Wednesday, July 31, 2019

This Week In The CFL

Header image
Week 8 begins with Toronto hosting the West-leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers at BMO Field. The Argonauts are back home following a three-week road trip across Western Canada. Toronto is looking to split the season series with Winnipeg after a Week 5 48-21 loss at Investors Group Field. The Blue Bombers are coming off their first loss of the season – last week’s 23-15 setback in Hamilton. The Thursday Night Football Concert series continues with Canadian hip-hop artist, Classified. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
On the same night, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will head to Regina to take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET. The game will be Hamilton’s first of the season without Jeremiah Masoli and Dane Evans will make his second career start. Both teams will attempt to extend two-game winning streaks and Saskatchewan is looking to climb above .500 for the first time this season. Canadian country music artist, Chad Brownlee (a former Vancouver Canucks draft pick) will perform at halftime as part of the Thursday Night Football Concert series.
Friday Night Football kicks off at 7 p.m. ET with the Montreal Alouettes playing host to the Ottawa REDBLACKS. Montreal is coming off a bye and is in the midst of a three-game win streak. Ottawa is hoping to snap a four-game losing streak while evening its season series with the Alouettes. Montreal took their first matchup 36-19 in Week 5.
Saturday features the season’s first installment of The Battle of Alberta with Edmonton traveling south to take on the Calgary Stampeders. Both teams sit second in the West Division with a 4-2 record. The game marks the first Battle of Alberta with the Esks’ Trevor Harris and the Stamps’ Nick Arbuckle as starters for their respective teams. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET.
TSN’s Live Mic game will be Edmonton/Calgary game this week.
ESPN2 will air the Winnipeg/Toronto game
ESPN+ to air Hamilton/Saskatchewan, Ottawa/Montreal and Edmonton/Calgary games this week.
  • Montreal is looking for its first four-game winning streak during a single season since 2014 when Jonathan Crompton was starting at QB.
  • A victory would also give Montreal its first four-game home winning streak since the end of 2014.
  • The Alouettes are the only team in the CFL that have reduced their opponent’s net offence week-over-week:
    • Week 1 vs. EDM: 607 yards
    • Week 3 vs. HAM: 526 yards
    • Week 4 vs. HAM: 436 yards
    • Week 5 vs. OTT: 365 yards
    • Week 6 vs. EDM: 320 yards
  • The Alouettes have recorded seven interceptions in their past four games – Greg Reid (3), Tommie Campbell (2), Taylor Loffler (1) and Glenn Love (1).
  • Boris Bede leads the league with an average of 69.6 yards per kickoff and has only missed two field goals this season (10-for-12).
  • William Stanback leads the league with 504 rushing yards. He is on pace for 1,814 and an average of 6.7 yards per carry. He has seven rushes of 20+ yards this season.
  • The Battles of Alberta will take place on Weeks 8, 12 and 13.
  • This week’s affair will be the 229th time they have played against each other in the regular season. Edmonton is 127-98-3 in the series.
  • Trevor Harris and Nick Arbuckle will be making their first starts in a Battle of Alberta.
  • Since 2012, the teams have played each other 20 times with Calgary taking 16 matchups.
  • The last time that neither Mike Reilly nor Bo Levi Mitchell started the game between the provincial rivals was in 2012.
  • Switching Sides: Notre Dame product, DaVaris Daniels played his first three-seasons with Calgary Stampeders compiling 148 receptions, 2,375 yards and 20 TDs. Saturday will be his first game against his former team.
  • Long-time Edmonton Eskimo, J.C. Sherritt, will be on the Calgary sideline as their linebackers coach. During his eight seasons with the Eskimos, he totalled 507 tackles, 15 sacks and 14 interceptions in 109 games.
  • Last week, Ryan Lankford became the second BC Lion to score two kick return TDs in the same game.
  • It was the 19th time in the past 70 years of Canadian Football that the rare feat has occurred, and the first time since 2015.
  • This season there have been 11 kick return touchdowns (2 Punts, 6 Kickoffs and 3 Missed field goals).
  • One more kickoff return touchdown would tie the single season record of seven (1994 and 2003).
  • Loucheiz Purifoy is averaging 30.2 yards per kickoff return. He is on pace for the highest kickoff return average since 2003 (Bashir Levingston 30.4).
  • Brandon Banks has two missed field-goal return touchdowns this season – one more would set a new record. He is currently tied with seven others.
  • PUNT: Richie Leone (51.7) and Jon Ryan (50.2) lead the league in punting average. Only two players have ever averaged 50+ yards per punt in a single season: Jon Ryan (2005) and Lui Passaglia (1983).
  • The record for punting average in a season is 50.6 set by Jon Ryan in 2005.
  • In Week 7, no receivers reached the 100+ yard mark. Derel Walker led all receivers with 85 yards.
  • Calgary defeated Ottawa last week without scoring a touchdown. The last team to accomplish the feat was Ottawa on July 28, 2018 when they defeated Hamilton 21-15. 
  • Ottawa’s Lewis Ward has now recorded 64 successful field goals in a row. 
  • The Blue Bombers’ Mike Miller and Kerfalla Exume lead the league in special teams tackles with 12. Miller needs two more to tie Roger Reinson (174) for 6th all-time.
  • Canadian linebacker Cory Greenwood leads the league with 43 tackles this season. He is on pace for 129 which would set a new club record for Calgary.
  • Last week in Nick Shortill’s fourth career start, he recorded a team-high nine tackles against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Canadian’s best career performance came in 2015 when he tallied 11 tackles against Edmonton.
  • At 210, Hamilton is currently the only team to have scored 200+ points this season; Toronto (75) is the only team that has not yet scored 100 points.
  • Montreal has the fewest 2-and-outs this year (19), while surprisingly, Winnipeg has had the second most (37).
  • Montreal has the fewest sacks this season (4). Edmonton leads the league with 23, while Saskatchewan has 20.
  • Calgary has scored 65 points off turnovers which accounts for 39% of their scoring output.
  • Winston Rose has notched an interception in four consecutive games, and five in total during that stretch. Only two other players since 1994 have recorded a four-game streak of interceptions: Weldon Brown (EDM, 2011) and Chris Thompson (EDM, 2010). Neither player made it to five-straight games.
  • Since 2016, Winnipeg is 36-3 when committing fewer turnovers than the opposition; when they make more, like they did last week versus Hamilton, they are 0-16.
  • Toronto is looking to avoid an 0-7 start. They last hit the dubious mark in 1981.
  • SJ Green needs 45 yards to surpass Hal Patterson (9,473) and move into the Top 25 all-time.

Collaros Is Traded To Toronto

(Riders PR)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Chris Kunitz Calls It A Career

Four-time Stanley Cup-winning forward Chris Kunitz has retired after 15 seasons in the NHL.

Kunitz will join the Blackhawks hockey operations department as player development adviser, assisting with the Blackhawks coaching staff as well as the coaching staff with Chicago's American Hockey League affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs

Kunitz, 39, appeared in 56 games with the Blackhawks during the 2018-19 season that was highlighted by skating in his 1,000th career NHL game on February 14 when the Blackhawks hosted New Jersey.

The Regina, Saskatchewan native played in 1,022 career National Hockey League games with Anaheim (2003-05; 2005-09), Atlanta (2005-06), Pittsburgh (2008-17), Tampa Bay (2017-18) and Chicago (2018-19), recording 619 points (268G, 351A). He skated in 178 career Playoff games, notching 93 points (27G, 66A).

Kunitz won four Stanley Cups over the course of his career (Anaheim-2007; Pittsburgh-2009, 2016, 2017), which was the most among NHL players during his last two seasons.

Kunitz was undrafted and signed as a free agent with Anaheim in 2003. He spent the majority of his 15-year career with Pittsburgh, where he played in 569 career games and recorded 388 points (169G, 219A) from 2008-17. His 169 goals with Pittsburgh ranks ninth in Penguins all-time scoring history.

Internationally, Kunitz helped Team Canada to a Gold Medal in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. He played in six games, scoring a goal in the Gold Medal game against Sweden. Kunitz also earned a Silver Medal with Canada at the 2008 World Championships, where he skated in nine games, recording seven points (2G, 5A).


"On behalf of myself and my entire family, I'd like to take this opportunity to announce my official retirement from the National Hockey League.

I feel very fortunate to have been a part of four amazing organizations over the last 15 years. First and foremost, I'd like to sincerely thank the Anaheim Ducks, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks. Every one of these organizations was the ultimate example, not only to me, but to my children, on what true professionalism should be.

Secondly, I'd like to thank the owners, coaches, trainers, management. Your love for the game, the team and the community was exemplified daily. I am very fortunate to have worked with every one of you.

Finally, to my teammates, thank you for everything. As a young player you taught me to give my very best. Your leadership helped mold me into the player I knew I could be. I was given the opportunity to play with the very best teams and the very best players and I'm grateful for the laughs and the friendships that we shared together. Thank you for making my childhood dream come true."

(Chicago Blackhawks)

Monday, July 29, 2019

Ti-Cats Sign Watford

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced Monday the football club has signed American quarterback David Watford.

Watford, 26, appeared in 18 games for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2018, completing 15-of-32 passing attempts for 168 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, while adding 18 carries for 93 rushing yards. The 6-2, 212-pound native of Hampton, Virginia originally joined Saskatchewan’s practice squad in October 2017 after spending parts of two seasons (2016-17) in the National Football League with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Watford split his collegiate career between Hampton University (2015) and the University of Virginia (2011-14). He played 10 games for the Hampton Pirates, registering 167 completions on 315 pass attempts (53.0%) for 2,088 yards and 21 touchdowns, while adding 75 carries for 182 yards and three rushing touchdowns. In three seasons over four years at Virginia (redshirted in 2012), Watford played 27 games and completed 277-of-505 pass attempts (54.9%) for 2,593 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also added 131 rushing attempts for 255 yards with three rushing touchdowns for the Cavaliers.

(Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

Something To "Mitch" About


--I think its safe to say that if it weren't for Ryan Lankford and his game that we would have seen one of the worst games in recent CFL memory from a football team on Saturday night at BC Place.  My god, the BC Lions were bad.  Putrid doesn't even start to describe that effort against the Riders.   Right from the first play, it was evident Mike Reilly was in for another long night. 

Defensively, it was one of the best performances from a "D" we have seen for a while and that includes a Chris Jones "D". 68 yards of total offence from BC?  That's a dirty schoolyard beating boys and girls. 

What stood out to me the most was the play of the offensive line and the way they just "dummied" (in the words of Luc Mullinder) the BC front line.  How many times did you see Dan Clark, Dariusz Bladek and Dakoda Shepley just push the Lions back with William Powell being the beneficiary.  We know how important the run game is as the season wears on and while BC certainly doesn't have the defence that quality teams in this league have, it was an impressive sight to see. 

The evolution of Cody Fajardo continues and while he didn't shoot out the lights, he ran the offense quite well in what was a great game-plan set forth by Stephen McAdoo (where are his critics by the way?). However, I think most will agree that he needs to stop running quarterback draws and getting smoked like he did in the second quarter.   With Collaros already on the injured list, the Riders don't need Fajardo getting put there either. 

Some will say that while the Riders are 3-3, the three wins have come against teams that are a collective 1-12 with that BC win coming over Toronto.  There are tougher opponents down the highway starting Thursday against Hamilton so some questions still might need to be answered, but I think there more signs of optimism than pessimism. 

--When the 5-1 TiCats come to town Thursday, we know they will do so with Dane Evans at quarterback.  What a terrible blow for Jeremiah Masoli, the Ti-Cats and the CFL as a whole Friday night as the Hamilton QB went down with a season-ending knee injury.  If you are counting, that leaves Matt Nichols, Trevor Harris and the beaten-up Mike Reilly as the only starting quarterbacks in Week 1 not to be on the injured list and remember Nichols had to leave a game due to injury earlier this year.   For a league that is struggling where games have not been great, it is not good at this time to have a group of back-up quarterbacks in.  The league needs a renaissance at that position and perhaps Vernon Adams, Cody Fajardo and Nick Arbuckle are leading that renaissance, but not having the number one guys in for a majority of teams is not good for the league as a whole.  

Are the Ti-Cats still a solid contender to win the East now or is it wide open? Arash Madani joked after Masoli went out that the Riders are the Eastern Division champions.  I don't know if we will have another crossover this year and we talk about it every year, but Montreal may be the best team in the East right now, but are they good enough to win the East.  We have a long ways to go before we can even start thinking about that.

While the team did go out and sign former Rider QB David Watford on Sunday, I wonder if there would be any interest in Zach Collaros.  It would give him a chance to go home.  If he was given a clean bill of health, would you pick up the phone if you were the Tabbies and call Jeremy O'Day to see what the asking price would be.  I doubt it considering the $$$$, but you never know. 

--Will a win over Hamilton Thursday shut the critics up who say the Riders haven't beaten anyone or will they just say yeah, they beat a Hamilton team that didn't have Masoli.  Hopefully we will have a chance to find out.   I'll just say this.  Rider fans thought without Bo Levi Mitchell that Calgary would be easy pickins a couple of weeks ago and how that did turn out.  Don't take anything for granted!!

--If anyone was thinking the Riders might get Sam Eguavoen back from the NFL think again.  Eguavoen is wowing them in Miami and could very well be a starting linebacker in Week 1.  I don't think those of us who saw what Eguavoen did during his time here should be surprised by that. 

--Blue Jays fans know their team isn't going anywhere this year and chances are it will be that way in 2019 and 2020 as well, but they are starting to build for the future.  The trades of Eric Sogard and Marcus Stroman on Sunday are proof of that.  Bo Bichette is being called up to join Vladimir Guerrero Junior and Cavan Biggio on the big team.  The foundation that was torn down is starting to come together again.  Patience is key and in an American League East where the Yankees and Red Sox aren't going anywhere, that patience will be tested over the next few years.   With Stroman and Bautista gone, Toronto might be starting to get likable again!!!

--Is it just me or has the Mitch Marner talk died down?  Same with all the other RFA's like Brayden Point, Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine.  What's happenin? 

--We are less than 70 days away from the NHL season.

--I do not care if Vince Carter returns to the Raptors. 

--The summer will be half over on Thursday as August will be here.  What happened to June and July? For that matter, what happened to this year.  It has just flown by! 

--That's all I got.  Have a great week!!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Riders 45 Lions 18


The Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive line might be in for a free dinner after helping the team to a dominant 45-18 win over the B.C. Lions on Saturday.

"I owe those guys some pizza or steaks or something," quarterback Cody Fajardo said after the victory.

The Riders (3-3) had 35 rushing attempts on the night, leading to 227 offensive yards and three touchdowns.

Fajardo put in yet another solid showing, tossing for 169-yards on 21-of-26 attempts, including one touchdown.

Where B.C. (1-6) looked listless and disorganized on Saturday, the Riders were strong and confident.

Saskatchewan dominated the game from the outset, with the offence scoring early and often, and the defence keeping B.C. penned deep in its own end.

"We knew it was going to be tough in the trenches," Fajardo said. "We knew both sides of the ball offensively and defensively we had to win both sides of the ball. We knew they were going to come out swinging."

Riders coach Craig Dickenson insisted that the game was closer than it looked, but admitted the victory was a big one.

"Our guys knew if we could come in and win this game we'd get a little bit of a head start on B.C.," he said. "It's a long season. Our guys knew that was a big game and I thought they played well."

Running back William Powell had a solid outing for the Riders, scoring three touchdowns and tallying 146 rushing yards on 21 carries.

His most impressive performance of the night came in the second quarter, when Powell took a handoff from Fajardo and snuck through a scrum before sprinting 42-yards down the field and into the endzone.

The 31-year-old native of Duncanville, Texas, said he had a "decent game."

Fajardo was more effusive, saying Powell was "pretty awesome."

"You know Willie P does what Willie P does," he said.

"Any time you can get the run game going, it helps me as a quarterback, the throwing lanes are a little bit open. Offensive lineman love it when we can run the ball. Those guys really won us the game up front. Just being able at the end of the game to grind out the clock. We were able to drive the field and score."

The defeat marked B.C.'s third loss in a row.

Lions coach DeVone Claybrooks said his squad is playing "bad football" and "self imploding" in their own zone.

"We've just got to get better," he said. "We're going to meet and identify and peel back layers of the onion and look at it and start from ground zero."

Mike Reilly put up 66 passing yards for B.C., completing just 8-of-19 attempts. Late in the fourth quarter, he was replaced by Danny O'Brien, who did not make a successful pass.

Saturday marked the first time this season that Reilly has been replaced.

"I felt like the game was out of reach at that point," Claybrooks explained. "We just decided to go with Danny and get Danny some reps."

The offence simply couldn't get on track in Saturday's game, Reilly said, adding that the Riders were bringing pressure on first downs and B.C. couldn't find connections.

Still, the quarterback doesn't think the offence is deteriorating as the season progresses.

"Sometimes we show up and play pretty well together and other days we can't get on the same page to save our lives," Reilly said. "So I don't think it's that we're regressing. I think it's that we have absolutely no consistency from game to game and even honestly throughout games."

B.C.'s trouble started in the first minute when Reilly was sacked on the second play of the game by former Lion Solomon Elimmian.

A spotty offensive line has been a troubling pattern for B.C. this season. The team has a league-high 25 sacks allowed, including four on Saturday.

Injuries have plagued the O-line, forcing different players to slot in every week, and the change ups have led to a lack of communication, Claybrooks said.

The Lions did have one rare bright spot on Saturday in kick returner Ryan Lankford, who scored a pair of touchdowns with a 118-yard drive on a missed field goal and an 89-yard strike off a kickoff return.

The 27-year-old native of Jacksonville, Fla., said the plays injected some energy into B.C.'s game.

"Any time on special teams that you can score points, those are kind of points you didn't account for almost," he said. "And I think it's always an exciting play. Kind of gets the crowd going, gets the guys fired up. It's always a fun moment to be that guy."

But Lankford said there were still parts of his game that could have been better.

"On a personal level, yeah, it's exciting. But it's a team sport and I didn't do enough to win the game," he said.

The Lions will get a chance to regroup with a bye next week before returning to action in Hamilton on Aug. 10.

The time off will give the team some time to reassess, clear their heads and focus going into the second half of the season, Reilly said.

"We're certainly not in a great situation right now, but there's a lot of football left to play," he said. "But it's only going to matter if we start playing good football."

The Riders will host the Tiger-Cats on Thursday.

NOTES: Riders wide receiver Manny Arceneaux caught a six-yard pass, extending his receiving streak to 103 games. ... Riders offensive lineman Dan Clark played in his 100th CFL regular-season game. ... Former Lions Arceneaux and Solomon Elimmian received hearty cheers from the crowd of 20,950 as they were recognized on the big screen before kickoff.


Masoli's Year Is Over

Image result for jeremiah masoli

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced Saturday that quarterback Jeremiah Masoli will miss the remainder of the 2019 Canadian Football League season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Masoli suffered the injury with five minutes remaining in the first quarter of Friday’s 23-15 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton. No date for surgery has been determined.

Through six games this season, the 5-10, 228-pound native of San Francisco, California is ranked second in the CFL in passing touchdowns (9), third in completions (125) and passing yards (1,576), and is tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns (4). The Tiger-Cats currently sit atop the CFL standings with a 5-1 record and will head to Regina this week to play the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday, August 1 at 9:30 p.m.

(Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

Rider Depth Chart/Game Day Tidbits

--The Riders have won the last four meetings against the Lions 

--The Riders will be trying to accomplish something they have not done in 45 years since 1974 - sweeping the Lions in a Back-to-Back set. Since that sweep on Oct 13-19/74, they have played 9 sets: 4 BC sweeps and 5 splits. The Lions are looking to keep this run going with a win this week. 

--This will be Saskatchewan's first road game in a span of 37 days - back to Week #2

--Charleston Hughes has a 4-game streak with at least one QB Sack and leads the CFL with 8. He has 31 career multi-sack games. 

--In his last four games, Shaq Evans has had 100 plus receiving yards in three of them

-- Derrick Moncrief is on pace to be over the 100-Tackle mark with 30 in the first 5 games (Pace: 108). 

--Going into the week, Saskatchewan was 3rd behind Winnipeg and Hamilton when it comes to offensive touchdowns scored with 15. 

--The Riders offence is averaging 383.4 yds per game which is 3rd in the CFL

--Despite their 1-5 record, BC leads the league in first downs with 130 

Former Pat Chandler Stephenson Signs New Deal With Washington

Image result for chandler stephenson

The Washington Capitals have re-signed left wing Chandler Stephenson to a one-year, $1.05 million contract, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.

The Saskatoon, Sask., native played in 64 games last season, recording 11 points (5g, 6a). He recorded 112:40 minutes on the penalty kill, ranking third among Capitals forwards.

In the 2017-18 season, the 6'0", 203-pound forward registered 18 points (6g, 12a) in 67 games. During the Capitals' 2018 Stanley Cup run, Stephenson recorded seven points (2g, 5a) in 24 games. In the series-clinching Game 6 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal, Stephenson recorded a shorthanded goal, marking the first playoff shorthanded goal scored by a rookie in franchise history. Additionally, Stephenson, who also recorded an assist in Game 6 and recorded two assists in the previous Game 5, became the first rookie in franchise history to record two straight multi-point games in the playoffs.

In 144 career games, all with the Capitals, Stephenson has recorded 29 points (11g, 18a). Stephenson was selected by the Capitals in the third round, 77th overall, in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Friday, July 26, 2019

This and That

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

--The Riders need a repeat performance in Vancouver Saturday.  The Lions need what is possibly a season-saving win.  Did I say "possibly"?  The pressure is on the shoulders of the home team when the two teams meet at BC Place tomorrow after a 13 point Riders win last week.  A Riders win and they win the season series.  Edmonton has already won the season series against the Lions and there isn't any way they are going to catch Calgary and Winnipeg.   The Lions will come out as the more desperate or at least they should.

It's not often that Game 6 of the season is a huge game when you look at the season, but that is the case for a Riders team that may have gotten its game back on track following the bye week.  Those who say a quality win against a team that isn't a bottom-feeder is needed for them to see that something is developing is a statement that can't be denied, but you can't lose to a bottom-feeder either.

--A great question posed by Derek Taylor on Thursday's Sportscage.  Who are the 6 most important Riders for the last 13 games.  Not who are the most popular, but who are the most important moving forward.  I had Cody Fajardo at 1 simply for the fact that he has shown he can do the job and may very well have to do it again if Zach Collaros doesn't return or should go down again.  Considering the track record Collaros has had in green one has to believe we won't be seeing the last of Fajardo this season if Zach comes back as the number one guy.  Who are your six?

--Gainer is under heat again for abusing a stuffed animal.  OMG!! At some point, can we take political correctness and do with it what Gainer does with the Lion and his stuffed Tiger which will likely make an appearance at the next home game?   That was the biggest non-story of the week that made a lot more headlines than it should have.  As I said on Twitter this week, are we in a world where mascot-on-mascot crime is frowned upon.  If so, let me off.

Will the Riders now produce another video where Craig Reynolds is seen chewing out Gainer for his "antics"? Will that video include his stuffed lion being taken away from him. (OHHHHHH NOOOOOOO!!!) The video where Gainer ditched his green contacts was outstanding so hopefully the creative team over there can produce something before the Hamilton home game.

--The Mike Scheper firing from Riderville is a strange one when it comes to timing.  There's more to this story. The timing is very, very odd.

--There are braincramps and there are Rick Campbell brain-cramps.  What was that? I don't understand his thinking at all at the end of last nite's game and I don't think I'm alone.

--Those were two bad CFL games on Thursday nights.

--The Flames have a new arena.  We all knew it would happen eventually.  Where's the new football stadium though?  We all remember when Ken King and his cronies proudly announced in the first arena deal that was squashed that a football stadium was coming too to replace the archaic MacMahon Stadium.  It would appear as if the Stampeders were forgotten this time around.  Surprise, surprise! The Stampeders deserve better.  King and company should either double down and get the Stamps a new building or just sell the squad.  The latter might be the better thing for the organization as this shows how much Calgary Sports and Entertainment cares about one of their properties.

--The Jays and Cleveland played a game on Facebook Live Tuesday night.  As they were last year, Jays fans were not happy wanting to see the game on Sportsnet.  Facebook Live isn't the platform you want to be on IMO.  How many viewers do you actually get?  It can be tracked, and when I checked out the game in the 4th inning, there were just over 3000 people checking it out.  If you want highlights great, but if you are looking to watch the whole thing.  No thanks!   I am guessing more than 3000 people would be watching the Sportsnet broadcast.  This one is a head-scratcher.

--Why are some in Toronto upset with the fact Kawhi Leonard didn't give an overwhelming thank you to Toronto and the Raptors as he officially became a Clipper. What more do you want from the guy?  I think he brought you what you were looking for.  There really should be no Kawhi-hate at all amongst Raptors fans.  Meanwhile, if you saw Clippers owner Steve Ballman, you wonder just what it is in his medicine closet.  That was weird!

--You are on a road trip with your significant other.  You are in charge of the snacks.  What three items are you taking?

--Storms like the one that rolled through Regina Wednesday night are just great to watch. Those cloud formations were unreal.

--The stretch drive is on in the WCBL.  Regina has a leg up on Swift Current and Weyburn, but the 57's and Beavers are right behind.  It's going to be a fun last couple of weeks and playoffs.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Riders Fire DL Coach Mike Scheper

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced that the Club has parted ways with Defensive Line Coach Mike Scheper.

“The decision to let Mike go was a difficult one,” said Head Coach Craig Dickenson. “Mike is a tireless worker and a dedicated coach. In spite of this, we felt this decision was the right one for the team. We thank Mike for his work and wish him the very best in the future.”

Members of the Roughriders’ existing coaching staff will work with the defensive line until a new assistant coach is hired.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

This Week In The CFL

Image result for ottawa vs calgary

Week 7 kicks off with the Calgary Stampeders visiting the Ottawa REDBLACKS at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday. Ottawa opened the season with a 32-28 win in Calgary and will be looking to snap a three-game skid. The Stampeders enter the game 3-2 and are hoping to build off a Week 6 victory over the Argonauts.
The scene shifts to Edmonton at 9:30 p.m. ET with Toronto in town. The 0-5 Argonauts are closing-out a three-game stretch through Manitoba and Alberta. Edmonton looks to bounce back after last week’s 20-10 setback in Montreal. Emily Reid will be taking the stage at halftime as part of the Thursday Night Football Concert Series.
Friday Night Football features a heavyweight tilt of division leaders with the Winnipeg taking on Hamilton at Tim Hortons Field at 7 p.m. ET. The teams combine for a 9-1 record, with the lone loss coming in Week 4 as the Tiger-Cats fell to the Alouettes. The contest marks only the 6th time since 1958 that two teams, which have each played a minimum of five games, are entering a matchup with a single loss between them
To round out the week, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will travel to BC Place to complete the backend of a home-and-home series on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. Last week, Saskatchewan came out on top with a 38-25 victory. BC is looking for its first home victory and have announced a $100,000-minimum 50/50 guaranteed jackpot at the game.

·     Winnipeg (5-0) takes on Hamilton (4-1) in a game between the top squads in each division.
·     Since 1958, five matchups have featured teams which have played at least five games each, while combining for only 1 loss.
o  Aug. 9, 2013. Calgary (4-1) vs. SSK (5-0) (42-27 CGY)
QBs: Kevin Glenn vs. Darian Durant
o  Aug 5, 2011. Winnipeg (4-1) vs. Edmonton (5-0) (28-16 WPG)
QBs: Buck Pierce vs. Ricky Ray
o  Aug. 5, 2005. BC (5-0) vs. EDM (5-1) (25-19 BC)
QBs: Casey Printers vs. Ricky Ray
o  Aug. 2, 2002. Montreal (5-0) vs. EDM (4-1) (37-14 MTL)
QBs: Anthony Calvillo vs. Ricky Ray
o  Aug. 6, 1995. Calgary (5-0) vs. Baltimore (5-1) (29-15 CGY)
QBs: Doug Flutie vs. Tracy Ham
·     Hamilton and Winnipeg are the league’s two highest-scoring teams at 37.4 points per game and 33.8 points per game, respectively
·     They are tied in points-scored on offence with 157 and each has tallied 21 touchdowns
·     They top the league in points-allowed: Blue Bombers at 16.0 points per game; Hamilton at 20.0 points per game
·     Montreal’s Vernon Adams Jr. caught a 21-yard TD pass from Eugene Lewis last Saturday.
o  It was Lewis’ second-career TD pass; his first came in 2018 after finding George Johnson for a 61-yard score.
o  Lewis is now a perfect 3/3 for 104 yards and two touchdown passes.
·     The last time a QB caught a TD pass was on October 8, 2016 with Winnipeg’s Matt Nichols on the receiving end of a 4-yard pass from Rory Kholert versus BC. The Bombers went on to win the game 37-35.
·     Winnipeg’s Darvin Adams has had a knack for slinging the football in the past few years. He is 3/3 for 80 yards and a touchdown pass.
·     The only other active non-QB with a TD pass is Saskatchewan’s Emmanuel Arceneaux. On October 4, 2014, as a member of the Lions, he threw a 17-yard TD pass to Shawn Gore.
·     Winnipeg is aiming to start 6-0 for the first time since 1960. Since 2000, only seven teams have managed the feat. Their results at the end of the year:
o  2018: CGY 13-5 (Best record in the CFL, Won GC)
o  2017: EDM 12-6 (Third in the West)
o  2008: SSK 12-6 (Second in the West)
o  2006: MTL 10-8 (First in the East)
o  2005: BC 12-6 (Best record in the CFL)
o  2004: MTL 14-4 (Best record in the CFL)
o  2002: MTL 13-5 (Best record in the CFL, Won GC)
·     There have been 14 starts of 6-0 or better since 1958. Only four of those clubs went on to finish with the CFL's best overall record at year-end.
·     Saskatchewan’s Charleston Hughes now has 31 multiple-sack games. He is also on track to become the oldest sack leader in CFL history, a distinction currently held by Elfrid Payton, who set the mark in 2002 at the age of 35.
·     Toronto’s SJ Green has 9,422 career receiving yards. He needs eight yards to eclipse Adarius Bowman (9,429) at No. 26 and 52 yards to pass Hall of Famer Hal Patterson (9,473) for 25th all-time.
·     Winnipeg has not fallen behind in a game since midway through the third quarter in Week 1, and they have spent a total of 9:24 trailing an opponent this season. The team currently owns a streak of four wire-to-wire wins-in-a-row; the club record is five, set in 1981.
·     Calgary is looking to avoid a two-game losing skid on the road. The last time they lost two straight away from McMahon was in 2015 – a span covering 36 road games.
·     Ottawa is seeking a season sweep of the Stampeders after winning their first encounter in Week 1. The last East Division team to sweep Calgary in a season series was Toronto in 2012.
·     The Argonauts did not record a sack in either of their first two games of the season, however they have tallied eight in their last three matches.
·     Toronto is looking to avoid an 0-6 start – a mark which would match how they opened the 1981 campaign; that year, they went on to start 0-11.
·     Matt Nichols has completed 10 passes for 20+ yards downfield this season, seven of which have gone for TDs.
·     Calgary’s Brandon Smith returned last week following a two-game absence. The team holds a record of 122-38-1 (.762 win %) with him in the lineup.
·     BC Lions QB Mike Reilly has been sacked 21 times this season; on the opposite end of the spectrum, Edmonton Eskimos QB Trevor Harris has only been sacked once.
·     Roughriders receiver Shaq Evans is averaging 20.4 yards per reception to lead the league. Sitting second is Armanti Edwards with an average of 18.6 (among those on the Top 10 in receiving yards).
·     Evans also leads the league with three 100+ yard games this season.
·     Trevor Harris is making his 65th career start. He is 34-28-2 (.547 win %) and is 2-3 versus Toronto.
·     Toronto’s James Wilder Jr. tops the league with 233 yards after the catch this season.
·     Hamilton’s Brandon Banks leads the league with six TDs this season (3 REC, 1 RUSH, 2 KR), and his career-high is 11 (accomplished twice: 2017, 2018). He is on pace for 21 TDs, which would land him tied for third on the single-season list. Milt Stegall holds the record with 23, established in 2002.
·     Montreal’s Patrick Levels leads the league with 36 defensive tackles, followed by Calgary’s Cory Greenwood (34) and BC’s Jordan Herdman-Reed (32). Greenwood and Herdman-Reed are both Canadian.
·     Greenwood is on pace for 122 tackles which would be one shy of Alex Singleton’s club record, established last year. At this point in 2018, Singleton had 28 tackles.
·     Despite being 1-5, the BC Lions have recorded the most first downs this season (130).
·     This season, teams that trail at the half are 5-15; team trailing after the third are 2-19.
·     Saskatchewan’s Solomon Elimimian (757) is 10 defensive tackles away from surpassing Greg Battle (766) for 7th on the all-time list.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Something To "Mitch" About

--The Riders needed a win and they got it.  It was perhaps their best all-around game of the season.  There is no doubt the second half was their best half of the season.  Thanks to Montreal's win over Edmonton, the green-and-white got a little closer to Edmonton while taking a big step to perhaps burying a BC football team that is Mike Reilly and not much else.

Here are some thoughts on what transpired Saturday night on the Mosaic turf.

--Chalk one up for the "old guys"!  Charleston Hughes, Marcus Thigpen and Jon Ryan

  What can you say about Charleston Hughes that hasn't been said before.  A three sack night against what is a porous BC offensive line, but there are many tackles around the league who can't compete with #39 when his desire is to get to the quarterback.  You won't see many better defensive games than what Hughes had.  Once again, he leads the CFL in sacks. Some wonder if we will see a repeat of last year where his numbers tailed off, but I still say that was partially because of teams trying to combat him which allowed Willie Jefferson to have the monster second-half he did.  If that happens this year, it means AC Leonard should benefit.  Pick your poison.

  Thigpen's 104 yard kickoff return at the end of the first half got the /=S=/ back into the football game and gave them the momentum to have the second half they had.  There is still some speed in Thiggy's aging legs

 There is still some thunder in Jon Ryan's leg as well.  What a night kicking the football.  I am sure JR would sacrifice some yards on those boomers for field position, but he has shown he still has what it takes.  I wonder if the NFL has seen that.  If they have it's too late, because he's our guy now and I don't think he is heading back.   Still with JR, tell me that fake punt didn't remind you of what he did

--Cody Fajardo answered his bad game against Calgary with a big bounce-back game.  While he said the right things leading up to the game, Fajardo had to show that the first two games he had as the starter weren't an anomaly and that he could get up off the canvas after a rough outing against Calgary. He did!  What impressed me the most about Fajardo's game is that offensive co-ordinator Stephen McAdoo allowed Fajardo to use his legs as well as his arm.  He is a better quarterback when that happens as it keeps the opposition defence on its toes.  That young quarterback we have been looking for since Darian Durant may be here folks.

--Do you think Mike Reilly is regretting signing that big deal?  I actually feel sorry for him and what he has (or hasn't got) in front of him.

--The Shaq Evans criticism can stop.  I was one of those frustrated with Evans last year and at the start of this because of drops.  He is now a big part of the Riders offence.  His game has elevated from year one to year two.   A 1000 yard season if not more awaits.

--Dakoda Shepley was a beast!  He is living up to his first-round draft status last year.  One has to think his NFL aspirations aren't done, but again he's our guy now.  He is just going to get better and better and could be one of the league's best if not the best hoggie in the next few years.  Yeah, that's a big statement to make for someone who has only played a handful of games, but he has a lot of Brett Jones in him and we saw and are seeing the career Jones is having.

--The Riders are 2-3.  They have beaten the two teams that are the worst in the CFL and have been beaten by two of the top teams in Hamilton and Calgary.  Does that make you a glass half-full or glass half-empty type of person?  I won't sit here and tell you the Riders are in the upper 3 of the league because they're not, but I don't think they are one of the bottom three either.  We still have two-thirds of the season to go and I think now we are starting to see an identity for this team.  A loss next weekend puts them back at square one, but BC needs to do a lot for that to happen IMO.

--Local realtor Craig Adam was a little cranky on Twitter Sunday morning when he asked why on "Country Day" there was no Saskatchewan talent pumping over the speakers.  That's a valid point.  With the likes of the Hunter Brothers, Jess Moskaluke, Colter Wall and Tenille Arts, a lot of Saskatchewan country music could have been blasting through instead of what we heard---especially Cotton Eye Joe! (YEESH!!).  I had no problem with Emerson Drive doing their thing.  I actually like the fact that halftimes this year are concerts and not something else happening on the field like dog races or something else.

--I knew Khari Jones would succeed when he became a CFL head coach and he is.  After taking a couple of weeks to see what he had and getting his feet wet, Jones has led the Als to three straight wins with that third win coming over the Eskimos Saturday.  Vernon Adams Jr is certainly benefitting from Jones' tutelage.   The Als may be a tire-fire off the field, but they have gotten it together on the field and that is good news as new ownership looms.

--I am still shaking my head over the Milan Lucic-James Neal trade.  Ken Holland fleeced Brad Treliving and he "may" have found that 20 goal scorer he was looking for   Neal was a disaster in Calgary, and the questions surrounding his game are credible.  He was not a good fit in Calgary and he will have to rebound.  As for Lucic, Oiler fans know his game is on its last legs.  If Neal scores 15 goals for Edmonton, its a win if you ask me.  Calgary now has Lucic and Cam Talbot on their team. I thought the aim was to get better in the off-season.

--Ron Francis will do an outstanding job as GM in Seattle. That is a great hire!

--The website lists the all-time Vancouver Canucks team as they get ready for their 50th anniversary.  The top forward line are the Sedins and Alex Burrows.  Alex Burrows?!  HELLOOOOO!  I was never the biggest Pavel Bure fan, but you are going to put Burrows ahead of Bure.  You are going to put Burrows ahead of Thomas Gradin? Uh no!

--Roy Halladay got his day in Cooperstown, but sadly he wasn't there to see it.  The phrase "top-of-the-rotation workhorse" that is on his plaque is one that is so fitting.  As his wife said, this was not her speech to give but that of her late husband's.  It's too bad we will never know what those words would have been

--NBA Jam needs to come back! Remember that video game.  Imagine the duos you could have now

   --Curry and Thompson (GS)
   --Leonard and George (LAC)
   --Lebron and Anthony Davis (LAL)
   --Westbrook and Harden (DAL)
   --Durant and Irving (NJ)

That's just 5!

--Can I get Memphis Grizzlies NBA Summer League champs merchandise?

--If you have been to Toronto, chances are you have been to Wayne Gretzky's restaurant.  I try to get there every chance I get when in Toronto, but I may have made my last visit.  The restaurant, just a Vladdy Guerrero Junior homer from Skydome, is closing either late this year or early next.  I've had a few great nights with some outstanding friends in this place.  Great memories!

--When the mosquitoes are quiet, there is nothing like a Saskatchewan summer night.  Sunday was one of those nights--at least where I was.

That's all I got.  Have a great week!