Realty One

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

ON TO THE ANAVET: NEUGSIE'S AROUND THE SJHL

By: Jamie Neugebauer
Voice of the ND Hounds

The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is officially over, after the Battlefords North Stars knocked off the Melfort Mustangs in five.

Here are my 10 things!

1. Hail to the Champs! – It isn’t hard to imagine that the Mustangs finally ran out of steam, as the juggernaut Stars cruised to a 7-2, final-clinching win Friday night in North Battleford. Hometown boy Braydon Buziak led the way with three points, including the game-winner, and captured a small measure of redemption after the Regina Pats dealt him away during their Memorial Cup hosting season in the WHL a year ago. So many storylines jump off the page from this Battlefords team, and their run to the club’s second championship in three years. Another one is the explosion of 2000-born winger Quintin Loon-Stewardson, equal parts skill and grit, who had 28 points in 51 regular season games, and 19 points in 16 post-season tilts. He, along with older brother Elijah, were very good all season, but both took another step forward in the playoffs, brilliantly fitting alongside Buziak on the Stars top line, and taking the pressure off of veteran and talented combination of Owen Lamb and MacGregor Sinclair. Having two lines that would definitely be No. 1 units almost anywhere in the league is massive, a level of depth up front that I truly believe that the Mustangs lacked (with no disrespect intended). I ran with the Stars as my pick throughout the playoffs, and though I’m not one to say I told you so…

2. MVP A Clear Choice? – Yes, it was. Joel Grzybowski, take another bow. A 200-plus minute shutout streak in the playoffs, and ridiculous stats: a 1.68 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage, all after clearly playing the most minutes of any SJHL goaltender during the regular season, all adds up to a magical playoff for the Hafford native. Certainly he had the best, healthiest, and most complete D-Corps playing in front of him, but stats like that do not happen by fluke. Grzybowski has played in 10 WHL games, so he won’t be going the U.S. College route, but his rights are owned by the Tri-City Americans, who have another 1999-born goaltender, and a 2002 backup likely looking to return next year, so the Grzy-magic might continue into next season. Regardless, he has a lot to be proud of right now, and I can say from experience that he’s a very good young man to boot. Well done!

3. Kudos To Melfort’s Stars – You also have to send a whole bunch of kudos to the Melfort Mustangs, and especially the two men whose names I have typed about five billion times this season: Justin Ball and Carson Albrecht. The ‘Stangs dynamic duo ultimately combined for 15 points in the final, and gave absolutely everything they had left, but Battlefords bench boss Brayden Klimosko fed them a steady diet of Cody Spagrud, and with the exception of Game 4 (a game in which the Stars also won, though in a wild uncharacteristic 6-5 fashion), the Stars did a great job on them. And as much as I respect all the forwards on Melfort, they badly needed those two guys to run wild. Either way, what incredible SJHL careers for these two, along with their hulking centreman Tanner Zentner! The University of North Dakota is getting a guy ready to jump right in with Albrecht, while I’ll be keeping a close and interested eye on where Ball and Zentner end up!

4. Battlefords Ditches Home-ice – So, what’s next? The Stars move on to the Anavet Cup, a Best-of-Seven series with the Manitoba League champion Portage Terriers, to determine the spot in the 2019 Junior A National Championship (it is no longer called ‘The RBC Cup’). As Steinbach had home-ice advantage in last year’s series, Battlefords had the rights to open up this year’s rendition at the NB Civic Centre; but due to a conflict with a local rodeo, the series will once again kick off east of the provincial border, in the city about 85 kilometres west of Winnipeg. Home-ice is not completely lost, though, as Games 3, 4, and 5 will go in North Battleford Apr. 30, May 1, and May 2, respectively. I’m not really concerned with this, to be honest, because the Stars have proven equally adept at taking care of business on the road all year. More on Portage later!

5. Big Rumour Out Of La Ronge – Shifting gears for a second here, I am hearing a pretty damaging rumour out of La Ronge that their two-time all-star defenceman Antonio Di Paolo is jumping ship for his final season of junior next year. I have it from good authority that the highly talented offensive-minded blue liner from Saskatoon has signed on with a team in the North American Hockey League in the States. To his great credit, Di Paolo has put in a great shift for the fine folks in La Ronge, posting 62 points in 97 games over two frustrating campaigns for the northeastern Sask club. It’s also worth mentioning that he was a blossoming star for the Humboldt Broncos the year previous, and was dealt from Humboldt to La Ronge during that fateful season. It’s a blow to the Ice Wolves for sure, but hopefully Di Paolo gets the recognition he deserves down south!
6. Still No Coach In Weyburn, Yet – I’m also hearing that the Red Wings are hard at work interviewing for their next head coach. Last year’s interim Kyle Haines, who replaced Wes Rudy mid-campaign, has agreed mutually with the club to step back as part of management, so it’s all still up in their air. Names I’ve heard thrown around include long time NHLer Rich Pilon, a Saskatoon native, and veteran Manitoba junior hockey coach Troy Leslie, though I am also hearing from a source that former Wings bench boss, and Red Deer Rebels/Saskatoon Blades assistant Bryce Thoma is the favourite. So, we’ll see!

7. The Surprise of the Playoffs Award Goes To… – If the success of Quintin Loon-Stewardson surprised some, it didn’t surprise me, so my “Fernando Pisani Award” for the biggest playoff surprise performer is Kaden Boser. The well-built 2000-born Saskatoon native scored four times, with no game-winners, in the regular campaign, and then followed it up with a hard-nosed post-season, in which he logged three games of double-digits in penalty minutes, and three game-winning goals, including the overtime winner in the 6-5 Game 4 victory in Melfort that seemed to break the backs of the Mustangs. He fought 20-year-old Mason Mullaney to set the tone in Game 1 of their Round 2 series against Yorkton, and then earned a suspension in Game 2 that did not let him play until Game 3 of the final. A tough kid that can score; is there a more classic Battlefords player than that?

8. What Does Portage Have? – So back to the present, as the Stars get set to take on another team called the Terriers, in the second iteration of the re-born Anavet Cup. Between 2013 and 2017, the champions of the MJ and the SJ competed with the Alberta and BC champs, and a host, for two spots in the national championship, but that idea was scrapped ahead of last year’s pretty epic tilt between the Steinbach Pistons and Nipawin Hawks. Back in 2017, Battlefords and Portage met up in the round robin of that Western Canada Cup, and it was Ty Enns, who just spent most of the year with the Kindersley Klippers, that sealed a 5-3 win for the Manitobans into an empty net. Neither club advanced to the RBC Cup that year, where some kid named Cale Makar and his Brooks Bandits had their heart broken by a scrappy Ontario Junior Hockey League club from Cobourg. But I digress into memory! These Terriers very much rely on scoring by committee, but they have skill up and down their line-up. Their captain a season ago, Chase Brakel, ditched Cornell in the NCAA to come back to one of the Manitoba league’s crown jewel organizations, and he has lit up the playoffs to the tune of 22 points in 15 games. Long-time Kootenay Ice and hulking defender Sam Huston has been brilliant as well, using a huge shot and wonderful composure, as well as a very solid partnership with fellow monster and one-time Prince Albert Raider (and Notre Dame Hound!) Cody Thompson, to be a real force throughout the MJHL campaign. The Wiesblatt brothers Ocean and Orca are as important to the Terriers as little brother Ozzy has been for the PA Raiders, as they continue their hunt for the Memorial Cup this year. Regina natives Peyton Gorski and Ty Barnstable have also been regulars at the SJHL/MJHL showcase for the Manitoba league all-stars, and will fixture importantly as well for the Terriers in this Anavet. It’ll be a great series folks!

9. Attendance in Melfort – On the TV broadcast of the Canalta Cup, Rod went at the elephant - or maybe the lack of elephants - in the room during that epic Game 4 in Melfort last Wednesday. I’m not going to belabour the point, but I have to agree with Pedersen…it’s the FINAL! Come on Mustangs fans, where were you? It’s the final! I can tell you one thing – the Battlefords came out in droves, and every seat in Portage was filled for their Game 7 win in the Turnbull Cup on Monday night, so the Anavet will be a blast! Anyways, that’s all I will say about it.

10. Couple Commits – I have to end by tipping my cap to long-time Yorkton man Cole Keenleyside for landing in Manitoba with Portage College. The man from the small southwest Saskatchewan village of Hazlet finished his career after playing in the fifth most regular season contests in the history of the Terriers, with 209. A hard-working, grinding, penalty-killing machine, Keenleyside teamed up with fellow 20-year-olds Quinten Hobbs and Dino Antoniadis to form a fantastic energy unit for Yorkton in their Cinderella run into the semi-finals this past year. Kudos to Keenleyside! I also have to note that the Weyburn Red Wings have made official the signing of excellent Saskatoon Blazers defenceman and captain Riley Little, a big man with a smart, safe game, and who I thought might have a shot at the Regina Pats, the club that drafted him. The Melfort Mustangs have also dipped into the B.C. Junior ‘B’ ranks by adding big 18-year-old defender Jaden Callen, who I hear Trevor Blevins is quite high on. I’ve had very varying experiences in terms of kids from the KIJHL, so we’ll see where Callen lands on that spectrum!

(Follow Jamie on Twitter at @neugsie)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

ZIMMERMAN PRIMED FOR RIDER OPPORTUNITY

By: Roger Kelly
AmericanFootballInternational.com

When Max Zimmermann was selected sixth overall by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the inaugural CFL European Draft earlier in April, his first instinct was to check a map of Canada again.

“I knew something about the Canadian Football League before the Combine from research and from talking to former teammate Glen MacKay, and I had looked to see where the teams were from, but I still had to find out exactly where Regina, Saskatchewan was on a map. It’s a smaller city so for me, coming to a smaller town is great because it will make it easier to focus on football. I know there is lots of history there and footballwise, I now know it has one of the best and craziest fanbases anywhere. Everyone in Saskatchewan is basically a Riders fan.”

The Berlin, Germany native, who plays for the Potsdam Royals in the German Football League (although he has put that on hold for now), leaves for Regina on May 17, and training camp opens May 19. The Riders play two preseason games, June 1 against Calgary at home, and then June 7 on the road against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The first roster cut-down day is June 8 and the regular season for Saskatchewan starts June 14 at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Quite a journey for someone who only a couple of weeks before the March 25 CFL Combine was simply preparing for a new season in the German Football League. Although the whole experience was a little overwhelming, he said that traveling with the five other German players was an advantage.

“It was great. We bonded right away. That made a huge difference.”

About the Combine itself, Zimmermann was nervous as he had never seen a combine of this scale and organization.

“No, I had been to combines but nothing like this. I wasn’t totally unprepared though. I had already been doing track and speed workouts so I didn’t feel out of place in the 40. I was nervous before the one-on-one drills though, as well as excited. I was going up against really good competition but I felt good about it. The same went for the interview session. I thought it was kind of fun.”

A former teammate of Zimmermann’s from the Berlin Adler, and a Canadian, Glen MacCay, played for the Montreal Alouettes, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Edmonton Eskimos before winding up in Berlin. According to Zimmermann, he has been a big help in teaching him the ropes about the CFL.

“Glen has told me what to expect from training camp so I don’t think I will get a shock. We aren’t used to a training camp this long with just football. He has also explained a lot about life in the CFL.”

Although he admits to feeling some pressure in representing Europe, and of course Germany and his hometown of Berlin, it is not a negative thing.

“I do feel that pressure to perform well for by country and for Berlin, but at the same time, it gives me extra motivation. I can’t wait to get there and be a part of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.”

https://www.americanfootballinternational.com/germanys-max-zimmermann-excited-about-heading-to-camp-with-saskatchewan-roughriders/

RUSH TO HOST HEROES NIGHT ON SATURDAY

Saskatoon, SK - As the 2019 regular season draws to a close, the Saskatchewan Rush have one remaining home game this Saturday that has tremendous meaning both on and off the floor - Heroes Night, presented by TD in support of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation.

During the game, Rush players will be wearing special edition Hero Jerseys. These jerseys are currently being auctioned off on the team’s Facebook page, with all proceeds going to JPCHF. Jerseys can be bid on here. The auction will end on Monday, April 29th at 9:00am. At this point, all winners will be contacted.

 Other highlights for Heroes Night include:
One Hero Jersey will be available as a raffle item at the TD concourse booth. Tickets will be sold for $10, with proceeds going to JPCHF. A live draw will be made in the 4th quarter.
Rush merchandise booths will be selling capes for $20, with proceeds going to JPCHF.
Rush merchandise booths will be selling glow glasses for $10, with proceeds going to JPCHF.
MVP kids will read out the Rush starting lineup in team dressing room.
MVP kids will run out with the Rush starting lineup during player introductions.

"TD is thrilled to be the official bank of the Saskatchewan Rush, and the presenting sponsor of the Rush's annual Hero's Night, in support of the Jim Pattison Children's Hospital. We look forward to this night every year, as it brings our community together. It's always a high energy game with our champion team, but even more importantly, the evening events raise funds for children, and their families, and ensures they receive the support they need." - Ryan Barclay, District Vice President Branch Banking, Saskatchewan, TD Bank Group.

To date, the Saskatchewan Rush and TD have worked together to raise $59,261 for JPCHF. Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation is dedicated to raising funds for the enhancement of maternal and children’s health care in Saskatchewan and Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital.

“We are delighted to be a part of this important partnership with the Saskatchewan Rush and TD,” said Brynn Boback-Lane, President and CEO of Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. “We encourage everyone to come out and support this great initiative. With the opening of our new maternal and children’s hospital just a few short months away, this is a critical time for fundraising to ensure this new hospital meets the needs of children and families across the province.”

(Brandon Urban/Sask Rush PR)

THE FALLOUT OF A CFL LABOUR DISPUTE


Contract talks between the CFL Players' Association and CFL are costing players plenty of money. But it could also increase the cost of doing business for the league's nine teams.

The CFL and its players will return to the bargaining table Monday and Tuesday in Toronto. It will be their first face-to-face meeting since April 9.

The delay has drawn the ire of many CFL players, mostly because the league has instructed teams not to pay off-season bonuses until after a new collective bargaining agreement has been ratified. The current deal is scheduled to expire May 18.

Training camps are slated to open the following day but the CFLPA has instructed its players to not report if a new CBA hasn't been reached by then. The union has also said it doesn't intend to work past May 18 unless the sides agree to a new deal.

But the status of rookie camps, scheduled to begin May 15, is bothering some CFL general managers. The CFLPA hasn't told its players not to report, which isn't surprising given the camps open within the timeframe of the existing CBA. That also suggests the union is adhering to the various provincial labour laws.

However, given the state of contract talks between the league and union - the two sides are still negotiating non-monetary matters - and the annual Canadian college draft being held May 2, some GMs are finding it much more costly arranging airfares now for prospects to attend scheduled rookie camps instead of having had the luxury of doing so months ago when rates were a lot cheaper.

A CFL spokesman said Tuesday the plan is for rookie camps to ahead as scheduled. However, the uncertainty of the league's labour situation has caused some teams to play a waiting game when it comes to purchasing airplane tickets.

"The price of airline tickets is higher with shorter notice and you can't go get players airline tickets at this point,'' said a CFL GM.

However, another CFL general manager said this circumstance is really nothing new given teams faced a similar situation in 2014 when the league and union were last involved in CBA talks.

"Every day that goes by isn't necessarily a good thing,'' the GM said. "But in the CFL you've got to be able to adjust and make things happen on the fly.

"We try to (book travel arrangements) sooner than later to try to get the best fares. It doesn't always play out that way but that's the risk you take, right? For now, we're going to be patient and see how things play out. It could impact the bottom line but it's not something you can worry about. That's just what we're dealing with.''

Another concern, too, is just how many players will actually attend. That's because once a player signs a CFL contract he automatically becomes a member of the CFLPA. The dilemma facing a rookie is trying to do right by the union while being able to take full advantage of an opportunity to play pro football.

Also, traditionally a CFL team's starting and backup quarterbacks report to rookie camp to get a head start on their season preparation. The expectation is attendance this year for the veterans will be voluntary.

Still, the second general manager downplayed the impact contract talks are having on his day-to-day responsibilities.

"The timing might be off a little bit and dollars may go up a bit,'' he said. "Other than that, it might change the order of what things you do and you might be doing more preparation now for the season than stuff that deals with rookie camp.

"Let's just hope there's an agreement (before May 15) and we don't have to worry about all of this.''

Both CFL officials were granted anonymity due to a league directive. Personnel commenting publicly about anything to do with CBA talks will face repercussions under the rules.

(Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)

THROWIN' ELBOWS WITH BRENDAN MCGUIRE

1. STRIKE-TIMING WRONG FOR CFLPA: They’re not wrong for playing hard-ball, but the CFL Players Association is going about it all wrong.

Don’t begrudge them for all this strike-talk. This is long overdue. This day of reckoning has been in brewing for some time.

But to strike at the start of the season? When the players haven’t cashed a game-cheque in 6 months? To save the owners the price of training camp when they aren’t bringing any revenue in anyways? Why the rush?

Makes no sense.

The swift, tactical move would be to stealthily await the season to begin, build a few exciting storylines for the first 5 or 6 weeks, and then ramp up the strike talk closer to Labour Day. An October picket deadline would be devastating to the league governors eager to cash in on Grey Cup revenues.

That’s how you build leverage. That’s how the players won the baseball strike of ’94 and killed the price of mustard crops in Saskatchewan. (The 2 were directly linked. Look it up.)

Striking at the start of the season has never worked and will never work for the players. Precisely why Gary Bettman locks the NHL players out before training camp anytime they don’t have a deal signed. The CFLPA is playing right into the owners hands.

2. CFL CAN’T SURVIVE WITHOUT MONTREAL: If you think the Canadian Football League can live without Montreal, think again. I grew up watching a CFL without the Alouettes and it wasn’t a pretty picture. Without the league’s 2nd biggest TV market, broadcast revenues disappeared and the league got desperate in searching for owners and American franchises to keep everything moving.

We cannot go back to that.

3. RIDERS SHOULD SIGN MARQUISE: Couldn’t figure out how Roughrider quarterback Marquise Williams slid from Chris Jones’s penthouse to his outhouse, seemingly overnight. He (Marquise) looked great in rallying the Alliance of American Football’s San Antonio Commanders to a late-game victory over the Salt Lake Stallions just a few weeks ago. Zach Collaros is hardly a sure thing at quarterback and with apologies to Cody Fajardo, the Riders could still use a plan B.

4. CFL NEEDS THE MARITIMES: 2.5 million people occupy that part of Canada, most of whom don’t have any local pro sports viewing options and most of whom live within a 3 hour drive of Halifax. And mostly people who aren’t currently contributing to TSN’s CFL TV ratings. That would most certainly change with their own rooting interest. This is a no-brainer. The league shouldn’t be merely welcoming Halifax. They NEED Halifax!

5. SASKATCHEWAN SPORTS TALK RADIO: Luc Mullinder is a good analyst and I love Mitchell Blair like an uncle but when Luc starts ranting and Mitch shouts over him, the Sports Cage becomes unlistenable. Bring on D.T.!


6. REGINA RED SOX HALL OF FAMERS: In case you missed it, Red Sox founders Sharon Clarke, Bernie Eiswirth and Gary Brotzel were all named to the class of 2019 for the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame. The Red Sox give the Regina sports fan the greatest bang for its buck—BAR NONE—all summer long. They are Regina’s example of a small town team run by tireless volunteers holding it all together. The Red Sox, and the Western Canadian Baseball League for that matter, remain western Canada’s best kept secret.

To Sharon, Bernie and Gary, we should all be so lucky to have them on our side, brightening our summers each year. That will be a great documentary told on a local sports website near you one day soon.

7. REGINA RED SOX WOULD BUILD GREAT RIVALRIES WITH: Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Red Deer. If Edmonton is buying in, why wouldn’t those places get into it too?

8. SASKATCHEWAN RATTLERS: Excited to see pro basketball in Saskatoon starting up again in May. I recall being wowed by the Saskatchewan Hawks of the old International Basketball Association of the early 2000’s playing in front of a few hundred people inside the cavernous confines of Saskatchewan Place (now SaskTel Centre). I wish them luck but until they find a suitable downtown location, I worry that ship is doomed to failure. Again.

9. RAPTORS SHOULD COME TO SASKATOON: Ever notice that the Blue Jays are Canada’s team while the Raptors are still only Toronto’s team? That could change if MLSE pretended to care about its base outside of Toronto. An annual preseason game in cities like Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Halifax, ETC would cost the Raps pennies and make a big difference in engaging the rest of Canada like the Blue Jays did with exhibition games in Regina in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

10. P.A. RAIDERS NEED TO WIN THE MEMORIAL CUP BECAUSE: There just isn’t a damn thing to do in Prince Albert. They need SOMETHING to get excited about!

(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)

THE RED SOX HOT CORNER

Wanda Harron Photography
Rudy’s a Red Sox
Rudy Estella has been hired by Red Sox Manager Jason Veyna. Estella, a former Red Sox pitcher, will serve at the club’s pitching coach. The New York native, spent the 2017 season with the Red Sox recording 31 strikeouts in 23 innings of relief. Estella college career included stops at the University of Science and Art in Oklahoma and Western Oklahoma State.

Dinner Serves Up a Home Run
Matt Stairs will headline the 2019 Regina Red Sox Sports Dinner & Auction presented by The Water Warehouse. Stairs, considered by many to be a Canadian baseball legend, is sponsored by 9 agents from Century 21 Dome Realty Inc. This year’s dinner will be held on Saturday, April 27 at the Turvey Centre. Tickets are still available by contacting Sharon Clarke at 306.529.8509 or sharonclarke@accesscomm.ca

Returning Red Sox 
Bernie Eiswirth, general manager of the Regina Red Sox officially announced that following position players would be returning to the ball club in 2019:

Dylan Bells - Pitcher
Sophomore - Frank Phillips College
2018 Red Sox: Threw in nine games…made 7 starts…registered 3 wins and a 1 loss…41 innings with a 4.38 ERA…registered 32 strikeouts and 17 walks.

Wesley Moss - Outfielder
Senior - Sul Ross University
2018 Red Sox: Batted .328 in 45 games…led team with 29 stolen bases…added 43 runs, 63 hits, 21 RBI and in 192 at bats…5 doubles, 3 triples and 17 walks.

Samuel De La Cruz - Infielder
Freshman - Western Oklahoma
2018 Red Sox: Played 19 games…58 at bats…hit 241 with 14 hits…two doubles and 11 runs scored.

Griffin Keller - Outfielder
Junior - Rogers State
2018 Red Sox: Injury limited Keller to 4 games and 16 at bats…hit .438 with a double, a home run and six RBI…also scored 5 runs

Danny Hunt - Infielder
Junior - Eastern New Mexico
2018 Red Sox: Saw action in 39 games…hit .236 in 144 at bats…scored 18 runs and added 13 RBI on 34 hits…also had 9 walks and 6 stolen bases.

Eric Crossman - Infielder
Senior  - Coppin State University
2018 Red Sox: Played in 26 games…had a .281 batting overage over 96 at bats…hammered out 27 hits and 8 RBI while scoring 15 runs…added 9 walks and 2 stolen bases.

Caleb Lumbard - Catcher
Freshman
Mesa Community College
2018 Red Sox: Affiliate player…played in 1 game

(Tony Playter/Outlaw Communications)

JOIN US IN ESTEVAN THURSDAY!


Monday, April 22, 2019

CFL LABOUR TALKS TO RESUME NEXT WEEK

Contract talks between the CFL and its players are back on again.

Both the CFL Players' Association and league confirmed Monday they'll resume contract talks next week. The two sides will gather in Toronto next Monday and Tuesday.

"The hope is that the CFL is coming back to the table with the intention to find a solution to the expiring agreement,'' Brian Ramsay, the executive director of the CFLPA, said in a statement. "We remain steadfast that we want an agreement that is fair, reasonable and grows the game of football in Canada.

"CFL players and fans deserve nothing less.''

The league and players last met April 9 in Vancouver to conclude two days of talks. The following day, Ramsay told reporters the CFL had unilaterally decided to delay negotiations until next Monday, at the earliest.

Ramsay said the CFLPA was told the league had "other priorities'' to take care of before it could resume negotiations.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires May 18, with training camps scheduled to open the following day. Rookies and quarterbacks are scheduled to report May 15.

Following the delay in contract talks, the CFLPA recommended to its players they forego reporting to training camp if a new collective bargaining agreement hasn't been reached by then. The union also said it didn't intend to work past May 18 unless a new deal was agreed upon.

The two sides continue to negotiate non-monetary items.

The union's recommendation has met with support by a number of prominent players, most notably quarterbacks Mike Reilly of B.C. and Bo Levi Mitchell of Calgary. They signed the two richest deals in free agency - Reilly a four-year, $2.9-million with the Lions and Mitchell a four-year contract reportedly worth $2.8 million to remain with the Grey Cup-champion Stampeders.

Other players of note to publicly support the CFLPA's recommendation include running backs James Wilder Jr. of the Toronto Argonauts and Andrew Harris of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and defensive linemen Ted Laurent of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Odell Willis of B.C.

The biggest bone of contention the players have with the league is its decision not to pay off-season bonuses until after a new agreement has been ratified.

Talks formally began March 11-12 in Toronto. The CFL and CFLPA had met twice a week over a five-week span before the delay.

There are reports the CFLPA will hold a strike vote Wednesday. However, even it the players voted overwhelmingly in favour, it wouldn't mean a work stoppage was imminent.

Such votes are normal protocol in collective bargaining. They're usually done to show solidarity and provide the bargaining committee with a strike mandate as a sign the membership is serious about its demands in contract talks.

In this instance, it's also a step in ensuring the various provincial laws are satisfied in the event a work stoppage is necessary. But Ramsay reiterated the union's goal remains reaching a fair deal that works for both parties.

"We already a have clear overwhelming mandate and this vote is to satisfy provincial legislation and the various labour codes across the country,'' Ramsay said. "The CFL's position has been extremely aggressive and unnecessary, including withholding our members' 2019 salaries to date.

"What has not changed is the players' desire to seek a collective agreement prior to the start of 2019 season. We have stated on the record we are available to meet with the CFL at any time.''

(Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)

MAMMOTH HOME GAME FOR RUSH ON SATURDAY


The National Lacrosse League has released playoff clinching scenarios ahead of the final week of the regular season.

Heading into Week 20, the Saskatchewan Rush and San Diego Seals can clinch the top seed in the West, while the Calgary Roughnecks can clinch a home playoff game.

·     Saskatchewan Rush (10-7) can clinch the top seed in the West in two different ways:
      a) A home win vs. Colorado on April 27.
      b) A San Diego loss vs. Buffalo on April 27

·     San Diego Seals (10-7) can clinch the top seed in the West with a win and a Saskatchewan loss.

·     Calgary (10-8) can clinch a first-round home playoff game with a San Diego win vs. Buffalo and a Saskatchewan loss vs. Colorado.

The 2018-2019 NLL Playoffs start the weekend of May 3-5.

A total of eight NLL teams, the top four clubs in each division’s standings, will qualify for the playoffs. The East and West Division winners will be seeded #1 within their respective divisions and play the #4 seed, while the #2 and #3 seeds play each other in the first round, with the higher seed hosting round 1.

The two first round winners from each division will face off in the Division Finals in a one game series, hosted by the highest remaining seed. The East and West Division winners will then play a best two-of-three game series in the NLL Finals. The highest remaining seed will host games one and three, if necessary.

(Sask Rush/NLL PR)

OUT OF THE TUNNEL: INSIDE THE CBA TALKS


BY: RODPEDERSEN.COM STAFF

We are less than a month away from the opening day of CFL training camps. While the talk should be about the draft, the rosters and the hype around who will be the contenders for the 2019 Grey Cup, instead we are talking about the games being played in the boardroom.

The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is set to expire before camp begins and if you believe all the headlines it seems less and less likely that the season will start on time.

Any sports league is built on the relationship between the league, players and fans. Without the cooperation of any one of the parties involved a league will crumble to pieces.

Right now, it doesn’t look good as the CFL and the CFLPA have called off negotiations until April 29th. This will give three short weeks for the two parties to come to an agreement.

While we would like to talk football, here is a little primer of what is to come over the next month.
____________________________________________

There are only a handful of names that will pop up over the next few weeks. Most you should already know:

1881 Scarth St., 306-789-0011
From the CFL we have the Commissioner, Randy Ambrosie, General Council Stephen Shamie (who was in the same position during the last negotiations in 2014) and different members of the CFL Board of governors like Winnipeg President, Wade Miller and Hamilton CEO, Scott Mitchell.

On the CFLPA side, the man that has been front and centre is Senior Advisor Ken Georgetti, Executive Director Brian Ramsey, CFLPA President Jeff Keeping as well as the player reps including CFLPA Vice-Presidents Solomon Elimimian and Rolly Lumbala.

What has changed since the last CBA negotiations in 2014?

Well, not much.

In 2014, the CFL was welcoming the Ottawa Redblacks (back) into the league for their inaugural season, a new stadium was unveiled in Winnipeg and new Mosaic Stadium was breaking ground.

As per CFLdb.ca the average attendance in 2013 was 27,005 or 74.29% of capacity. In 2018, the average attendance was 23,955 or 75.46% of capacity.

2014 was the first year of the current TSN television contract that is worth about $40-million per season.

So, the pie is about the same, but the question is, how big is the pie?
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Unlike other leagues where you can easily find information on total league revenues, the only numbers we find are anecdotal.

The closest we can find is from a January 18 article by 3DownNation where Drew Edwards breaks down the numbers from a tweet by TSN’s Dave Naylor.

In summary, during Grey Cup week in Ottawa in 2017, Randy Ambrosie said he wanted to double the CFL’s total revenue from $210-million to $420-million.

The $210-million was one of the first times anyone had heard that number or any number that was attached to league revenues. The article is a great one and scathing towards the league and highlights just how small the percentage of revenue the players receive.

This gets us to the chips that both sides have already played leading up to these negotiations.

The league was ready to fight early on.

The first step was to announce that the league advised teams to not pay off-season bonuses until the new CBA was signed. Players see this as the league trying to ‘starve’ the players to sign an agreement.

There were complaints from the players side about the amount spent on the operations side for coaches and management.

In early December of last year, the league implemented a non-player football operations cap. It’s set at $2.5-million and caps the number of coaches to 11 and other operations staff to 14.

The latest ploy by the league was to step away from the negotiating table earlier this month to take care of other league matters.

The Players Association started telling its members not to take part in any team mandated community functions.

Then in the past few weeks they have advised players not to report to training camp until an agreement has been signed and then a notice went out to all players that a strike vote will be conducted this week (both courtesy of 3DownNation.com).

So what does each side want?
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If you are the league you want the status quo when it comes to salaries, pension and other player compensation.

The league would want to get rid of the one year contracts that have turned the off-season into free agent-palooza.

They would also like to implement the pieces needed to start commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s plan to take the CFL international.

The players have a long list of demands with the first and most difficult being some sort of revenue sharing formula. This is almost impossible because there currently isn’t one in place and there is no way the league and its teams would want this.

They also want better injury compensation. Not just for current players but also when their careers are over.

While things currently look dark, there is still enough time to get things done before camp opens. If not, we could see training camp and the pre-season games being the first to go.

If things go incredibly bad, regular season games would be eliminated and the league would slip out of whatever summer spotlight the CFL currently enjoys. To have this happen, it would be catastrophic for the league. A lot of fans will walk away and never come back, spending their hard earned dollars elsewhere. This would in turn mean jobs lost in offices across the CFL.

We know the league is ready to fight and it’s starting to look like the players are more unified than ever before.

It feels like dark times and we can only hope that the people at the negotiating table can put together a deal that is beneficial for all involved.

(RODPEDERSEN.COM STAFF)

KIPLING CITIZEN: AN INSPIRATIONAL VOICE


By: Darcie Khounnoraj
Kipling Citizen

"The conflict is that so many people will show up and listen to you speak about the Roughriders; they all yell and scream and go crazy and that's good, but the recovery/mental health aspect isn't as sexy or glamorous so it's a quieter group, yet you're having a bigger impact," Rod Pedersen, known as the Voice of the Riders, shared in Kipling, SK this month how he uses his voice to help those with addictions and mental illness versus the play-by-play commentary. "The only problem that I have is that I wish more people would speak up because addictions and mental health affect everybody in some way but nobody wants to talk about it."

Rod Pedersen kept his listeners up to date across Saskatchewan for 30 years with the play-by-play commentary for sports fans. Visiting the Kipling community, Pedersen presented his story to more than 120 people at the Kipling Community Centre on Sunday, March 31 sponsored by Kipling Ministerial and Gee Bee Construction.


On Monday, April 1, the Kipling School students (grades 7-12) listened attentively to Pedersen as he spoke of his struggles with alcoholism and the detrimental state of his well-being and the divide in his family while he lived with his addiction.

"I couldn't wait to get to Kipling because this is what my passion is now. I still do the sports banquets because they help raise money in communities, but I'd rather do this!" Pedersen smiled. "If somebody asks me to speak on Recovery, I will show up and speak. Because I'm so new at it, we'll find out in the years ahead what the impact is because I don't know what impact it is having (right now).

"The reason why I'm getting so many opportunities to speak is because it's very rare for somebody to stand in front of a room and say what all their deficiencies have been as a human being - it's so rare - but I don't mind because the worst is over for me as far as I'm concerned!"

Pedersen stated, "I used to have to drink six beer in a half an hour before I went on stage but about 5-6 months into recovery - with alcohol no longer an option - I found a new way to deal with the stress of public speaking. I didn't have that anxiety anymore 'cause I found the tools in recovery to do it. So that was a big change in me. The fact is there really isn't any stress at all. I created it in my head."

Pedersen has spoken to the public for more than three decades but it hasn't always been easy. As a child, Pedersen heard stories from his father who quit drinking 'cold turkey' when Rod was 2 years old. Pedersen spoke of how his father warned him of the dangers of drinking and smoking, noting that he avoided smoking because he disliked his father's bad habit - but drinking was another story.


Pedersen shared his own battles with anxiety, sleepwalking and moods that destroyed relationships and friendships - the early signs of addiction and mental illness.

As a young hockey player, Pedersen described himself as a person with big dreams in the sports industry, knowing early on that he wanted to be a voice heard on the radio. While attending college, his road to addiction began at parties equipped with a variety of drugs and alcohol, peer pressure and the idea of a carefree lifestyle. Although he stayed clear of the drug scene, Pedersen found himself in countless scenarios of blackouts and drunken state into his adult years.

Into his 30s, Pedersen admitted having a negative attitude about his life and the people he shared it with. He recalled a time when he was offered free bar tabs at party scenes just because of who he was.

"The opportunity was there and no one ever stopped me. One day I finally said 'now is the time - I'm going to be like Dad and stop (drinking). But I couldn't," Pedersen described. "It had me in its grasp. I felt trapped in alcoholism and it wasn't nice."

Pedersen admitted that there was a time in his life that he lost the will to live, stating 'I really didn't want to live but I really didn't want to die either.' He lost his ability to motivate himself in his career and personal life, his relationships with family depleted and his life was spiralling out of control.

"I got a prescription for anti-depressants but was never told to stop drinking. I found out that not a pill in the world would change my addiction or the mess I'd made of my life," Pedersen shared. "I had two options when I faced an intervention: Door A - accept the help, go into recovery and save my life or Door B - keep going the way I was going, but be terminated from my job and lose my family. I chose Door A."


While in recovery, Pedersen learned that he not only had an addiction, a disease, but that he also lived with a variety of mental illnesses. An assessment revealed depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder, and addiction. "It was a snapshot of my whole life," he said. "I wasn't angry when I found that out at all. It totally described my whole life to that point."

Now as a trained Interventionist, and through recovery, Pedersen has seen the worst of the worst. He advised that addictions come in all forms including alcohol, drugs, food, sex, video games and more. People become trapped in addictions due to boredom, stress, money issues, limited self-control and to escape their lives.

"People can see that you are struggling but until you decide that you don't want to live that way anymore, they can't really help you. You really have to want to turn your life around - the resources are there," Pedersen assured, adding that the support system also has to stay focused on recovery.

"When the family says enough is enough, they need to be a united front. If there is one weak link in the chain, everything goes down."

As a Drug & Alcohol Treatment Specialist, Interventionist, Mental Health Advocate and Sober Coach, Rod Pedersen's voice will still be heard across the province, only now he speaks up for those with addictions and mental illness.

48% OF NHL'ERS PREFER PLAYOFF FORMAT CHANGE

A number of NHL players are in favour of changing the current playoff format.

The current format puts each division's top three teams and a wild card into a bracket without any reseeding. It is locked in through at least next season.

The Associated Press and Canadian Press surveyed players' union representatives from all 31 NHL teams. 

The survey found 48 per centfavour changing the current format. A majority of those who want a different structure believe the league should go back to 1 through 8 seeding in each conference.

In all, 15 said the divisional format should be changed. Seven said it should stay the same and the other nine were noncommittal. The players were surveyed March 7-April 4, before the playoff matchups for this year were fully set.

A selection of player responses:
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"In my opinion, I prefer the 1 plays 8 format. Divisions that are stronger have teams eliminated in the first round that should have a chance to gather steam and make pushes deeper into the playoffs.'' - JONATHAN TOEWS, Chicago.
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"Everyone knows what it should be: 1 through 8. The way it used to be.'' - JUSTIN FAULK, Carolina.
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"I can't think of a player that really likes the way it is. It always seems to work out where one division is significantly stronger like last year with Winnipeg and Nashville playing in the second round and absolutely beating the crap out of each other to seven games.'' - DEVAN DUBNYK, Minnesota.
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"I think there's the concern with the top teams playing against each other and clashing at the beginning, where you're kind of losing one of the top three seeds of the NHL just from the first two rounds of the playoffs. So I don't know if anything is really necessary to change, but it would definitely would be interesting and fun if they wanted to do that.'' - BRANDON CARLO, Boston.
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"I think there's pros and cons to both. It obviously gives those division matchups for the first round are given. And I think that's exciting. I think if you're in a position if you're a 2-3-4 seed, you would have loved to have a better matchup. If you're the 2 seed you're playing the 3 seed. That might be tough. I totally get that. I don't really have a bone to pick with it right now.'' - ANDERS LEE, New York Islanders.
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"You might play a team over and over, but that's how you create the rivalries, but at the same token some teams might get a better match-up if it was 1 through 8. There's pros and cons. It's tough to say. I think it's been working well to be honest, and I don't see that changing too much.'' - DYLAN DEMELO, Ottawa.
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"I like it. I do. It keeps a little bit of the appreciation as far as how hard it is to win the Stanley Cup. I might be biased, but it's the hardest trophy to win in sports I feel. I think you change that format and personally it would take away from how hard some of those guys have worked to win the Cup before they did change it. That's how I would feel. I like the format that we have now.'' - ZACH BOGOSIAN, Buffalo.