Friday, November 30, 2018

This And That

--Welcome to Friday and the usual thoughts running through my muddled mind. As always, they are in no particular order.

--After a season where the CFL proudly and rightly trumpeted the fact TV ratings were up from the year before, the league received a huge slap in the face when the TV ratings for Sunday's Grey Cup were announced. It was the lowest-rated game since 2001, and the worst showing for TSN since they took over the broadcast rights 11 years ago.  The question now is why was this?

Here are some thoughts:

1) The Calgary/Ottawa matchup wasn't appealing.  There was an "ABC (Anyone But Calgary) mentality going into this game and I think it turned some viewers away.  Would the numbers have been higher for a Bombers/Redblacks game.  I think it would have.  What about a Saskatchewan/Ottawa or Saskatchewan/Hamilton game?  You can't blame the Stamps for being there year after year after year much like you can't blame the New England Patriots for being in Super Bowl after Super Bowl after Super Bowl.  That being said, the ratings for Patriots Super Bowls are still strong as are the ratings for the US national championship which is Alabama vs _______ just about every year.

2)  The Sunday night NFL game featured two teams that many Canadians cheer for in the Vikings and Packers. I know many who are fans of both.  On Sunday night, I texted one of those fans and asked him what he was watching.  He replied the NFL game stating he is tired of Calgary.  He then said I would be doing the same thing if the Seahawks were playing.  I didn't disagree.

3) Say what you will about the halftime act, but there are many who didn't know who Alessia Cara was before the announcement was made that she would perform.  While there is no doubt, Cara can sing, the league needed someone that appeals to many more demographics.  At the end of the day you will not please everyone with who the halftime entertainment is whether it be the Grey Cup, the Super Bowl or Monday Night Football.  The league got it right in staying Canadian, but this blogger would have had no problem with Brett Kissel being the performer instead of being the one who sang the anthem.  Some of you probably agree with that and others don't which is fine.  I liked Shania last year, others hated her.  It doesn't matter who you get, the sentiment will be the same.  You are in a no-win position.

It is not easy for the CFL to get that perfect person for half-time, but I think they needed to do a better job of informing those who didn't know who Alessia Cara was what she was all about.

4) When the ratings are taken, do they account for people who are now watching on their phone or computer through TSN GO.  In this day where people are cutting their cable packages, how many watched it through their app.   As I have said before, I watch many Chicago Cubs games through my MLB.TV app during the baseball season.  Do those numbers reflect on the numbers that WGN-TV and NBCSN Chicago put out? I have no idea.

Should the CFL be concerned about the ratings for its marquee game?  I don't think so.  If we see another drop next year, a conversation can be had, but I am just going to put this down as a blip on the radar and carry on.   I think TSN can say the same thing.

--The off-season is now upon us and I would think December would be somewhat slow as the league wraps up the season gone past and then takes some time for the holidays.  Once January hits though, I expect things to start happening especially on the CBA talks.   I just don't know if this league can afford having a labour stoppage.  In a league where you have three teams in a position where hardly anyone notices them now, will a labour stoppage whether it be short-term or long-term drive whatever fans those clubs have now away.  Both sides will be walking the tightrope on this one.  The players do deserve more money IMO, but they also need to give more of a commitment as well.  I understand the one-year contracts, but it is hard for fans to build up relationships with players and hard for players to commit fully to their organization by doing that.

Some will tell you one year contracts are the way to go because you make your own bed with your performance (ie: Zach Collaros).  I understand that mentality as well.    At the end of the day, all we can do is sit back, watch and hope as a CFL fan that the game isn't interrupted in any way.

--Short-term pain for long-term gain.  The rebuild at the Brandt Centre has officially started.  I love the trade the team made on Thursday as Jake Leschyshyn and Nick Henry head for Lethbridge.  After losing their 1st round pick in the bantam draft to Saskatoon last year in the Cameron Hebig deal,  the Pats get a first round pick back as they snag Lethbridge's and they get Swift Current's first in 2020 which could be a lottery pick. I don't think anyone in their right mind thought both Henry and Leschyshyn would be here by the trade deadline so the deal isn't surprising in that aspect.  What they got certainly is though and sets the bar for the WHL trade deadline.

When the dust had settled on last year's Memorial Cup and everyone knew that the past couple of seasons under Paddock wouldn't be duplicated, the question was "Does the plan go back to square one?" from when he took over.  The answer is yes.  You may remember Paddock traded Kyle Burroughs and Dryden Hunt to the Tigers in the 2015 season for a 2nd round pick in 2016 and some blueliner named Connor Hobbs.  That was one of many moves made to put the team into a position of contention.  It is what you do.   Swift Current certainly isn't bemoaning the moves they made last year to get Gennaro, Malenstyn and Skinner.  They got what they wanted and now they are paying for it.  They aren't making any apologies though nor should they.  It is called junior hockey!

Meanwhile, the PA Raiders continue to steamroll through the league with a record of 25-1.  Wouldn't you love to have this year's Raiders, last year's Warriors and the 2016-17 Pats play some games against one another?  That would be fun!

--As I write this, the Edmonton Oilers have just beaten the L-A Kings.  It was Game 5 under Ken Hitchcock. I like what I am seeing from the club, but there is still a long ways to go if you ask me.  The team is playing better in its own zone, Mikko Koskinen has taken over from Cam Talbot as the number one guy it would seem, and Jesse Puljujarvi seems to be getting the chance he wasn't given and there seems to be some more confidence coming from the players.  They are 3-1-1 and probably should be 4-1 had it not been for a last minute meltdown in Anaheim.  The move to Hitchcock is working short-term, but whether or not this is a playoff team is still to be decided.  More moves need to be made, but things appear to be moving in the right direction.

--As we hit the first of December, the story is the Buffalo Sabres.  The league's perennial doormats had won 10 in a row before getting bounced by Tampa on Thursday..  How did this happen?  It's simple.  The team has drafted well (unlike a team in northern Alberta) in getting guys like Jack Eichel, Rasmus Ristolainen, Rasmus Dahlin, Casey Mittlestadt etc etc and have added some nice pieces like Jeff Skinner and Conor Sheary.  The Sabres shouldn't be confused with teams like the Lightning, Predators and Leafs, but like a lot of teams in the NHL these days, they are a lot of fun to watch.

--At the end of the day, was Ron Hextall's fate sealed because try and try as he might, he couldn't find a Ron Hextall type player to stop the puck?  Carter Hart might have been the answer, but there was a reluctance to bring him up.

--Week 13 NFL Lock Of The Week --  Rams over Lions
   Week 13 NFL Upset Of The Week -- Giants over Bears

--Just when you think the New Orleans Saints are unbeatable, they put up an effort like that in Dallas. I am guessing Luc Mullinder, Derek Meyers and RP are lobbying the mayor to change the green mile to the blue mile for one afternoon.

--Kudos to the Victoria Square Mall for changing things up a little at Xmas.  While in the halls of the mall this week, I saw a sign that the Grinch had taken over the mall and was posing for photos.  As I got closer to the area, there he was all dressed in green with a Santa hat on!  He is the nice Grinch as well.  I love this idea! It breaks up the monotony of kids getting their pics with Santa and makes for a different picture.  From what I saw, the kids don't mind it either and the parents love it.  Well done Vic Square, well done indeed.  Oh yeah, I did not get my picture taken with Mr. Grinch and Santa is there too so he hasn't been ignored.

--One only needs to walk into a Walmart (and it wasn't for Xmas shopping) to remember why online shopping is a good thing to do at this time of year.  What a you-know-what and it is only going to get worse.  I make it a rule to basically not leave the house and head to a mall or grocery store on the last Saturday before Christmas.  I may extend that to the last two weeks.

--Holiday over. Back on the air Monday.  Talk to ya then!  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Pats Send Henry & Leschyshyn To Lethbridge in Blockbuster Deal

Picture: Keith Hershmiller 

The Regina Pats Hockey Club has announced they have traded Vegas Golden Knights prospect Jake Leschyshyn and Colorado Avalanche prospect Nick Henry to the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

In exchange, the Pats receive 19-year-old forward Jadon Joseph, 18-year-old forward Ty Kolle, the Hurricanes first round pick in 2019, Swift Current’s first round pick in 2020, Lethbridge’s third round pick in 2019, Swift Current’s eighth round pick in 2019 and the Hurricanes fourth round pick in 2022. Regina also receives two conditional picks based on if Leschyshyn and Henry return for their 20-year-old seasons.

“I can’t say enough good things about Jake and Nick,” said Pats VP of Hockey Operations and GM John Paddock. “They are incredible people who have meant so much to our organization. Lethbridge is getting two outstanding individuals and we wish them all the best with their new team.”

“We could not turn down an offer of this magnitude,” added Paddock. “We are getting two good players up front in Jadon and Ty and have added some important pieces for the upcoming WHL Bantam Drafts.”

Joseph (6’1, 172), is in his third year in the WHL. The 19-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alberta has already set a career high in goals this season with 10 and is on pace to surpass his previous career high in points at 32 which was set last year. In 144 games in the league, Joseph has scored 22 goals and 44 assists for 66 points. He also has 36 WHL playoff games to his name, where he put up five goals and 15 points, reaching the conference final in two straight years.

Kolle (5’8, 178), is also in his third WHL season. A product of Kamloops, British Columbia, the 18-year-old started his career with the Portland Winterhawks and was traded to Lethbridge in October of this year. He has seven goals and four assists in 17 games so far this year. Kolle has appeared in 94 career games, scoring 14 times and adding 15 assists for 29 points.

Jake Leschyshyn was named the Pats captain prior to the start of the 2018-19 season, his fourth year as a member of the Pats. The signed second round pick of the Vegas Golden Knights is enjoying a career year with 16 goals and 32 points through 25 games to sit tied for 13th in overall scoring in the WHL. The 19-year-old played 213 games with the Pats, scoring 61 goals and 131 points. He added five goals and 10 points in 28 post-season games with Regina.

Nick Henry is playing in his third season with the Pats in the WHL. The product of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba was drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. The 19-year-old is off to a great start in 2018-19, leading the Pats with 40 points in 25 games, good for seventh in scoring in the Western Hockey League. Henry appeared in 150 games in Regina, scoring 64 goals and 150 points. He also played in 29 playoff games, picking up 16 points.

The Pats wrap up a stretch of seven straight on the road on Friday when they visit the Brandon Wheat Kings at 7:30 p.m. on 620 CKRM. Next home game is Saturday against the Prince Albert Raiders.

Week 13 NFL Preview

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As the season enters December, the NFL playoff picture is starting to take shape. With five weeks remaining in the regular season, there are 20 teams currently in or within one game of playoff position, including 11 teams that did not advance to the postseason in 2017. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

Two teams that finished in or tied for last place in their division in 2017 – the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) – are currently in first place in their respective divisions this season. In 14 of the past 15 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Of the 46 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 23 of them have done so in the past 15 years (2003-17), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006.

As the season approaches the home stretch, four teams have an active winning streak of at least five games, led by the New Orleans Saints, which have won 10 consecutive games. The Texans, which have won eight straight games after an 0-3 start to the season, are the first team in NFL history to win eight consecutive games immediately following an 0-3 start. The Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts have both won five consecutive games entering Week 13.

Over the past five seasons (2013-17), the Pittsburgh Steelers (20-3, .870) own the league’s best record in the final month, which also includes regular-season games played in January. The Carolina Panthers (17-7, .708) have the best mark in the NFC. 
Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots
Carolina Panthers
Kansas City Chiefs
Green Bay Packers

Quarterback play continues to excel across the league, as 13 quarterbacks have a passer rating of at least 100 (minimum 150 attempts) through the first 12 weeks this season, the most in NFL history in the first 12 weeks of a season. Three quarterbacks – New Orleans’ DREW BREES (127.3), Kansas City’sPATRICK MAHOMES (117.9) and Los Angeles Chargers’ PHILIP RIVERS (115.7) – have a passer rating of at least 115 through Week 12. No season has featured more than one such quarterback through the first 12 weeks of the season.
Nine players have at least 1,000 scrimmage yards and 10 total touchdowns through Week 12, tied with the 2002 season for the most in the first 12 weeks of a season in league historyOf those nine, five players are currently in their first or second seasons – the New York Giants’ rookie SAQUON BARKLEY, Carolina’s CHRISTIAN MC CAFFREY, Pittsburgh’s JAMES CONNER, New Orleans’ALVIN KAMARA and Kansas City’s KAREEM HUNT. Three players – the Rams’ TODD GURLEY(1,484 scrimmage yards), the Cowboys’ EZEKIEL ELLIOTT (1,437) and Barkley (1,410) – are on pace to eclipse 2,000 scrimmage yards this season.

Below are highlights of the Week 13 schedule:
Week 13 kicks off on Thursday night as the New Orleans Saints travel to AT&T Stadium to take on the Dallas Cowboys (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFL Network/Amazon Prime). New Orleans and Dallas were both victorious on Thanksgiving Day in Week 12. The Saints enter Week 13 tied with the Los Angeles Rams for the NFL’s best record at 10-1 and have won 10 consecutive games. Saints quarterback DREW BREES leads the NFL with a 76.4 completion percentage – 4.4 percent higher than the current single-season league record of 72.0 set by Brees in 2017 – and a 127.3 passer rating.

 Dallas has won three consecutive games and is currently tied with Washington atop the NFC East. Cowboys running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT leads the league with 1,074 rushing yards this season and has rushed for at least 120 yards and a score in each of his past three games.

The Cleveland Browns, who defeated Cincinnati 35-20 in Week 12, visit the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Cleveland quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD is the first rookie in league history to record a passer rating of 140 or higher (minimum 20 attempts) in consecutive games and has completed 73.9 percent of his passes (65 of 88) with nine touchdowns and one interception for a 129.5 passer rating in his past three games. Houston quarterback DE SHAUN WATSON has 24 touchdown passes and seven interceptions for a 110.4 passer rating and 256 rushing yards with two scores in nine career home games. Texans defensive end J.J. WATT leads the AFC with 11.5 sacks and is the only player in the NFL with at least 10 sacks and five forced fumbles (five) in 2018. In his last game against Cleveland (November 16, 2014), Watt recorded a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and caught a two-yard touchdown pass in a Houston victory.

Sunday afternoon features an interconference showdown between the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium (4:25 PM ET, FOX). Minnesota quarterback KIRK COUSINScompleted 29 of 38 passes (76.3 percent) for 342 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 129.5 passer rating in the Vikings’ Week 12 win over Green Bay. Cousins is one of three NFL quarterbacks (Atlanta’s MATT RYAN and New Orleans’ DREW BREES) with a 70+ completion percentage (71.1), at least 3,000 passing yards (3,289) and a 100+ passer rating (101.9) this season. New England quarterback TOM BRADY, who surpassed PEYTON MANNING (79,279) for the most passing yards in league history (including the postseason) last week, has 578 career touchdown passes (including the playoffs) and needs two touchdown passes to surpass Manning (579) for the most in league annals.

Sunday’s slate closes with a battle of AFC contenders as the Los Angeles Chargers take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC). Last week, Chargers quarterbackPHILIP RIVERS completed his first 25 pass attempts, the most consecutive completions in a single game in NFL history, and finished the game completing 28 of 29 passes (96.6 percent), surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (92.3 percent on 24 of 26 passing on September 20, 2009) for the highest single-game completion percentage in league annals (minimum 20 attempts). Tennessee’sMARCUS MARIOTA completed 95.7 percent of his passes (22 of 23) in Week 12, also surpassing Warner’s previous record.

Rivers and Steelers quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER were selected with fourth and 11th picks, respectively, in the 2004 NFL Draft and meet as starting quarterbacks for the fifth time in their careers with the head-to-head series tied at two wins apiece. Pittsburgh wide receiver JU JU SMITH-SCHUSTER had 13 catches for 189 yards, including a 97-yard touchdown catch, last week. Smith-Schuster, who had a 97-yard touchdown reception as a rookie last season, joins GUS TINSLEY (two) and LAMAR MILLER (two) as the only players in NFL history with two scrimmage touchdowns of at least 97 yards in their careers.

(All times eastern)
Thursday, November 29
Sunday, December 2 (cont’d)
New Orleans at Dallas, 8:20 PM (FOX/NFLN/Amazon)
Chicago at New York Giants, 1:00 PM
Carolina at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM
Sunday, December 2
Kansas City at Oakland, 4:05 PM
Baltimore at Atlanta, 1:00 PM
New York Jets at Tennessee, 4:05 PM
Denver at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Minnesota at New England, 4:25 PM
Los Angeles Rams at Detroit, 1:00 PM
San Francisco at Seattle, 4:25 PM
Arizona at Green Bay, 1:00 PM
Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh, 8:20 PM (NBC)
Cleveland at Houston, 1:00 PM

Indianapolis at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Monday, December 3
Buffalo at Miami, 1:00 PM

Washington at Philadelphia, 8:15 PM (ESPN)

This Week In Cougar Athletics

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This Week in Cougar Athletics

Friday (all times CST)
Women’s Basketball – vs. MacEwan, 6:00 PM (CKHS)
Men’s Hockey – vs. Mount Royal, 7:00 PM (The Co-operators Centre)
Women’s Volleyball – at Mount Royal, 7:00 PM (Calgary, Alta.)
Men’s Basketball – vs. MacEwan, 8:00 PM (CKHS)
Women’s Hockey – at Mount Royal, 8:00 PM (Calgary, Alta.)

Saturday (all times CST)
Men’s Hockey – vs. Mount Royal, 3:00 PM (The Co-operators Centre)
Women’s Hockey – at Mount Royal, 4:00 PM (Calgary, Alta.)
Women’s Basketball – vs. MacEwan, 6:00 PM (CKHS)
Women’s Volleyball – at Mount Royal, 6:00 PM (Calgary, Alta.)
Men’s Basketball – vs. MacEwan, 8:00 PM (CKHS)

Women’s Basketball (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 9) – After a weekend off, the Cougars (6-2) will take a four-game winning streak into this weekend’s two home games against MacEwan. Riding three wins in a row themselves, the Griffins come into the series with a 4-6 conference record. The two teams will meet on Friday and Saturday with tip-off scheduled for 6:00 both nights at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport.

Men’s Basketball – The Cougars have had almost two weeks off after their last time out, which saw the team come roaring back from a nine-point deficit with two and a half minutes left to take an 86-85 win over Manitoba which salvaged a weekend split with the Bisons. Regina will take a 5-3 Canada West record into this weekend’s series against MacEwan, which has dropped its first 10 conference games of the season. The teams have an 8:00 PM scheduled start on both Friday and Saturday at the CKHS.

Men’s Hockey – After last weekend saw the Cougars fly to the West Coast and drop a pair of tight road games to UBC, the U of R will close out the first half of the Canada West schedule this weekend at home. They’ll square off against Mount Royal on Friday night (7:00) and Saturday afternoon (3:00) at The Co-operators Centre.

Women’s Volleyball – Coming off a bye week, the Cougars return to action with a pair of road matches this Friday and Saturday. They’ll play a Mount Royal team that’s right around them in the Canada West standings, as Regina comes into the series at 4-6 and Mount Royal with an even 5-5 record. Match time is set for 6:00 (MST) on Friday night and 5:00 (MST) on Saturday night.

Women’s Hockey – Like the volleyball team, the women’s hockey squad will also make the trip to Calgary for a road weekend against Mount Royal. The Cougars, coming off a regulation loss and a shootout loss to UBC, are currently tied for fifth place in the Canada West standings with a 5-6-1-2 record giving them 19 points for the season. And they’re tied with Mount Royal, which comes in with a 6-7-0-1 record to match the U of R’s total of 19 points in Canada West play. The two teams will face off at 7:00 (MST) on Friday night and 3:00 (MST) on Saturday afternoon.

Swimming (Men’s U SPORTS Ranking: No. 10) – Etienne Paquin-Foisy and Bree Crookshanks headlined a big final day for the Cougars at the Canada West Championships in Calgary. Paquin-Foisy won Canada West bronze in both the 200-metre butterfly and the 400-metre freestyle, while Crookshanks took home a bronze medal in the 200-metre breaststroke. The men’s team finished in fourth place in the overall standings with 333 points, while the women scored 212 points to finish sixth.

Track & Field – The Cougars kicked off their 2018-19 season with an intrasquad meet on Saturday. They’ll now get ready for the Larmer Friendship Games, their first official meet of the season which will be held on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Regina Fieldhouse.

(Braden Konschuh/Cougar Athletics) 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Pats Send Aaron Hyman To Tri-Cities

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The Regina Pats Hockey Club has announced they have acquired 20-year-old forward Brett Clayton and a third-round pick in 2019 from the Tri-City Americans in exchange for 20-year-old defenceman Aaron Hyman.

Clayton (6’4, 220), has played 163 games in the Western Hockey League between the Portland Winterhawks and Tri-City Americans. The product of Abbotsford, B.C. has nine goals and 21 assists in his WHL career.

“We are happy to welcome Brett to Regina,” said Pats VP of Hockey Operations and GM John Paddock. “He is a big imposing player up front and is a good addition to our forward group.”

 Hyman (6’5, 221), was acquired by the Pats in January of 2018. The 20-year-old is enjoying a career year with five goals and 24 points in 25 games this season.

 “We wish Aaron all the best,” said Paddock. “We thank him for his contributions to our special year last year and this season.”

With the move, the Pats sit with 24 players on their roster, 15 forwards, seven defencemen and two goalies.

The Pats wrap up a stretch of seven straight on the road on Friday when they visit the Brandon Wheat Kings at 7:30 p.m. on 620 CKRM. Next home game is Saturday against the Prince Albert Raiders.

Picture: Courtesy Tri-City Americans

Josh Donaldson Becomes A Brave

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The Atlanta Braves are signing former American League MVP third baseman Josh Donaldson, reuniting him with general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

Donaldson, who turns 33 next month, played for Anthopoulos in Toronto from 2015-17, winning MVP his first year with the club. It was widely considered Anthopoulos’ shrewdest move, sending a prospect package to Oakland for a player who’d emerge as one of the best in the game.

It is a one-year deal worth 23 million dollars. That salary is the same Donaldson earned last season with the Blue Jays and Indians. The short-term deal limits Atlanta's risk in investing in the oft-injured third baseman, and it allows Donaldson to prove his health and re-enter free agency next offseason, which was said to be his preference.

He was ineligible for a qualifying offer this year since he was traded midseason. However, if he spends all of 2019 with Atlanta, he can get a qualifying offer from the Braves next winter since he has never received one before.

After battling injuries through parts of the season, Donaldson hit .246/.352/.449 with eight homers and 23 RBIs over 52 games last season with the Blue Jays and Indians. It was far below Donaldson’s standards, but the Braves’ hope is he’s healthy and can recapture even his 2017 form, when he hit .270 with 33 home runs and 78 RBIs.

While Toronto was trying to contend from 2015-17, Donaldson hit .285 with a .946 OPS, slugging 111 homers with 300 RBIs.

The Braves boast a theoretical top four of Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman and Donaldson.

NHL Three Stars Of Week

Stars of the Week, Laine, Fleury, Kucherov

Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Nov. 25.


Laine led the NHL with 11 goals (and points) in four games to power the Jets (13‑7-2, 28 points) to a pair of victories. He scored his sixth career hat trick, including the winning goal, in a 6-3 triumph over the Vancouver Canucks Nov. 19. Laine added two more goals in a 6-3 loss to the Calgary Flames Nov. 21 and then one goal in a 4-2 defeat against the Minnesota Wild Nov. 23. He capped the week with a career-high and franchise-record five goals (including the winner) in an 8-4 victory against the St. Louis Blues Nov. 24. In doing so, Laine registered the 57th five-goal performance in NHL history as well as the first since Feb. 2, 2011 (Johan Franzen). At 20 years, 219 days, he became the third different player in League history to post a five-goal game prior to his 21st birthday, joining Wayne Gretzky (2x) and Don Murdoch. The Tampere, Finland, native paces the NHL with 19 goals and three hat tricks in 22 contests this season (19-3—22). His 16 goals in November (16-1—17 in 10 GP) are another Jets/Thrashers record as well as the most by any player in one calendar month since December 1996 (Mario Lemieux: 17-10—27 in 15 GP).


Fleury stopped 81 of the 83 shots he faced, going 3-0-0 with a 0.65 goals-against average, .976 save percentage and two shutouts to lift the Golden Knights (12-12-1, 25 points) into third place in the Pacific Division. He made 19 saves in a 3-2 overtime win against the Arizona Coyotes Nov. 21. Fleury then completed back-to-back shutouts, denying 29 shots in a 2‑0 victory over the Calgary Flames Nov. 23 and making 33 saves in a 6-0 triumph against the San Jose Sharks Nov. 24. In doing so, Fleury earned his League-leading fifth shutout of the season – only 10 goaltenders in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) have collected as many through their team’s opening 25 games of a campaign, including Fleury in 2014-15 (w/ PIT). The 33-year-old Sorel, Que., native is 12-8-1 overall in 2018-19 (21 GP), compiling a 2.33 goals-against average and .913 save percentage.


Kucherov shared the League lead with seven assists and ranked second overall with nine points in four games (2-7—9) to propel the Lightning (17-6-1, 35 points) to a trio of wins. He scored once in a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators Nov. 19. Kucherov then posted consecutive three-point performances, registering 1-2—3 in a 7-3 triumph over the Florida Panthers Nov. 21 and matching a career high with three assists in a 4-2 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks Nov. 23. He closed the week with two more helpers in a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils Nov. 25. The 25-year-old Maykop, Russia, native shares third place in the NHL with 23 assists and places fourth overall with 32 points in 24 appearances this season (9-23—32).

Hextall Out In Philly

Ron Hextall

The Flyers have fired executive vice president and general manager Ron Hextall.

In a statement from the club, Flyers president Paul Holmgren said the team and Hextall don't share the "same philosophical approach concerning the direction of the team."

"The Flyers organization has decided to relieve Ron Hextall of his duties as Executive Vice President and General Manager," the statement read. "We thank Ron for his many significant contributions, but it has become clear that we no longer share the same philosophical approach concerning the direction of the team. In light of these differences, we feel it's in the organization's best interests to make a change, effective immediately.

"I have already begun a process to identify and select our next General Manager, which we hope to complete as soon as possible."

Hextall, a former NHL goaltender who played 11 of his 13 seasons in Philadelphia, had held the GM post since May 2014. The move is somewhat of a surprise, given the Flyers finished 42-26-14 last season, although they exited in the first round of the playoffs. Overall, the team had a 165-128-58 record during Hextall's tenure, including a 10-11-2 mark this season.

Something To "Mitch" About

--The 106th Grey Cup and the 2018 CFL season is over.  The "choker" label that the Calgary Stampeders had can go out the window.  They got it done in their third straight appearance in the big game beating Ottawa 27-16 in a game that basically was over on the final play of the first half as far as I am concerned.

Why Richie Leone didn't punt the ball out of bounds is the question I and many others have. If you do that, you don't give Terry Williams the opportunity to skate 97 yards down the field on the last play of the first half to expand Calgary's lead to 10.  I am guessing he would have been told to do so, but he didn't and Ottawa paid.    At the end of the day, special teams killed the Redblacks as you add that to a Diontae Spencer fumble in the 2nd half that Calgary recovered and it was a good night for that area as far as the Eastern champs were concerned.  Ottawa never seemingly recovered from the Williams touchdown and while there were glimpses of them possibly making it a game, it was basically over.

Other thoughts

  • There was no doubt TSN would do an outstanding job with what is one of the biggest days on their calendar and once again, they did not disappoint. I didn't see all the coverage, but what I did see was outstanding as usual.  It's no secret that I think the network doesn't do the league some favours at times, but when the league needs them the most on the final Sunday in November, they come through with flying colours. 
  • The temperature in Edmonton last Sunday was colder than it was this Sunday. Would that have made the field conditions better? That was the major complaint.  This just in.  Both teams played on the same field.  Unless you are putting the game in a dome, you aren't going to get ideal conditions. End of story.  In Canada, whether it be early November, mid-November or late November weather is going to play an issue.  It would be nice to know though why the field conditions weren't that great.  We didn't see that problem at Mosaic for the Western Semi-Final.  Some also complained it wasn't a great game. It wasn't, but this just in....not all championship games are destined to be classics! 
  • To me, Bo Levi Mitchell wasn't the MVP of the game. He wasn't spectacular on the afternoon. I would have given the honour to Williams or Jamar Wall.  Speaking of Bo, have we seen the last of him?  He wants an NFL opportunity and if you look at some of the plugs playing backup in the NFL, he deserves it and will likely get it.  This Seahawks fan would feel much more confident having BLM in the game than Brett Hundley.  I am guessing he will have his offers and being the league MVP will help him get what should be a significant signing bonus.  Whether or not he comes back is another story. 

So now, we go to what might be the most tumultous off-season we have ever seen.  A new CBA has to be done and I don't think those negotiations are going to be smooth.  You have this stupid salary cap for coaches and football operations, you have the Alliance of American Football which surprisingly was not brought up by Commissioner Randy Ambrosie during his "State of the League" address on Friday, you have the state of officiating and the role of the command centre to deal with. It should be a winter where the CFL doesn't go away when it comes to making headlines. 

--It's no secret I love football.  Whether it be CFL, USports, NFL or NCAA, I love sitting down and watching the games.  Last Monday's Chiefs-Rams game was spectacular, but that was only the start.  The Michigan-Ohio State game was a huge letdown, but Washington and Washington State provided a thriller in a snow-globe on Friday night as did some other games like Oklahoma and Virginia Tech that ended 59-56.  The game we didn't see though was the LSU-Texas A&M game.  I would have loved to have seen that seven OT 74-72 battle.  That was a real-life Madden game! 

--Those who thought the Seahawks had seen their window close might want to re-think that stance.  The team that was supposed to be in a rebuilding mode looks like they could be a playoff team after a big win over Carolina.  The team has not allowed Russell Wilson to be the player he can be, but when they need a play, Wilson delivers as he did in the final 5 minutes at Carolina.  With four of their final 5 at home, I think they may find themselves in the playoffs again.  Realistically, I don't know how that is with a defence full of no-names, but they are getting it done when they need to. 

--Are Packers fans just waiting for the season to end so they can fire Mike McCarthy.  The ones I know can't wait.

--Dare I say it is Baker Mayfield finally the quarterback the Cleveland Browns have been looking for.  I was surprised to see him go number one, but it appears as if he is the guy to get them out of the years of misery they have had. 

--Check the top of the NHL standings.  Yes, the Buffalo Sabres are one point behind Tampa and Nashville for the most points in the league.  The Buffalo Sabres!! The youth this team has assembled over the past few years is finally paying off.  I haven't really watched Buffalo play this year, but they are obviously a team to check out with the likes of Jeff Skinner (who is going to GET PAID in free agency if he gets there),  Jack Eichel, Rasmus Dahlin, Rasmus Ristolainen and others. 

--How cool was Hockey Night in Canada bringing back the blue blazers for charity on Saturday night.  I heard Ron McLean talking about those blazers on NHL Radio and how uncomfortable, yet how iconic they were.

Seeing McLean and Dave Hodge sit down and talk Hockey Night in Canada was amazing.  Like many of you, these were the two gentlemen you have spent many a Saturday night with over the years.  If you are old enough, you remember the Dave Hodge pen flip. It was amazing. I had never seen that before on TV.  The outrage Hodge had with his employer that night and the raw emotion that came out was something you don't see a lot of these days.   The segment with these two can be found right here.  It is six minutes of must-watch!

- Look at this dandy from the Associated Press on Saturday night after the Jets-St. Louis game where Patrick Laine scored 5.  There are no words on this one!  Well, there are but none of them are kind. 


--RIP Mick McGeough.  There is nothing I could say that those who knew him didn't know already.  The man had a unique style, had stories to tell and always wanted info on the Riders.  He left us wayyyyyyyyy too soon and wayyyyyyy too quick.  I got to know Mick a little more during my days in the SJHL when he was put into the league hall of fame.  I knew how good of a man he was before working with him on the Hall-of-Fame ceremony and that only got better during and after.  He was one of a kind. 

--That's all I got.  I am and have been in holiday mode and I have no problem with that whatsoever.  Well, I am not headed to a warm weather location, but I'm still OK with being off for a week.  Have a great one!