Wednesday, July 17, 2019

This Week In The CFL

Week 6 kicks off in Calgary with the Stampeders hosting the Toronto Argonauts on Thursday Night Football. Toronto is hoping to notch their first victory of the season and their first win in McMahon Stadium since 2013 – a streak of 10 losses in a row. Calgary holds a 2-2 record with kickoff slated for 9 p.m. ET. The Northern Pikes will be the latest halftime act to join the Thursday Night Concert Series.
Friday Night Football will feature the undefeated Winnipeg Blue Bombers welcoming the Ottawa REDBLACKS to IG Field at 8:30 p.m. ET. Ottawa will attempt to even the season series following a 29-14 setback in Week 4 in the nation’s capital. Mike O’Shea’s squad will be looking to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1960.
A Saturday double-header opens in Montreal where the surging Alouettes will look for their third consecutive victory with the Edmonton Eskimos in town. These two teams last faced each other in Week 1, with the Esks coming out on top with a 32-25 win. Edmonton is coming off a convincing 33-6 victory over BC in Week 5. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. ET.
The Week 6 finale will see the Saskatchewan Roughriders take on the BC Lions at Mosaic Stadium at 7 p.m. ET. Saskatchewan is coming off a bye and is looking to get their second home victory on the year. The matchup marks the first time that Solomon Elimimian will play his former squad, while another ex-Lion, Manny Arceneaux, is hoping to make his Roughriders debut. Mike Reilly owns a career 8-6 record against Saskatchewan.
ESPN2 will carry Toronto at Calgary.
ESPN+ will carry Ottawa at Winnipeg, Edmonton at Montreal and BC at Saskatchewan.
Ottawa at Winnipeg will be TSN’s Live Mic game.
Points For
Points Against

Points For
Points Against
·     In 2018, Calgary did not suffer their second loss until September 8 (Week 13). The Stamps are currently 2-2.
·     The Bombers are currently 4-0; last season, they did not win their fourth game until Week 7 at the end of July.
·     Hamilton has two more wins than they had at this point last year.
·     Hamilton’s Brandon Banks scored three touchdown last week against Calgary: one special teams TD and two receiving TDs.
·     The last time a player scored a special teams touchdown and two offensive touchdowns in the same game was Chris Williams on August 16, 2012. Williams, then a Tiger-Cat, was playing Winnipeg and scored on a 72-yard punt return and notched five receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns.
·     Als pivot Vernon Adams Jr. scored two rushing TDs and passed for two more. The last quarterback NOT named Mike Reilly to accomplish the feat was Henry Burris on October 1, 2015 against Montreal.
·     Solomon Elimimian spent nine seasons with the BC Lions, winning a Grey Cup (2011), a Most Outstanding Player award (2014), and a pair of Most Outstanding Defensive Player awards (2014 & 2016).
·     A snapshot of Elimimian’s time with the BC Lions:
o  781 tackles – a BC Lions Record
o  28 sacks
o  8 interceptions
o  8 forced fumbles
o  6 fumble recoveries
·     Elimimian may be joined by another former Lion, Manny Arceneaux on Saturday Night.
·     The Manny Show is looking to make his debut as a Roughrider. Over the span of eight seasons and 129 games with BC, Arceneaux recorded:
o  556 receptions
o  8,169 receiving yards
o  55 touchdowns
o  25 100+ yard games
·     The duo combined for 234 starts in their tenures with the Lions.
·     The last time Winnipeg started a season 5-0 was in 1960 when they started 10-0 and finished 14-2.
·     Scoring is up 9% compared to last year. Games this season have averaged 55.3 points per game.
·     The last time Montreal won three-straight was in 2016 across Weeks 18-20.
·     Following Hamilton’s 30-23 victory over Calgary last week, West Division teams own a 5-4 record against the East.
·     Four teams have averaged 30+ points per game this season: Hamilton (37.4), Winnipeg (34.5), Edmonton (31.3) and Calgary (31.0).
·     Ottawa has three passing touchdowns this season – all of which came in Week 2 against Saskatchewan.
·     Edmonton has allowed only one sack this season while BC has allowed a league-worst 17.
·     Penalties are up 20% this season with the majority of the increase coming in player safety areas (roughness). Penalties for rough play have been flagged 44% more than last year.
·     Montreal has turned the ball over a league-low five times, while forcing 11 turnovers for a +6 ratio – second only to Winnipeg’s +8 mark.
·     The Argonauts have the lowest number of penalty yards this season (280).
·     The last time Toronto started a season 0-5 was in 1993.
·     Hamilton has eight ‘big play’ returns (30+/40+ returns) this season. Edmonton has not yet registered their first.
·     Coaches have been highly successful with challenges – 50% of which have resulted in overturned rulings.
·     BC’s DeVone Claybrooks is 6-for-6 thus far on challenges, while Mike O’Shea is 3-for-4.
·     There have been 1.3 challenges per game this season (due to primarily to a rule change that has provided a second challenge if the first was correct).
·     The success rate of two-point conversions is at an all-time high at 71% – well above the 51% in 2018.
·     Hamilton is currently 8-for-11 on two-point conversions. The record for most two-point converts is 17, set by Ottawa in 2018. Hamilton is on pace for 29.
·     Lewis Ward has made 61 consecutive field goals and leads the CFL in average length of field goal this season with 35.0. During his streak, he has averaged 31.7 yards.
·     25 of Ward’s kicks during his streak have come from 40+ yards out, including a career-high 53 yards on July 5.
·     Jonathon Jennings will start his first game as a REDBLACK. In his career as a starter, he is 22-22 with a 1-5 record against Winnipeg. Jennings holds a career mark of 15-6 against East Division teams.
·     Trevor Harris is 483 passing yards away from the 20,000-yard plateau – only 35 players have accomplished the feat. Harris enters the game against Montreal this week without having thrown an interception in his last 218 passing attempts – good for the 6th longest streak in CFL history. He needs six more to match Mike Reilly’s mark of 224 in a row and 17 more to tie Dave Dickenson’s 235.
·     Darian Durant holds the all-time record with 323 consecutive attempts without an interception.
·     Rob Maver will play in his 150th game in the CFL, all with Calgary.
·     Odell Willis is one sack away from 100 for his career. He would become the 12th player to reach the mark in the CFL.
·     Chris Rainey needs one return yard to pass Keith Stokes (9,163) and move into 10th all-time.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Lawrence Suspension Upheld

Image result for simoni lawrence zach collaros

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be without linebacker Simoni Lawrence for two games.

An arbitrator ruled Tuesday in favour of the CFL's original suspension, a week after Lawrence met with the arbitrator after appealing the ban the CFL levied against him last month.

The CFL suspended Lawrence for two games after he hit quarterback Zach Collaros in the head during Hamilton's season-opening 23-17 home win over Saskatchewan on June 13. Lawrence received a 25-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on the play.

Collaros didn't return to the contest and went on the six-game injured list shortly afterwards. A repentant Lawrence said he didn't mean to hurt his former teammate, and the CFLPA's grievance of the suspension June 19 allowed Lawrence to continue playing until the arbitrator's decision came down.

Hamilton is currently on a bye week. As a result of the arbitrator's decision, Lawrence will miss the Ticats' home game July 26 against Winnipeg and their Aug. 1 road contest versus Saskatchewan.

Lawrence will be eligible to return to the Ticats' lineup Aug. 10 when they host the B.C. Lions at Tim Hortons Field.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Riders Announce Grey Cup Leadership Group

Image result for grey cup 2020

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are pleased to announce the leadership group overseeing the planning of the Grey Cup 2020 Festival and 108th Grey Cup game.

Chair of the Roughriders Board of Directors Randy Beattie and Saskatchewan Roughriders President and CEO Craig Reynolds will co-chair the event.

“After being part of the planning and execution of Grey Cups in 2003 and 2013, I’m pleased to co-chair the 108th Grey Cup with Roughriders President and CEO Craig Reynolds,” Beattie said. “Saskatchewan has hosted some of the most successful and most exciting Grey Cup events the CFL has seen and with the help of the best volunteer base in Canada we aim to continue that legacy in 2020.”

Two leadership committees will support the planning and execution of the event: The Operations Committee and the Grey Cup 2020 Volunteer Festival Committee.

The Operations Committee is chaired by Roughriders Chief Financial Officer Kent Paul and will look after marketing, stadium operations, game day operations, communications, ticketing, retail, partnerships, finance and IT.

Darren Anaka is the chair of the Grey Cup 2020 Volunteer Festival Committee which will lead the planning of festival events, as well as transportation and logistics, volunteers, safety and security, provincial outreach and the 2020 legacy project.

Anaka, along with his wife Donna and two children, are part of a successful family business that operate several DQs and Starbucks locations. Anaka has an equally successful history in volunteerism highlighted with key leadership roles on the organizing committees of the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships and 2013 Grey Cup.

After an extensive search, the Roughriders have named Mike Edwards as the Executive Director of the 2020 Grey Cup.

Edwards brings a broad background in organizing major sporting events including three FIFA World Cups, the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, the Canada Games, Red Bull Crashed Ice, World Triathlon Series and the Special Olympics Canada Games. Edwards earned an honours degree in Sports Management from Brock University before going on to get a post-graduate diploma in Sport and Event Marketing.

“Solidifying our leadership group is a positive step forward in our planning for the Grey Cup,” said Reynolds. “With the personnel we have in place, alongside world-class facilities, a hardworking group of volunteers and the best fanbase in the CFL we know we have the winning combination to make the 108th Grey Cup a tremendous success.”

The Club has also recruited an Oversight Committee consisting of representatives from the Canadian Football League, the Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club, the province, the city, and Evraz Place. This committee will ensure the 2020 Grey Cup in Saskatchewan unites the entire Province in the celebration of Canadian football culminating in the single biggest sports day in Canada on November 22, 2020.

Something To "Mitch" About

--Another week of CFL action has come and gone and while the Hamilton-Calgary ended the week with a great contest, one couldn't help but notice there were a lot of empty seats again this week.

I threw it out there on Twitter and I'll throw it out here now.  What is the highest dollar you would pay for cheap seats and what is the highest dollar you would pay for seats on the 55 yard line. Those who responded were as low as $20 and as high as $150.   That's fair and it's reasonable, but is it enough for teams to turn a profit?   The CFL has a big problem on its hands and for a league that is fan-driven, they are losing in-stadium fans.  It is something that needs to be rectified.

--Vernon Adams is lighting it up in Montreal.  He looked great in leading the Alouettes to a win over Ottawa.  It had Rider fans bemoaning the fact that perhaps that quarterback we have been looking to groom was under their nose all along and he was let go.  That certainly looks to be the case, but how much has Khari Jones helped V-A.  We all know how good Jones was here as the QB coach in 2013.  He has seemingly turned Montreal's fortunes around and that shouldn't be surprising.  He did take over late, but the team is playing well and may be one step ahead of Ottawa right now for second best team in the East.

--Speaking of the Alouettes, they sure do things differently.  We woke up to the news Sunday morning that with the team on a two-game win streak now is the time to gas GM Kavis Reed.  I think many have been wondering why this hasn't happened before, but the timing is odd.  One would have to think this means new ownership for the team isn't far away with one of the conditions being Reed's dismissal had to occur.  We also learned that Kavis has been up to no good.  This story is a long ways from being over.

--We are only five weeks in, but Saturday's game in Hamilton between the Ti-Cats and Stamps was the game of the year.  There are many around the CFL (me included) who had that as their Grey Cup matchup.  If that should be the case and we get a repeat of Saturday, sign me up! As for Calgary QB Nick Arbuckle, he continues to shine.  One could argue he outplayed his counterpart Jeremiah Masoli. Masoli is considered as the 3rd best QB in this league behind Bo Levi Mitchell and Mike Reilly. I believe Arbuckle is a free agent at the end of the season.  Someone could get themselves a player as I don't think he will remain a Stampeder. 

--Chris Streveler wins the award for douchebag of the week.  Late in his team's one-sided win over Toronto, the Winnipeg QB took the ball and ran it in from 20 some yards for what was a meaningless touchdown.  He then celebrated by throwing the ball in the stands.  He's lucky he didn't get smoked by someone from Toronto.  If you want to score the touchdown (which wasn't needed) that's fine, but don't start celebrating and throwing the ball in the stands.  That's just rubbing salt in the wound. You add that to the Bombers Twitter account throwing some shade at the Argos for attendance and lack of it and you just think everything will eventually come back to get you.  Remember Swaggerville???  That had as much of a shelf life as "Compete Street" with the U of R Rams under the I wish we could forget Mike Gibson era.

--Where is the Safeway/Sobey's Touchdown to Win contest this year?

--Where is the decision on Simoni Lawrence? They met Tuesday and still nothing?  What an embarassing situation for the CFL, but one we really shouldn't be surprised with.  Imagine if an NHL'er had a hearing with player safety and no decision was announced for a month.  This process must change and change yesterday.

--I had firm intentions of going to Tim McGraw's performance at Country Thunder Saturday night.  Late afternoon, I had that inkling that might be the wrong idea because of the weather. Turned out I was right as a storm blew through which resulted in his concert and most of Travis Tritt's being cancelled. I thought the same would happen Sunday so I never went to Chris Stapleton  That was a big swing and a miss by yours truly.    As it is with every event, you take your chances with the weather.   Word that that storm had the potential of baseball size hail and 120 kilometer an hour winds made me go uh-oh.  It never got to that and as it turned out the system turned away from Regina after hitting Craven leaving us with a lightning show to remember.  We don't need storms like that rolling through at any time.

--Congrats to all of those involved with Football Saskatchewan as we took home the Canada Cup for the second straight year beating Quebec in the final.  The job Mike Thomas and so many others do to make the sport flourish in this still small province is amazing.  Thumbs up to all.

--The combined no-hitter from the Los Angeles Angels in the first home game since the death of Tyler Skaggs and the numbers surrounding it show me something.  It is like the rainbow that hovered over Mosaic last season on the night of the Humboldt Broncos tribute.

--So let me get this straight.  Lebron James was going to give his 23 jersey to Anthony Davis, but NIKE said no because of jersey sales and jerseys already made so it won't happen.  Since when does NIKE tell an NBA team or any team what numbers players can and can't wear.   Is NIKE going to tell the Thunder and Rockets that the Russell Westbrook-Chris Paul trade can't happen because of jersey sales.  People will buy many new James jerseys, many new Davis jerseys and many new Westbrook and Paul jerseys.  That one leaves me shaking my head.

--Are the Regina Pats doing any off-season marketing? If they have, I'm not seeing it.  Are the other Saskatchewan-based WHL teams doing any off-season marketing.  If someone in MJ, PA, Saskatoon and Swift Current can answer that for me, it would be great.

--The only night the Regina Red Sox will not be at home this week is Thursday.  If you haven't seen them yet, go to Currie Field and check them out.

That's all I got.  Have a great week!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Alouettes Fire Kavis

The Montreal Alouettes have dismissed General Manager Kavis Reed of all duties effective immediately

The Montreal Alouettes have relieved General Manager Kavis Reed of all duties effective immediately.

The Alouettes announced the decision Sunday morning, one day after the football team defeated the Ottawa RedBlacks.

Last month the Alouettes replaced head Coach Mike Sherman one week before the start of the CFL season. The team lost their first couple games of the season but now have a 2-2 record under Head Coach Khari Jones.

Assistant General Manager Joe Mack, along with Director of Football Operations Patrick Donovan and Jones will  manage the team until a permanent replacement is named.

The Alouettes have been through a series of head coach and upper management changes since 2015.

Reed was named General Manager in December 2016, taking over the role from Jim Popp who had also been acting as head coach for most of the two previous seasons.

The Alouettes have missed the playoffs for four seasons in a row.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Leason Signs With Washington

Image result for brett leason

A strong season with the Prince Albert Raiders continued to reap benefits for forward Brett Leason.

Thursday, the Washington Capitals announced they had signed the Calgary, Alta. product to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The 6-foot-4, 199-pound Leason turned draft charts upside down during the 2018-19 Western Hockey League Regular Season and 2019 WHL Playoffs as the 19-turned-20-year-old continually impressed for the league-leading Raiders. In June, he was selected in the second round, 56th overall, by the Capitals at the 2019 NHL Draft.

“I think my skill and everything was always there,” Leason said at the draft in June. “My skating was always a step behind and that’s just something I really focused on in the off-season.

“The skating came together and everything fit together perfectly this year. It was a big step forward.”

Leason began the season on an incredible 30-game point streak where he collected 64 points (28G-36A). His point streak led all WHL players throughout the season with the closest challenger managing an 18-game point streak.

Ultimately, Leason led the Raiders in scoring in the regular season with 89 points (36G-53A) in 55 games, including five power-play goals, six short-handed goals, and 10 game-winning goals. He achieved 29 multi-point games throughout the regular season, with three four-point games, 10 three-point games, and 16 two-point games.

He also had eight multi-goal games, including seven two-goal games. He recorded the first hat trick of his WHL career on November 20, 2018 against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

In the 2019 WHL Playoffs, Leason came to play as well, leading the Raiders in scoring with 25 points (10G-15A) in 22 games as the Raiders captured their second WHL Championship in team history. He had three power-play goals and four game-winning goals as well.

Throughout the regular season and playoffs, Leason was recognized as the WHL On the Run Player of the Week three times while also being named the WHL McSweeney’s Player of the Month twice.

In November 2018, Leason was named to Team WHL for the 2018 CIBC Canada Russia Series and was later named to Canada’s National Junior Team for the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Leason was originally selected by the Tri-City Americans in the third round, 50th overall, of the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. In 190 WHL regular season games, Leason has recorded 140 points (60G-80A), including eight power-play goals, nine short-handed goals, and 13 game-winning goals.

In 33 WHL Playoff games for his career, Leason has 28 points (10G-18A), including the aforementioned three power-play goals and four game-winning goals.