Welcome to Friday. Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind. As always, they come in no particular order.
Courtesy: Keith Hershmiller
I don't know about you, but if you have watched the tournament this week, the Pats captain in what is his last week as a member of the team has been the best player amongst the four teams. He has taken his game to the next level and to some may be NHL-ready. While next year is a long ways away, there are many reasons as to why the Sherwood Park, Alberta native could very well be a member of the Anaheim Ducks next season. You can't tell me that Ducks scouts are grinning from ear-to-ear with the way Steel has played.
--The attendance or lack of attendance chatter at the Memorial Cup has been tiresome and truthfully it has been overblown. At the end of the day, if you can't come up with the money for one game at the country's marquee sporting event that's up to you. All I know is those inside the Brandt Centre have had a blast and despite what it has looked like on TV, 90 percent of the tickets have been sold which is a success in my books.
What amazes me is the fact Queen City Sports and Entertainment knew they would take a financial hit and were fine with it. Co-owner and tournament host committee chair Shaun Semple said even with a sellout in every game they would still lose money. It makes you wonder then just why they would even consider bringing the event here because many would not have. They paid a highly inflated price to get the Memorial Cup here because they were not going to be denied in bringing the 100th Cup to end the Pats 100th anniversary season. They are thanked by people bitching, moaning and complaining. Its laughable. At the end of the day, you do what you want but organizers aren't bemoaning what has gone on or what's been said. They know what they were getting into and they are happy with the way everything has gone down. If it ends Sunday with Sam Steel getting the Memorial Cup, they'll be ecstatic and whether you have been inside the Brandt Centre or not, so will Pats fans.
I completely understand those who say it's tough to bring their kids and yes, there should be a price for a kids ticket. That being said, there aren't many places anymore that sell a kids ticket at a discounted price. Is that right? It isn't if you truly want to grow the game, but they aren't doing it at many other places in many different leagues so it's not a Regina thing.
It has been great seeing people from across the country enjoying the hockey much like people enjoy a Grey Cup. They aren't complaining about what they've been seeing, what they've been doing or what they've been spending either. Once again, the moral minority speaks the loudest.
--Sportsnet has done a fantastic job with the tournament. From Jeff Marek to Rob Faulds to RJ Broadhead and Sam Cosentino, they have put on a first-class show as one would expect. However, I can't help but wonder if the Canadian Hockey League needs to go to TSN to get their product the exposure it would need. Those who wonder about the weird start times can look no further than the Toronto Blue Jays. In fact, there were many across the country who did not see the first period of the Pats-Swift Current game because for whatever reason they didn't have SN360 on their cable package. That's a you-thing by the way.
The Jays and the NHL are Sportsnet's meat-and-potatoes. There is no doubt about that. However, a game in mid-May involving the Blue Jays should take a back seat to Canada's marquee junior hockey championship. If you can put other Jays games on SN360 or SN1, you could have put the games they played against Oakland and the Angels this week at home on those channels as well. With the Jays playing Thursday in the afternoon, it would have meant a 6 o'clock start time for the tie-breaker game had Swift Current beat Regina. With the Jays game starting at 5 in Philly today, it means the semi-final starts at 8. That problem wouldn't exist with TSN.
Considering the fact TSN does a great job with the World Juniors, this would be a natural tie-in. Again, the production of Sportsnet and the job they do is not the issue. It's the getting the game into your living room that is the problem. That needs to be fixed because Sportsnet isn't doing the Canadian Hockey League any favours thanks to the Jays.
--The Stanley Cup was in town on Wednesday. Many had their picture taken with the Cup and why not? Derek Meyers asked me on the Sportscage how old I was when I first saw the Cup. I truthfully don't know the answer to that, but I know I have seen it many times and was in the building when th Oilers won their first Cup in 1984. Whenever you see it, you get that warm, fuzzy feeling being a Canadian that has grown up on hockey with many of our heroes being guys whose name is on that trophy and who have skated around a rink with it held high. I don't know if it will ever change for me and many others when you see it with your own two eyes.
--Rider training camp continues in Saskatoon. With the Memorial Cup happening, my focus has been on here and not Saskatoon but that will obviously change soon. This "he has been impressive" and "he looks great" chatter is nice, but let's see you what you do when you're hitting someone in a different colour uniform and you are actually playing the game and not running a drill. Until then, I wait to see who survives and who doesn't. That being said, yes I am excited for the pre-season home game against Calgary on the 8th and you know I'm amped (like many of you) for the home-opener on the 15th against Toronto.
--When the Argos play the Ti-Cats in their first pre-season game, you could see Johnny Manziel against Noah Picton in a quarterback battle featuring a Heisman Trophy winner against a Hec Crighton Trophy winner. I would take Noah in that showdown right now because he knows the Canadian game and Johnny Football is just learning it. I can't get into the Manziel-hype, I still think those who believe he will turn the game upside down are wrong. We will see. What has been great though is seeing NFL'ers talk about the CFL and how it isn't a Mickey Mouse league. Cris Carter said Manziel had better be prepared to eat some humble pie because it won't be a breeze. He is right and he should know seeing he has watched his kid play for many years in the league.
--Washington and Vegas in the Stanley Cup final. I didn't have that. Did you? It still is hard to believe that a team that wasn't even in existence a year ago is competing for the Stanley Cup. Can Ovie get his first or will the Knights complete this Cinderella story. We will find out. While I want to see Washington win because I'm not a fan of the Knights and the fact they were handed a competitive team right off the bat, I think they win. It just seems to be destined for that to happen. If Washington wins, that monkey will be off of Ovechkin's back and he will officially go down as one of the best to play because he will have that Stanley Cup on his resume. It will also be nice to see Washington win because of the Saskatchewan connections that they have with the likes of Braden Holtby, Barry Trotz and Chandler Stephenson.
--It has been interesting this week to hear the narrative surrounding Steven Stamkos and why he doesn't get more heat for not getting it done. Stamkos has not gotten it done in Game 7's getting zero points in seven career games. If that was Ovechkin, he would be roasted for it. Truthfully, one has to look at Stamkos and ask why he isn't getting it done either.
--As an Oilers fan, you know I like what is being announced today. The team will announce Saskatchewan boys Glen Gulutzan and Trent Yawney are joining another Saskatchewan boy--Todd McLellan--as assistant coaches with a 3rd assistant coach being Swift Current Broncos head coach and GM Manny Vivieros. I have heard about Viveiros leaving since just after the WHL final started and was wondering when it would be announced. Now that the Broncos are out, there is no better time. That's a huge loss for Swift Current. What he did in his time with that team is something well-known. It will be tough to fill his skates.
--That's all I got. It's going to be a great weekend of hockey at the Brandt Centre. Hope to see ya down there!