Friday, December 22, 2017
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.
--Brandon Bridge did one thing when he signed a one-year contract extension Wednesday afternoon. He got the debate going, and it is one that will last right through training camp and into the start of the 2018 season. The question is where will Bridge be on the depth chart? Some will say he is ready to be the starter with Kevin Glenn there to be a mentor and a QB coach. Others will say Glenn should retire and become the Riders QB coach. Some will say this means for sure James Franklin will not become a Riders with others saying Glenn can be cast adrift with Zach Collaros or another veteran providing that mentorship. What I do know is the Riders managed to keep a free agent that I truly didn't think would sign with the club before the February 13th deadline. I thought Bridge might want to see what the free agent waters bring. I think the best case scenario is where he is, but you would have to think other teams would have shown some interest. It is far too early to determine what role Air Canada will have in 2018, but Rider Nation can discuss it from now right up to the season opener.
--The job no one seemingly wanted has gone to Mike Sherman. The former head coach of the Green Bay Packers and Texas A &M is the new coach of the Alouettes. I don't know what to think on this one. On the surface, I don't know if this is a good hire for Montreal as he has zero knowledge of the CFL game. Who will he have on his staff that does? The Alouettes are hoping Sherman can do for them what Marc Trestman did for them Trestman had Jim Popp and Anthony Calvillo. Sherman has Kavis Reed and no idea who his starting quarterback will be. I don't see this ending well. Sherman obviously has the pedigree though leading the Packers to three division titles and the Aggies to three bowl games. While I don't see this happening, it is interesting to note Sherman was the head coach at Texas A&M when Johnny Manziel first became an Aggie. Is there a relationship there? Could Sherman try to pry Manziel's rights from the Ti-Cats and get him in an Alouettes uniform? Is Montreal really the right locale for someone of Manziel's demeanour?
--In the past, CFL meetings in the off-season could come and go and nothing would come of it. It is because the league and teams didn't want you to know about it. Imagine my surprise then when word came out that a general managers media day would be held after a day of meetings involving presidents and GM's in Banff next month. Another example of Randy Ambrosie changing the deck chairs around. I would think and hope this will result in many media showing up for the one-day gathering. It would only make sense. It is something I am guessing TSN, 3Down Nation, Calgary media and others will definitely want to be a part of.
--In the wake of the Pittsburgh/New England ending last weekend where it was thought the Steelers had scored a game-winning touchdown only to find the dreaded "he didn't retain possession all the way through" rule come back to bite them, it has sparked the talk again about what is a catch and what isn't. Can we get a committee put together consisting of former receivers, current players, refs, GM's and coaches to sit down and figure this thing out once and for all. You just don't know the way it is now and each ref seems to have his own thought process on the matter. It shouldn't be that hard to determine what is and what isn't a catch.
--Is the NFL looking north when it comes to ideas to change the game. The NFL Network talking heads were talking about the Pro Bowl when the idea was suggested they should widen the field and give it the same dimensions as a CFL field. Apparently, the idea was discussed a few years ago. I missed that one.
--Week 16 NFL Lock of the Week -- Chiefs over Dolphins
Week 16 NFL Upset of the Week -- Giants over Cardinals (but Browns over Bears is tempting!)
--Guys, would life be easier if we could walk into the mall and have a store that sold nothing but gift cards to as many places as possible available? Yes, you can go into grocery stores or drug stores and have a variety to choose from, but when the one you want isn't available, you have to make that road trip.
--The Brandon Bridge contract extension has people forgetting about the plight of the Regina Pats for a while. The question remains though "What is John Paddock going to do at the trade deadline?" While many names are being thrown about, the names of two players keep coming. Those are Saskatoon defenceman Libor Hajek and Lethbridge goalie Stuart Skinner. I think the team will add more than those two if indeed one or both are on their way. Another name I have heard a lot of is that of Seattle's Turner Ottenbreit. You remember him right? If you don't, he is the guy that levelled Adam Brooks knocking him out of the series in Game 1. I have heard his name mentioned since before the start of the season. Ottenbreit would definitely do a lot when it comes to slowing down the likes of Howden, Steenburgen and others.
Here is the question for you Pats fans? What would your reaction have been last year if Paddock in the midst of what was the best season in the history of the club traded away players to make this year's team much better and more Memorial Cup worthy knowing it would have derailed that season. A season that ended just two games away from a WHL title and gave Regina a May that we hadn't seen around here in a long, long time. Never mind because I know the answer. Paddock would have been crucified in every which way possible. Don't say no that wouldn't have been the case, because it would be a lie. Trading the likes of a Connor Hobbs, Adam Brooks or Austin Wagner would have the Regina hockey fan seething. Paddock did what he could to bring a title last year, but he knew that might result in tough sledding this year. There was no guarantee you could get to the Memorial Cup last year, but there is this year. Paddock knows what he needs, and he knows who he wants. No matter who he gets, I can't see the WHL Championship being played inside the Brandt Centre this year, but the Memorial Cup team will be one that can compete with the best of the three leagues.
--I don't know how many Saskatchewan born players have played or coached in the NHL, but I know 27 players from our fair province have played in an NHL game this year, and I know there are 4 current head coaches from the 306. Add the GM's and other front-office personnel and most teams if not all have someone from Saskatchewan in their organization. It has been this way for years. With the NHL celebrating its 100th anniversary, it is safe to say Saskatchewan has had a large part in that century. No one is complaining.
Fair question asked this week: The Riders are a "provincial" team with a presence in both Regina and Saskatoon with "The Rider Store" available for those in Saskatoon. The Saskatchewan Rush claim to be a "provincial" team yet you can't find any Rush souvenir stores in Regina. If there are, where are they? There is a distinct southern Saskatchewan audience for Saskatchewan's lacrosse team. They need an outlet in Regina for fans to buy merchandise.
Here is the cyclical nature of baseball. In 2013, the teams that had the first five picks in the draft -- Houston, Chicago Cubs, Colorado, Minnesota and Cleveland -- all were in the playoffs last season, while the teams that were in the 2012 World Series -- San Francisco and Detroit -- have the top two picks in this year's draft.
That's all I got. Have a great weekend! Merry Christmas!