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!