Realty One

Friday, April 19, 2019


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

--Should we be surprised at the latest development in the CFL/CFLPA dispute?  If I were the association, I would be telling players not to report to the start of training camp either. Here's the question I have. Why not say you will work until a certain time during the season before walking off the job if no agreement is reached? Get some game cheques in your pocket and set an ultimatum of August long weekend.

Playing a month of football and then walking away if no deal was reached would have a far bigger impact than the first few days of training camp in my opinion.   It might have the league sit up and take notice as well.  I am guessing they would be much more willing to talk when the season was on when the threat of missed home game revenue now lurks.   I am also guessing TSN would then throw their hat in the ring and tell both sides to quit screwing around and get a deal done.   Just my two cents.

--The Edmonton Eskimos won't be changing their name anytime soon and by the sounds of it nor should they.  Since an erroneous report surfaced earlier this week saying a name change to "Empire" was imminent, the discussion has heated up again.   From what I hear from many in Edmonton, those in the North and the Inuit community aren't seeking a name change. It is just the moral minority doing what they can to upset the applecart.  Hey, if we change the Eskimos, we better change the name REDBLACKS because of racial connotations, we can't have Winnipeg be known as the "Bombers' because bombers spark thoughts of terrorism. How about we just get rid of nicknames altogether and just say Edmonton is playing Saskatchewan and Calgary is playing Ottawa. Of course, I am being 100 percent facetitious when saying all this. I have no problem with Eskimos and apparently many others don't either. Have the talks and do your due diligence, but don't do anything stupid.

--The Drake Curse is alive and well after he was spotted wearing a Leafs jersey during Game 4 of Toronto's series against Boston. Can we please get Drake a Calgary Stampeders jersey? I hope he knows he looks horrible in green too.

--If hockey were a 55 minute game, the Winnipeg Jets might be unbeatable. How many times have the Jets blown 3rd period leads in the last six weeks. Once St. Louis scored to make it 2-1 in Game 5, you could see how it was going to end.

--Was there anyone out there who had Columbus beating Tampa in 4? Anyone?

--How much longer until the 2019 WCBL season starts and we can start heading to Currie Field to watch the Regina Red Sox?

--On paper, one would think the WHL final will see the Prince Albert Raiders taking on the Vancouver Giants. One also knows you don't play the game on paper. Both series appear to be heavily in favour of P-A and Vancouver, but you just never know at this time of year.

--Thank you Eddie Steele! The former Riders D-lineman went to social media to announce his retirement. Steele was just as valuable off the field for the Riders as he was on it. He is one of those guys you wish nothing but positives for moving forward.

--The Riders have four quarterbacks going to camp with the signing of Isaac Harker. Somehow I still believe another experienced signal-caller comes in before camp. With Chris Jones here, I would have said there is no way you see Kevin Glenn here again, but would Jeremy O'Day bring him back? If Collaros goes down, the Riders may be sunk. A full season of Zach Collaros under center may be too high of an expectation considering his recent injury history.

--The CFL's decision to give Toronto and Montreal territorial draft picks is so ludicrous. This should be happening for all teams and not just two. What is the rationale behind this?

--When you have the debate about the greatest athlete of all time, where do you start when it comes to the qualifications one must have. Is it more than wins? Tiger, Jordan, Gretzky, Muhammad Ali are just four right off the bat.  Its a debate where there is no winner.

--Are you a turkey house on Easter, a ham house, or both? Whatever it is, have a great Easter weekend.

(Follow Mitchell Blair on Twitter at @scruffyregina)

Thursday, April 18, 2019


(Photo: Canadian Press)
Contract talks between the CFL and its players have turned ugly.

The CFL Players' Association has instructed its players not to make travel arrangements to attend training camps when they open May 19. The union has also informed its membership it has no intention of working past May 18, which is the date the current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire.

"We have given the CFL a clear deadline that CFL players will not work past the expiry of the current collective agreement,'' union executive director Brian Ramsay said in a statement Wednesday. "We need to protect the rights of the membership.

"We are working hard to bargain in good faith and we firmly believe both sides should be willing to work as hard as possible to get an agreement done in a fair and timely manner. The CFL's unilateral decision to delay bargaining and withhold off-season compensation are aggressive acts and the membership is responding accordingly. We have the full support of our membership.''

Contract talks between the two sides hit a snag last Wednesday when the CFLPA announced the league had unilaterally decided to delay negotiations for two weeks. Following two days of talks in Vancouver, Ramsay said the CFL set a date of April 29 as the earliest it could resume talks.

Ramsay added the league told the union it had "other priorities'' to take care of in the next two weeks. The two sides began talking March 11 and had met on 10 separate occasions before the delay, which comes the CFL and its players still negotiating non-monetary items.

A sticking point with players is the CFL's decision not to pay off-season bonuses until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.

In a memo to players, the CFLPA reiterated its stance regarding training camp.

"Do not agree to book yourself to travel prior to the 18th of May, 2019,'' the memo said."If travel is already confirmed, please re-communicate to your member clubs that you will be unable to travel until the day of the 18th.

"After consulting with your team player representatives, it is our intention not to work past the 18th of May 2019 without a new signed agreement. We believe it is in everyone's best interest to conclude collective bargaining and reach an agreement as soon as possible.

"Having said that, we have informed the league that we as a membership are not prepared to move forward with training camp under the current working conditions.''

The union also said it will communicate again with its membership prior to May 18 regarding whether players should be travelling to camp.

"Prior to that, it is imperative that we all remain united on our travel dates as per the above,'' it said in the memo.

That prompted Calgary Stampeders running back Don Jackson to tweet: "I will not report for camp until a new CBA is signed, sealed and in place. @CFLPA @CFL #PlayerStrike #CFL #LockOut.''

Running back James Wilder Jr. of the Toronto Argonauts tweeted: "I'm moving back Florida ain't coming back across the border till the deal is done!''

Perhaps the most ringing endorsement for union solidarity came from reigning league MVP Bo Levi Mitchell who let it be known on Wednesday, "I will not be at camp or QB school until a CBA is signed. Period."

In 2014, contract talks between the league and players were testy. Negotiations broke down several times and there was even a threat of a players' strike before both sides hammered out a five-year agreement.

In May 2014, CFL players reported to training camp without a new deal in place. An agreement was eventually reached and the season went on without interruption.

CFL players have gone on strike once, in 1974, but the situation was settled prior to the start of the regular season.

(Canadian Press)


Since the last time we chatted in this space, the second round of the playoffs came to an end, the latest draft rankings were revealed, and Team Canada arrived in Sweden for the U-18's.

Let's go!

1 - RECAP: After going 5-2-1 in the opening round of the WHL playoffs, I went 3-1 in round two. What do I do with Spokane, now, after picking against them in each of the first two rounds? As Alan Caldwell mentioned on Twitter (@smallatlarge), maybe I should be taking bribes to pick against them the rest of the way?

Ok, to recap, 8-3-1 in predictions this spring.

2 - RAIDERS OUTLAST BLADES: I had the privilege of calling a good portion of this series on radio alongside Les Lazaruk and we had some fun! This was as good a series as you could have expected between two arch rivals, and the two communities went all-in as well.

While the Art Hauser in Prince Albert was jammed every night, there were over 10,000 at Sasktel Centre for the deciding game six last Sunday afternoon. Incredible stuff.

In the end, it was the Raiders who were just a little too much.

3 - UNDER THEIR SKIN: It was fun finally calling Blades’ playoff games after five years without, and my partner Les Lazaruk was in fine form as always.

It was fun to see some emotion between fan bases in this series and Les even got into it with some playful jabs on the air! He really got under the skin of folks in PA and I think it's great! It reminded me of 2007 and following the battle between Rod Pedersen and the Broncos broadcast team of Jon Keen and Ryan Switzer. That was great! It sold tickets and drummed up excitement. I wish it happened earlier!

4 - RESPECT: There is nothing quite like the handshake line between two teams after a tough and emotional series. There is always a great deal of respect between combatants, and that was no different on Sunday.

Marc Habscheid had been critical of Kirby Dach in the media but had plenty of time for him after. The Pat on the chest of the young star after their conversation showed me that there is a great deal of respect between those two and the teams as well.

5 - WHERE’S TREY?: I'm still waiting on 102 point man Trey Fix-Wolansky to take over. He does have eight points in 10 games though. More on that in a bit...

6 - BYRAM MOVES UP: Much of the talk leading up to and through the season has been about the ‘big three’ forwards in the WHL. Yes, Kirby Dach of the Saskatoon Blades, Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Peyton Krebs of the Winnipeg Ice should all be taken in the first round in June’s NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver, but they may be taken behind defenceman Bowan Byram.

When we evaluated the prospects earlier in this space, I mentioned that the Vancouver Giants’ defenceman may just be the best of the bunch and the scouts agree in their final rankings.

7 - (1) VAN vs (2) SPO: I’ll tell you right now, I have no idea what to do when it comes to a prediction in this series. Vancouver has been impressive in series wins over Seattle and Victoria but the Chiefs have surprised most everyone. They certainly have me second-guessing things in this space today.

Both teams are 8-2 in the playoffs and both teams have impressive power plays that continue to be red hot in the playoffs. Spokane is a mine-boggling 12 for 25 (48%!) while the Giants have converted on a third of their chances at 11 for 33.

Vacouver was 3-1 in the season series and, for that reason alone, I’m taking them in six.

8 - (1) PA vs (1) EDM: The Edmonton Oil Kings have advanced through to the Eastern Conference Final in just 10 games while the Raiders have done the exact same thing.

A final note on Fix-Wolansky, to think he hasn't had nearly the same point production and still the Oil Kings are in great shape.

Can Edmonton find a way to win in the very tough Art Hauser? They did for their only win in the season series. I'll take PA in another good six-game series.

9 - I HATE THE SCHEDULE: We are down to the final-four and that’s exciting! The thing I don’t like about it, though, is that the games will be played on the same night. They’ll actually overlap for most of the game too.

I’d love to see a situation where games can be played on opposite nights and fans across western Canada can enjoy every minute of every game. Unfortunately, this is junior hockey and those Friday and Saturday night gates are vital to the success of any franchise. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to give up a Friday night home game just so a few more people could watch the game on WHL Live.

I just want to see more hockey!

10 - U-18 WORLDS: Team Canada opens play at the World Under-18 Hockey Championship in Sweden today. Saskatoon Blades’ goaltender Nolan Maier was added to the roster earlier this week after an impressive playoffs. Defenceman Daemon Hunt and forward Brayden Tracey of the Moose Jaw Warriors were also added after their opening round playoff exit.

Canada is looking for its first goal medal since 2013.


Puck drops on FRIDAY!


Regina, Saskatchewan – The Regina Pats Hockey Club is pleased to announce that defenceman Nikita Sedov will represent Russia at the 2019 World Under-18 Hockey Championships in Sweden.

The tournament will take place from April 18-28 in Örnsköldsvik and Umeå, Sweden.

The Russians will open the tournament Thursday against Slovakia, the full tournament schedule can be found here.

Sedov has represented Russia previously at the Under-17's in 2017 and at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2018.

He was named the Charles Johnston Memorial Trophy winner as the Pats top defenceman in 2018-19, recording 19 assists in 68 games.

Sedov joins Pats Head Coach and Assistant GM Dave Struch at the tournament, Struch is an Assistant Coach for Team Canada.

(Phil Andrews/


In a move that underlines the importance of Canadian players, the Canadian Football League (CFL) will include territorial picks in next month’s CFL Draft.

The two teams with the highest waiver priority will each get to make one Territorial Draft Pick – to be used to select a player born within their territorial limits at the end of the second round.

That means the Toronto Argonauts will now receive the second round’s 10th pick and the Montreal Alouettes will receive the second round’s 11th pick in the May 2nd draft.

The change is being made after discussions led by a committee that included some team presidents and general managers. But CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said it was driven by the league’s fans.

“CFL fans expressed a lot of support for CFL 2.0 and our international strategy when I hosted town halls across the country this past Winter,” Ambrosie said.

“At the same time, they told us they deeply value our Canadian players and they especially love seeing local kids become ‘hometown football heroes.’ We’re listening to those fans with this change.”

Fans also said they usually prefer to see players stay with their favourite team once they become free agents, Ambrosie said.

The introduction of territorial draft picks helps to address that issue as Canadian players have often cited a desire to be closer to home when changing teams in free agency.

The CFL Constitution defines a territory for each of the league’s nine clubs. Montreal’s territory, for example, includes all of Quebec except for an area near Ottawa.

If a club with a territorial pick chooses, it may defer claiming any territorial players until the start of any other round after the third round.

The CFL office is providing all clubs with a list of players who are eligible for selection with a territorial pick by Montreal and Toronto prior to the draft. These players will be from the existing list of 2019 Draft eligible Canadians

This will be the first time since 1984 that the league’s draft will feature territorial selections.  From 1972 to 1982, each club had the right to pre-select two players from its region who would be exempted from the draft. That limit was reduced to one Draft exemption selection in 1983 and 1984, and then the practice was terminated altogether prior to the 1985 Canadian Draft.

The CFL Draft will take place May 2nd at 8 pm. The first two rounds will be broadcast on TSN and RDS with subsequent rounds covered on TSN Direct.

Training camps are set to open on May 19. The 2019 season begins on June 13 when the Saskatchewan Roughriders face off against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Fans can stay up to date on all the non-stop action at, follow the 2019 season from around the world, and join us at a game. The 107th Grey Cup presented by Shaw will be played at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Sunday, November 24.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019


TORONTO - The CFL has lost one of its senior officials, and Darren Hackwood is good with it.

The NFL announced via Twitter on Thursday that Dave Hawkshaw of North Vancouver, B.C., a 14-year CFL veteran, was one of six new officials hired for the 2019 season. Hawkshaw, a firefighter, officiated in 189 career CFL games and three Grey Cups.

"We see it as a pretty big positive,'' said Hackwood, the CFL's senior director of officiating. "We knew kind of going into this partnership with the NFL that, hopefully, we'd get the outcome of them hiring one of our officials that was in the program and that's a very big positive for us.''

In 2016, the two leagues formed the NFL-CFL officiating development program to help officials on both sides of the border learn from each other and get more field time. The following year, Hawkshaw was among three CFL officials - Dave Foxcroft of Burlington, Ont., and Edmonton's Justin McInnes were the others - who attended NFL development seminars and programs.

Each was tested thoroughly, then worked a different NFL exhibition game. Hawkshaw and Foxcroft were field judges while McInnes served as line judge.

As part of the program, CFL officials work primarily as downfield officials in NFL exhibition games, a position comparable to side judges in Canada. Conversely, NFL officials working in the CFL preseason contests are primarily deep wing officials so as to minimize some of the rule differences between the two leagues.

This isn't the first time the NFL has hired a CFL official. In 2001 referee Bill Vinovich, an American, joined the NFL officiating ranks after working for five years in the CFL.

Vinovich served as an NFL official from 2001-06 before retiring due to heart condition. He returned in 2012 after receiving a clean bill of health from doctors and is entering his 14th season south of the border in 2019.

Hackwood said the timing of Hawkshaw's departure won't cause any problems for the CFL in terms of finding a replacement official.

"We have a roster right now that's craving for more games,'' he said. "We have the veteran officials who love to work so filling the 15 or 16 games that Dave would've worked won't be a problem.

"It also gives us an opportunity to get one of our new officials some more reps earlier in the season. Hopefully this can be a bit of a recruitment tool for us if we're going to be a bit of a path to the NFL for some.''

(Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)


SAN ANTONIO - The Alliance of American Football is officially out of business.

The eight-team league that folded after eight games of its initial season ceased all business operations and filed for bankruptcy Wednesday.

“The AAF is committed to ensuring that our bankruptcy proceeds in an efficient and orderly manner,'' the league said in a statement. “Pursuant to the bankruptcy laws, a trustee will be empowered to resolve all matters related to the AAF's remaining assets and liabilities, including ongoing matters related to player contracts.''

Founded by Pro Football Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian and TV/film producer Charlie Ebersol, the AAF was hoping to become a developmental league.

However, a few weeks after Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon became the Alliance’s majority owner, he shut it down, citing an inability to reach agreement with the NFL players' union on the availability of players.
(Associated Press)


By: Jamie Neugebauer
Voice of the ND Hounds

The Canalta Cup Final is off and running in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Here are my 10 things!

1. Oh, It’s Physical! – In my opinion, to evaluate the average age of a hockey team is a waste of time, but to look up the total number of collective junior hockey games played is far more valuable. It isn’t surprising, then, that the Canalta Cup finalists, the Melfort Mustangs and Battlefords North Stars, were two of the Top 4 most experienced clubs in the SJHL this year. One of the things that experienced teams know is that to survive in the playoffs in a league like this one, you need to have an aggressively physical mentality (maybe with the exception of the late 90s-early 2000s Detroit Red Wings?), and these two have demonstrated it already. Keep your head up out there, as especially in Melfort’s Game 2 1-0 victory, the teams were thumping each other. Get ready for the hate-ons to keep growing folks!

2. The Goaltending (Battlefords) – Can’t talk about this series without checking in on the goaltending, and especially Stars net minder Joel Grzybowski continues to post one ridiculous performance after another. Absolutely he would’ve liked to have Melfort defender Jake Hobson’s second period seeing-eye wrist shot back in that Game 2, but if you as a goaltender give up only one goal in a game, you deserve better than zero run support. The Hafford native, whose rights in the WHL are owned by the Victoria Royals, has still only given up 22 goals in 909 playoff minutes…that is absolutely remarkable (1.45 GAA, .956 remarkable). He has also kept Justin Ball and Carson Albrecht to one goal so far in the series, so one has to say the Stars team defence and Grzybowski have more-than done their job so far.

3. The Goaltending (Melfort) – Yes, the Game 1st six-spot that the Stars put up on the Mustangs, and No. 1a goaltender Noah Giesbrecht, isn’t a great look, but three of those goals came in the span of under a minute between the 18:18 and 19:11-marks of the third period. Other than that, Giesbrecht was not really at fault for Game 1s failure. That being said, Trevor Blevins is a far far better coach than me, and he looked like a genius after Shawn Parkinson put on a show in his Game 2 start, in which he grabbed a 28-save shutout. What is the last time Battlefords was shut out in a playoff game, you ask? March 18, 2015, with a 40-stop shutout by graduating University of Nebraska-Omaha starting goaltender Evan Weninger and his Kindersley Klippers. Interestingly enough, current Battleford captain Cody Spagrud was a midget call-up in that game, as his season with the Swift Current Legionnaires had ended. Impressive streak of 43 games! Parkinson was pretty good in Game 3 as well, until he got the quick yank after giving up two goals by the media time-out mark of the second period. Giesbrecht gave up two goals himself on eight shots the rest of the way, so where Blevins goes from here, I have no idea.

4. Jardine Out, Childerhose In – The Kindersley Klippers announced mid-way through Game 3 of the final that their head coach and general manager Clayton Jardine was moving on. The Lacombe, AB native told me that he “has irons in the fire” but would not comment any further on his next steps. Jardine was immediately replaced by 29-year-old Battleford native Garry Childerhose, who just wrapped his fifth year assisting Mike Reagan in Flin Flon. Childerhose played in 136 SJHL games between 2007 and 2010 for the Melfort Mustangs, before playing Division III at the State University of New York at Geneseo. It’s not surprising that Jardine attracted a ton of external interest after the job he did in Kindersley this year, so I know he’ll more-than land on his feet! I don’t know Garry as well, but had a great chat with him at the Regina Showcase this past year, and know he’s a great hockey guy. It’s always tough to see a good guy like Jards move on, but best of luck to him!

5. A Couple ND Commits! – I have to throw a shout out to a couple incredible guys, as graduating Notre Dame 1998-birth years Charles Martin and Conor MacLean have committed to play Division III NCAA hockey for the University of Wisconsin-Superior next year! Extremely happy for both of these fellas, who I absolutely count as friends. Charles was an awesome leader all year for the club, embraced very quickly what it means to be a Hound, was always extremely helpful to me, and is a heck of a two-way defenceman! Conor re-joined the club in mid-November after things didn’t work out for him in the Maritime Hockey League in New Brunswick, and he fit in perfectly, adding some excellent skill and experience to the Hounds Top 6 forward group when he was healthy. Some readers have chirped me for being ND biased at times, and I have to say that I don’t mind people thinking that! I also have to say that it’s now five Hounds with commitments from this past year’s team, which is the most in the league. What are we doing here if not helping kids to move on in the game, and realize their dreams? Love both of those guys and their families very much!
6. Weyburn, Melville, Flin Flon, Melfort All Have Commits For Next Year – General Managers often hold their cards close to their chest around this time of the year, so it’s refreshing to see a couple SJ clubs willing to announce a couple of commitments for next year already! The four teams I listed have new players officially agreed to come next season, with the most belonging to Kyle Adams and the Melville Millionaires. From that group I’m most interested to see new Mils goaltender Kaleb McEachern, a big boy out of Penticton, BC who only narrowly missed out on a spot with the Merritt Centennials in the BCHL this year, and was very solid for the Okanagan Hockey Academy prep team. Melfort snagged a big Edmonton-based defenceman out of a solid CAC  Canadians midget program named Kevin Bachul, who pitched in with 10 goals in 32 games as a defenceman in Alberta’s high-quality midget league. Of Weyburn’s commits, I cannot speak with any sort of authority in seeing them play, but how about 2001-born right winger Jaeger Lapointe, who is awesomely named Jaeger, and put up a point-per-game, as well as a league-second-most 132 PIMs for Parkland in the Manitoba midget league! Can’t be boring! Flin Flon has only announced 18-year-old Shayde Peterson, who has a game for the Bombers as a call-up under his belt already, and led the Battlefords Stars midgets in assists and points, despite the club’s difficult campaign. Looks like a kid heading in the right direction!

7. Hobson’s Show – Speaking of the right direction, how good has Jake Hobson been for the Melfort Mustangs this post-season? He scored the only goal in Melfort’s Game 2, albeit one that Grzybowski would have wanted back, but the former Swift Current Bronco and Portland Winterhawk has been a force all season, and has five goals and nine points in 12 games to lead the post-season in defenceman scoring. I talked to Trevor Blevins a couple of weeks ago about how important he is all-around to the club, and he could not speak any higher of the P.A.-native. He’s also a 1999-birth year, so he can be back next year! One of the more underappreciated stars in the SJHL this year in my opinion!

8. Have you heard of Noah Form? – And speaking of underappreciated, I have to throw a shout out to one of a couple real solid steady-eddies on the Battlefords blue line. Noah Form is the reigning SJHL Rookie of the Week, and has two goals in three games in the final after scoring only one in the regular season. But as I’m sure Stars head coach Brayden Klimosko would attest, he is getting that opportunity to put up a few more points by being so solid, and fitting so well on the left side of Battlefords’ excellent top pairing beside captain Spagrud. Watch out for the 2000-born Form to be one of the best all-around defenders in the league next year, as it never feels like Battlefords are in trouble when those two are on the ice together.

9. The Refs Whistles… – It has been a physical series, but kudos to the refs who have so far been really consistent! Three power plays overall in Game 1, two in Game 2, and a reasonable five in Game 3. Love to see them put away their whistles appropriately! I think they’ve been great and contributed to the great quality of play so far in the finals!

10. What’s Up In Manitoba? (Bonus) – Former Everett Silvertip and Saskatoon Blade Bradly Goethals, who lit up the Manitoba Junior Hockey League like a Christmas tree this past year, scored his 11th goal and 23rd point in his 15th playoff game Tuesday night to lift his Swan Valley Stampeders to a triple overtime Game 5 4-3 victory. The Stamps now lead the Portage Terriers 3-2 with a chance to take the series, and earn a spot in the Anavet Cup, on Thursday night in Swan Valley. Three Stampeders were in the Top 5 in MJHL scoring in the regular season, and are capably backstopped by former La Ronge Ice Wolves man Merek Pipes. Saw lots of their players at the SJ/MJ Showcase in Regina this past January…pretty impressive bunch! Don’t count out Portage though.

(Follow Jamie on Twitter at @neugsie)