--The CFL should be thanking Darian Durant. Thanks to his surprising announcement early Friday morning to retire, he has had people buzzing at a time when all is dead in the league as we await training camps to get underway and the focus in this country is on the Winnipeg Jets as they march towards the Stanley Cup. People were talking CFL and that's what the league wants right?
I got my first notice that Doubles was calling it a career just after 7 when I was awoken from the sounds that I had a message from Sportsnet's Arash Madani. From that moment on, I just watched the story explode from the announcement to the reaction from players, fans and the Bombers to his appearance on 620 CKRM's Sportscage.
The debate is also on when it comes to the signing bonus and the fact Durant is not giving back the 70-grand. I understand both sides of the debate. If this was happening against the Riders, the firestorm would be immense, but because it happened to another team and Darian was a fan favourite who "jobbed" the team's biggest rivals, its OK. A Twitter poll I put up showed over 80 percent feel Durant was justified.
My take on this is Durant did to the football establishment what the football establishment does to players all over the place. Teams sign players to contracts and then release those players before the contracts are up with some of those releases occurring just hours before they are due a big bonus. If teams can do that to players, then they should surely have the same right shouldn't they? Yes, the fact Durant did not play a down or have one practice with the team throws a monkey-wrench into that debate and Winnipeg is left on the hook much like the Riders were last year with Maurice Price. It is something that needs to be negotiated in the new CBA with those talks which are expected to be contentious in nature getting another log thrown on the fire with this stunt if you want to call it that. Many like what Durant did and I don't blame you for that. However, what was your reaction when Price pulled the same stunt off on the Riders? Was it the same? You can't have it both ways. There are also those who feel it was a very bush move on Durant's part and their arguments are valid as well. As I said, it is something that needs to be discussed when the new CBA is formed or else this will keep happening.
As for Durant the player, does it really have to be said? His career in Saskatchewan was second to none. There is no doubt he will be in the Plaza ( I think he meets the criteria right?) and the argument to retire the number 4 is a strong one. He provided Rider Nation with a season to remember in 2013---one that was capped off by winning the Grey Cup at Taylor Field. The Riders would have never played in that game had he not taken the team on his back two weeks earlier in the West semi vs BC. That game was his best in Rider silks. His playoff #'s that year were 60/77 for 795 yards with 8 TD's and no picks. Add another 141 yards rushing to that with 96 of them coming in that win over BC. He was dialled in which resulted in the team's last Grey Cup triumph.
I'm still not convinced that Chris Jones would have been hired had it not been for Darian's season-ending injury in Winnipeg in 2014. That started the downfall which led to the ouster of Corey Chamblin and Brendan Taman. The fortunes of this franchise turned on that play. Thankfully for Rider Nation, things seem to be trending upwards again.
--The scene inside and outside the MTS Centre in Winnipeg was one to behold on Saturday. It will likely be bigger tonight as the Jets look to take a 2-0 lead. As is the case again, the term "Canada's team" has hit the Jets. When is this going to stop? They are Canada's hope of getting the Stanley Cup to return, but the last time I looked the Jets were not a roster of all-Canadian players. In fact, there are 11 Americans on the team. The Knights have more Canadians on their roster than the Jets. Why does this have to be done every year. This just in----the Jets are Winnipeg's team. They are not Canada's team! Ottawa wasn't Canada's team last year, they were Ottawa's team. If you want to cheer for the Jets go for it, but stop with this Canada's team talk. They're not the only Canadian team in the NHL unlike the Jays and Raptors in MLB and the NBA.
Canada's team is in Denmark. Canada's team was in Pyeongchang, Canada's team tries for gold at the World Juniors every year. If a Canadian-based NHL team fields a team of 22 Canadian-born players then call them Canada's team. Otherwise, they aren't!
--HNIC's Paul Romanuk referred to Devante Smith-Pelly's 2nd period goal that tied Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Caps and Lightning as a dagger. A dagger? Really? Since when is a dagger a goal that ties up a hockey game? Isn't a dagger a game-winning goal...isn't it the death blow? I've said it once and I'll say it again, there are many junior and junior A broadcasters along with guys who don't call games on a regular basis who should be calling games on a regular basis instead of Romanuk. I just don't get it. Why he is doing games and Dave Randorf isn't right now stuns me.
--Congratulations to the Swift Current Broncos and a huge thank you to Access Communications for bringing us Game 6 of the WHL Final. I said the Broncos were the best team in the league after the trade deadline and they proved me right. So it will be Swift Current, Hamilton, Acadie-Bathurst and Regina in the final. The Bulldogs and Titan knocked off the numbers 1 and 3 teams in the country with Swift Current having knocked out number 2 when they eliminated Moose Jaw in the 2nd round.
Add these three teams to a Pats team that arguably gave the Broncos their toughest battle in the playoffs and it adds up to what should be a great week of hockey starting Friday. Who ya got?
--Former Tampa Bay Ray Evan Longoria and current Rays pitcher Chris Archer have come out and said baseball needs to do something about the franchise. It's dead in Tampa. No one is going to games and interest dwindles day-by-day. The Rays have often been linked to Montreal if they are to ever see MLB return. If both sides are serious about Montreal being a part of the majors again, it is time to strike and strike now. Get what needs to be done finished so you can announce something after the season ends. This might be Montreal's best opportunity.
--Tiger Woods had golf fans salivating on Saturday after his best round of the season making many think the time had come for him to get into the winner's circle again. While he put in a solid round on Sunday, he couldn't make an impact. Make no doubt about it, Tiger Woods is once again on the map, but he doesn't seem to have the stamina to complete 72 holes without fading. It happened again on Sunday. The old Tiger wouldn't be struggling down the stretch including putting one in the water on 17. He's not the be-all end-all anymore. He is just one of a handful of many, many good golfers on the Tour like McIlroy, Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. One week he will rise above, but his days of dominance are done.
--That's all I got. Have a great week and let's enjoy the Memorial Cup!