--Welcome to Friday! Here are the weekly collection of thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always, they come in no particular order!
When the word came down Thursday afternoon that Ben Heenan was retiring from professional football, it sent shockwaves across the football community. Why? At the age of 26, Heenan still has a lot of ball left in him. Heenan hasn't indicated his reasons for this, but there is some speculation he is giving up the game to devote his life to farming, Is there something more to this? Ben isn't a guy to play those games, but it is a question only Ben can answer and he wasn't doing that on Thursday. Whatever his decision is, he is doing what he wants to do and one has to respect that. However, one can also what the reasons behind this are because it seemed to me like the best of his career was ahead of him whether it be on this side of the border or not.
--I think it is safe to say the size of an Edmonton Oilers fan heart grew by three sizes if not more on Wednesday night at "Farewell Rexall Place". The 6-2 final for Edmonton was inconsequential, but thank god Nail Yakupov did not get the last ever Edmonton goal at the Oilers home for 42 years. The ceremony after the game was simply awesome.
Yes, almost 200 players were introduced to a full house who did not leave their seat and yes, it may have taken a while to close the building down, but this Oiler fan simply said who cares!! For the team to honour the many players great and not so great who wore that uniform and represented that squad through the good and the bad was one or two steps above a first-class move. They didn't forget those who couldn't be around either as Bill Hunter, Lorne Davis and Bill Hicke were all remembered. I won't lie, there were some guys introduced that I didn't know played for the Oilers (ie: Danny Gare).
As the camera panned in on Connor McDavid from time to time, I could only imagine what the young man was thinking as he looked around seeing the players that helped Edmonton win 5 Stanley Cups.knowing the expectation is on his shoulders to bring a Cup to Rogers Arena and another one to Edmonton. While it was great to see so many old players wearing the sweater, I couldn't help but wonder where some were. I didn't think Chris Pronger would be there, and I didn't think Mike Comrie would make an appearance either. Doug Weight is obviously busy because of his assistant coaching gig with the Islanders, but it would have been great to have him there. Was Jason Arnott there? Was Curtis Joseph there? Was Craig McTavish there?
I didn't see all 188 players introduced so perhaps some of those just mentioned were there, but it was a night for young and old to celebrate. I can only imagine what it was like for father and son to be in that building together as the team came together as one. Just a great night!
--Round 2 of the WHL playoffs begin for the Regina Pats tomorrow in Red Deer. This blogger believes the Rebels are going to win what will be a very hard series, but if Regina gets a key bounce or two and the goaltending they received from Tyler Brown, you just never know. I think Regina hockey fans should strap themselves in for what should be a great best of seven matchup. There is no doubt, a lot of credit to what has gone on this season and last can be attributed to John Paddock. He has been tremendous since coming to Regina before the start of last season. The only question I have now is how much interest is Paddock receiving from the NHL. He is no stranger to the NHL coaching wars, and I am guessing there are teams who have seen what he has done in junior and may be willing to give him another NHL opportunity. John has stated he has no desire to return to the bigs and he wants this to be his last stop. Mike Gibson made that statement too and look what happened. (This is not to indicate John Paddock is on the same level as Gibson as Paddock has proven himself to be a good head coach) If John were to leave, (and I don't think he does) the Pats would move on with Dave Struch in control and they would still be someone to contend with in this blogger's opinion. Nonetheless, I am sure John will have his phone ring. Why wouldn't it?
--A person I know who is not a CFL fan, but is a Pats fan said to me after the Pats polished off Lethbridge in the first round that it was great to see the junior hockey team get some much deserved publicity ahead of the football team. I agreed! The Riders get the lions share of the sports market in this town and for good reason, but it is good to see the Pats reap the rewards of their success.
--Speaking of the CFL, did the league really say they were intentionally flying "under the radar" this off-season as Arash Madani tweeted earlier this week. What bozos are running this league? Why would you take your foot off the gas as a professional league? Why wouldn't you want to make sure your product is being properly promoted. "The Ghost" nickname attached to Jeffrey Orridge seems to have morphed into other areas of the front office as well. With the seven Canadian teams not in the NHL playoffs and fan viewership said to be getting ready to drop because of that, why wouldn't you get a little more aggressive. At this point, I am waiting for the memo saying the draft will be held at a Humpty's!
--Thank you to TSN for providing coverage of the NCAA Frozen Four hockey tournament. The game between Denver University and North Dakota on Thursday night was outstanding. Barry Melrose was even giving some love to his old province as two members of North Dakota--Coltyn Sanderson and Rhett Gardner are from Moose Jaw. Gardner had the winner in an empty net as UND won 4-2 to advance to the final Saturday night against Quinnipiac. I'll be watching.
--Regina Red Sox GM Bernie Eiswirth was on "Sportscage" Thursday afternoon. Eiswirth told those listening to Saskatchewan's #1 sports show that it might be time to start looking into a new facility. I am of that opinion that Regina could use a new baseball facility, but where do you put one and how much will it cost. I have literally no clue how much a little 3-5 thousand seat park would cost, but there are plenty of places you could put it which would be a better location than Currie Field that can be somewhat tough to get to if you don't have a car. I wonder if places like the Canadian Brewhouse could partner with the Red Sox to have a bus take them to and from the game. Would that draw more people out to Red Sox games? I don't think it would hurt. The only problem I see about getting Regina a new baseball facility is the economic downturn we are in. Yes, constructing a stadium would mean jobs, but is the appetite there to spend money on a ballpark. Would you and if so, where would you put a stadium. Would you want it somewhere on Evraz Place to make all of Regina's sports teams in the same area or would you want it somewhere else.
--I have never seen so much bitching and moaning less than a week into the baseball season than what I saw from Blue Jays fans this week. Jose Bautista broke a rule. GET OVER IT! Is the rule stupid? Yes it is, but it is in place and he broke it. End of story! Some are saying if this were the Yankees or the Dodgers this wouldn't happen. Are we really going to bow down to that mentality like we did in the playoffs when there was so much anger over scheduling and other things. You would be celebrating that rule if Evan Longoria or some other member of the Rays been rung up on it.
--I don't know how Jaromir Jagr and Shane Doan keep doing it, but I hope they keep doing it for a long time.
--Playoff drafts will start this weekend. Who are you taking first if you get first pick. Once again, there is no right answer come playoff time. By the way, NHL.com has saved me the work of finding out who has the most Canadians on their roster as we approach the playoffs. The Blues and Panthers each have 16 players who call this great country home. Cheer for those teams if you want "Canada's team" to hoist the Cup.
--Congratulations to not just the student-athletes that won awards at the U of R Cougars awards banquet on Thursday, but congrats to all U of R Athletes for another great year. Your accomplishments and endeavours may not get the publicity it should for a variety of reasons, but your contributions are more than noticed.
--That's all I got. Have a great weekend!!