Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Eskimos Extend Bowman; Bombers Release Shologan
The Edmonton Eskimos have extended the contract of international slotback Adarius Bowman, keeping him in Green and Gold through 2018.
A three-time consecutive CFL All-Star, Bowman set a team-record last season with 120 receptions for a league-leading 1,759 yards and nine touchdowns. He had nine 100-plus yard receiving games, including a three-touchdown performance in Week 3 and a 10-catch, 185-yard performance in Week 10. He earned CFL Player of the Week honours three times and CFL Player of the Month for September.
During the 104th Grey Cup Playoffs, Bowman recorded 114 yards on six receptions with two touchdowns.
Entering his 10th season, the six-foot-three native of Chattanooga, Tennessee has amassed career totals of 568 receptions for 8,490 yards and 43 touchdowns.
Bowman originally joined the Eskimos as a free agent in January 2011, later re-signing in December 2013 and December 2015.
Prior to Edmonton he spent his rookie season in Saskatchewan (2008) and two years in Winnipeg (2009-10).
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive line is undergoing another makeover.
The Bombers announced Tuesday the release of veteran defensive tackle Keith Shologan along with fullback Pascal Lochard – both Canadians – just two weeks before the opening of the Canadian Football League’s free agent market.
As well, import defensive tackle Euclid Cummings – added last year along with Shologan during the Bombers free agent spending spree – seems destined to hit the open market on Feb. 14th after seeing his quarterback sack total drop from eight to three.
“It’s a tough business,” said Bombers GM Kyle Walters. “Veteran guys have higher salaries and as we head into free agency there’s some tough decisions that need to be made as you try to set yourself up for this year. This was one of them.
“We wish Keith the best of luck.”
Shologan, now 31, made 17 starts for the Bombers in ’16, signing here after posting a career-best seven sacks with the Ottawa REDBLACKS in 2015 but managing just two last season.
(Winnipeg Blue Bombers)
Monday, January 30, 2017
NHL Three Stars Of Week
Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds, San Jose Sharks left wing Patrick Marleau and Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen have been named the NHL's "Three Stars" for the week ending Jan. 29.
FIRST STAR - WAYNE SIMMONDS, RW, PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Simmonds earned MVP honors at Sunday's 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game and also registered two goals in two contests earlier in the week with the Flyers (25-19-6, 56 points). Making his All-Star Game debut in the city where he played his first three NHL seasons, Simmonds scored twice in the Metropolitan Division's 10-6 semifinal win over the Atlantic Division before potting the tournament-clinching goal in a 4-3 triumph against the Pacific Division in the final. Earlier in the week, Simmonds notched the winning goal in a 2-0 victory over the New York Rangers Jan. 25 and again found the back of the net in a 2-1 triumph against the Toronto Maple Leafs Jan. 26. The 28-year-old Scarborough, Ont., native paces the Flyers and shares ninth place in the NHL with 21 goals in 50 games this season (21-17-38).
SECOND STAR - PATRICK MARLEAU, LW, SAN JOSE SHARKSMarleau led the NHL with five goals and six points in three games to power the Pacific Division-leading Sharks (31-17-2, 64 points) to a pair of wins. He tied a League record with four goals in one period (the 3rd) of a 5-2 victory against the Colorado Avalanche Jan. 23, becoming the 12th player in NHL history to achieve the feat and first since Jan. 26, 1997 (Mario Lemieux). Marleau added one goal in a 4-3 triumph over the Winnipeg Jets Jan. 24 and one assist in a 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers Jan. 26. The 37-year-old Aneroid, Sask., native ranks fifth among active players with 498-564-1,062 in 1,461 career games played, including 17-9-26 in 50 outings this season.
THIRD STAR - FREDERIK ANDERSEN, G, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFSAndersen earned two shutouts in as many appearances, stopping all 48 shots he faced, to propel the Maple Leafs (23-15-9, 55 points) to two victories in three contests. He turned aside 26 shots in a 4-0 triumph against the Calgary Flames Jan. 23 and made 22 saves in a 4-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings Jan. 25. In doing so, Andersen posted consecutive shutouts for the first time in his NHL career (164 GP). The 27-year-old Herning, Denmark, native - who is in his first campaign with the Maple Leafs - owns a 21-10-8 record with a 2.55 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and three shutouts in 39 games this season.
Something To "Mitch" About
GETTING CLOSER - I don't know about you, but every time I drive past this place whether it be down Saskatchewan Drive or inside Evraz Place, I just get excited knowing a new era of football in this town is about to begin with new Mosaic Stadium opening its doors. Say what you will positive or negative about the Riders, the new facility will be a welcome change from what we were used to at the old Mosaic. Yes, the old girl had its charm, but we know what this place brings especially if you were at the Rams-Huskies game last year when everything was tested out. #isitjuneyet
SEE YA SCOTT - Many wondered what future Scott Milanovich had with the Toronto Argonauts once Jim Barker was fired as GM. Obviously, Milanovich did too. The news he was leaving to be the QB's coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars came as a huge surprise to this blogger. I didn't see that one coming. Hey, if Danny Barrett can be an NFL assistant coach than Scott Milanovich can be as well. It will be interesting to see how he works with Blake Bortles who after a good 2015 regressed somewhat this year. Its a good move for Jacksonville, and a good move for Milanovich. The CFL is likely already in his rear-view mirror and getting smaller. He should write a book about his Toronto days. It would likely be a best-seller.
As for Toronto, what do they do now. They are already looking for a GM after getting rid of Jim Barker this past week, and as TSN's Gary Lawless has reported, the window to interview candidates from other CFL teams closes January 31 meaning no team could grant the Argos permission to talk to anyone. What a colossal mess! It just keeps getting worse, and not better.
Argos DB Jermaine Gabriel may have put it best when he said on Twitter after the Milanovich news was made public that he needed a sinking ship emoji
G'BYE GALE - Seeing the Saskatchewan Roughriders release Mitchell Gale before free agency was somewhat of a surprise. I don't know the rationale behind the move, but it is obvious the quarterback wasn't going to sign here. Did the Riders not want him or vice-versa? If it is the latter, it makes you wonder why after Chris Jones said last week Kevin Glenn is not being given the job. There was a chance for Gale to come in and win the job. He has chosen not to. The same could be said for Curtis Steele. There was no guarantee he wasn't going to be the starting tailback, but there was nothing saying he wasn't going to be. Competition is a good thing, but on the surface maybe it wasn't for these two. They certainly didn't think they would be anointed as the guy did they? I could be way off base on this one, but I do find it odd both were let go early. Speaking of which, remember this pic from just a few months ago.
I think we can all agree that didn't work out so well. No doubt a better job needs to be done this time around when it comes to free agency.
NHL AT THE BREAK - Another all-star game has come and gone (YAWWWWNNNNN!!!), and its time to start the stretch drive. As you look at the standings, who is really out of it. I think you can safely say Arizona and Colorado are, but the West is wide open while in the East, there are four teams who are on the cusp of being out, but that could change for New Jersey, Carolina, Detroit and Buffalo if they can come out of the break and get hot. It will make for what could be a very dead trade deadline day as teams will have a tough time trying to find a trading partner to get what they need seeing so many squads have a chance at being in the playoffs.
As the break hits, there are 4 Canadian teams in the playoffs as it stands right now, with Toronto one point out of a playoff spot in the East, Vancouver one back in the West and Winnipeg three back. I think it is safe to say we won't be going through this year's playoffs without any Canadian involvement. Could all 7 make it? I am guessing not, but the hue and cry of Canadian teams not being in the playoffs shouldn't be heard. For what its worth, that talk doesn't bother me, but it is good for a number of different areas.
NHL TOP 100 - The NHL Top 100 was revealed on the weekend, and for the most part it is a solid list, but like it is with any list, you ask about some who made the list and others who did not. I won't even start to look at those who played the game before I was born, but obviously the greats I heard about were on that list as they should.. It baffles me to see Eric Lindros on it. The guy isn't one of the best to play the game, and he certainly wouldn't be on my top 100. Cam Neely would have been in my top 100 as would have had Dale Hawerchuk and Jarome Iginla. How Evgeni Malkin didn't make the list is surprising as well.
CRAZINESS AT THE CKHS - It rarely happens at the CKHS when the U of R basketball teams are playing for whatever reason, but it was nice to see some energy and some atmosphere in the gym on Saturday night as the Cougars met Calgary. The womens basketball team is the best team Regina has had over the past many years on a year-over-year basis, but people just don't seem to come out and check Dave Taylor's squad out while the men's team may not win every game, but they do provide a solid night of hoops. On Saturday, people were there and it showed what kind of place the gym can be when its full.
The kids stormed the court at half-time of the women's game to shoot some hoops and man did they ever. It was chaos, but it was fun. The women beat Calgary to cement their #2 ranking in Canada while the men came back from a 20 point deficit to shock the #5 ranked Dinos in what might have been the best Cougar men's game I have seen since the days of Kevin Gilroy who was in the house along with other basketball alumni. I don't know what has to be done to get more people out to Cougar basketball games and Cougar athletics in general. Many things have been discussed and many initiatives have been tried. It really is a secret that more people need to tune in to. The next home games are in two weeks as the regular season winds down. I hope the scene inside the CKHS is similar to what it was on Saturday, but my expectations are likely too high.
That's all I got. Have a great week!
Friday, January 27, 2017
Gordie Is The GOAT
Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Mario Lemieux, the three greatest living hockey players of all time, made a rare appearance together Friday night and agreed on one important fact: The greatest player of all time was not sitting among them.
The three Hall of Famers, part of the National Hockey League's naming of the top 100 players of all time, agreed that Detroit Red Wings great Gordie Howe was the best who ever played.
Howe died last spring at the age of 88.
"I think we're all in pretty much in agreement that Gordie was pretty special," said Gretzky, the game's all-time points leader with 2,857.
"These two guys here are pretty special also, and we all have so much respect for what Gordie did and what he accomplished," Gretzky added. "It's not a bad thing to be named in the top 100 behind a guy like Gordie Howe. I think we all feel the same way."
Orr, widely regarded as the greatest defenseman to ever play, agreed.
"Absolutely," Orr, 68, said. "Gordie in my mind is the best that ever played the game. I'm not sure if we'll ever see another one."
As for the player these Hall of Famers feel is the best current player, there seemed to be consensus that it's Sidney Crosby. Although the current scoring leader, Connor McDavid, who is just 20, did come up in the conversation.
Lemieux is part owner of Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins and at one point was Crosby's landlord as Crosby lived with Lemieux and his family when he first broke into the league.
"I think his work ethic first of all, just like Wayne was when he played, he's the hardest-working guy out there," Lemieux said. "Whether it's a practice or a 3-on-3 game at practice, he wants to win, he wants to be the best."
Gretzky, who recently took on a senior management role with the Edmonton Oilers, for whom McDavid plays, is unequivocal that Crosby is the best in the game even as McDavid is making a case that he might soon be that kind of player in just his second NHL season.
Interestingly, Orr, who is McDavid's agent, did not offer an opinion on the question of the current game's best player.
"I know Bobby's very close to Connor," Gretzky said. "Connor sees [Crosby] in his vision and that's what makes the game wonderful, that you want to be as good as the best player. Right now Crosby's the best player. Until someone knocks him off the castle, that's the way it's going to be."
Although there was surprisingly little intersection between the three greats -- Gretzky played in one charity game with Orr and played internationally just once with Lemieux in the 1987 Canada Cup -- there is much that unites them.
"We all had the same dreams growing up as kids," Gretzky said. "Mario probably wanted to be [Jean] Beliveau, Bobby Orr probably wanted to be Doug Harvey. Of course I wanted to be Gordie. So we all had the same dream."
"That's the interesting thing when we all meet, we all had the same dreams as kids, we wanted to play in the National Hockey League," Gretzky added. "The game is in better shape today than it's ever been. These players, from Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid, they're just tremendous players."
The NHL unveiled its top 100 players Friday night at Staples Center as part of the NHL's annual All-Star Weekend, although the list did not rank the players in any particular order.
The annual skills competition takes place Saturday with the games featuring All-Stars from all four divisions set for Sunday.
Dozens of the NHL 100 members were honored in the ceremony, from 1970s stars Guy Lafleur and Yvan Cournoyer to current Chicago Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews.
The NHL 100 was selected by a 58-person panel of league executives, former players and media members. The league revealed 33 selectees largely from the league's first half-century on New Year's Day, and the rest were named Friday, with most of the greats in attendance for a ceremony hosted by actor Jon Hamm.
Milanovich Leaves Argos For Jacksonville Jaguars
The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced this evening that Scott Milanovich has resigned from his position as Head Coach to accept a job with the Jacksonville Jaguars as their Quarterbacks Coach.
“We support Scott’s decision to pursue his goals in the NFL and wish him all the best in his new role,” said Michael Copeland, President and CEO for the Argos. “We’ve made significant progress in our search for the Argos’ next General Manager. We hope to conclude the search process shortly. The first order of business for our next General Manager will be to hire the team’s next head coach.
We are confident that we will be well prepared for a successful 2017 season. In the interim, all player personnel matters will continue to be executed as planned under the leadership of Assistant General Manager Spencer Zimmerman. On behalf of the entire Argonauts organization, and our fans, I would like to thank Scott for his many contributions and leadership over the past five years.”
The Argonauts also announced that Tommy Condell has joined the Club in the position of Special Advisor. Condell will support the Argonauts with player personnel matters. Most recently the offensive coordinator for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Condell has also spent time with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Ottawa Renegades and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
(Toronto Argonauts Football Club)
Riders Release 4 & Allow Foster To Go To NFL
The Saskatchewan Roughriders released the following four players on Friday
- Quarterback Mitchell Gale
- Running Back Curtis Steele
- Receiver Shawmaud Chambers
- Defensive Lineman Dylan Ainsworth
Just hours after that move, the team announced they were releasing linebacker Otha Foster III so he could seek NFL employment. Foster has signed a contract with the Baltimore Ravens.
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.
--Kevin Glenn is back! Does he make the Riders a better team in the absence of Darian Durant. Yes! Are the Riders a playoff team right now with Kevin Glenn? No! Were they a playoff team with Darian Durant? No! I don't think Chris Jones is done when it comes to getting an experienced CFL quarterback here, but he has gotten a guy who can work with the young kids and will do what he can to chalk up some "W"'s. Glenn might not be the "sexy" name Rider Nation was looking for, but he is the guy for the moment. Whether he is the starter or backup remains to be seen..
--Henry Burris is going out on top. His last game sees him as the MVP of the Grey Cup and his last pass was the touchdown throw that gave his Ottawa REDBLACKS the Grey Cup in overtime as he connected with Earnest Jackson. Burris certainly put up the numbers in his CFL career, but where does he go down all-time when it comes to quarterbacks.
--Remember when Danny Barrett and Roy Shivers had Nealon Greene, Kevin Glenn and Henry Burris in the stable and they went with Nealon. Good times!
--Duron Carter told reporters Thursday afternoon from his home in Florida that Rider fans should buy his "89" jersey and that one of the reasons why he is coming to Saskatchewan is because of the fans.
He also discounted the notion that he's a bad boy while admitting he is a very intense individual. I'm torn on this one. Carter comes off like his dad, and I am NOT a Cris Carter fan. I wasn't a Cris Carter fan on the field or on ESPN and that was long before Duron even came to the CFL. Like father, like son, the kid can play the game though and play it well. If he comes here and keeps things on the straight and narrow, the acquisition is huge. If he becomes a distraction, ship his tail out of here a-s-a-p. That being said, I can't see Carter being a distraction to a hard-nosed coach like Chris Jones. He isn't going to put up with any of that. At least I hope he isn't. BTW: Carter needs to read up on his Rider history. I think a lot of people already have that 89 jersey in their closet. Maybe "The Rider Store" can sell namebars! Yeah. that isn't happening!
--Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson doesn't want to play in the Senior Bowl to risk injury. I don't have a problem with that. He could go #1 overall. If teams don't know what he's about and haven't got film on him, tough on them. Then again, one of the coaching staffs at the Senior Bowl is the Cleveland Browns and welllllll....you know.
--I can't even imagine what it would be like in these parts if the Riders had the last decade that the Browns have had, Has there been any optimism with that club? Offensive lineman Joe Thomas was on the "Rich Eisen Show" Thursday and estimated he has played with 20 or more quarterbacks. The all-pro Thomas has played nine years for the Browns. Do the math!
--The play of the Calgary Flames this week has been great says this fan of the Edmonton Oilers
--Are the Leafs and Oilers actually going to make the playoffs?
--The play of the Winnipeg Jets must just drive fans of that club up the wall. I can't figure them out.
-- I can't be the only one thinking a Ben Bishop for Kevin Shattenkirk deal is a natural. The Blues need a goalie and another d-man in Tampa makes them better.
--Regina Rams head coach Steve Bryce has signed 29 recruits. 29?! Of the 29, many of them are guys that are going to be players who will have a solid shot at moving to the next level in their football career. This just in Regina, that 6-2 campaign Bryce put together was no fluke and may be the norm. That's great to see! Leading the way is Leboldus' Nick Cross. If you don't know what this kid is about, do some homework. He is one of the top Grade 12 football players in Canada.
--Quote of the week- Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni was asked about his team going 3-5 over its last 8. He replied with "Actually we won all those games. I'm going with that alternative fact thing."
--All day breakfast at McDonalds? Is Trump to blame for this? Can one get a quarter-pounder with hashbrowns?
--I've had many ask me since I went to Rogers Place what it was like for food and beer at the new jewel of downtown Edmonton. After telling them, they ask if I know what the cost will be for food and booze at the new Mosaic Stadium. I don't know the answer to that, but I am guessing it will be more than what you're used to much like Oilers fans had to deal with after getting concessions at Rexall Place. This just in, Rogers Place is comparable to other stadiums around the NHL and there was no shortage of people at the concessions as they shelled out over 20 bucks for two beers. I'm not saying it will be that way here, but you can bitch and moan all you want. You know you will be buying much like the people in Edmonton are doing.
--Regina is getting not only the Tim Hortons Brier, but a Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling event. Both will go over extremely well because Regina and Saskatchewan love their curling. The GSOC Tour Challenge will see 60 established and up and coming rinks participating. It might be the best event to ever grace our fine city. Seeing everything happen at the Co-Operators Centre will be interesting seeing the venue is smaller and cozier than the Brandt Centre. To quote John Lynch "It's just going to be fantastic"!
--If you need something to do tonight, may I suggest checking out the Cougars 1000 point career players Katie Polischuk and Brandon Tull as the Cougar basketball teams play Calgary. Everything starts at the CKHS (Dick White Centre----c'mon U of R make that happen) at 6.
--That's all I got. Have a great weekend!
Thursday, January 26, 2017
This Week In Cougar Athletics
Women’s Basketball (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 2) – The Cougars jumped up one spot in this week’s poll to No. 2 after a road sweep over Brandon which saw them win by scores of 77-40 and 75-55 over the Bobcats. Regina (12-2) now has the second-best RPI in Canada West, which is the metric by which the conference will seed playoff teams this year. The Cougars are back at home this weekend for home games on Friday and Saturday against Calgary, which will come into the series with an 8-6 record.
Men’s Basketball – The Cougars suffered two close road losses to Brandon last weekend, losing 95-91 to the Bobcats on Friday and 95-85 on Saturday to fall to 6-8 on the season. Regina continues Canada West play this weekend against a strong Calgary team that’s ranked No. 5 in the nation and holds an 11-3 record in conference play. Game times are set for 8 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport.
Women's Hockey - The Cougars (9-10-3-0) clinched a Canada West playoff spot on the weekend, taking a 3-2 shootout win over Mount Royal on Saturday after falling 2-1 on Friday night. Kylee Kupper scored her seventh goal of the season on Friday and Lilla Carpenter-Boesch and Kylie Gavelin scored in regulation on Saturday. Emma Waldenberger netted the winner while Morgan Baker didn't allow a goal in the shootout. The Cougars trail Saskatchewan by three points for fourth in the conference and will host the Huskies on Friday night, before traveling up Highway 11 for a rematch at Rutherford Arena on Saturday.
Men's Hockey – The Cougars suffered a pair of tough losses to No. 8-ranked Mount Royal on home ice on the weekend, falling short on the comeback trail with a 4-3 loss on Friday night before a 4-3 overtime loss in Saturday's rematch. Ian McNulty had two goals on Friday and another on Saturday while Cody Fowlie totalled three assists in the weekend set. Regina (3-17-2) will play a home-and-home series with first-place Saskatchewan this weekend, with Friday's contest taking place in Saskatoon before Saturday evening's game at The Co-operators Centre.
Wrestling (Women's U SPORTS Ranking: No. 4 / Men's U SPORTS Ranking: No. 7) – The men's wrestling team defeated Northland College 24-22 in a dual in Jamestown, N.D. on Wednesday night, thanks to wins from Daniel Amberson, Paul Tokarz, Lucas Hoffert, Waylon Decoteau and Jordan Tholl. Both the men's and women's Cougar teams will compete in the Cascades Classic hosted by the University of the Fraser Valley on Sunday.
Women’s Volleyball – Diana Lumbala was named the Canada West Second Star of the Week after piling up 43 kills and a .434 hitting percentage as the Cougars defeated Winnipeg in four sets on both Friday and Saturday at the CKHS. Taylor Ungar got into the act as well, tying a school single-match record with 28 digs in Saturday’s win. The Cougars (3-13) are on the road this weekend for a pair of matches at Thompson Rivers (6-8).
Men’s Volleyball – The Cougars were defeated twice by Winnipeg last weekend at the CKHS, losing in three sets to the Wesmen on Friday and in four sets on Saturday. The Cougars (0-16) hit the road in search of their first win of the Canada West schedule against a Thompson Rivers team that will come into the weekend with a 1-13 conference record. The two teams will meet on Friday night and Saturday night in Kamloops, B.C.
Track & Field (Women’s U SPORTS Ranking: No. 8) – Joy Becker crushed her own school long jump record last weekend at the Golden Bear Open, winning the event with a time of 6.25 metres to register the longest jump by a U SPORTS athlete so far this season and also taking first place in the 60-metre dash. Kahlen Branning won the 60 on the men’s side, hit the national standard in the 300-metre dash, and combined with Austin Strauss, Liam Nystuen, and Alex Eiswerth for first in the 4x400-metre relay. The Cougars are preparing for the Bison Classic, to be held Feb. 3 and Feb. 4 in Winnipeg.
(Courtesy Braden Konschuh/U of R Athletics)
Riders Make Duron Carter Signing Official
The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today international free agent receiver Duron Carter has signed with the team. As per club policy, details of the contract were not released.
Carter (6’5 – 205) joins the Green and White after spending three seasons with the Montreal Alouettes. The 25-year-old Florida native originally signed with the Als as a free agent in June, 2013.
Last season, Carter started all 14 regular season games played for the Montreal Alouettes; picking up 938 yards on 61 receptions while sharing the team lead with five touchdown catches. He also added a blocked punt that he recovered and returned 46 yards for a touchdown.
Through 40 games in three seasons, Carter has registered 185 catches for 2,877 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was named the Alouettes Most Outstanding Player and CFL All-Star in 2014 after picking up 1,030 yards.
“We are pleased to be able to add a young dynamic player like Duron Carter to our football team,” stated Riders Vice President of Football Operations, General Manager and Head Coach Chris Jones. “He is a supreme talent with a rare combination of size and speed that has yet to reach his full potential. Adding him to our already deep receiving core will give us multiple options and make us difficult to defend.”
(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR)
Grand Slam of Curling Coming To Regina
, Regina will play host to the world’s best curlers this fall as Sportsnet brings the Tour Challenge – the first event of the 2017-18 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season – to town from September 5 to 10. This marks the first time Regina will host a Grand Slam curling event.
The announcement was made today at a media event hosted by local hometown favourite and 1998 Olympic gold medallist Joan McCusker, alongside Regina Mayor Michael Fougere, Regina Minister of Tourism Jeremy Harrison, Curl Regina Committee Chair Bernadette McIntyre, and 2010 Olympic gold medallist Kevin Martin.
“Regina is a natural choice to host an event like Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling,” said Mayor Michael Fougere. “Our extensive experience hosting major sporting events, our large and enthusiastic volunteer base, and our outstanding venues mean that some of the greatest curlers in the world will be experiencing one of the greatest host cities in Canada.”
“We have grown the Grand Slam tournament from four to seven events since acquiring the property in 2012 and are committed to investing in the sport, the players, and curling communities. Saskatchewan is one of the curling meccas in Canada and we are excited to bring the event to Regina to kick off the 2017 season,” said Kristi Petrushchak, Sr. Manager of Grand Slam of Curling, Sportsnet.
The Tour Challenge will be hosted at the Co-operator’s Centre at Evraz Place, September 5 -10, 2017. The event will bring 275 athletes, along with officials and media from across Canada, to Regina. This event is expected to create an estimated economic impact of more than $1 million.
“The curling community is excited to host the first event of the 2017-18 curling season, where the best curlers in the world will be sharpening their skills in preparation for Olympic qualification and Tier 2 will feature national and local up-and-coming teams. It is a must-see for curling enthusiasts,” commented Bernadette McIntyre, Curl Regina Committee Chair.
Tickets for the Tour Challenge go on sale to the public on Friday, Feb. 3 through Ticketmaster. For more details on the 2017-18 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season, please visit www.thegrandslamofcurling.com
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Regina Rams Add 13 To Recruiting Class
University of Regina Rams head coach Steve Bryce announced Wednesday the commitment of 13 players for the 2017 season, including highly regarded LeBoldus linebacker Nick Cross.
The additions also include offensive linemen Maguire Abell (Peacock) and Tim Gauthier (Riffel), receivers Devin Csincsa (Kamloops Broncos), Blake Draper (Valley Huskers), and Nolan Slusar (Riffel), defensive linemen Garrett Beardy (Winnipeg Rifles), Travis Pelletier (Regina Thunder), and Paxton Seib (Campbell Collegiate), linebacker Dalton Kornum (Greenall), defensive back Dillon Zimmermann (LeBoldus), and athletes Carter Hewson (Luther) and Gray Lund (O’Neill).
Ranked by CanadaFootballChat.com as the top Grade 12 prospect in the province of Saskatchewan, Cross won 4A provincial championships with LeBoldus in each of his three seasons with the Golden Suns. He led the Schwann Conference with 41½ tackles in six league games played while also recording four sacks, a fumble recovery, and an interception. As a fullback and running back for LeBoldus, Cross had 15 rushes for 233 yards and four touchdowns and 11 receptions for 201 yards and another four majors.
Cross also has extensive experience with Football Canada’s national teams. He competed for Team Canada’s U18 team at the 2016 International Bowl, won gold with the U19 team at the 2016 IFAF World Championships in China, and is currently in Florida with the U19 team at the 2017 North American Championship.
“Nick is a versatile player that plays the game at a high rate of speed,” Bryce said. “He’s an extremely physical player and is very adept at separating opposing players from the ball. Nick is a dynamic athlete that we expect to come in and make an immediate impact for us on both defence and special teams.”
Considered by the Rams coaching staff as the top graduating offensive lineman in Saskatchewan, Abell won three 3A provincial championships in 2013, 2014, and 2015 with Moose Jaw’s Peacock Collegiate. Abell, who played at centre and on the defensive line for the Toilers, played at two Football Canada Cups with Team Saskatchewan and won bronze in 2015 and silver in 2016. Abell also played for Team Canada’s U18 team at the 2016 International Bowl in Texas.
“Maguire is extremely powerful, has great balance, and good feet for a big man,” Bryce said. “He plays very aggressively, finishes his blocks, and just as importantly he’s an exceptional student.”
Zimmermann won a silver medal with Team Saskatchewan at the 2016 Football Canada Cup and is competing for Team Canada’s U18 team at the 2017 North American Championship this week in Florida. He finished his Grade 12 season with 13 tackles, two interceptions, and two pass breakups for LeBoldus, winning his third provincial championship in as many years with the Golden Suns.
Csincsa was a CJFL All-Canadian in 2015 after leading the country in receiving yards, finishing his final Kamloops Broncos season with 67 catches for 1102 yards and eight touchdowns. Draper comes to the Rams with four seasons of U SPORTS eligibility remaining after leading the Valley Huskers in receptions (43), receiving yards (487), and touchdown catches (3) last year, while Slusar had a completion percentage of over 60% as Riffel’s quarterback in 2016 but will come to the Rams as a wide receiver.
Beardy has four years of U SPORTS eligibility and compiled 28 tackles, three pass deflections, and a half sack last year with the Winnipeg Rifles, while Pelletier comes to the Rams after five years with the Regina Thunder. Seib helped Team Saskatchewan to a silver at last year’s Football Canada Cup and went on to collect 10½ tackles for Campbell Collegiate last year in his final season at the high school level.
Hewson, Lund, and Gauthier were also teammates of Abell, Seib, and Zimmermann – and previously announced commits Lucas Nurkowski, Ryder Varga, Dawson Mucha, Parker Hodel, Tanner Schmekel, and Ty Cappo – for Team Saskatchewan’s silver medal-winning team at the Football Canada Cup. Last season, Hewson rushed 110 times for 778 yards and five touchdowns for Luther and Lund finished with 49 rushes for 293 yards to go along with six catches for 186 yards and two majors for O’Neill. Gauthier was primarily a left tackle for Riffel. Kornum had 24 tackles last year for Greenall and also picked up 1½ sacks and a pair of blocked kicks with the Griffins.
The Rams now have 29 players committed as part of their 2017 recruiting class.
OL Maguire Abell • 6-0, 270 • 1st • Moose Jaw, Sask. (Albert E. Peacock Collegiate)
OL Parker Auchstaetter • 6-5, 295 • 1st • Assiniboia, Sask. (Assiniboia Composite)
DL Garrett Beardy • 6-2, 275 • 2nd • Winnipeg, Man. (Winnipeg Rifles)
RB Kyle Borsa • 5-11, 180 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Michael A. Riffel HS)
SB Jonah Branning • 6-1, 170 • 1st • Moose Jaw, Sask. (Central Collegiate)
OL Ty Cappo • 6-3, 245 • 1st • Muscowpetung First Nation (Greenall HS)
OL Theren Churchill • 6-6, 280 • 3rd • Stettler, Alta. (Edmonton Huskies)
LB Nick Cross • 5-11, 180 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Dr. Martin LeBoldus HS)
WR Devin Csincsa • 5-10, 190 • 5th • Winnipeg, Man. (Kamloops Broncos)
SB Noah Dheilly • 6-0, 180 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Dr. Martin LeBoldus HS)
SB Blake Draper • 6-3, 225 • 2nd • Chilliwack, B.C. (Valley Huskers)
OL Tim Gauthier • 6-2, 260 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Michael A. Riffel HS)
ATH Carter Hewson • 5-7, 165 • Regina, Sask. (Luther College HS)
OL Parker Hodel • 6-3, 275 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Winston Knoll Collegiate)
OL Matt Knight • 6-2, 300 • 4th • Regina, Sask. (Regina Thunder)
LB Dalton Kornum • 6-2, 190 • 1st • Pilot Butte, Sask. (Greenall HS)
ATH Gray Lund • 5-7, 160 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Archbishop M.C O'Neill HS)
DB Zachary Moore • 6-0, 180 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Dr. Martin LeBoldus HS)
OL Dawson Mucha • 5-11, 280 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Sheldon-Williams Collegiate)
SB Lucas Nurkowski • 6-0, 170 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Michael A. Riffel HS)
RB Jacob Palmarin • 5-10, 205 • 3rd • Lethbridge, Alta. (Kamloops Broncos)
DL Travis Pelletier • 6-2, 240 • 4th • Regina, Sask. (Regina Thunder)
DB Noah Sampson • 5-11, 180 • 1st • Pilot Butte, Sask. (Greenall HS)
DL Tanner Schmekel • 6-1, 230 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Michael A. Riffel HS)
DL Paxton Seib • 6-0, 260 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Campbell Collegiate)
WR Nolan Slusar • 5-11, 160 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Michael A. Riffel HS)
DL Blake Turner • 6-1, 255 • 1st • Calgary, Alta. (Bishop O'Byrne HS)
LB Ryder Varga • 6-2, 215 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Dr. Martin LeBoldus HS)
DB Dillon Zimmermann • 5-11, 170 • 1st • Regina, Sask. (Dr. Martin LeBoldus HS)
Smilin Hank is Retirin Hank
Henry Burris was asked the question almost immediately after he led the Ottawa Redblacks to a thrilling win over the Calgary Stampeders in last season’s Grey Cup.
Are you going to retire?
The veteran quarterback and his wife agreed it wasn’t a decision that should be made based on emotion and decided to wait until 2017 to discuss his football future. On Tuesday, he answered that post-game question, announcing he was retiring at the age of 41.
“We knew it was going to be a huge year with it being the country’s 150th and the Grey Cup being here,” said his wife Nicole, sitting alongside him at a news conference. “I would say the one thing that almost had him coming back was at the parade when everyone was screaming ‘One more year!’ I almost thought on the stage he was going to say ‘OK.”‘
Taking the time to absorb the victory and enjoying his family helped Burris make the final decision, his wife said.
"We realized there was nothing left to do," she said. "His last two years of his career is what people pray for through their entire career so there was really nothing left to do. We really just sat down and did a gut check."
It was an ending right out of a Hollywood movie.
After losing the starter's job to Trevor Harris this past season, Burris came back and led the Redblacks to the playoffs and capped the season with a 39-33 overtime Grey Cup victory over the heavily favoured Calgary Stampeders.
Burris almost didn't play the game as he felt a pop in his knee during warm-up, but thanks to medication made it to the field in time for kickoff and was impressive completing 35-of-46 passes for 461 yards and three touchdowns and was named the game's MVP.
The Spiro, Okla., native retires from the game third on the CFL's career list in yards passing (63,227) and touchdowns (374), a three-time Grey Cup champion (1998, 2008, 2016) and with two outstanding player awards (2010, 2015)
Burris said through the course of last season, when he was sidelined due to injury and then forced into the backup role, he realized it would likely be his final year as the toll of the game became more evident. He also enjoyed having the opportunity to be more involved with his boys Armand and Barron, who were also with him at Tuesday's announcement.
"For me to be selfish I could have said let's do one more year, but when it came down to it the most important values for me were my family first and the future being second," said Burris. "For me it wasn't a time to take a step back, it was a time to continually move forward and seize the moment for the opportunities that are there and with all the opportunities, when we looked at our options, there was no way I could pass that opportunity up.
"I'm thankful to be one of the few people to play this game until I'm 41 years old, but even more importantly I'm coming off the field with my health," said Burris.
When the Redblacks signed Harris last season it was with the agreement that he would be the starter in 2017 and that also played a factor in Burris' decision.
"For me this is only the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another," he said.
Burris could have likely explored other options around the league, but said that was never a consideration as the family was determined to stay in Ottawa.
"Ottawa is our home."
Known for his trademark smile and outgoing nature Burris would seem like a natural to join the media, but for now plans to take a step back and enjoy time with his family.
One of his priorities is to learn to skate so he can play hockey with his kids.
After stops in Calgary, Saskatchewan and Hamilton Burris admits playing in Ottawa was special.
"Hands down this is the best place to play in this entire league," he said.
Redblacks general manager Marcel Desjardins announced the team would be honouring Burris at some point during the upcoming season.
"None of us are where we're at today if it's not for Henry Burris," he said. "This franchise is not where it's at if not for Henry Burris."
Toronto Argonauts Relieve Jim Barker of GM Duties
The Toronto Argonauts have parted ways with General Manager Jim Barker after six seasons on the job, the team announced Tuesday morning.
Over his 30-plus year career, Barker has won four Grey Cups (1997, 2002, 2008 and 2012) as both a coach and as a football executive.
No immediate replacement has been named.
“On behalf of our entire organization, and our fans, I would like to thank Jim Barker for his many contributions over the past seven years,” said Michael Copeland, Argonauts’ president and chief executive officer. “He helped deliver the 100th Grey Cup to Toronto in 2012, and that will forever define his legacy as an Argonaut.
“We remain committed to building a best-in-class organization that consistently plays dominant and exciting football, and wins championships. To help achieve this, we feel that we require the fresh approach that only comes from new leadership.”
Monday, January 23, 2017
Kevin Glenn Returning To Riderville
The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today international free agent quarterback Kevin Glenn has signed with the team. As per club policy, details of the contract were not released.
Glenn (5’10 – 200) joins the Riders for the third time in his career ahead of what will be his 17th season. The Illinois State product originally entered the CFL with the Green and White in 2001, spending three seasons in Saskatchewan, before making his second stop in 2015.
Last season, Glenn started nine of ten regular season games played for the Montreal Alouettes completing 222 of 314 pass attempts (70.7%) for 2,547 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was acquired by Winnipeg on September 12th, where he went on to dress for the Blue Bombers final seven regular season games and the West Semi-Final.
Starting 19 of 56 games through parts of four seasons as a Rider, Glenn has completed 341 of 579 pass attempts for 4,397 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“Bringing Kevin in will provide a veteran presence at quarterback while increasing the level of internal competition,” stated Riders Vice President of Football Operations, General Manager and Head Coach Chris Jones. “Whether he is on the field or not, Kevin will have a positive impact on our group. He is a proven leader and talented player that we expect to come in and compete with the other quarterbacks for the starting position.”
The Michigan native currently sits 7th all-time among CFL quarterbacks with 48,813 career passing yards. His 268 career touchdown passes rank 9th all-time. Glenn has also spent time with Winnipeg (2004-08), Hamilton (2009-11), Calgary (2012-13) and B.C. (2014) through his 269 career games played.
(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR)
NHL Three Stars of Week
Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Conor Sheary, New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss and Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Jan. 22.
FIRST STAR – CONOR SHEARY, LW, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Sheary led the NHL with six goals and nine points in four games, highlighted by a trio of multi-goal performances, to lift the Penguins (30-11-5, 65 points) to a perfect 4-0-0 week. He registered 2-1—3, including his first career overtime goal, in an 8-7 triumph against the Washington Capitals Jan. 16. Sheary then collected one assist in a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens Jan. 18 and two goals in a 7-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes Jan. 20. He capped the week with another 2-1—3 performance, including the decisive goal, in a 5-1 triumph over the Boston Bruins Jan. 22. The 24-year-old Winchester, Mass., native ranks fourth on the Penguins with 17-17—34 in 39 games this season, more than triple his production from his rookie campaign in 2015-16 (7-3—10 in 44 GP).
SECOND STAR – THOMAS GREISS, G, NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Greiss went 2-0-1 with a 0.98 goals-against average, .971 save percentage and two shutouts to guide the Islanders (19-17-9, 47 points) to seven out of a possible eight standings points. He opened the week with consecutive shutouts, registering 32 saves in a 4-0 victory over the Boston Bruins Jan. 16 and 23 saves in a 3-0 win against the Dallas Stars Jan. 19. Greiss then made 44 saves, four shy of his career high, in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Jan. 22. The 30-year-old Fussen, Germany, native owns a 12-7-3 record with a 2.32 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and two shutouts in 23 appearances this season.
THIRD STAR – T.J. OSHIE, RW, WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Oshie collected 3-3—6 in three outings to power the League-leading Capitals (31-9-6, 68 points) to five out a possible six standings points. He posted 1-2—3, his third three-point performance of the season, in an 8-7 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Jan. 16. Oshie then recorded 1-1—2 in a 7-3 victory over his former team, the St. Louis Blues, Jan. 19 and scored the tying goal in a 4-3 overtime win against the Dallas Stars Jan. 21. The 30-year-old Everett, Wash., native places fifth on the Capitals with 17-14—31 in 38 games this season.
Something To "Mitch" About
--DARIAN DISHES DIRT - As was the case last year in the CFL off-season, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are once again the main focus of discussion. Last year, it was Chris Jones moving lock, stock and barrel from Edmonton to Saskatchewan, and Jones is front-and-center again after Darian Durant did not hold back when asked what went wrong in Riderville and why he will continue his CFL career in Montreal during an interview with Rod Pedersen on 620 CKRM's Sportscage Friday as well as an interview with Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post.
Durant was offended by comments Jones made to Rob Vanstone in a Leader-Post article. He didn't like Jones not taking any credit for the team's 5 win season instead deciding to pin the blame on his quarterback for what happened. I think it is safe to say both would like a do-over, but the one thing it has done is put the CFL on the front-burner----no thanks to the league who should be doing that but instead choose to keep the "Gone on Holidays" sign on the office door.
Was it right for Darian to blow off some steam? That is the million dollar question and there are many weighing in on both sides. What is crystal clear is something I mentioned on this blog a short while ago which is the Alouettes have to be the team to visit New Mosaic Stadium first. If the CFL is paying attention, they will do so. This likely means Durant will visit in late October.
I don't think it is any secret the Stampeders and REDBLACKS will meet in Week 1 of the season as the league has had a Grey Cup rematch for the past several years to kick off the season. Why you wouldn't have a Montreal-Saskatchewan matchup at new Mosaic in that opening week would not only be good for the league, but good for both franchises. Having Darian here for the season opener will have many eyes watching across the country and isn't that what the CFL wants? It also gets the visit out of the way early so people can stop talking about it and both teams can get on their way.
--NFL CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY -- One word could be described to use the two games we saw yesterday. YAWWWNNNN!! While the result of the Pittsburgh-New England didn't surprise me as Tom Brady ensured the TB12FU tour would make one last stop in Houston at Super Bowl 51, the result of the Atlanta Falcons-Green Bay Packers game was a stunner. Not so much for the fact the Falcons won, but for the fact that Aaron Rodgers and company just didn't have it against a Falcons defence that is not that formidable. The Atlanta D had answers for Rodgers, and Green Bay's didn't for Matt Ryan who now goes to his first Super Bowl. The Patriots should be favoured to win the game, but let's hope what happens in two weeks is far better than what happened yesterday.
-PROBLEMS WITH THE PATS? -- While at the Brandt Center Friday night, some concern was relayed to me about the recent play of the team. The Pats looked nothing like the number one team in Canada losing 8-5 to the Medicine Hat Tigers, but bouncing back to beat Swift Current Saturday and Sunday. The Tyler Brown injury will be a big concern if it is a big one, but Jordan Hollett is back and may have to carry the load. The team is starting to give up some goals, although they did shut Brandon down Sunday. I think this squad is trying to re-establish its identity after the trades made. There is still a lot of time to go in the season. I don't think there is a need to push the panic button, but one might consider it if Brown doesn't get back soon.
--GOALS GALORE -- I don't know what is happening in the NHL, but we are seeing teams score a lot of goals. Columbus beat Ottawa 7-6 Sunday night, the Oilers throttled Calgary 7-3 and Washington had back to back seven goal games this week. Let's hope that trend continues. No one is talking about the goalies now!
That's all I got for today. Have a good week!
Saturday, January 21, 2017
NFL Conference Championship Capsules
Atlanta, Green Bay, New England and Pittsburgh are the NFL's final four. Two of them are moving on after Sunday and two are going home. For a preview of the AFC and NFC Championship games, click here
Durant Sounds Off
Darian Durant didn't pull any punches Friday afternoon as he talked about his departure from Saskatchewan in an interview with 620 CKRM's Rod Pedersen on Saskatchewan's #1 Sports Show--the Sportscage.
Durant, who met the media for the first time in Montreal since the trade that brought him to the Alouettes, says he knew his time in Riderville was over after an article by Rob Vanstone in the Regina Leader-Post in which head coach/general manager Chris Jones referred to him as "moderately successful".
At the end of the day, some things were said about me personally that I thought were uncalled for. To have a coach or GM come out and call a player average and blame the wins and losses on one guy is a low blow. For him to put all the blame on me was something I didn't appreciate." Durant said.
Durant added he doesn't know when the Alouettes will be in Regina because the CFL schedule hasn't come out, but he says he will have that date circled on the calendar.
The complete interview can be heard right here
Friday, January 20, 2017
Willie Jefferson Staying In Riderville
The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today international defensive lineman Willie Jefferson has signed an extension to remain with the team. As per team policy, details of the contract were not released.
Jefferson (6’6 – 245) joined the Riders in September, 2016 after attending training camp with the Washington Redskins where he played three NFL preseason games, registering two defensive tackles.
In five regular season games with the Green and White last season, the 25-year-old Texas native picked up eight defensive tackles, three quarterback sacks and one forced fumble.
Jefferson spent his first two CFL seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos, picking up 43 defensive tackles and ten quarterback sacks in starting 16 of his 35 regular season games played. He won his first career Grey Cup with the Eskimos in 2015.
“It was important for us to sign Willie to an extension and keep him with the Riders going forward,” stated Riders Vice President of Football Operations, General Manager and Head Coach Chris Jones. “He is a young, athletic and explosive player that is a key piece of our defence and overall team foundation. He has the ability to change the course of a game on every snap as Riders fans witnessed over his short period with the team last year.”
Jefferson was eligible to become a CFL free agent on February 14th.
(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR)
Dave Dickenson Signs Contract Extension To Remain Stamps HC
The Calgary Stampeders and head coach Dave Dickenson have signed a three-year contract extension. The deal keeps the Canadian Football League’s reigning coach of the year in Calgary through the 2020 season.
“I’m very pleased that Ken King and the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation have provided their full support to the decision to make a long-term commitment to Dave as our head coach,” said Stampeders president and general manager John Hufnagel. “This is the right move for our organization. Dave had an exceptional first season as a head coach and I believe he will get even better as he gains more experience in the role.”
In his first season as head coach, Dickenson led the Stamps to a 15-2-1 mark for a franchise single-season record of 31 standings points. With their Western Final win over the BC Lions, the 2016 Stamps became the first team in franchise history to go a combined 10-0 at home in regular-season and playoff action. Dickenson set the league record for most wins by a rookie head coach. Under Dickenson, who also acts as the Stamps’ offensive coordinator, Calgary scored the most points in the CFL in 2016 and also allowed the fewest.
In the six seasons Dickenson has served as offensive coordinator, the Stamps have led the CFL in scoring four times and have never finished lower than second in points scored.
Dickenson joined the Stamps coaching staff in 2009 after completing his Hall-of-Fame playing career as a member of the Stamps’ 2008 Grey Cup-championship team. The quarterback played 13 seasons as a pro including 11 in the CFL and six with the Stamps. Dickenson was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 2000 and he has won a total of four Grey Cup rings as a player and coach.
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.
--Has it been a week already since the Durant trade? The week has flown by with many voicing their two cents as to who will be under center for the Riders when the 2017 season opens. That list is growing long with the names Kevin Glenn, Drew Tate, Travis Lulay, Henry Burris,and Ricky Ray being thrown out there amongst others. The other name is James Franklin. He is obviously the key cog in this whole equation. The Eskimos would like to keep him, but he doesn't apparently want to sign an extension. One can't blame Eskimos GM Ed Hervey for wanting a succession plan to Mike Reilly, but the Riders at one point were grooming Drew Willy to be Darian's replacement, but he wanted to be a starter and went to Winnipeg. The name Vernon Adams Junior isn't coming up much, but he didn't sound too thrilled with the trade. Montreal didn't want to trade him here hoping he will be the guy after Durant. Adams doesn't sound as if he has that much patience. This story isn't even close to ending.
--As all of this happens, I can't help but wonder where the Riders would be were it not for the season ending injury Durant suffered in 2014 at the Banjo Bowl. How would the fortunes of this team look had he not suffered that elbow injury. The Riders were 8-2 and on their way to a win that afternoon at Investors Group Field and then the bottom fell out. Man, did it ever! Could the Riders have repeated that year? If they did, you know Durant is still here, and I'm guessing Corey Chamblin and Brendan Taman are as well. Oh, how one play can change the history of a football team. Would the New England Patriots have had the success they had if it weren't for the tuck rule? They went on to win their first Super Bowl that year over the Rams and the rest is history.
--Jose Bautista is going home again. The 36 year old had no desire to return to Toronto, but other squads had no desire in signing Bautista so he goes back to Toronto. Inexplicably, he gets more money than the qualifying offer he rejected. Amazing! Who's kidding who, Jose and the Blue Jays was like last call at the bar and we've all been there guys. The quotes GM Ross Atkins had on Thursday were purely laughable. If Bautista was always on their radar as Atkins claimed and if Bautista truly wanted to be a Jay all along as Atkins claimed, this wouldn't have gone until mid January.
--What has happened to Carey Price? The Habs goalie looks ordinary all of a sudden!
--There are apparently Saskatchewan Rush donuts at the Tim Hortons in Harbour Landing. Are there Regina Pats donuts anywhere?
--Where does Tim Raines go down in the list of greatest Montreal Expos? Put me down as having him at number 2 right behind Gary Carter! He was Rickey Henderson before Rickey Henderson was cool.
--Congratulations to Les Lazaruk! The iconic play-by-play man, and overall all-around good man, called his 1700th game when Medicine Hat paid a visit to Sask-Tel Centre Wednesday night. That's a lot of time in the rink and on the bus. He's one of the best out there.
--When did the phrase "50-50 puck" start getting used by broadcasters and who made this one up? I have heard two references to a 50-50 puck this week. It's as annoying as a "good stick". That phrase isn't going away it seems, but let's hope 50-50 puck does.
--NBC has announced "Will and Grace" is coming back. Can we get "Married with Children" to return? That would be awesome. There has never been a better TV character than Al Bundy!
--We find out who is going to the Super Bowl this weekend. I don't know how you can't take New England at home over Pittsburgh, but if the Steelers can get into a time of possession game and keep running Leveon Bell down the Patriots throats, they have a chance. The longer Pittsburgh is in the game, the better chance they have of winning.. As for the NFC game between the Packers and Falcons, the big question is how many yards and points will these two teams have. This game could go either way, but Atlanta has so much depth at receiver and a 1-2 punch in the backfield in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman that it could be too much for a Green Bay team who is injured in the secondary. Aaron Rodgers may have to perform a miracle three weeks in a row, and who's kidding who, he probably can.
--Are the four remaining QB's the four best in the game as was suggested this week listening to NFL Radio. No doubt Brady and Rodgers are on the list, but is Matt Ryan there yet? Is Ben Roethlisberger one of the best four in the game? I would think guys like Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Derek Carr and yes, even Cam Newton even though I'm not a fan would be ahead of Roethlisberger and maybe Ryan too, but that could change if he takes his team to the Super Bowl with a great performance Sunday.
--How much longer until spring training? The first baseball preview magazines are out which is always a good thing.
--That's all I got. The Pats are home to Medicine Hat tonight so maybe I'll see ya at the Brandt Centre. Have a good weekend!!
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