Monday, May 1, 2017

Something To "Mitch" About

3 DOWN, 1 TO GO -  I said at the the start of the series, I thought the Hurricanes and Pats would go 7 games.  After 10 minutes, it looked like we would all be back at the Brandt Centre Tuesday night for that Game 7 as Lethbridge led 3-0. The Pats had other ideas.  Robbie Holmes got the scoring started on a brilliant effort, and from there it was all Regina as they advance to their first WHL final since 1984. They will meet a Seattle team who were beaten by Brandon in last year's final.  The T-Birds are a very good hockey team as were the Hurricanes. Regina should be favoured to win the series for good reason, but Seattle isn't going to want to watch the Ed Chynoweth Cup get carried around the ice by someone else again. 

It's a 2-3-2 format meaning the title will likely be presented in Regina.  Mark May 14 and 15 down on your calendar. They are nights you won't want to miss.  Chances are the Ed will be skated around the Brandt Centre ice on one of those nights.

Congrats to John Paddock and crew.  They will tell you the job isn't over yet, and they're right, but its been too long since the Pats have been in the final.  As crazy as this city has gotten over the Pats, I don't think we've seen anything yet!  Are you ready Regina? I know the answer to that.

The WHL on Shaw's Bill Willms may have summed it up the best during handshakes when he said "That's the way the number one team in Canada should play".  I couldn't agree more.

To quote a line from Gord Bamford and one of my favourite tunes "Is it Friday yet?" 

ANOTHER FINE MESS -  Riders GM and Head Coach Chris Jones is in trouble again.  The CFL caught the team again for violations and handed the team a 31 and a half thousand dollar fine.  The fines relate to more "illegal" activities.  The fan-base is mad, it appears as if CEO Craig Reynolds isn't enamoured with what has transpired and frankly how can one blame them.

For those counting, the cheques the football team have had to write to the league since Jones took over control is 119-thousand dollars. Yes, that is a large number in a short time.  The questions are fast and furious with the biggest question being "Does Jones and company not know the rules?".  On the surface, the answer is apparently no.

The fines come from violations in recruiting a junior player and having a player practice with them that was on the suspended list. The questions I have in all of this is

A) Who is leaking out this information?  It is someone who has a vendetta against Jones and the organization. That is clear to see. Has Jones made friends during his time in the CFL? Yes, he has, but he has made his fair share of detractors as well----detractors who are obviously chortling over what has transpired

B) Does no one else in the hierarchy realize what is happening? Even if Jones needs to brush up on the rulebook, what are John Murphy and Jeremy O'Day doing? Does Murphy not know the rules or is he turning a blind eye to the situation.   Surely, they must realize a player is practicing when he shouldn't be. If that is the case, why isn't Jones being told. If he is, is he just ignoring everyone. Some believe that to be the case.

While I can't defend Jones on the 30-thousand dollar fines, I will defend him on the so-called "tampering" fine.  The league can't find evidence to this point the team worked out quarterback Johnny Manziel, but speaking to his publicist constitutes tampering?  That is as ludicrous as a guy talking to a friend of a former girlfriend and then being accused of cheating by his wife.  I think that fine is an absolute crock of you know what.  If it is found the team worked out Manziel when he is property of another team than so be it, fine the hell out of them because they deserve it.  I think they are making this one up because they feel Jones is guilty considering his track record.  They have proof of the violations, they don't  on Manziel.

It's often been mentioned to me that the difference between Jones in other CFL centres where he has worked and here is that in the other places, he had someone to keep him under control and in line. That isn't the case here.  Does it need to be? That's for you to decide if you haven't already.

It is coming to the point though where one has to sink or swim.  If the team doesn't make marginal progress in 2017, a decision will have to be made.  It is a decision which could also swallow up Craig Reynolds as he is the one who made the hire.  Reynolds is a class act, and a true professional.  I am sure he must wonder just what is going on, and I am sure he is asking the questions and delivering the statements that need to be asked and said.  Sadly, he deserves better.  I'm still of the belief Chris Jones is a good head coach, and I am also still of the belief this story would not have the legs it does if the Riders were a 13-5 team instead of 5-13.  That's the way it is around here. That's the way it is in many places.  If the Stampeders were doing this, (and who is to say they aren't), the backlash wouldn't be as strong.

At the end of the day though, the brand has taken another hit.  This can't keep happening!


If you are a baseball fan or just a sports fan, you remember where you were in both 1992 and 93 when the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series.  It was a distinct honour to have the privilege to not only meet the manager of those teams--Cito Gaston, but have the opportunity to deliver the question and answer session with him to a packed house at the Regina Red Sox dinner on Saturday.

When I met Cito before the night started, I knew it was going to be an entertaining night. Right from the introduction, you could see what type of gentleman he was and that he had many a story to tell.  He did tell many of them ranging from how Hank Aaron was a role-model for him to the fact he never saw the Joe Carter homerun leave the park because of Alfredo Griffin to the state of the Jays today.  I could have gone on and on and on with him, but there is a time-limit to these things.  I actually thought I had gone way over with the Q and A because I just kept wanting to ask him questions.  As it turned out, I was only a couple of minutes over what  my timeframe was.

Thank you to the Regina Red Sox for the opportunity.

THE PING-PONG BALLS GO NEW JERSEY'S WAY -  I love the NHL's draft lottery. Being one of the worst teams in the league guarantees you squat and diddly.  That was proven again Saturday afternoon.   The god-awful Colorado Avalanche (and why is that by the way) had the best chance to win the lottery.  That didn't happen!

The ping-pong balls put New Jersey on the clock as they get the right to draft either Nico Hischler or Nolan Patrick.  Yes, the draft doesn't have that McDavid, Eichel, Matthews, Laine flavour to it this year, but there is anger amongst the fanbase of the Avs and Canucks because their teams aren't getting a top 3 pick.  BOOHOO!!

Just because your teams finished last and 2nd last guarantees you nothiing.  I don't think there was any tanking done here like there was by Buffalo a few years ago when they thought they would have Connor McDavid, but the randomization of the first round is the way to go.   I love the fact Philly was a team that just finished outside of the playoffs gets the #2 pick much like Winnipeg moved up last year. It gives all non-playoff teams a chance. It should take away any notion of tanking  The NBA has the right idea as does the NHL. Now could we get the NFL to adopt some form of lottery.  That would be great!

By the way, the firm "Ernst and Young" handled the lottery. That was the same group in charge of the Oscars. Wouldn't it have been awkward if Bill Daly had said it was the Devils and someone came out and said----yeah actually it should have been Vegas. Poor Ernst and Young!


Noah Picton and his U of R Ram teammates---over 100 of them spent the weekend holding spring camp at Leibel Field. They will have a scrimmage Monday afternoon. Steve Bryce certainly goes into this camp better prepared as head coach seeing last year was his first and he was still getting his feet wet.

He was looking for intensity on the weekend, and he certainly got that if Sunday was any indication.

It doesn't seem as if this team is resting on its 6-2 laurels from last season even though there are many returnees.  As Picton told me, "We're 0-0 when the season starts and what happened last year means nothing now."  That's the right attitude to have going in as the Rams look to repeat as CanWest regular season champs and vie for the Vanier.


Anonymous said...

Why did the Riders have only 35 players at their mini-camp when other teams had 50-60 at theirs?
That kind of tells me that Chris Jones doesn't know how to read a rulebook.

Anonymous said...

When the Pats turn it on, they can't be stopped. Game 6 in Swift. Game 6 in Lethbridge. If they come out with that fire and intensity right from the start, Seattle doesn't have a chance.

Anonymous said...

At what point does the board look at Reynolds and his involvement or his lack of involvement in everything that is going on. I'm disgusted with Jones AGAIN!


Anonymous said...

Who is leaking this information to the CFL? Someone is!

Anonymous said...

The NHL draft lottery is perfect. Why should Colorado or whoever has the worst record be guaranteed a top 3 pick? I think Vegas should have had lower odds, but that is a one-time deal.

The draft lottery tells teams that hey, you might not want to field your best team to try and win a game late in the season, but you take the risk you aren't going to get rewarded.


Anonymous said...

Nice job with Cito Saturday. Great stories!

Anonymous said...

If Reynolds called a newser at 10 AM this morning and said Jones and company had been dismissed, 90 percent of Rider Nation would stand up and cheer. It might mean another terribl season since no one is in place with the season right around the corner, but they might actually accept it.

You can say whatever you want, but he has destroyed this team. Good coach, HORRIBLE general manager!

Anonymous said...

Scruffy, thanks for voicing your opinion on the Rider fines, you've earned my respect. On the other hand, another well known Regina blogger is just sticking his head in the sand and hoping the story will go away.

Anonymous said...

Cito was great. So were you Scruffdog. Get a longer tie though. HA HA!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Anon 2.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen Justin Dunk's latest on 3Down-Nation?
He says Chris Jones tried to sign Michael Vick before he honed in on Vince Young.

Anonymous said...

Very good read today Mr Blair. Keep up the great info.