Realty One

Sunday, March 24, 2019

CFL TO TAKE OVER ALOUETTES?


TORONTO - The CFL could prove to be a pivotal figure in the potential sale of the Montreal Alouettes.

The prevailing sentiment Sunday at the CFL combine was the existence of a scenario where the league could assume operating the Alouettes while it looks to find a new owner for the troubled franchise.

The idea isn't a new one. Former Alouettes running back Eric Lapointe, who has stated publicly he could quickly put together a local ownership group for the CFL team, suggested last week to The Canadian Press that ``it seems like'' owner Robert Wetenhall would be selling the franchise to the league.

There were reports last week the Alouettes were close to being sold. But club president Patrick Boivin denied the franchise was up for sale.

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie reiterated Sunday the league continues to work with the Alouettes for the best possible scenario for the franchise.

"What I can say is this,'' Ambrosie said. "We've had a several months-long conversation with the Wetenhall family that's focused on one thing: How do we get the Alouettes back to where everyone wants them to be?

(The Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)

CFL COMBINE WRAPS UP IN TORONTO

Osei-Kusi
(TORONTO) - The CFL Combine presented by New Era came to close Sunday afternoon in Toronto after a trio of regional combines and an impressive two days of events that tested top prospects from across Canada as well as global players on their speed, strength, and agility. General Managers, scouts and football personnel from all nine CFL teams were in the building to evaluate Canada’s top talent ahead of the 2019 CFL Draft, which takes place on May 2.

Receiver Chris Osei-Kusi, who played seven games for the Queen’s Gaels last year, ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash to finish at the top of the class.

In addition to the 40-Yard Dash, prospects also participated in two speed and agility drills, the short shuttle and three-cone. They also completed the broad jump.

Manitoba’s Shai Ross had a fast day, finishing atop the leaderboard in the Broad Jump (11’5.50”) and the Short Shuttle (4.08 seconds), and coming second in the Three-Cone Drill with a time of 7.00 seconds.

Jay Dearborn, who Saturday recorded the third-highest vertical jump ever by a defensive back (42 inches), also finished well on Sunday. The Carleton Raven placed second in the Broad Jump (11’1.75”) and tied for fifth in the Three-Cone Drill (7.09 seconds).

Sunday was the second day of testing in a weekend full of tests and meetings for the prospects. Jonathan Harke demonstrated his strength with 32 reps of 225lbs in the Bench Press on Saturday morning at the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.

Prospects also squared up to face each other in one-on-ones and positional drills that saw them strap on their pads to demonstrate their movement and let teams see them on the field.
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GLOBAL PLAYERS

On the final day of the Canadian Football League (CFL) Combine presented by New Era, 18 global players took to the field to showcase their speed, agility and football skills against the top Canadian prospects for the 2019 CFL Draft.

French running back Asnnel Robo led the global players with a 4.59 second time in the 40-yard dash at Varsity Stadium in downtown Toronto. Following him in the 40-yard dash was Italy’s Jordan Bouah who was clocked at 4.68 followed by Finland’s Kimi Linnainmaa and Germany’s Max Zimmermann who both registered a time of 4.73.

For full results from ‘Global’ players, click here.

In the broad jump, Thiadric Hansen from Germany led the group with a jump of 10’2.13″ following his 20 bench reps from Saturday afternoon’s session.

France’s Benajmin Plu completed his three-cone drill with a time of 7.15 seconds and a shuttle time of 4.31 seconds, leading all global competitors in the shuttle.

(CFL PR/Lucas Barrett)

10 WEEKEND THINGS FOR TEXTURED TERRAIN

1 - NO CANADA: It's been a week since news broke that the CFL and its Players Association are considering lowering the number of starting Canadians on CFL rosters from 7 to 5. It's been fun to sit back and watch the carnage, but now it's time to reveal my own thoughts. Most times CFL teams struggle to find that 7th starter. Even a 6th is iffy. Cutting the number to 5 is incredibly drastic but if they settle on 6, I believe everyone could live with that. Commissioner Randy Ambrosie's job is to do what's best for the CFL, not necessarily Canadian amateur football. And I'm still on Team Ambrosie until there's good enough reason not to be. He's taken the bull by the horns in a big way.

2 - OH CANADA: Regina Minor Football boss Len Antonini is considered one of the country's leaders in minor football. I was with him Friday and posed the "ratio question". It took him an hour to make up his mind, so that tells you how much of a photo finish this issue is. However he doesn't believe a ratio reduction would be a good thing. In fact he thinks it would be bad for minor football and young Canadian players who grow up dreaming of winning a Grey Cup. Registration numbers are steady and concussions are WAY down in recent years. He's met with Ambrosie on all of these topics. Meanwhile Lenny says the Top 3 football-playing provinces in Canada are Saskatchewan, Quebec and Alberta, in no particular order.

3 - COMBINING: Some pundits and fans scoff at the notion of football combines but one fact remains: the kids participating at the CFL National Combine this weekend in Toronto have been waiting for this opportunity their whole life and that needs to be respected. That includes Regina product Brayden Lenius-Dickey (pictured), whose family is at this weekend's event. Brayden is the son of former Rider WR Troy Dickey and was raised my his Mom Shauna, whom I've known for years. The Riders have been lacking in local content for some time now, and I'm praying Brayden ends up in Green & White. Meanwhile Regina product Kade Belyk of the Guelph Gryphons posted a tidy 4.67 in the 40-yard dash at the Ontario regional combine. This is actually really interesting stuff to follow and CFL.ca has live coverage.

4 - CFL LIVE DRAFT: Sources tell me the CFL has explored the possibility of an NFL- or NHL-style Draft to be held in Toronto, live on TSN. It's probably time for a bold move like this for the Canadian College Draft since this hasn't been tried since the early 1990's. We're living in a much different world now. I'm told the Live Draft won't happen in 2019, but there's a good chance it will next year.

5 - FOR SALE: This Montreal Alouettes-For-Sale soap opera is tickling me. We've seen it so many times before with other teams! Former Alouette - and apparent current millionaire - Eric Lapointe is itching to get his hands on the team but Als owner Andrew Wetenhall (the son of the legendary Bob Wetenhall) isn't responding. This is curious because the Als staffers I've talked to say the younger Wetenhall doesn't feel there's a problem and wonders why people think they're bad owners after all those great years between 1996-2010? These things happen with a C.E.O. like this (Child Of Existing Owner). The Saskatchewan Rush's Brandon Urban is an exception.

6 - AAF: Are you watching the Alliance of American Football? Will you now that Johnny Manziel is in the league? I've been watching it all along on NFL Network and enjoyed it a lot, even if one veteran CFL coach labelled the calibre of play "average". This week the AAF announced its championship game is moving from 40,000-seat Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas to Dallas, and the Cowboys' 12,000-seat practice facility. The NFL - particularly Jerry Jones - is a huge backer of this league and will continue to pour money into it in the early stages. They need a developmental league such as this, and it's great for everybody all around. And as far as the CFL goes, competition is a good thing.

7 - #HUMBOLDTSTRONG: Where to start? The Humboldt Broncos are back in the SJHL Playoffs and the road to the RBC. My heart swelled to walk into the Elgar Petersen Arena Monday night for Game 3 against Estevan. Here's what I can report: the Broncos are playing with an incredible amount of heart and pride - for a myriad of reasons - but the Bruins aren't rolling over for them. Broncos forward Brayden Camrud - with 11 points in 5 games - is playing particularly possessed. The cloud is lifting in Humboldt. It's not gone, but there are smiles in the EPA. It's an amazing community. Always has been. And they were very welcoming Monday night.

8 - LUBIE: Over to Saskatoon, where we found ourselves Friday night to witness Game 1 between the Warriors and Blades. Being invited to sit with Blades legends Darryl Lubienicki, Lorne Molleken and Jack Brodsky was another reason for my heart to pound. Apparently this trio hadn't been together for quite some time and it was amazing to watch the NHL scouts, one by one, come by and shake all their hands throughout the game. Lubie regaled me with story after story, but my favourite was of him "saving Mike Babcock's life" after Dave Brown was beating him to a pulp IN PRACTICE in the early 1980's. Apparently Babs disputes this story, but witnesses swear it's true.

9 - KILLER: The rumour making the rounds at SaskTel Centre Friday night was that the next coach of the SJHL's La Ronge Ice Wolves will be none other than Blades great Kevin Kaminski. The Churchbridge, SK product played 139 NHL games and is currently head coach of the WSHL's Fresno Monsters. I HATED Kaminski in the 80's but now we talk all the time. Turns out we're cut from the same cloth. LIFE!

10 - GO CRAZY SASKATCHEWAN: I'm being urged to write a book on my generation in the broadcast booth with Canada's Team. You know, inside stories on Cal Murphy/Al Ford, Danny Barrett/Roy Shivers, Jim Hopson, Kent Austin/Eric Tillman, Corey Chamblin/Brendan Taman and Chris Jones. The only trouble is, I'm 46 years old! Jim Hopson didn't take over the Riders until he was 54. Marc Trestman didn't come to the CFL till he was 52. Who writes their memoirs before the story is over? The best is yet to come!

Y'er welcome,
RP
@rodpedersen

SUNDAY SPORTS

Mark Giordano put up a goal and two assists to lead the Calgary Flames to a 3-1 road win over the Vancouver Canucks. Garnet Hathaway and Andrew Mangiapane also scored for the Flames. Brock Boeser responded with a power-play goal for the Canucks.

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The Winnipeg Jets can breathe a little easier. Kyle Connor had a hat trick and added an assist as the Jets clinched a playoff spot with a 5-0 victory over the Nashville Predators. Connor Hellebuyck made 33 saves for his second shutout of the season. Winnipeg sits four points ahead of the Predators in the Central Division with seven games left in the regular season.

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The Maple Leafs' struggles continued with a 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers. Ryan Strome scored the winner as New York handed the Leafs their sixth loss in eight games. Around the ice, Montreal topped the Sabres 7-4 to eliminate the Sabres from playoff contention. And the Senators edged Edmonton 4-3 in overtime.

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Dwyane Wade scored 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Miami Heat remain alone in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with a 113-108 win over the Washington Wizards. Wade also had nine rebounds while scoring in double digits for a ninth consecutive game. The 13-time All-Star is retiring following the season.

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Canadians contributed in big ways for their teams in both men's and women's games at the NCAA Basketball Tournament Saturday night. Vancouver's Brandon Clarke had 36 points to lead top-seeded Gonzaga into the Sweet 16 with an 83-71 win over Baylor. And Bridget Carleton of Chatham, Ontario scored 23 points as Iowa State beat New Mexico State 97-61 in the first round of the women's tournament.

(Canadian Press)

DAY 1 OF CFL COMBINE COMPLETE

TORONTO - On the first day of testing at the 2019 CFL Combine presented by New Era, Jonathan Harke of the University of Alberta and the CJFL’s Edmonton Wildcats led all prospects by completing 32 reps of 225 pounds.

Rounding out the top five in the bench press, Connor Griffiths (DL, UBC) had 28 reps, Jesse Gibbon (OL, Waterloo) had 26, and Drew Desjarlais (OL, Windsor) and Vincent Desjardins (DL, Laval) were tied with 25.

In the vertical jump, Carleton’s Jacob Dearborn topped the list with 42”; his mark of 42” was the third highest all-time for defensive backs, and the sixth-highest in CFL National Combine history. Rounding out the top five from today’s vertical tests: Shai Ross (WR, Manitoba) at 38.5”, Stavros Katsantonis (DB, UBC) at 38”, Kaion Julien-Grant (WR, St. Francis Xavier) at 37.5” and Malik Richards (WR, Mount Allison) and Malcolm Lee (DB, UBC) tied at 36.5”.

For the entire list of results including those of Regina's Brayden Lenius-Dickey, click here.

The Combine continues on Sunday when the players transition to the field to test their speed, agility and football skills on the 40-yard dash, shuttle, three-cone, broad jump, individual positional drills and one-on-one matchups.
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GLOBAL PLAYERS

For the first-time ever, the Canadian Football League (CFL) has 18 global players taking part in the CFL Combine presented by New Era and today was the first to see the players showcase their strength and vertical jumping at the Goldring Centre in downtown Toronto today.

In front of scouts and management from all nine CFL teams, the global players tested alongside the top prospects heading into the 2019 CFL Draft.

In the bench press, defensive lineman Marc-Anthony Hor from Germany led the way for the global players with 28 reps of 225 lbs. France’s Valnetin Gnahoua followed with 24 reps, while Finland’s Okko Outinen reached 21 reps. Rounding out the top five with 20 reps each were Alessandro Antonio Vergani from Italy and Thiadric Hansen from Germany.

Germany’s Thiadric Hansen, a 6’1” linebacker, led the group of global players with a vertical jump score of 38”. Hansen plays for the Potsdam Royals of the German Football League (GFL). Following Hansen’s mark, France’s Maxime Rouyer and Asnnel Robo each recorded 33.5” verticals. Rounding out the top five were receiver Jordan Bouah from Italy (33”) and receiver Max Zimmerman (32”) from Germany.
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The CFL sent offensive tackle Shane Richards home after he decided against testing at the league's national combine.

The six-foot-six 334-pound Richards interviewed with a host of CFL teams Friday night and was weighed and measured Saturday. But shortly afterwards he informed league officials he wouldn't participate in testing.

Richards, from Calgary, played collegiately at Oklahoma State and recently participated in the school's pro day March 12, posting 22 reps in the 225-pound bench press and 27 inches in the vertical jump.

The CFL scouting bureau ranked Richards No. 2 on its top-20 prospects for the draft in May.

With Laval's Mathieu Betts - the No. 1 prospect - skipping the combine, Richards was the highest-ranked player participating in the event.

(With files from CFL PR/Canadian Press)

Saturday, March 23, 2019

RUSH FALL IN SAN DIEGO

SAN DIEGO - Kyle Buchanan had four goals and four assists and Garrett Billings had a goal and nine helpers as the San Diego Seals edged the Saskatchewan Rush 13-12 on Friday in National Lacrosse League action.

Dan Dawson and Casey Jackson added two goals and five points apiece for the Seals (8-4) while Austin Staats also chipped in with a pair of goals.

Ben McIntosh led the Rush (6-6) with three goals and three assists while Jeff Shattler added two goals and two assists.

Frank Scigliano made 39 saves for the win as Adam Shute made 43 saves in defeat.

(Canadian Press)

CFL ANNOUNCES 2019 RULES RECOMMENDATIONS

TORONTO - If a CFL head coach's first challenge is successful, the league's rules committee is recommending he get a second one this season.

Darren Hackwood, the CFL's senior director of officiating, said Friday's recommendation came the result of commissioner Randy Ambrosie's annual cross-country visit with fans. Currently, CFL head coaches have just one challenge per game.

"He basically asked the fans what they thought about that one . . . and they all kind of were overwhelmingly in favour of letting that happen,'' Hackwood said. "So (Ambrosie) brought that to the rules committee and coaches were in favour of it as well.

"Obviously the discussion was around if they have to use their challenge early in the game having another one if something big happens at the end was a good thing.''

The rules committee consists of CFL head coaches, GMs, team presidents, league officials and one representative of the CFL Players' Association. Its recommendations will go to the league's board of governors, which will render a decision later this spring.

The committee is also proposing the command centre be able to upgrade a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty to 25 yards for a direct blow to a quarterback's head or neck with the helmet. The defender must have had a clear view of the quarterback and there be no mitigating circumstances on the play like the quarterback ducking.

The committee would also like the command centre to help game officials with called and non-called roughing-the-passer penalties. That would include instances where an obvious call was missed because a referee's view was blocked.

Another recommendation is that a play be whistled dead any time a quarterback carrying the ball gives himself up by sliding with any part any part of his body. Currently, a quarterback can only give himself up by sliding feet first.

Those proposals, Hackwood said, put an emphasis on player safety and further protecting the quarterback.

"We want to make the quarterback a focus, for sure, and player safety in general,'' Hackwood said. "There were kind of three points going into the rules committee and player safety was No. 1.

"Second was looking for ways to improve the game and the third was trying to make the game easier to officiate.''

Other recommendations include:

- A 10-yard objectionable conduct call be made for diving.

- The command centre be able to upgrade spearing to a 25-yard penalty when a defender delivers a blow with the top of his helmet and has a clear view of the opponent. Also, there can't be any mitigating circumstances such as the opponent ducking his head.

- A player receiving two 25-yard penalties in a game be disqualified.

- A kicked or thrown football remain live instead of becoming a dead ball when it touches a goal-post ribbon.

- The command centre being able to assist on-field officials in calling penalties when the injury spotter has intervened in a player-safety situation.

- The command centre be allowed to assist on-field officials with called and non-called roughing-the-kicker penalties.

- Removing the stipulation that a defender be allowed to contact a kicker's plant leg without penalty if the defender has touched the ball before contact.

- Clarifying the definition of spearing to be when a player uses the top of his helmet as the primary contact point to deliver a blow.

- Making the use of three or more wedge blockers on kicking plays illegal.

- A defensive player not being allowed to deliver a forcible blow to the long snapper while the snapper's head is down and he's in a vulnerable position.

If the recommendations are accepted, it will mean the command centre being utilized more during games.

"Technology has got better,'' Hackwood said. "If the referee doesn't have a clear picture of what happened he can turn on his headset and ask the replay official for help.

"We don't see that being a full-on stop ... it's like a quick, 'Hey, I think that was roughing the passer. Do you guys see anything different? No, then here's the flag and let's go on.'''

(Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)


Friday, March 22, 2019

THE MANZIEL INTERVIEW

Everyone is talking about Johnny Manziel's first session with the media as a member of the AAF's Memphis Express. His comments are being examined six ways from Sunday, and many feel he was taking a shot at the CFL when he explained how much he's enjoying a return to American rules football.

You decide. This is what Manziel said, as captured by Memphis News reporter Jason Munz:

"Not seeing a 12th guy on the field, and not seeing an extra person. This is what I've done my entire life. This is back to the football that I know; protections, run game, the coverages. I know what I'm doing. I've played two years at a very high level and as high level as you can play in college football. I've learned this game to a point and that's the biggest thing. It's back to what I've known my entire life. It's not learning a new game. That's what it is."

As far as the rest of his session went, Manziel was happy with his first day.

"Fun day! Good practice," Manziel revealed. "I thought there was a lot of energy. Thought we did some good things. Fun. Everyday is going to keep getting better. Keep coming out and do what I can do to try and give my best everyday. It's all about effort. Come out, put all the effort in, put the time in in the playbook and come out and see if you can't execute on the field.

Manziel was asked if he's simply happy to have the pads back on.

"Yeah just the whole, what this is," Manziel shrugged. "Being around a team, being out having organized practices, getting reps, throwing routes, getting back into the mix. Felt a little bit rusty today but that'll wear off with getting to know these guys and getting to know the system a little bit better. As the days go on, each day will be better and better. I can promise you that.

"What I can do is come out and give good effort. I can come out and put time into my playbook, making sure I know things like the back of my hand. Come out and keep working everyday whether it's footwork, whether it's ball-placement, whether it's getting the ball to come out of my hand a little bit better which I feel it didn't come out as good as I normally throw it today. A new environment, a little bit windy, no excuses but I'm going to keep working at it everyday."

RP
@rodpedersen

SCRUFFY'S THIS N' THAT

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

--If the intention of whomever gave Justin Dunk the information about reducing the Canadian player ratio in the CFL was to divide the union, then mission accomplished. Since that news came out there have been a thousand different takes on it. A lot of them are solid arguments on both sides. 

There are plenty of quality Canadians who have shown they can play the game whether it be on this side of the border or in the NFL. There needs to be a spot for these Canadians to play. It is as simple as that. You can argue all you want on a variety of other things and at the end of the day, you will be right in some areas and wrong in the other. There is a lot of gray area. 

The thing that gets me is the outrage of the fans.  Hardcore CFL fan or not, the bottom line is 90 percent of you don't care where a player is from, you just care about how good he is and whether or not he can help your team win. The proof in that is the fact many of you thumb your nose at University and Junior Football. You show that by not attending games whether it be in Regina, Calgary, Edmonton or Winnipeg. I have said time and time again that Canada West Football produces players that you have no idea about until they are drafted. When that narrative begins to change, then the fans discord on the ratio will matter, but right now it doesn't.

I don't think the ratio should change. I think it could go up a couple because there are a lot of players who either don't get the chance they deserve with their current team or they simply don't get a chance period.   If the idea is to reduce Canadians to add Mexicans, Germans, Italians etc. etc than that is wrong as well.

If the league and the PA are serious on this topic, they are walking a very slippery slope and one that could have drastic repercussions at the grassroots level.

--I have to admit I was surprised to see Dakoda Shepley sign on with the Riders when he did.  I thought he would take another shot at finding NFL employment. Shepley is a beast. He was a force at UBC ( again many would know that if they watched the T-Birds play when he was there) .  He makes what is a solid Rider o-line even better.  Add with him Labatte, Bladek, Blake and Clark and the Canadian depth the green-and-white have in that area may be the league's best.

--The first CFL mock draft I have seen is out. Mock drafts are what they are and we all know you can't put a lot of stock into them, but the one on CFL.ca has the Riders taking DL Robbie Smith from Laurier.  Is DL an area of need for the green-and-white when it comes to Canadian talent? You can never go wrong with an o-lineman and as always there are a lot out there, but I would like to see the team maybe upgrade its Canadian talent at RB. There are a couple of good Canadian RB's out there in Maleek Irons and Brady Oliviera, but I don't know if you take either at 6. It's always at this time of year when I am fascinated by what goes through organization's minds and the mock draft after mock draft after mock draft that they engage themselves in. I would love to be able to sit in a war room one night and watch things go down.

--A video of Johnny Manziel has surfaced in which he talks about the CFL. Some believe Manziel is cutting down the league in his interview with reporters in Memphis. I think he is being kind. He talks about the 12th man and how uncomfortable he was up here,

--Mike Trout is making $430 million to play baseball.  I'll just leave this here.

--Opening day is now less than a week away.  Who's taking next Thursday off?

--It's time to get real in the WHL as the playoffs begin tonight. The Moose Jaw-Saskatoon series should be fascinating. On one side of the blueline is a Moose Jaw team that has not had a lot of playoff success with some very good teams---teams better than this one against a Blades squad that is stacked and has not been to the playoffs for a while. I could give you a lot of reasons as to why Saskatoon wins and a lot of reasons as to why Moose Jaw does. This should be a great matchup. It's a coin toss to me, but I will take Saskatoon just for the fact I think they have the better goalie in Nolan Maier. Wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to go to WHL Live to watch some playoff games around here? The fact the WHL doesn't have a TV deal outside of the one Access has with the Pats is just wrong. It hurts the overall product.

--The Tampa Bay Lightning have already clinched first place in the NHL overall standings. They are the team many figure will win the Stanley Cup and for good reason. With the season they are having, do they deserve to be called one of the best of all-time. You have to win 16 games in the playoffs to ensure that, but is this Tampa team as good as those Islander and Oiler teams of the 80's the Wings of the 90\s and the Habs of the 70's?

I don't think there is any doubt Nikita Kucherov is the league's MVP,  but would you give Andrei Vasilevskiy the Vezina?  Would you give Jon Cooper the Coach of the Year Trophy. I wouldn't be.  You can't ignore what the Lightning have done this season, but are they the best team we have seen in the last few years?  I guess that debate will start if they win the Cup.

--Jaskirat Sidhu gets sentenced in Melfort today for what happened April 6, 2018.  I truly don't know what type of sentence he will get, but whatever it is, will it be enough?  I'd like to say he will get at least 5 years.

--Motley Crue has done a remix of Madonna's "Like A Virgin".  Why?  I repeat why?  WHYYYYY??!!

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