coach and Mark Becker will coach the U of R’s tight ends in addition to coordinating the scout team.

A defensive backs coach last season, Sheldon Gray will now serve as the team’s defensive coordinator. He’ll lead a defensive staff that includes returning defensive line coach Greg Nesbitt, and new additions Ventson Donelson (defensive backs), Derek Lamer (linebackers), and BK Woldu (defensive backs).

Alex Smith also returns as the special teams coordinator, a position he’s held since the 2013 season.

“I’m very excited about the coaching staff we’ve put together for this season,” Bryce said. “We have a tremendous mix of seasoned veterans and youthful exuberance with a wide variety of experiences to draw from – from professional all the way through to all levels of minor football – but one thing they all have in common is a commitment to constant improvement.”

The Rams are in final preparations for the Laurentian Bank Securities Spring Camp, which will be held this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the U of R Field.

University of Regina Rams – 2016 Coaching Staff
Head Coach – Steve Bryce (1st season)
Offensive Coordinator – Mark McConkey (2nd season)
Defensive Coordinator – Sheldon Gray (1st season as DC / 2nd season overall)
Special Teams Coordinator – Alex Smith (4th season)
Quarterbacks Coach – Campbell Antonini (1st season)
Tight Ends Coach / Scout Team Coordinator – Mark Becker (1st season)
Defensive Backs Coach – Ventson Donelson (1st season)
Offensive Line Coach – Steve Hanson (3rd season)
Receivers Coach – Nathan Hoffart (2nd season)
Linebackers Coach – Derek Lamer (1st season)
Running Backs Coach – Dwayne Masson (4th season)
Offensive Line Coach – Sheldon Neald (7th season)
Defensive Line Coach – Greg Nesbitt (12th season)
Defensive Backs Coach – BK Woldu (1st season)

CFL Central Scouting Releases Final Draft Rankings

Rank Name Position School Hometown
1 (2) David Onyemata DL Manitoba Lagos, Nigeria
2 (1) Tevaun Smith WR Iowa Toronto
3 (4) Mehdi Abdesmad DL Boston College Montreal
4 (5) Arjen Colquhoun DB Michigan St. Windsor, Ont.
5 (3) Josiah St. John OL Oklahoma Toronto
6 (6) Charles Vaillancourt OL Laval Coaticook, Que.
7 (-) Alex Singleton LB Montana St. Thousand Oaks, Calif.
8 (8) Trent Corney DL Virginia Brockville, Ont.
9 (13) Philippe Gagnon OL Laval L’Ancienne-Lorette, Que.
10 (18) Brian Jones WR Acadia Enfield, N.S.
11 (9) Taylor Loffler DB UBC Kelowna, B.C.
12 (12) Juwan Brescacin WR Northern Illinois Mississauga, Ont.
13 (7) Mercer Timmis RB Calgary Burlington, Ont.
14 (11) Dillon Guy OL Buffalo Hamilton, Ont.
15 (15) Anthony Thompson DB Southern Illinois Montreal
16 (-) Michael Couture OL Simon Fraser Burnaby, B.C.
17 (14) Jason Lauzon-Seguin OL Laval Pointe-Claire, Que.
18 (16) Elie Bouka DB Calgary Laval, Que.
19 (17) Llevi Noel WR Toronto Toronto
 20 (19) Doug Corby WR Queens Burlington, Ont.
The number in parentheses is the player’s ranking from the last CFL Scouting Bureau published in December 2015.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Weston Dressler Says He Can't Wait For Labour Day

Weston Dressler understands Sept. 4 will be unlike any other CFL game he has ever played.

That’s when the veteran slotback makes his first-ever appearance at Mosaic Stadium as an opponent when Winnipeg visits the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The five-foot-seven, 187-pound Dressler spent his first eight seasons with the Riders before being released this off-season and joining the rival Blue Bombers.

“It will be different from any other game, I’ve accepted that,” Dressler said last week while in town doing promotional shoots for the upcoming CFL season. “For me, it’s going to be controlling those emotions and keeping everything in check so I’m performing to the best of my abilities throughout that game.”

In January, new Saskatchewan coach/GM Chris Jones released Dressler and defensive lineman John Chick in a salary-cap move as the two were scheduled to make $500,000 combined in 2016. But the move hit a nerve with Riders supporters as both were fan favourites and instrumental in the franchise’s 2013 Grey Cup win on home soil.

Dressler came to Saskatchewan in 2008 and was the CFL’s top rookie that year. Over eight seasons, the 30-year-old native of Bismarck, N.D., recorded 539 catches for 7,792 yards and 50 TDs.

The two-time CFL all-star recorded five 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He’s third in all-time receiving yards and fifth overall in receiving touchdowns.

Chick and Dressler weren’t unemployed long. Dressler signed a two-year deal reportedly worth $350,000 with Winnipeg while Chick joined the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Dressler’s desire was always to finish his CFL career in Saskatchewan _ his fiancee is from Regina. But the CFL salary cap and free agency were always constant reminders of just how difficult that would be to accomplish.

“Being in this league for eight years you see it every year, you know how it works,” Dressler said. “I’ve seen guys who’re more than capable of playing being released or traded.

“As a player you’re always aware of what can happen and ready for what may happen.”

Especially after a club revamps its front office and coaching staff following a 3-15 campaign just two years after a championship.

“When you bring in an entire new staff almost from the top down you always know something different will be going on so you kind of prepare for it,” Dressler said. “Maybe (I wasn’t) fully prepared until it happened but I understood at all times what the possibilities might’ve been.”

And that included maybe one day donning rival Winnipeg’s colours.

“That’s so small in the scheme of things compared to not playing,” Dressler said. “As a player in that situation I just wanted to play football.”

But for the first time since ’09, Dressler will go to training camp without Saskatchewan’s Darian Durant at quarterback. However, Bombers’ starter Drew Willy was Durant’s backup (2012-13) and offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice served as the Riders’ receivers coach and offensive co-ordinator (2007-09).

“We definitely built that QB-receiver chemistry and got to the point where we pretty much always knew we were seeing the same things,” Dressler said of Durant. “To be able to use that on the field can help create an advantage and it will be hard to leave that behind.”

Durant, coming off season-ending elbow and Achilles injuries the last two years, admits life without Dressler will be tough.

“This is a guy I started with, our careers started together,” Durant said. “Throughout the years we always talked that once we reached a certain age then one of us was going to have to go sooner or later.

“I’m just glad he’s found another home. He’s in a familiar situation with coach LaPo and he’s with a familiar quarterback with Drew Willy. I still think (Dressler) has a lot left in the tank, he can continue to produce.”

Dressler is looking forward to a fresh start in Winnipeg, which has missed the CFL playoffs the last four years and hasn’t won the Grey Cup since 1990.

“As a player, first and foremost, you want to play for and be part of a team that wants you there and wants you to be a part of what they’re doing,” he said. “Obviously with an entire new staff being brought into Saskatchewan, they have their vision of what they want to do and the types of players they want.

“I’m happy to be in Winnipeg and have the experiences I’ve had with coach LaPolice. I haven’t played with (Willy) for a couple of years and obviously we don’t have a ton of in-game experience together but I look forward to working with him and building that.”

(Canadian Press)

CFL Says All Teams Were Under Salary Cap

An extensive audit process has confirmed that all nine teams were under the Canadian Football League’s (CFL) Salary Expenditure Cap, the CFL announced today.

The salary cap for the 2015 season was $5.05 million.

“This demonstrates that the Salary Management System that was implemented in 2007 is working, and that teams are adhering to the system that is designed to preserving competitive balance, as well as cost certainty in the Canadian Football League,” said CFL Commissioner, Jeffrey L. Orridge.

The system’s review process includes detailed field audits of all nine clubs twice per year, once during the CFL season and once following its completion. Teams are also required to provide regular updates on compensation levels at the 6-game, 12-game and 18-game points of the season.

The salary cap for the 2016 season is $5.1 million.

Under the provisions set by the League’s Board of Governors, teams that exceed the cap are fined and, in some cases, teams can also lose multiple draft selections.

As no team exceeded the cap in 2015, the order for the 2016 CFL Draft on May 10 is not affected. It remains (barring trade) for the first round:

1. Saskatchewan Roughriders
(Winnipeg Blue Bombers)*
2. Montreal Alouettes
3. BC Lions
4. Toronto Argonauts
5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
6. Calgary Stampeders
8. Edmonton Eskimos

*Winnipeg forfeited its first round selection in the supplemental draft to select Garrett Waggoner


Something to "Mitch" About

The Rider nation are a passionate bunch. Sometimes, a fraction of them are a little over the top, but there is no denying the genuine love many have for the green-and-white. However, while the passion is there, I don't know about the realism. I was somewhat surprised to see this on on the weekend

Are there still people out there who don't believe changes had to be mad? If you are one of them, please explain.  Hey, I don't agree with every move that has been made by Chris Jones either, but that is going to happen. Changes were needed to improve a 3-15 football team and changes have been made. Changes which will make this football team substantially better than the nightmarish 3-15 campaign. Success won't come overnight, but the talent being assembled will hopefully pay off for Jones and crew the way it did in Edmonton.  If you hate everything Chris Jones has done this off-season, please hand in your pledge pin, membership card and don't dial the number to Ballsy for your post-game comments once the new season has started. 

While some apparently still aren't crazy about what is happening here, there are many in Edmonton who didn't like the fact Jones took the Grey Cup home to Tennessee wearing Rider colours. Several Eskimo supporter took to Twitter saying it showed a lack of class and several others said he should have worn a CFL logo or no logo at all. Get over it Edmonton! There were some that even suggested he should have been wearing Eskimo colours. Yeah, like that will happen. I am guessing Jones has gotten rid of everything he had with the EE on it, much like I don't have anything with the CJME moniker on it in my current collection--albeit I never really had much anyhoo.  Although I am guessing if the shoe was on the other foot, the Rider Nation would be out with torches and pitchforks. Did I say guessing?

If you are not watching the Stanley Cup playoffs because there are no Canadian teams, that is up to you, but you are missing some entertaining hockey. There were several outstanding games, and  when you add Game 1 and 2  of the WHL East final between Brandon and Red Deer to that mix, it was an outstanding weekend of hockey and proof again that the only "real" reality TV is found on the ice, diamond, field or court of choice.  

The weekend was capped off by the double OT thriller in Brooklyn as the Islanders eliminated Florida. 

I have no horse in that race, but I think the Panthers got jobbed in the last minute of regulation not once, but twice. With the net empty and the puck in the New York end, the Islanders were guilty of one trip for sure and perhaps another one before Nick Leddy corralled the puck and got it down the ice setting it up for John Tavares' end of regulation heroics. I realize the whistle gets put in the pockets in the last couple of minutes, but one of those calls had to be made. That shouldn't take away from the performance of the New York captain though, Number 91 is perhaps the most under-rated player in the NHL and he is one of the most dangerous. He was the best player on the ice in Game 6 and Tampa will have to find a way to shut him down if they are to be successful in Round 2.

Game 7 between Chicago and St. Louis? Yes please! Crosby vs Ovechkin in Round 2? Yes please! A playoff appearance by the Oilers? Yeah, OK, I sometimes ask for too much. 

The first round isn't over and already 22 goalies have been used. Is that a sign of desperation or teams with 1A and 1B in net?

Is it just me or is the top-to-bottom presentation of the playoffs on NBC exponentially better than what CBC/Sportsnet is giving us. One person told me on the weekend what he misses about the CBC games are the musical features leading into games that Hockey Night in Canada used to have Saturday night. I agree!

 I can't see it being very long until Jamie Fiesel has another head coaching gig in the world of hockey. The guy is just too good. It's a head-scratcher to see Melville get rid of Feez, but there are reasons behind every move.  Still with the SJHL, it is too bad the league felt they weren't getting "value" from Access with league broadcasts thus the decision to sever what had been a positive promotion tool for the league was made. It would be great for hockey fans across Saskatchewan to see Melfort battling Flin Flon for the Canalta Cup along with other Junior A action this winter, but it appears that SJ fans won't be getting more of their product and the league won't be getting beamed into living rooms across the province anymore. Again, there are reasons behind every move.

Are we all agreed that the best trade the Jays made under Alex Anthopoulos was getting Josh Donaldson for Brett Lawrie? Are we all agreed the worst trade made under AA was Noah Syndergaard for RA Dickey? By the way, Chris Colabello, what the hell are you thinkin?! 

I would have loved to have been at the Red Sox dinner Saturday night, and by all accounts another first class show was put on by the organization. Robbie Alomar wowed them all, and that shouldn't be a surprise. The guy is a class act. Some will say he is the greatest 2nd baseman ever. He certainly has the resume for it, but being the Cubs fan I am, I will defer to Ryne Sandberg on that one.  Alomar is a very close two though. 

Why do some in our fair city believe it is a good idea to drive well under the speed limit on the Ring Road. I was trying to head south off the Victoria Avenue turnoff on Saturday when a woman ahead of us decided it would be prudent to go about 70 as she looked to get on with her speed not going up much as she got going. This is not a good idea as people are trying to get on the Ring Road and others are on it and have to switch into the passing lane to get past said woman.  At least she was using her turn signal.  

While complaining about the time it takes to get the Stanley Cup playoffs done, it doesn't even compare to the NBA. It is taking wayyyyyyy too long to get the first round done. Can leagues not do a better job of scheduling. I know arena availabilities play a big role in this, but shouldn't teams be booking dates well in advance and then freeing them up when the time comes. Word comes from the NBA on Sunday that with Cleveland beating Detroit, the Raptors game on Tuesday will start at 6 Eastern time, 4 Saskatchewan time. The TV people just hate Toronto sports teams it would seem. At least MLB put their schedule out well in advance of last year's playoffs and we knew the Jays would be slotted where they are, but the NBA has no desire to put Toronto in a prime-time spot or help grow the game in Canada. Will you be watching at 4. Will they be watching in BC at 3. An 8 o'clock start in Toronto (6 here) would be perfect.  BTW: If Steph Curry's sprained knee is serious, 73-8 may mean diddly squat if you don't win 16 in the playoffs and that may not happen if he is done. 

That's all I got. Enjoy the week and enjoy Game 7 between the Hawks and Blues tonight. It should be in the words of the great Ed Whelan..."a ring a ding dong dandy!"

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Chris Jones Brings The Grey Cup Home

South Pittsburg native Chris Jones won the Super Bowl of the Canadian Football League last fall.
He captured the Grey Cup as the head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos. And Friday, the former UTC player brought the Grey Cup to his hometown for a little show and tell at the Richard Hardy School.

Bringing the 103 year-old Grey Cup back to your elementary school, that was a pretty cool feeling for Chris Jones.

Said Jones-“My mother has taught here for 30 years. I grew up just a mile from here. To come back and be able to bring something of this significance for people to see. It’s meaningful.”

So how does a guy from South Pittsburg Tennessee get into the Canadian Football League?

Said Jones-“I wanted to be a professional football coach. There weren’t any opportunities in the NFL to crack in as an intern. So I interned in Canada. Paul Jones, a buddy of mine, was the personnel director at the time at Edmonton. He gave me an opportunity. I got to go up and just put the wheels in motion.”

Jones success in the CFL might rival Bill Belichick’s success in the NFL.

Said Jones-“I’ve been up there 14 years. We’ve won the division ten times. Been to seven Grey Cups. Won four.”

Jones won 3 Grey Cups as a defensive coordinator and his last came as a head coach. And he admits he has to educate Americans about the Grey Cup.

Said Jones-“They don’t really know quite honestly exactly what it is until you tell them what this big trophy is, they really have no idea. It’s more of a people’s trophy. People can have it in their cars. I’ve had the good fortune of having it four times. It has been in the trunk of my car. It has been in my trucks. It has been everywhere you know.”


Friday, April 22, 2016

Major League Baseball Suspends Chris Colabello for 80 games

Chris Colabello, the 32-year-old journeyman who was a major part of the Toronto Blue Jays' magical 2015 campaign, has been suspended 80 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, the league announced Friday.

Pursuant to the league's drug policy, Colabello - the first player ever to test positive for PEDs while on Toronto's 25-man roster - will be suspended without pay.

On Friday, more than a month after testing positive for an anabolic steroid called dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, Colabello called a team meeting to inform his teammates of his suspension, according to Sportsnet's Arden Zwelling, who noted that the veteran first baseman was "very emotional."

In a statement released shortly after his suspension was announced, Colabello denied knowingly taking any banned substance.

"On March 13, I got one of the scariest and most definitely least expected phone calls of my entire life," Colabello wrote in a statement. "I was informed by the Players Association that a banned substance was found in my urine. I have spent every waking moment since that day trying to find an answer as to why or how? The only thing I know is that I would never compromise the integrity of the game of baseball."

"I love the guy," manager John Gibbons told John Lott. "He's fought the odds his whole life. He'll fight this."

Last year, Blue Jays fans fell in love with Colabello, too, after the oft-discarded, former independent league star arrived in Toronto in May and never stopped hitting. Colabello, who managed a .649 OPS over parts of two seasons with the Minnesota Twins before being claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays last December, hit an improbably .321/.367/.520 (142 OPS+) with 15 home runs after joining the Blue Jays, becoming an integral part of the lineup that managed an MLB-best 891 runs last year. After helping the Blue Jays snap a 22-year postseason drought, Colabello continued to deliver throughout the playoffs, too, managing an .830 OPS in 41 plate appearances while smacking big home runs in Game 4 of the ALDS and Game 5 of the championship series.

Regression had hit Colabello hard through the first few weeks of 2016, though, as he went just 2-for-29 (.069) with no extra-base hits, two walks, and nine strikeouts through his first 10 games.

NFL/CFL Partner Up On Officiating Development Program

The National Football League (NFL) and Canadian Football League (CFL) announced Friday the formation of the NFL-CFL Officiating Development Program.

Beginning this season, a group of NFL officials will have the opportunity to work as part of CFL crews during preseason and regular-season games in June and July, prior to starting their NFL season at the league’s annual officiating clinic in late July.

Several CFL officials will then join the NFL’s Officiating Development Program, which is designed to train top officials in all aspects of NFL officiating. Elements of the program include attending NFL minicamps and training camps, officiating preseason games, studying position-specific film with veteran NFL officials, reviewing mechanics and analyzing rules differences between the NFL and other leagues, including the CFL and college football.

“Any time our newer officials can get more reps on the field, during practices or games, that will make them better officials,” said NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino. “The collaboration with the CFL will certainly benefit us as we prepare for the 2016 season and we look forward to welcoming our CFL officiating counterparts to our development program later this spring.”

The NFL officials working in the CFL will be primarily deep wing officials – side judges and field judges – to minimize the impact of some of the rules differences between the two leagues.

“This historic partnership gives officials in both leagues an opportunity to hone their craft and get better through shared development activities and more snaps at the pro level,” said CFL Senior Vice-President, Football Glen Johnson. “We’re excited that a group of our officials will actively participate in the NFL Development Program and now have a formal path forward to be considered as prospects in their league.”


This And That

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

--It is a picture you won't find on any promotional materials for the Regina Pats this summer.  Adam Musil's goal was the winner in what was a heartbreaking Game 7 loss for John Paddock's proteges as they saw what was a tremendous WHL season come to an end on Tuesday night. While the Pats likely deserved a better fate after dominating the Rebels in all but one aspect in the final 20 minutes of Game 7, one can take solace that we are just starting what should be a yearly occurrence of playing games of meaning in mid-April if not further.  In the past, there were many years where a playoff appearance didn't happen and if it did, it was over after the first round. If a second round appearance did materialize, the team was nowhere close to ending an Eastern Conference final drought that has not seen them as part of the WHL's final 4 since 1993.  This Regina team will be just as good if not better next year. Yes, Colby Williams and Cole Sanford will not be back, but there are so many returnees who will be better and are now playoff-experienced. The Regina Pats are once again someone to contend with and that hasn't been said for a long, long time.  One can only imagine what players like Austin Wagner, Connor Hobbs, Lane Zablocki, Sam Steel and others will do. Having Adam Brooks come back as a 20 would help too, but let's see what his future is after the NHL draft. Let's just put it this way----entertaining hockey is back at the Brandt Centre for the first time in a long time. You may want to be a part of it next winter and for the next few winters moving forward. 

--20 years ago, no one would have flinched at what Andrew Shaw did at the end of the Chicago-St. Louis game on Tuesday night as he yelled at what we believe was the referee.  Right or wrong back then, it was something that was said not just on the ice, but the field, the court or the diamond. Shaw can't say now what was said then and he was punished for it---or was he? I can't help think the NHL copped out somewhat by handing Shaw a one game suspension. Was that suspension actually for what was said as the league claims or was it for giving the referee the double fingered salute as he went to the penalty box. Players can't give the finger, much less the double finger, to the officials, but Shaw did and seemingly didn't get punished for it. The NHL had a real chance to send a message here about on-ice behaviour, but they didn't. To not give Shaw a minimum of 3 for what was said shows a lack of fortitude amongst the league disciplinarians. To not give him anything for his one-fingered salute shows a lack of something else from the league. 

--The Hockey News says through the first five nights of the Stanley Cup playoffs, ratings are down 61 percent in Canada. That is jaw-dropping even when you consider all 7 Canadian teams didn't make it. However, Sports Business Daily reports in the same time frame, ratings in the U-S are up 13 percent with an average 468-thousand watching games on the NBC Sports Network.  Does that mean NBA playoff numbers are down in the US. If it is, I don't think the NHL brass will be that disappointed with the terrible Canadian numbers. Perhaps Rogers should start picking up some MSNBC feeds so we can hear Emrick, Cuthbert and others instead of giving us team announcers like what we are hearing now.

--This is one of my favourite pictures from the post-Grey Cup celebration...

I think it was Tyron Brackenridge's mission to empty as many bottles of champagne over as many people as possible on that night. Shortly before this picture was taken, (look at Carm with the photobomb) I was dry until I ran into number 41. He looked at me and with a quizzical look said "You're dry". I said "So far" to which he replied "Not any more" and proceeded to dump a bottle over my head. If you remember, it wasn't that cold of a night after the Riders had won, but when you are soaked it was a little chilly waiting for the media bus and as I cut up tape in the 620 CKRM newsroom of what I had witnessed, the stench of champagne was strong as it was when I returned for work Monday morning. Of course, moments after he had drenched me, he found another bottle and got Premier Brad Wall who was one of many in the room on that night.  That is the lasting memory I will have of Tyron Brackenridge. When he was at the top of his game, there weren't many better, but like many others who wore green last year, his game disappeared. Brackenridge called it a career after not getting any takers following his release in December. I can't help but think this guy would make a tremendous coach somewhere if he wants to. What is known for sure is a "Plaza of Honor" recognition will come in the next few years.

--Maurice Price gets traded to the Riders and then retires. You don't see Chris Jones and company screaming looking for compensation do ya? It's called professionalism.

--The WHL is getting down to the nitty gritty with who the top 10 players in its 50 years of history are. Number 10 is Cam Neely and number 9 is Grant Fuhr. Who will top the list? Joe Sakic tops my list. I thought Wendel Clark, Theoren Fleury  and Clark Gillies would be in the top 10, but they came in at 15, 17 and 24. I'm sure you could put 100 people in a room and you would get 100 different top 10's. What a great debate amongst WHL fans and what a great initiative by the league.

--The NBA is going to a place I don't like as they are going to have corporate logos on jerseys. It means NBA players will become walking advertisements for a variety of businesses as they become the first league to "desecrate" the jersey. Yes, CFL players have had logos on their jerseys, but they were small and they were all for the same business. If what I have heard is right, you could have the Golden State "Budweiser" Warriors taking on the Denver "Papa Johns Pizza" Nuggets. If the NBA is going to allow this, it won't be long before the other pro leagues do it as well. Thanks, but no thanks.  Who will the Raptors sponsor be? I am guessing it might be BMO seeing they are a major sponsor of Raptors basketball now.

--How Ken King can even think his CalgaryNext project will get off the ground in these current economic times is beyond me. The people of Calgary don't want to and can't afford to put up the money being asked. Get back to the drawing board Ken! It is time to go to plan B.  In the meantime, there is no need for Plan B here as things are progressing quite nicely with the new Mosaic which is looking great!

--The great Vin Scully is into his last year calling Los Angeles Dodgers playoff baseball games. I find myself watching more and more Dodgers games just to hear Scully do his thing. Would it be too much to ask FOX to ask Joe Buck to move aside for the World Series so we could hear Scully do one last World Series. I like Joe Buck no matter what sport he does so this isn't a slam on him. I just think baseball fans deserve to hear Vin Scully do one last World Series. I don't even think Buck would mind sitting one out if it meant he was being replaced by Vin.

--The Rangers and Wild are on their way out meaning my playoff draft has gone up in smoke. At least I didn't take any Flyers.

--Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Riders Announce Maurice Price's Retirement

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have confirmed international receiver Maurice Price has filed retirement papers to the Canadian Football League. 

"We are surprised and disappointed to hear of Maurice Price's decision to retire. We were given no indication when we acquired Maurice and negotiated a new contract that he may not continue playing," stated Riders General Manager and Head Coach Chris Jones. “As a team we will continue to move forward with our free agent camps and work through the CFL Draft. An opportunity has opened up for another player.”

The Riders also confirmed that as per CFL regulations, the trade with the Ottawa Redblacks will stand.  

Former WWE Wrestler Chyna Dead at 45

Joanie Laurer, the groundbreaking female wrestler known as Chyna, has died.

Police in Redondo Beach, California, confirm that Laurer, 45, was found dead in her apartment on Wednesday. Police say they were notified by a friend who went to check on her and found Laurer unresponsive. The cause of death is under investigation, but police say there are no signs of foul play.
"It is with deep sadness to inform you that we lost a true icon, a real life superhero. Joanie Laurer aka Chyna, the 9th wonder of the world, has passed away," said a post on her website.
After graduating from the University of Tampa, Chyna started training in the world of professional wrestling and in 1996 was named the "Rookie of the Year for the Women's Championship," according to her website. She wrestled in the Royal Rumble and King of Ring tournaments and became the only undefeated Women's Champion in WWF (World Wrestling Federation) history.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tyron Brackenridge Retires

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today international safety Tyron Brackenridge is retiring from the Canadian Football League.

Brackenridge played 75 regular season games through five seasons with the Green and White after originally joining the team in October of 2011. He re-signed as a free agent in February, 2013 in order to remain with the Riders.

“On behalf of the Roughriders, I want to congratulate Tyron on a remarkable career,” stated Riders Vice-President of Football Operations and Administration Jeremy O’Day. “You could always count on Tyron for his work ethic, intensity, and overall will to win. Off the field, he took as much pride in being able to give back to the Province through community initiatives and spending countless hours with fans. He was an important part of the success we had as an entire organization.”

At 31-years-old, Brackenridge will retire after registering 254 defensive tackles, 18 special teams tackles, 10 interceptions, and four quarterback sacks – on his way to picking up CFL All-Star selections in 2013 and 2014.

He won his first Grey Cup in 2013 with the Roughriders.

“The decision to retire from the game I love is truly bittersweet,” noted Tyron Brackenridge. “I have been blessed to be able to play this game for the past ten years, including five wonderful years with the Roughriders. I’m content with the decision and look forward to what lies ahead.”

“I would like to give a special thanks to the CFL and particularly the Saskatchewan Roughriders organization,” added Brackenridge. “Last but not least, I want to send a special thanks to the amazing Rider Nation. Thank you all for making Saskatchewan my home away from home.”

(Saskatchewan Roughriders)

Canada West Football Schedule Released

The road to the 80th Hardy Cup kicks off Thursday, September 1 in Winnipeg, as the Manitoba Bisons host the Calgary Dinos in the opener of the 2016 Canada West football season

A total of 24 conference regular season games along with a trio of Hardy Cup playoff games are on the 2016 schedule, as the Canada West football schedule was released Wednesday. 

The defending Hardy and Vanier Cup champion UBC Thunderbirds enter the season looking to become the first Canada West team to repeat as national champions since the 1969-1970 Manitoba Bisons.

The T-Birds open the season at home against the Alberta Golden Bears on Saturday, September 3, while the other Week 1 matchup features the Saskatchewan Huskies hosting the Regina Rams Friday, September 2 under the lights of Griffiths Stadium.

The regular season schedule concludes Saturday, October 29 before the Hardy Cup semis on Saturday, November 5 and finally the 80th edition of the Hardy Cup a week later on Saturday, November 12. 

In addition to the Hardy Cup, Canada West is the proud host of the 2016 Mitchell Bowl, as the Hardy Cup champion will welcome the Atlantic University Sport champion in the CIS national semifinal game, with a spot in the 52nd Vanier Cup in Hamilton, Ont. (November 26) on the line.

Once again this season all 27 conference football games can be seen live on – the official streaming home of every Canada West regular season and playoff event.

In addition to's full football coverage, 2016 marks the 10th season of Krown Produce Canada West Football on Shaw. The Canada West football television schedule is set to be released later this spring.

The complete schedule can be found here

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Conor McGregor Tweets His Retirement

UFC star Conor McGregor  tweeted Tuesday that he has "decided to retire young."

The tweet was posted one week after Joao Carvalho died from injuries suffered during a fight earlier this month that was attended by McGregor.
McGregor, 27, is scheduled to fight Nate Diaz at UFC 200 on July 9. The fight would be a rematch of their bout from earlier this year, when Diaz upset McGregor at UFC 196.
McGregor, who was ringside at Carvalho's fight in Dublin, Ireland, posted a message last week to his Facebook account, writing "To see a young man doing what he loves, competing for a chance at a better life, and then to have it taken away is truly heartbreaking."

Riders Release 10

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have released the following players:

·         National running back Melvin Abankwah
·         International linebacker Denicos Allen
·         International wide receiver Michael Campbell
·         International offensive lineman Quinterrius Eatmon
·         International defensive lineman Ryan Jones
·         International linebacker DeDe Lattimore
·         International linebacker DJ Lynch
·         International defensive back Robert Sands
·         International offensive lineman Joseph Treadwell
·         National defensive lineman Brandon Tennant

Chris Jones Taking The Grey Cup to Tennessee

 The 103rd Grey Cup winning head coach, Chris Jones will be bringing the Grey Cup to his hometown, South Pittsburg, Tennessee for the 20th National Cornbread Festival.

TSN’s Brian Williams will travel to South Pittsburg to capture the experience of Jones returning home as a Grey Cup Champion. will also be on the ground covering the Grey Cup from the National Cornbread Festival.

Chris Jones guided the Edmonton Eskimos to their 14th Championship last November in Winnipeg after defeating the Ottawa REDBLACKS, 26-20.

Since winning the Canadian Football League Championship, Chris Jones has transitioned to become the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Vice President of Football Operations, General Manager and Head Coach.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Something To "Mitch" About

There are times when the best laid plans go awry. That certainly was the case Sunday.  I had been asked to do some games for the Keystone Cup weeks ago. I said absolutely and was pencilled in for the medal games. At that time, no one knew the Regina Pats would be playing at 4 o'clock that afternoon. With the bronze medal game at 10 and the gold medal game to follow, one would assume there would be no problem in calling both games and then walking through the Co-Operators Center  to the Brandt Center for Game 6 against the Rebels. That plan blew up in a big hurry. With less than 30 seconds to go in the 3rd place game between Alberta champion North Peace and the host Regina Capitals. the Navigators (North Peace) scored to send the game into overtime------and then some.  The contest went into triple overtime before it was decided with the Alberta squad coming out on top 5-4. I have done the play by play (poorly) of many hockey games over the years, but I think this was the first triple overtime game I had called. It was also a one man operation, so I had no colour guy to bounce things off of. Fast forward to the gold medal game and wouldn't you know it, it also goes into overtime, but 100 Mile House BC won it 3-2 with the goal coming just 2:35 into Period 4 as they get their hands on the trophy symbolic of the Western Canadian Junior "B" title.  It was a tough pill to swallow for a Saskatoon team that showed throughout the tournament that they were the class of the event. That last game is the toughest though and the Quakers couldn't pull it off. 

The big question was where was the Pats game at. It was well after 4 o'clock thanks to the triple overtime game. A tweet soon told me what I wanted to know. There was 3 and a half minutes left in the 2nd period and it was 4-1 Pats. It meant I let two guys who can call a hockey game much better than me take over as I got in the car and listened to Phil Andrews call the rest of the 2nd period and watched Rod Pedersen do the 3rd.  I wanted to be inside the Brandt Centre for a game that I knew would be electric and then some, but some times the best laid plans get wrecked. That's OK though because I was witness to two very good hockey games and two games that had a certain electricity of their own.

Proof positive as to how EVRAZ Place is quickly becoming one of Canada's top sporting venues came this weekend. While construction continues on the new Mosaic Stadium, there weren't many parking spots at the Co-Operators Centre Saturday and Sunday as the Keystone Cup was winding down, as was an SHA bantam camp which was attended by scouts galore and the WCP Soccer Cup was happening. That was just on Saturday! Add the Pats game at Brandt Center to that on Sunday and the place was absolutely jammed with hockey players, personnel and fans. I laughed when one gentlemen ( I think he was from 100 Mile House) said to me on Sunday "You guys aren't going to know what to do with that stadium and now Calgary wants one too." I told him we will find a way and Calgary can dream on. He agreed with me 100 percent.  He also asked me if the Rush play next door at the Brandt Center, and I had to inform him that the Rush are based in Saskatoon.  By the way, congrats to them for finishing first in their division as they look for the repeat.  I wonder how that will go over in Edmonton if it happens.

How about that Pats game on Sunday! Several told me during and after the game via text message they have never heard it louder in the Brandt Center. When Connor Hobbs scored early in the 2nd, one text message said they just blew the roof off of this place. I can only imagine! Can the Pats pull off a Game 7 win in Red Deer and come home for the Eastern final against the high-flying Wheat Kings? We will find out Tuesday night. If they do, one wonders if the team will look to squeeze some more seats into the building. Regardless of what happens, it is great to see so many people talking up the Pats again after so many years of that not happening---at least not in a positive way. John Paddock gets a lot of credit, but look above Paddock as well to see where that credit should start.

Sportscage Insider Arash Madani revealed via Twitter on Friday there is a lot of interest in the first pick overall in next month's CFL draft. As we know, that first pick belongs to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Madani says multiple teams are showing interest.  I don't know what Chris Jones and crew are asking for that number one pick, but I will be stunned if they keep it.  Jones, John Murphy, Jeremy O'Day know getting a package of players and picks will benefit their team in the long run.  I don't know when they would pull the trigger on a deal and the later it goes, the better it may be for the green and white as someone will want to make an offer where time won't allow another team to step in. The Riders may be on the clock now, but I can't see them being there when it comes time to begin on May 10. There is the danger no one wants to pay the price the team will ask, but if there is multiple interest, I am sure someone will make a deal which the Riders will accept.

I'm not sure, but if the Toronto Raptors were to play Game 1 of a playoff series against the U of R Cougars, the Cougs might win. It didn't take long to see in Game 1 Saturday against Indiana that Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan were not their regular season selves. The Raptors stunk out the joint in their playoff opener much like they have the last two years. The team simply can't allow their best regular season ever to translate into another first round exit. If it does, heads will roll and bodies may move. One of those heads may be head coach Dwane Casey. Game 2 is a MUST win for the Raps.

During the course of the NHL season, we received many games on Sportsnet via the NBC Sports Network. So can Sportsnet please tell me why when it comes to the playoffs, we are getting team feeds and not a national feed. There is no need to give us homer announcers and team feeds during the playoffs. That is extra-cheezy Rogers! That being said, Dallas analyst Daryl Reaugh may have had one of the best lines going when he stated during a lengthy review on what was a highly questionable goal by Dominic Roussel in Game 2 of the Stars-Wild series. While we waited, Reaugh said "Sometimes when your options are limited, you gotta pee in the sink". PRICELESS!  For what its worth, that call allowing the goal was in my mind horrible.  Like it is in football with a catch, sometimes I just don't know what constitutes a goal and what doesn't. I didn't think Andrew Shaw's goal in Game 2 would count due to goalie interference and it did. I didn't think Roussel's goal would count and it did. Baffling, confusing and frustrating.

Did Steve Mason really give up the worst goal in Stanley Cup playoffs history? If he did, and the argument is certainly there, Dan Cloutier must be smiling. Where is Dan Cloutier these days anyhow? As for the worst goal ever, this gets my vote,...

To the people at Tim Hortons. Please, please, please take that ad off the air with the coffee cups being found in the garage. This just shows Dad is a hoarder and that creepy look he gives at the end of the ad as he is about to resume his addiction is just a tad bit terrifying. Who approves that crap?! Then again that could be said about a lot of ads both on radio and TV these days.

Johnny Manziel is no longer a joke. He needs help! His football career is over, and I have to wonder if he will still be around by the time next season kicks off. What a waste!

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

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Brandt Centre Sold Out For Game 6 of Pats-Rebels Series

The Regina Pats Hockey Club is pleased to announce Game Six of the second round playoff series against Red Deer is sold out.  Capacity at the Brandt Centre is 6484.  The game will be played tomorrow afternoon beginning at 4 p.m.

This is the fourth sellout of the year for the organization and first of the playoffs.  Previous sellouts happened February 29, March 11 and March 18.  Attendance through the first four playoff games averaged 6163 fans per game.  It’s the third best post-season attendance in the league. 

Through the regular season, the Regina Pats attendance averaged 4563 fans per game, an increase of almost six per cent over the previous year.

“Thank you to our fans,” said Pats President Todd Lumbard.  “It’s wonderful to see people believing in the team and showing their support in this way.  As an organization and we will continue to do our best to give fans the kind of hockey team they deserve.”

The Red Deer Rebels lead the best-of-seven 3-2.  Fans who can’t make it to the game can watch on Access 7 channel 7, or channel 70 (high definition).  Radio play-by-play can be heard on Bennett Dunlop Ford Pats Hockey beginning with the pregame show at 3:35 p.m.

Friday, April 15, 2016

This and That

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

How about your Regina Pats!!!

Photo: Courtesy Keith Hershmiller Photo

Yes, the Red Deer Rebels made Game 4 interesting at the end with their play in the 3rd period, but John Paddock's proteges A) schooled the Rebels on the Brandt Centre ice and B) gave the Regina hockey community a chance to see what they can expect next season. Win or lose tonight, how much fun will Sunday afternoon be at what has been an electric Brandt Centre. If the Pats are in position to win, that place will be an absolute zoo! Let's hope we get a chance to experience it.  I can't say enough about how well this team played from top to bottom in the two games at home. I joked with Phil Andrews on the Cage Wednesday that the only guy who hasn't chipped in is backup goalie Jordan Hollett because he hasn't played. It has been a complete effort from top to bottom and it has been entertaining.

--Does the WHL keep stats on goalposts hit. If there were one, I am guessing Cole Sanford would be leading the league by a wide category in these playoffs. I think he hit 4 in the two games in Regina alone and Phil told me he rang a few off the pipe in Red Deer. 

--A tip of the hat to both the Moose Jaw Warriors and Regina Pats for their well-wishes to Peter Loubardias on Tuesday night with the Pats going one step further and holding a Chuck-A-Puck promotion with funds raised going to help Peter out as he battles some health problems that have baffled doctors. I have known Peter for a long time, and he is in my inner circle of friends. The two of us could share a lot of stories over the years. You will not find a more down to earth individual and a guy who is more liked in the hockey community than Lou. Seeing how the hockey community has rallied for him as he looks to get back to doing what he does best which is living at the rink has been amazing to see. While it is amazing, it isn't really that surprising because when the chips are down for someone who is as well respected and liked as Peter, you know the hockey community will do what it can. 

--By the way, you might want to spend your Sunday watching hockey at Evraz Place as the Keystone Cup (Western Canadian Junior B championship) will wrap up at the Co-Operators Centre with the bronze medal game at 10 followed by the gold medal game at 1 and then the Pats game. Hockeypalooza! 

--I saw a feature on the son of former Colorado defenceman Adam Foote who is now a defenceman with the Kelowna Rockets. I knew the Rockets had put some good blueliners into the NHL, but how good is this group---Tyson Barrie, Josh Gorges, Scott Hannan, Duncan Keith, Tyler Myers, Luke Schenn and Shea Weber. That's unbelievable!! I'll admit I had forgotten Schenn and Barrie had played for Kelowna. Talk about some talent on the back-end! 

--I'm not a Kobe Bryant fan, but man did he go out with a bang! That was something to see. Who had the better career--Kobe or Derek Jeter. I'll go with Jeets on that one. Did you know he was almost traded to the Montreal Expos, but GM Brian Cashman said he couldn't pull the trigger on that one. It would have sent Jeter to Montreal for Vladimir Guerrero and Pedro Martinez. How baseball history would have been different had that happened.

--It would be just my luck to take the Rangers as my Eastern Conference rep in the Stanley Cup finals and then see Henrik Lundqvist take a stick to the eye forcing him out of Game 1 against Pittsburgh. This just in.....the Rangers aren't as solid between the pipes with Antti Raanta guarding the goal. SIGHHHH!!  This should also mean the predictions of a Nashville upset over Anaheim will come true as I have the Ducks winning the Cup. 

--How many Canadian teams do you see making the playoffs next season and who? I don't think you can put Toronto and Vancouver in the mix, but could Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal get there. I think the Habs have the best shot with a healthy Carey Price, but for the Flames, Oilers and Jets, whose spot do they take in what is a highly competitive Western Conference. 

--The Blue Jays haven't set the American League on fire and we are two weeks into the season. This just in. Toronto still has about 150 games to go in the season. As we saw last year, it isn't how you start, it is how you finish. 

--Is Yankees pitcher Johnny Barbato a gangster? What a great name! 

--The Green Bay Packers are said to have the easiest schedule in the NFL this year. That is with the exception of their December 11th game! The teams with the toughest sked are the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers. Of course, Cleveland has already been eliminated and they are looking for their next starting quarterback. 

--Kent Austin is not working in the NFL, yet Danny Barrett is. Ponder that one for a second. 

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