Monday, September 30, 2019

Blues Unveil Their Championship Rings

The Blues championship rings.

The St. Louis Blues won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history in June, and their championship rings serve as a reminder of the inspirations that helped them end that drought.

As with most championship rings, there are a lot of jewels — 282 diamonds, 20 princess-cut sapphires, 16 custom-cut blue sapphires, and 15 round sapphires for a total weight of 10.6 carats, ring maker Josten Inc. says.

But the intricate rings also feature plenty of references to the Blues' Stanley Cup journey.

The words "Play Gloria" reference the song that the Blues adopted after some players went to a Philadelphia bar in January, heard the 1982 Laura Branigan hit "Gloria" played repeatedly and began a rise from last in the NHL to champions.

On the interior of the ring are the four teams they beat in the playoffs with the series results. The 16 sapphires in the Blues logo represent their 16 postseason wins and the 75 diamonds in and around the Stanley Cup represent their number of playoff goals.

The Blues' connection to their fans is shown with a depiction of their championship rally at the Gateway Arch.

Something To "Mitch" About

--An epic beatdown!   That is how you can describe what the Riders did to the Argos Saturday night at BMO Field in a game where there may have been more people cheering for the visiting team than the home team.  I guess it happens in a place other than Calgary!

Once Cody Fajardo got things rolling in the second quarter, it was just a matter of how bad was this game going to be for the Argonauts.  Cody was throwin it, Cody was runnin it, Cody was puttin up points and the Riders are going to the playoffs as a result,

I don't know about you, but I found Fajardo to be a very dangerous weapon on this night as he not only got it done throwing the ball, but by using his legs and taking off at very opportune times gaining 80 yards on the ground.  He is becoming a bigger and bigger threat which is good news for the Riders and bad news for defensive co-ordinators

--You had to like the fact that Emmanuel Arceneaux finally got into the endzone.  It may have been his last catch with the Riders with Jordan Williams-Lambert knocking at the door.  Many believe "The Manny Show" will be put on hiatus when JWL returns and I can't disagree with that.  One has to think JWL will be ready for Winnipeg.

--I know its bad Jacques,  but has it come to this??

What exactly was he doing?

--Micah Johnson had his best game as a Rider.  If he is starting to heat up now, look out! 

--I'm not big on the CFL live mic games, but the comments of Craig Dickenson on the sidelines were interesting.  It shows you what type of coach he is and how he is willing to forgive a mistake here and there.  I found it interesting how he joked about giving the defence one free offside a game.  There are a lot of coaches who would be upset with an   whetoffside at any time of the game no matter the score because its a focus thing.  Craig is willing to let the guys trip up from time to time, but he isn't going to get upset about it.  It's one of the things Dickie does well and it is one of the reasons this team is tied for first with five games to go. 

--You can't retire all numbers, but I think its wrong that Logan Kilgore is wearing 15 in Edmonton, Armanti Edwards is wearing 10 in Toronto and Mitch Picton wears 81 in Saskatchewan.  Those numbers belong to Ricky Ray, Terry Greer and Ray Elgaard.  Just sayin!  By the way, it is time to retire Elgaard's number if you ask me. 

--Was anyone surprised to see the Ti-Cats squash Winnipeg?  Sorry Winnipeg, you aren't winning with Chris Streveler. 

--I am all for a tripleheader of CFL football and while I wasn't able to watch a lot due to other committments, it is something that needs to be done more often.  Did you sit for all nine hours or did you tap out at some point during the game in Vancouver.   While there is a lot of US College Football on the tube Saturdays, I wonder how many do stick to the CFL when there are three games on instead of seeing what's happening down south.

--The U of R Rams suffered another tough loss on Saturday losing on a last-play field goal.  In three of the four losses this year, the Rams kick game has hurt them tremendously and Saturday was no different.  Aldo Galvan simply has to make a 35 yarder late in the game to make Manitoba score a touchdown.  He did not and the Rams did not win.  The Mexican product has struggled tremendously this year and I have to wonder with the crucial misses he has had how much confidence there is in him both with the coaching staff and players.

The good news is Regina knows they can beat these teams and they play them each once more with a chance to win the season series.  The last three games are all winnable, but I am sure head coach Steve Bryce will be wondering if he should just leave his offence out instead of having the field goal team come on because that part of the team is letting them down.

--I can't help think that Kyle Dubas got played by Mitch Marner and his representation especially after seeing what Mikko Rantanen signed for on the weekend.  Marner, who numbers-wise isn't even close to the player Rantanen is, got almost 11 million dollars while Rantanen is getting just over 9.  Whether or not Dubas bowed to the pressure of the Toronto media, the fact is Dubas should have done what Tampa did with Brayden Point and what Winnipeg did with Patrik Laine.   That is sign short-term deals with the final year seeing the big payday.  If Toronto can't get to where they want to get, the salaries Dubas has signed players to will be the reason.  If they win, no one complains, but if they don't, you can start with the Marner deal.

--How do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers score 55 points against a team that went to the Super Bowl? How!!  The first four weeks of the NFL season have just been bizarre with some of the results we have seen.  It makes for interesting Sundays.  If you had both the Bucs and Rams on your Thunder lottery ticket, you might be getting some $$$$

--How many thought New Orleans would be 0-2 without Drew Brees? They are 2-0 and are still my Super Bowl pick.

--The Vikings couldn't beat the Bears with Chase Daniel at quarterback?

--The Pats are a better team, but the one problem they had last year has raised its head again early this year.  For the second straight game, a bad 3rd period led to a 5-2 defeat.  Prince Albert did it Friday at the Brandt Centre and Winnipeg did it on Sunday. Give a lot of credit to the Ice as they went into PA, Saskatoon and Regina and took out five of six points available.  That team may not be as bad as some had suggested. 

It was too bad Regina hockey fans couldn't see Matthew Savoie in this one, but they will be able to see him once he starts playing full-time for Winnipeg.

--14 years after playing in Rimouski, the Oceanic retired Sidney Crosby's jersey.  What took them so long?   As Pats/Access colour man correctly stated,  the Pats didn't need that long to retire Jordan Eberle's number.  The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League also announced no player in the league will wear 87 again as that is Sid's number.  If the WHL were to do that, whose number would it be.  The 14 of Theoren Fleury, the 19 of Joe Sakic, the 27 of Scott Niedermayer or maybe the 9 of Lanny MacDonald.  Who would it be?

That's all I got.  Have a great week and let's hope this snow goes away so the farmers that need to can get back on the field.  Some are saying winter is here to stay.  Many know it is not uncommon in Saskatchewan to see snow before Thanksgiving.  Now that it's come though, it can you know what until late November or December.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Rantanen and Connor Sign Big Deals

Mikko Rantanen, Philadelphia Flyers, 2018, Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has signed forward Mikko Rantanen to a six-year contract through the 2024-25 season.

Rantanen, 22, finished second on the Avalanche in scoring during the 2018-19 season with a career-high 87 points (31g/56a) in 74 games. He surpassed the 30-goal mark for the first time in his career and joined Chris Drury as the only players in Avalanche history to score 20-plus goals in each of his first three NHL seasons (Drury accomplished the feat in his first four campaigns). Rantanen's 56 assists also set a personal best and ranked second on the team. He led the club with 16 power-play goals, tied for sixth in the NHL, and the most by an Avalanche player since Joe Sakic scored 16 in 2006-07. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right wing finished third on the club in goals and fourth in plus/minus rating (+13).

Colorado's first-round pick (10th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft, Rantanen went on to lead Colorado in playoff scoring with 14 points (6g/8a) in 12 games, the highest total by an Avalanche player in the postseason since 2002 (Peter Forsberg 27, Sakic 19). Rantanen's 14 points tied for the league lead through two rounds, while his 1.17 points-per-game average finished as the highest among all NHL players who appeared in at least eight postseason contests. Rantanen also led the club in playoff assists and tied Nathan MacKinnon for the team lead in goals.

"Signing Mikko to a long-term deal has been a priority, and we are excited to have him under contract for the next six years," said Avalanche Executive Vice President / General Manager Joe Sakic. "Mikko has established himself as one of the premier young wingers in the NHL and is a big part of our core group. We look forward to having him back with the team as we get ready to start the season."

Rantanen's 87 points during the regular season ranked fifth among NHL right wings and were the second-most by a player at that position in Avalanche history (since 1995-96), trailing only Milan Hejduk's 98 in 2002-03. No Colorado right wing has ever produced more assists in a season than Rantanen's 56.

A native of Nousiainen, Finland, Rantanen was the first NHL player to reach the 30, 40 and 50-point marks in 2018-19, and he reached the 60-point mark just a few hours after Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov on Dec. 27. Rantanen, who was selected to his first career NHL All-Star Game, held at least a share of the scoring lead for 66 consecutive days from Oct. 23 to Dec. 27. He was the outright scoring leader for 60 of those 66 days, including the last 43 in a row before being passed by Kucherov.

Entering what will be his fourth full NHL season in 2019-20, Rantanen has accumulated 209 points (80g/129a) in 239 career regular-season contests, while adding 18 points (6g/12a) in 18 playoff outings. He finished second on the Avalanche in scoring during the 2017-18 season with 84 points (29g/55a) in 81 games, which were the most points by a Finnish-born player at the time since Teemu Selanne (94 with Anaheim) and Olli Jokinen (91 with Florida) in 2006-07. As a rookie in 2016-17, Rantanen led the Avalanche with 20 goals, tied for fifth among all first-year players.

(Colorado Avalanche)


Image result for kyle connor

The Winnipeg Jets announced today they have agreed to terms with forward Kyle Connor on an seven-year contract with an average annual value of $7.14 million.

Connor, 21, played in his second full season with the Jets in 2018-19 and set career highs in goals (34), assists (32), and points (66) while playing in all 82 games for Winnipeg. Connor was the NHL's First Star of the Week for the week ending on Mar. 24/19 after he recorded eight points (5G, 3A) in four games, including his first career hat trick against the Nashville Predators on Mar. 23/19. The Shelby Township, Mich. native added another five points (3G, 2A) in six playoff games.

Connor's rookie campaign in 2017-18 saw him lead all freshmen in goals with 31, as he finished in fourth place in voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year. Connor joined Patrik Laine as the second Jet to record 30-or-more goals in each of their first two years. The two are among just five players in franchise history with multiple 30-goal campaigns.

Connor was drafted in the first round (17th overall) by the Jets in the 2015 NHL Draft.

(Winnipeg Jets)

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Riders Clinch Playoff Spot


Now the real fun begins for Cody Fajardo and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Fajardo threw three TD passes and ran for another as Saskatchewan (9-4) clinched a playoff berth with a convincing 41-16 win over the Toronto Argonauts (2-11) on Saturday night. The Roughriders can determine where they finish in the West Division as their final five regular-season games will be versus conference rivals, starting with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (9-5) next weekend.

"When you start the year you have a one-in-nine chance of winning a Grey Cup," Fajardo said. "Then you clinch a playoff spot and have a one-in-six chance.

"Then you want to get the first-round bye where you have a one-in-four chance. Our goal is to be a one-in-four chance team clinching with a bye week because I've been on the positive side of that where you get that week off and get to prepare and get healthy for the last playoff push."

The first-place teams in both divisions not only get opening-round playoff byes but also secure home-field advantage for the respective conference finals. Saskatchewan moved into a three-way tie for tops in the West with Winnipeg and idle Calgary (9-4).

After hosting Winnipeg, Saskatchewan visits Calgary and B.C. (3-10) before finishing home-and-home with Edmonton (7-7). Next weekend's contest with the Bombers is crucial because the winner clinches the season series, which is the tie-breaker if the two finish with identical records.

"It's a tough road ahead but I don't think we'd want it any other way," Fajardo said. "The cool thing is we control our own destiny.

"You always want to be able to be the driver of the bus and we're in that situation."

A heady accomplishment considering Saskatchewan lost starter Zach Collaros (concussion) on the third play from scrimmage in its season-opening 23-17 road loss to Hamilton.

"I think we have a resilient bunch," said rookie Riders head coach Craig Dickenson. "Cody played a tremendous game, he was so efficient.

"He saw the field well, really managed the game well and kept the guys in the huddle positive and moving forward. I think our team came together a little bit tonight and hopefully it continues."

Toronto linebacker Bear Woods said while Saskatchewan's offence has many weapons, it's Fajardo who makes the unit go.

"It's tough," he said. "The weapon is Cody in my mind.

"They did the things we'd planned for. Cody just executed on a high level."

Saskatchewan earned its seventh straight victory over Toronto and eighth in nine games overall. The Riders also improved to 5-0 coming off the bye the past two seasons and 6-2 this year versus East rivals.

Fajardo was 23-of-27 passing for 278 yards while rushing 11 times for 80 yards as Saskatchewan secured a playoff spot for a third consecutive year. And just for good measure, he found Emmanuel Arceneaux on a 55-yard touchdown pass with 6:39 to play to put the Riders ahead 34-10.

"I thought that was our best game to date," Dickenson said. "We didn't even think about the fact it would clinch us a playoff spot but they (Riders players) knew how important that it was."

Toronto (2-11) lost for the fifth time in six games and dropped to just 1-6 at home this season. James Franklin, making just his second start of 2019, was 21-of-30 passing for 209 yards with a TD and two interceptions while being sacked six times.

"It started with some good stuff but we didn't finish well at all," Toronto head coach Corey Chamblin said. "It wasn't just Fajardo, it was a (Saskatchewan) team win like it was our team loss.

"He's not carrying the team on his back. It's several guys doing their job very well."

Franklin gave the BMO Field gathering of 12,406 something to cheer about with a 15-yard TD pass to S.J. Green at 5:20 of the fourth that cut Saskatchewan's lead to 27-10. He added a one-yard TD run at 13:09 to round out the scoring.

"If you look at James it looked like his first start," Chamblin said. "There were times when you saw flashes where he used his legs but overall it was not successful."

Franklin started Toronto's 32-7 road loss to Saskatchewan on July 1 but suffered a hamstring injury in that game. McLeod Bethel-Thompson took over under centre, posting a 2-8 record.

Fajardo had 430 yards passing with two TDs while running for another in the home win over Toronto. On Saturday night, he cemented the win for Saskatchewan with a touchdown pass, then run, in the third.

Fajardo found Shaq Evans on an eight-yard strike just 4:28 into the frame after Nick Marshall recovered a Chris Rainey fumble at the Toronto 27-yard line. Then Fajardo capped a 66-yard, nine-play scoring march with an eight-yard touchdown run at 10:23 to give Saskatchewan a commanding 27-3 advantage.

"I thought that's when we pulled away," Dickenson said. "I give a lot of credit to our conditioning coach, Clint Spencer.

"We work hard in the weightroom, we work hard with our guys running. I feel like we're in good shape but it helped coming off the bye. We were fresh and well rested."

Kyran Moore and Bryan Bennett scored Saskatchewan's other touchdowns. Brett Lauther had two field goals and five converts.

Tyler Crapigna booted a field goal and convert for Toronto.

(Canadian Press)

Riders Depth Chart/Game Day Tidbits


-- The Riders are coming off a bye and are 4-0 after a week off over the last two seasons. They are  2-0 this year after bye weeks 

--A Riders win clinches a playoff spot

--This will be the last game this year against an Eastern Division opponent.  They are 5-2 against the East this year after losing the first two.  They are 16-7 against the East since the 2017 season

--Derel Walker has scored at least one TD in his last 4 games; Walker and James Wilder Jr. have scored 7 of Toronto's last 9 TDs. 

--Jon Ryan is averaging a CFL record 50.8 yards per punt, just ahead of his 50.6 yd mark set in 2005. 

Rams Look To Start Second Half of Season With A "W"

KICKOFF: Saturday, Sept. 28 (2:00 PM)
SITE: Investors Group Field (Winnipeg, Man.)
CAPACITY: 33,500
RANKINGS: Regina NR, Manitoba NR
TELEVISION: SaskTel maxTV 48/348 (Mike Still, Kito Poblah)
REGINA RADIO: 620 CKRM (Mark Harrison, Matt Rollason)

• Now at the halfway point of the Canada West schedule, these two teams are separated by just one win in the conference standings and will face each other twice over the next four games.

• Though they've now lost three straight after a 20-7 setback to Calgary last Friday, a Rams win would move them up into a tie for a playoff spot. They'd be deadlocked at 2-3 with Manitoba, and possibly with Saskatchewan as well if the Huskies lose at home to conference-leading Calgary on Friday night.

• The Rams made a change at quarterback last week after starter Josh Donnelly was banged up in the Week 3 game against Saskatchewan. Seb Britton started at pivot against the Dinos with Donnelly serving as his backup.

MOORE BACK: It's been a long road back for DL Matt Moore, who missed half of 2016, almost all of 2017, and all of 2018 due to injury. But he's back to full strength and has re-emerged as a key part of the rotation for the Rams on the defensive line. Through the first four games of the season, Moore has four tackles (2 solo and 4 assisted), two tackles for loss including 1½ sacks, and a fumble recovery.

VARGA STEPPING UP: LB Ryder Varga had seven tackles including a sack last week at Calgary. Despite only being in his second season of eligibility, Varga is now second on the team in tackles (20½), is the U of R's outright leader with five tackles for loss, and is tied with Eric Wicijowski for the team lead with two sacks.

TURNOVER TRACKER: DB Jaxon Ford collected the defence's seventh turnover of the season after picking off an Adam Sinagra pass in the third quarter of last week's game at Calgary. The U of R defence has collected three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and two turnovers on downs through four games this season.

300 CLUB: Only three Canada West players have put up in excess of 300 receiving yards this season, and two of them are Rams. SB Bennett Stusek has caught a team-leading 21 passes and is second in the conference with 313 receiving yards, while Riley Boersma has 13 catches for 306 yards so far this year. Boersma's 23.5 yards per catch is the highest average in school single-season history, topping the previous mark of 22.5 yards per reception set by Jason Clermont back during the 2000 campaign.

DONNELLY NOTES: QB Josh Donnelly had thrown for at least 300 yards in each of the team's first three games of the season, but backed up Seb Britton in the Dinos game after getting banged up the previous week against the Huskies. Still in his first season of eligibility after redshirting last year, Donnelly ranks third in Canada West with 1034 passing yards despite not attempting a single pass in last week's game at Calgary.

RECORD BOOK: SB Ryan Schienbein continues his ascent up the school’s record book in all major career receiving categories. He's in fourth place in receiving yards (2181), tied with Mitchell Picton for fourth in receptions (169), and tied with Mike Thomas for fourth in school history with 17 touchdown catches.

VARAO UPDATE: After rumbling his way to three one-yard touchdowns in the first half of the season opener at UBC, RB Sam Varao is still tied for second in Canada West this year in touchdown runs. He’s also tied for fifth in all of U SPORTS in that category.

ON THE LINE: The Rams went with a different look at three of the offensive line positions against Calgary. Andrew Becker slid over to centre from right guard, Joel Braden got the start at left tackle, and Parker Hodel got his first career start as he suited up at right guard. Liam Jensen (LG) and Theren Churchill (RT) have both started all four games for the Rams this season.

AGAINST MANITOBA: The Rams are 13-19 lifetime against Manitoba in the 32 Canada West games played between the two teams. The Bisons are 12-4 against the Rams in Winnipeg, which includes last year's game which was originally an overtime win for Regina before the result was overturned due to a U of R ineligible player.

(Braden Konschuh/U of R Athletics) 

Friday, September 27, 2019

Laine Returns To Winnipeg

Image result for patrik laine

The Winnipeg Jets announced today they have agreed to terms with forward Patrik Laine on a two-year contract with an average annual value of $6.75 million.

Laine, 21, played in his third full season with the Jets in 2018-19 and scored 30 goals for his third consecutive 30-plus goal campaign. The Tampere, Finland native added 20 assists for 50 points before recording four points (3G, 1A) in six games in the playoffs. Laine had the best month of his young NHL career in November 2018 when he scored 18 goals in just 12 games. That month included three hat tricks, including a franchise record five goals against the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 29/18. He also scored his 100th career goal on Nov. 29/18 versus Chicago, as he became the fourth-youngest player in NHL history to reach the 100-goal mark (20 years, 224 days).

Laine made his Jets debut in 2016-17 when he tallied 36 goals and added 28 assists in just 73 games, as he finished as the runner-up for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year. In his sophomore season, Laine scored 44 goals, which was second in the NHL. His 110 goals in the past three seasons is sixth in the NHL.

Laine was drafted in the first round (2nd overall) by the Jets in the 2016 NHL Draft.

(Winnipeg Jets)

This and That

Welcome to Friday and the usual assortment of things running through my muddled mind.   As always, these come in no particular order

--Where would Cody Fajardo and the Saskatchewan Roughriders be if it wasn't for Simoni Lawrence.  Could one say as the Riders prepare to battle the Argos on Saturday looking to go to 9-4 that the play of the year for this football team was the gutless headshot Collaros took at the hands of Lawrence on what was the Riders 3rd play from scrimmage.

If Collaros is the quarterback of the green-and-white right now, are they 8-4.  With all due respect to Zach, I don't think they are.  Fajardo was obviously the huge beneficiary of this as he was given his opportunity to show what he can do and we have seen the results.

Tom Brady capitalized on an injury to Drew Bledsoe and you know the rest of that story.  Under no circumstances can you compare Brady to Fajardo, but where would TB12 be if Bledsoe had continued playing for the Patriots.

--Let's be honest.  Coming out of training camp, did you think the Riders would be in a position where they could win 11 or 12 games this year.  I don't think a lot of people did with some thinking this team would compete for a crossover at best. Nope!

--The CFL's leader in touchdown passes this year has been benched.  Only in the CFL.  McLeod Bethel Thompson has 19.  Hands up if you knew before reading this that MBT had 19.  I had to double and triple check when I looked at the stats.

--It's just embarassing that the CFL recognizes Vernon Adams Junior for his play against the Bombers in a game where he eventually gets suspended for a helmet-swinging incident. It is perhaps more embarassing for the referees who didn't kick Adams out of the game.

-Good on VA for just taking the suspension and not appealing it as so many others have in the past

--Back to Simoni Lawrence and why was he not  suspended for his hit on Logan Kilgore?  For that matter, why is Simoni Lawrence still in the CFL? The league doesn't need idiots like him on the field.

--I'll get my first look at the Pats Sunday afternoon when they tangle with the Winnipeg Ice.  I'll have the call of the game on Access 7 with Jared Dumba.  I am sure those watching Access will be complaining about the play-by-play talent midway through the first.  Who could blame ya!!

--Boys will be boys, but what Auston Matthews and his buddies did back in May is downright scary.  Doing that wasn't cool and it wasn't cool 10, 20, 30 years ago despite what some are thinking.   I would think any woman would be scared out of her mind if a group of intoxicated men tried to get into her car.   By the way, how is it neither Kyle Dubas or the Leafs had no idea about this incident until four months later.  Did Mike Babcock really say he got the news from Twitter?

--Week 4 NFL Lock Of The Week  --  Colts over Raiders
   Week 4 NFL Upset Of The Week -- Saints over Cowboys

--The NHL's top 50 came out this week with many different organizations like TSN, ESPN etc etc etc giving their list.  Connor MacDavid was unanimous at number 1.  At number 2 though, you had Crosby on one list, Nathan McKinnon on another and Nikita Kucherov on another.  If McDavid is unanimous at number one, who are 2 through 5 in your mind.  I would have Kucherov at 2 FWIW.

--My coffee budget has gone up a lot this week and so have my Tim's visits. Yes, its hockey card season at Timmies!!

--You could have given me many guesses and I wouldn't have picked Keith Urban as the halftime entertainment at this year's Grey Cup.  What a great grab by the CFL.  With the game being in Calgary, I thought it would be a country music act and I thought the honour would go to one of my faves--Paul Brandt/  Brett Kissel and Dallas Smith were also acts I thought would be good.  Urban is one of the top country artists out there.  How can you go wrong?

Great pick CFL!!  No flying snowmobiles though!

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

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Keith Urban To Perform At Halftime of GC

Keith Urban performing at 107th Grey Cup in Calgary

The Canadian Football League (CFL) has announced that four-time GRAMMY© Award-winner, Keith Urban, will perform at the 2019 Freedom Mobile Grey Cup Halftime Show at the 107th Grey Cup presented by Shaw on November 24, airing live from Calgary on TSN and RDS – Canada’s home of the CFL.

This evening, CTV’s ETALK revealed that the reigning Country Music Association (CMA) and Academy of Country Music (ACM) Entertainer of The Year, will headline the nation’s largest annual sporting event.

“The first time I think I performed a sold out stadium (in Canada) actually would have been the Saddledome in Calgary,” Urban told ETALK. “I remember halfway through my show, thinking: ‘Man, this crowd is amazing! Whoever is coming on after us is gonna love these guys.’ And I suddenly thought: ‘I’m it. I’m the guy that’s coming on. I’m here. This is it. This is my crowd.’”

Urban is a superstar whose performances have been hailed the world over as concert events not to be missed. His shows across Canada have provided the backdrop for an undeniably special relationship between Urban and his fans throughout the nation.

Urban has sold more than 20 million albums, six of which have reached No. 1. He has had 23 No. 1 songs, including Somebody Like You, Days Go By, Sweet Thing, Wasted Time, Blue Ain’t Your Color, The Fighter and Coming Home. His latest release, We Were, has already been streamed over 57 million times worldwide. In addition to his four GRAMMY© Awards, he has won multiple Canadian Country Music Awards, 13 CMAs, 15 ACMs and four American Music Awards.

“I know we’ve scored an absolute touchdown for football and music fans everywhere when my three young daughters are as excited about this big news as I am,” said CFL Commissioner, Randy Ambrosie. “Our early relationship with Keith has already shown him to be as authentic and genuine as he is famous and talented. We can’t wait to see him and everyone in Calgary as we share his shining light and Canada’s spirit with fans here at home and viewers around the world.”

The Freedom Mobile Grey Cup Halftime Show typically attracts one of the highest viewing audiences of any live musical performance on Canadian television.

“Whether they’re at the game or watching in the comforts of their own homes, the Freedom Mobile Grey Cup Halftime Show brings millions of people together from coast-to-coast to be a part of Canada’s game,” said Paul McAleese, President, Wireless, Shaw Communications. “For more than two decades, Keith Urban has established himself as one of the world’s best performers – a gifted musician who will energize the stage at the Grey Cup Halftime Show. With hundreds of thousands of Canadians choosing to switch to Freedom Mobile, we are thrilled to partner with the CFL to make this year’s halftime show one of the biggest and best ever.”

Urban’s headlining performance is part of the CFL’s partnership with Universal Music Canada which includes in-game broadcast music exclusivity and collaborations with the league’s nine teams as part of their Thursday Night Football series.

“We are pleased to be continuing our ongoing relationship with the CFL by bringing our world-class artists and music to football fans across the country,” added Kristen Burke, Executive Vice President and General Manager at Universal Music Canada. “Keith is beloved by Canadian audiences and we are thrilled to have him be a part of this year’s Grey Cup.”

The 107th Grey Cup presented by Shaw will be played on Sunday, November 24, 2019 in Calgary at McMahon Stadium, and broadcast across Canada on TSN – the country’s most-watched specialty network. This year’s championship will mark the fifth time Calgary has hosted the game and the first since the 97th Grey Cup in 2009. A limited number of tickets are still available at

Several ticketed events for the 2019 Grey Cup Festival presented by Shaw are on-sale now, including the Shaw CFL Awards, the Canadian Tire CFL Alumni Association Legends Luncheon, the Alberta Blue Cross Grey Cup Gala Dinner, the Cheer Extravaganza, the first-ever Grey Cup Rodeo, the SiriusXM Saturday Night Concert presented by Coors Light, and more. Additional event details, dates and purchasing information can be found at

(CFL Communications)

Nichols To Miss Rest Of Season

Image result for matt nichols

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ quarterback Matt Nichols won’t be returning to the field this season.

According to a statement from head coach Mike O’Shea, Nichols hurt his shoulder in Week 10, and after six weeks of rehabilitating the injury, it was determined the quarterback needed surgery.

Nichols had surgery on Thursday, but won’t be playing for the rest of the season.

This means Chris Streveler will have the task of trying to keep the Bombers in a position to host a playoff game.  They go into this week's game against Hamilton with a record of 9-4 which is tied for first with Calgary.

The Stampeders have the bye.

Williams-Lambert Not Making Trip To Toronto

Image result for jordan williams lambert

Rider fans hoping to see Jordan Williams-Lambert back on the field Saturday will have to wait for at least another week.

Before heading to Toronto on Thursday, head coach Craig Dickenson said the receiver, who has just come back to the team after a failed tryout with the NFL's Chicago Bears, needs another week to re-acclimatize himself with the playbook.

“He’s close, but we feel like he needs one more week." Dickenson said.  "We watched the film last night. He’s doing well and we’re very happy with him, but we feel like he needs one more week and then I think he’ll be up to speed after that.”

The 25-year-old led the Riders last year with a team-high 62 catches and 724 yards with four touchdowns.

Dickenson also let it be known Brendan Labatte will be making the trip and will start on the offensive line as he makes his first appearance of the year after missing the first 12 games recovering from sports hernia surgery.

Labatte will start at left guard.  Dickenson was non-committal as to who would start at right guard, but it will either be Dakoda Shepley or Dariusz Bladek.

The 8-4 Riders begin the final third of the season on Saturday night as they take on the Argonauts in a game we will have on 620 CKRM starting with the pre-game show at 2 followed by the play-by-play with Derek Taylor and Luc Mullinder at 5.

Week 4 NFL Capsules

Image result for aaron rodgers

The Green Bay Packers try to go 4-0 on Thursday night football when they are home to Philadelphia.  For a look at that game and all the others that make up Week 4 of the NFL season, click here. 

(NFL Communications) 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Schooner Sports and Entertainment's plan for a CFL team and a new Halifax stadium is expected to be revealed soon

Image result for atlantic schooners

Regional council and local residents should get a preview of the plan to bring a Canadian Football League team and stadium to Halifax Regional Municipality within a couple of weeks.

“We received the proposal from the proponent (Schooner Sports and Entertainment) and we’re sifting through it,” Jacques Dube, chief administrative officer of the municipality, said Tuesday.

Dube said he and his team are working on a summary document to present to council and the public.

Dube and his staff were tasked nearly a year ago with assessing the viability of a proposal by principal SSE partners Anthony LeBlanc, Gary Drummond and Bruce Bowser and recommending to council if it should or should not be a go for the municipality.

The chief administrative officer and company only received the SSE plan in late August and Dube contends, despite the pending sneak preview for council, that his deliberation will take half a year.

“This is going to be a five- to six-month process, minimum, to get a final recommendation before council. At this point, we’re not in a position to recommend any particular option,” Dube said. “The update will be: here’s the proposal, here’s a summary of it, here’s all the documentation we’ve been given permission to release and we’ll be back to you, council, with a regular check-in.

“Obviously, should council want us to proceed with this, we’ll have a recommendation for them in five or six months from now, I suspect sometime in the spring,” he said.

The SSE ownership originally proposed a 24,000-seat stadium to be built at a cost of $190 million but tempered its vision to a $130-million community stadium with 12,000 permanent seats and the capability of adding 12,000 more temporary seats.

Through an agreement with Sport Nova Scotia, the stadium could accommodate minor sports when it is not in use for professional football.

SSE has negotiated with Canada Lands — the federal Crown corporation tasked with managing and redeveloping surplus military properties — for the purchase of an eight-hectare plot of land in the 33-hectare Shannon Park site by Halifax harbour.

In a recent note to its stakeholders, Canada Lands reported that it was approached by SSE in 2018. Canada Lands signed a letter of intent that outlined specific conditions that SSE must meet before it would consider any sale of land.

The conditions include requiring SSE and HRM to undertake public engagement with the community regarding a community stadium use; that Canada Lands and SSE co-ordinate efforts with Millbrook First Nation and neighbouring developing plans; and, that HRM approve a revised concept plan for Shannon Park lands.

“To date, the conditions outlined in the letter of intent have not been fully satisfied,” the Canada Lands notice said.

“That’s the site they suggested and we’ll look at that, certainly from a transportation and planning perspective, road access, ferry access, transit access, all those kinds of things, the impact on the neighbourhood,” Dube said. “We have no real comment to make until we’ve gone through it in a little more detail.”

Anthony LeBlanc said in an email Tuesday that his group has worked closely with senior staff at HRM over the past weeks to provide clarification where needed and to answer any questions.

“Both HRM and SSE strongly agree that it is of critical importance that we are transparent and very collaborative and consultative during this process, therefore we are working toward releasing the business plan and proposal to the public in the very near future,” LeBlanc said. “We humbly believe that we have put together an innovative proposal that has a variety of options for public sector participation in conjunction with significant private sector involvement, and all we ask is that everyone review the concepts with an open mind.”

He said the community stadium proposal should be considered a positive, not just for HRM and Nova Scotia but for the entire Atlantic region.

Dube, sitting in on a capital budget plan discussion at council Tuesday, said there are a number of funding options in the SSE plan. The one that seemed most reasonable for the municipality is a tax incremental financing (TIF) model, a public financing plan used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure and debt financing

“That’s not really an impact on the capital budget,” Dube said. “It’s not a direct hit on the capital budget.”

(Halifax Chronicle-Herald)

Monday, September 23, 2019

CFL Suspends Vernon Adams Jr

The Canadian Football League has suspended Montreal Alouettes quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. for one game, effective immediately.

The discipline was issued by CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie following a telephone hearing with Adams and representatives of the Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA). The suspension is in response to play #123 in the fourth quarter of the game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Montreal Alouettes on September 21.

The play saw Adam Bighill block Adams on an interception return. Adams responded by pulling Bighill to the ground by his facemask, resulting in his opponent’s helmet being forcefully removed. Adams then proceeded to swing the helmet towards Bighill’s head.

In addition to being a non-football play, the league deemed the act to be reckless and dangerous. Adams is slated to miss the next Montreal Alouettes game against the BC Lions in Vancouver on Saturday, September 28.

Adams has completed 206 of 317 throws for 2,953 yards and 15 touchdowns since taking the starting job in Montreal this season.  He will sit out the Alouettes’ contest Saturday in Vancouver where either Antonio Pipkin or Matthew Schiltz will get the call vs. the BC Lions.

(CFL Communications)

Lightning Sign Brayden Point

The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Brayden Point to a three-year contract worth an AAV of $6.75-million, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

Point, 23, skated in 79 games with the Lightning during the 2018-19 season, posting 41 goals and 92 points to go along with a plus-27 rating. He set career bests for goals, assists and points last season. The Calgary, Alberta native ranked second on the Lightning for goals and was third for both assists and points. Point also ranked tied for sixth in the NHL for goals and was 12th for points. He led the league for power-play goals with 20 and was tied for sixth for power-play points with 35. Point also appeared in four Stanley Cup Playoff games, posting one goal.

"We are very pleased to re-sign Brayden today," BriseBois said. "He is the consummate professional with an unwavering commitment to team success, growing as a player and improving every day. It is that mindset that makes him an outstanding role model, teammate and person, on and off the ice. We look forward to getting Brayden back on the ice with his Lightning teammates as soon as possible."

The 5-foot-10, 166-pound forward has skated in 229 career NHL games, all with the Bolts over the past three seasons, recording 91 goals and 198 points. Since joining Tampa Bay, Point's 107 goals and 21 game-winning goals are the second-most among all skaters on the team. Point represented the Lightning at the 2018 NHL All-Star Game in Tampa, his first All-Star appearance. He's skated in 21 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, posting seven goals and 17 points to go along with 15 penalty minutes. During the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs he ranked tied for first on the Lightning for goals with seven and tied for second for points with 16.

Point was originally drafted by the Lightning in the third round, 79th overall, at the 2014 NHL Draft.

(Tampa Bay Lightning)

Something To "Mitch" About

--I didn't see it as I was flying home from Calgary after having called the Rams game Friday night ( more on that later), but it would appear as if I missed the game of the year in the CFL.   The Bombers-Montreal game sounds like it was a ring-a-ding-dong dandy that had its fair share of controversy.

Why wasn't Vernon Adams kicked out of the game for swinging the helmet of Adam Bighill at the Bombers linebacker after a 4th quarter INT?  Yes, he did get a 15 yard penalty, but he should have been told to hit the road.  That may have been the difference between a victory and a loss for a Montreal team that win or lose has become the most exciting team in the league to watch.  One has to wonder if the league will step in and hand some supplementary discipline to Adams---then again if it is a suspension, it probably won't take effect until next year knowing the way the CFL works.

Win or lose, the Bombers have to ask themselves why it is they have let three leads slip away in the game's dying moments with two of those leads being of 20 points (Toronto & Montreal).  Rider fans will be quick to tell you that's what you get with a Richie Hall defence as they have seen that act play itself out here.  To me, it is simply a lack of focus in playing a 60 minute game and that is squarely on the shoulders of Mike O'Shea   The same Mike O'Shea who may have kicked off a career in politics when he told Montreal Gazette reporter Herb Zurkowsky that he strongly believes Andrew Harris does not take performance-enhancing drugs.  The paperwork would tell you otherwise Mike and at this time, there is nothing to suggest wyour running back had something that was tampered with enter his system.  Perhaps if he would r34al what it was that he was taking, we could clear this up but he doesn't want to.

--There is talk the BC Lions now have their game together.  Have we forgotten they beat Ottawa in back-to-back games.  Ottawa!!  Weren't they the team picked by many to be last or as Derek Taylor said on the Sportscage earlier this year -----dead ass last!   Beat a quality team and we can talk.

How many different ways has Duron Carter registered a TD in his CFL career?  He threw one on Saturday, he has had a pick six, he has obviously caught passes for touchdowns and he took a missed field goal back for a score along with a blocked punt return for a major.  Am I missing anything? I feel like I am.

--Aren't backup or young quarterbacks supposed to struggle in the NFL?  Daniel Jones and Kyle Allen would shake their heads no and Teddy Bridgewater would disagree as well.  Where are all those Giants fans who booed Jones on draft night? Who is Kyle Allen? So much for the Saints being vulnerable with Drew Brees out of the lineup.  There were some impressive performances from guys who aren't supposed to.  By the way, 20 of the quarterbacks that started on Sunday were 26 or under.  The game is in good shape at that position down south.  As for the CFL, uhhhhhhhh

--Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio says there are three teams interested in Antonio Brown.  Who and why?  Any team which signs him (and that includes the Seahawks) will prove that talent wins out over character in the NFL any day of the week.  Roger Goodell should just step in and say this guy isn't playing for anyone until this mess gets resolved.

--How many of you have been watching the Cleveland Browns looking for a Chris Jones sighting? Cmon, let's be honest! I think he is up in the pressbox, but I'm not sure.  I'm guessing he has to be because I haven't seen him on the sidelines.

--The Rams had to have basically everything go their way if they were to beat Calgary on Friday night.  They certainly gave it a shot.  The potent Calgary offense didn't have some weapons due to injury, but they still had defending Hec Crighton Trophy winner Adam Sinagra.   The Rams didn't give him a lot as Calgary had to fight and scratch for what they got.  They also benefitted from what was a terrible penalty on linebacker Josh White which took a pick-six from Jaxon Ford off the board.  I don't know White could be penalized when Sinagra ran into him, but much to the Rams disgust they did.

The team has lost three in a row, but there is a lot to be optimistic about with this team.  Steve Bryce and company will get it right.  The second half of the season won't be as tough as the first half, but there will be some solid tests for this team as they try to get into the playoffs. 

-_When did Jason Spezza become a Leaf?  I missed that one!

--It is becoming fairly obvious that Patrik Laine probably won't be a Winnipeg Jet as the interest in re-signing the RFA doesn't seem to be there.  What is a fair price in trade for the Finnish winger who has a lot of game left. With Dustin Byfuglien perhaps on the verge of calling it a career, I would think you need a top four defenceman to start. 

--Are we ready for the NHL season to start?

--Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion will both be involved with playoff baseball this year.  Just sayin!

--The Chicago Cubs thanks to a bullpen that is maybe double A at best won't be involved with playoff baseball this year. Just sayin!  I need to know how many times they have had the lead or been tied after 7 and gone on to lose.  What a pathetic group of relievers! I gotta think within the next two weeks we will be hearing the Cubs need a new manager.  It sounds like Joe Maddon is gone.  Thanks Joe!

That's all I got.  Have a great week!

Friday, September 20, 2019

This Week In The CFL

Image result for cj gable

The Stampeders make the trip east to face Toronto for Friday Night Football with kickoff at 7 p.m. ET. The game will wrap up the season series, following Calgary’s Week 6, 26-16 win at home. The visitors are looking to push their winning streak to a season-high four games after last week’s slim 19-18 victory against Hamilton. Calgary owns a 3-3 record against the East Division this season and is 3-2 away from McMahon Stadium. The Argonauts are coming off an impressive 46-17 win in the nation’s capital. The contest will mark the first of three interdivision matchups for Toronto with Saskatchewan in town next week before a visit to Vancouver.
The second half of Friday evening’s doubleheader will see the Tiger-Cats in Edmonton. The hosts are coming off a bye week and will be looking to return to the win column after three consecutive setbacks. The Eskimos are 4-2 at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium this season, but Hamilton has found success outside of its division and owns a 5-2 mark against the West. The Tiger-Cats’ Week 14 loss in Calgary halted a four-game winning streak. The Eskimos will induct Ricky Ray into their Wall of Honour and the first 20,000 fans will receive a commemorative flag. Kickoff is slated for 9:30 p.m. ET.
Saturday’s back-to-back set will begin with Winnipeg visiting La belle province at 4 p.m. ET. The Alouettes will be looking to rebound from a narrow 27-25 loss in Saskatchewan. The two sides have yet to face one another in the 2019 campaign and Montreal is 3-2 at home. The Blue Bombers top the West Division and are coming in well-rested after sitting out Week 14 action. Winnipeg holds a losing record (1-2) on the road against the East Division, with its lone victory coming in Week 4 against the REDBLACKS.
Week 15 concludes with Ottawa welcoming the Lions to TD Place for the backend of a home-and-home series. BC took the opener last week with a decisive 29-5 victory. The visitor’s two wins on the season have come at the expense of East Division foes, including a Week 4 win in Toronto. The reeling REDBLACKS will attempt to snap a string of five straight losses, but Ottawa has not claimed a victory at home since Week 2. At halftime Ottawa will pay tribute to Kaye Vaughan’s accomplishments by adding him to the Wall of Honour at TD Place Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.
TSN’s Live Mic game will be Winnipeg at Montreal.
ESPN+ will be home to all four games this week.
Ottawa loss AND Hamilton Win OR Tie = Hamilton clinches a playoff spot
Standings through 14 weeks last season:
  • Winnipeg has four more wins than last year and sits first in the West Division.
  • Saskatchewan has one more victory than last season and are slotted in the same position – third in the division.
  • Hamilton has three more victories than a year ago and sit atop the East.
  • Montreal has doubled its win total from last year and sits second.
  • Parity: points from first to last:
    • 2018 West Division: 20 (CGY) to 10 (WPG)
    • 2018 East Division: 14 (OTT) to 6 (MTL/TOR)
    • 2019 West Division: 18 WPG) to 4 (BC)
    • 2019 East Division: 18 (HAM) to 4 (TOR)
  • Head-to-head: Point differential of division leaders year-to-year:
    • West Division: CGY 2018 (+132) and WPG 2019 (+127)
    • East Division: OTT 2018 (+21) and HAM 2019 (+118)
  • Last week, Calgary’s Reggie Begelton (1,036) became the first player to surpass 1,000 receiving yards this season. It was the first time he has reached the mark in his career. Since 2018, he has played 18 games (seven in 2018, 12 in 2019), and has tallied 95 receptions for 1,464 yards and eight receiving touchdowns.
  • Four receivers playing this week are within 150-yards of the benchmark:
    • Brandon Banks (967) is looking to reach the mark for his third consecutive season and is on pace for a career-high 1,494 yards. The last Ticat to notch three straight seasons with 1,000+ yards was Darren Flutie from 1999-2001.
    • Bryan Burnham (943) is in search of his fourth straight 1000-yard season. He is also on pace for a career year (1,457 yards).
    • Derel Walker (897) needs 103 yards on Friday against the Stampeders to reach the mark for the third time in his career, and the first since 2016. Toronto’s prized free-agent signing is on pace for 1,467 yards this season.
    • Bralon Addison (854) is attempting to hit the mark for the first time in his first full CFL season. He is on pace for 1,320 yards. Through 15 career CFL games, he has totaled 967 yards on 82 receptions, while adding six touchdowns.
  • Last season, nine receivers reached 1,000+ yards:
    • Duke Williams (1,579)
    • Banks (1,423)
    • Brad Sinopoli (1,376)
    • Luke Tasker (1,104)
    • S.J. Green (1,095)
    • Greg Ellingson (1,086)
    • Burnham (1,029)
    • Diontae Spencer (1,007).
  • The most 1,000-yard receivers in one season was set in 2005 when 19 players reached the milestone.
  • After serving a two-game suspension, Andrew Harris is set to return to the lineup. He needs 92 yards to record his third consecutive 1,000+ rushing yard season and the fifth of his career.
  • Last season, only three backs accumulated 1,000+ rushing yards:
    • Harris (1,390)
    • William Powell (1,362)
    • C.J. Gable (1,063).
  • The most rushers in one year to reach 1,000-yards was seven, set in 2009.
  • Through Week 11, CFL games were taking 2:54 to complete. The past 11 games since have averaged 2:47.
  • If Calgary clinches a playoff berth, it will be the team’s 15th season in a row – a new club record which would tie Saskatchewan (1962-1976) for the league’s fifth longest streak.
  • In the last 10 games (Weeks 12-14), the home team has won eight matches. In 2019, home teams are 33-20 (.623) – the highest home winning percentage since 2004 (50-31-1, .623).
  • Last season, five players tied for the league lead in interceptions with five. This season, Winston Rose has eight, Tre Roberson has seven, two players have four and five players have three.
  • Ticats DL Dylan Wynn’s streak of consecutive games with a sack ended at five. During that stretch, he recorded seven of his nine sacks on the season. Entering the 2019 campaign, he had eight sacks across two seasons.
  • Winnipeg’s Willie Jefferson is looking to extend his streak of games with at least one sack to five games. Over that period, he has seven sacks and has already established a new career-high (11).
  • Trending upwards: Toronto went 0-6 in its first six games, scoring 12.5 points per match. In the Argos' past five, they have averaged 29.8 points and have gone 2-3. In those five games, McLeod Bethel-Thompson has 12 TD passes and only 2 INTs.
  • Last week, the Argos scored their first rushing touchdown of 2019 to break a string of 12 games without tallying one – a new CFL record
  • BC’s Mike Reilly passed for two touchdowns in Week 14 versus the REDBLACKS. It was the first time he passed for multiple touchdowns since Week 9. The game also marked the first time he rushed for multiple touchdowns this season.
  • Logan Kilgore will get the nod for the Esks. It will be his fourth career start (1-2).
  • Canadian Cory Greenwood continues to lead the league in tackles with 78. Ottawa’s Avery Williams sits second with 69.
  • CFL kickers this year are 20-for-26 from 50+ yards. Justin Medlock leads all kickers with six made field goals from that distance.
  • Two kickers are perfect on converts this year: Medlock (40/40) and Rene Paredes (20/20).
  • Toronto’s Tyler Crapigna has the highest average of made field goals (37.5 yards).
  • Joe Montford is the only player to lead the league in sacks for four consecutive years (1998-2001). Charleston Hughes will match the mark if he emerges as the league-leader this year.
  • Simoni Lawrence is one tackle away from 500 in his career. He ranks No. 38 all-time and trails Baron Miles by five.
  • Hamilton's record of 5-2 (.714) is the highest win percentage by an East Division club against the West since 2012 when Montreal went 6-2 (.750). Hamilton is in the midst of a four-game stretch against western clubs.
  • Edmonton has one defensive TD return in its last 34 games and has gone 75 contests without a kick return TD (dating back to August 28, 2015).
(CFL Communications)