Realty One

Sunday, May 26, 2019

THE SASKATCHEWAN BLUES

L-R: Schenn, Schwartz, Bozak
By: Tom Tinnermann
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

If the Blues are taking St. Louis by storm, captivating a city that has seen nothing but hockey hardship over the years, the residents of the Gateway to the West are not alone. There is another place, 1,500 miles away, caught up in Blues’ fever: the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.

That’s because the Blues have become Saskatchewan South. Their roster contains three, uh, Saskatchewanners? Saskatchewanites?

“Saskatchewanians?” guessed Brayden Schenn, with both uncertainty and, it turns out, accuracy. In Schenn, Jaden Schwartz and Tyler Bozak, the Blues have the most Saskatchewan-heavy roster in the league. From Regina to Saskatoon, from Moose Jaw to Swift Current, the Blues have become Saskatchewan’s team.

“They absolutely are,” said Rod Pedersen, a Saskatchewan author and broadcaster. “Surfing everyone’s social media, several people are cheering for the Blues and trying to get their friends cheering for them too. There’s a groundswell of support for them in this part of the world.”

For those not well-versed in Canadian geography, here’s a primer on what, according to their license plates, is the Land of the Living Skies:

Saskatchewan, north of Montana and North Dakota, is big. At 251,700 square miles, the prairie province is slightly smaller than Texas.

Saskatchewan is small. With a population of 1.162 million, it’s less than half the size of metropolitan St. Louis.

Saskatchewan is flat. “Everyone always says you can see your dog run away for a few days,” Bozak said.

Saskatchewan is hockey. The province is also a major producer of potash and uranium, but those resources are a lot harder to root for. There were 30 players in the NHL this year who were born in Saskatchewan, and only three Canadian provinces – Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba – have produced more Hockey Hall of Famers than Saskatchewan. That list is headed by Gordie Howe and includes Bryan Trottier, Eddie Shore and two Blues, Glenn Hall and Bernie Federko. (Longtime Blues radio colorman Kelly Chase is also from Saskatchewan.) Saskatchewan has the highest per capita rate of NHL hockey players, better than any province, U.S. state or foreign country. The capital of Saskatchewan is Regina but the capital of Saskatchewan hockey is St. Louis.

St. Louis and Saskatchewan will forever be linked by the failed effort in 1983 to relocate the team to Saskatoon – which may be more fun to say than any city in North America – a city with a population of 246,000 and a 15,000-seat arena, just in case anyone else wants to give it a try.

Now, they are linked because of Bozak, Schenn and Schwartz, who give the Blues not only three Saskatchewanians, but three of the best. Schenn, from Saskatoon, led players from the province in points this season and in each of the past three years, the three have been in the top seven from the province in points. In the playoffs this year, Schwartz has 12 goals, Bozak has five and Schenn two.

“Saskatchewan is all about hockey,” said Federko, who grew up in Foam Lake. “It’s very cold all the time, the outside temperatures are below freezing from mid-October through the end of March. Your outside activities always have ice involved in them whether you’re in your backyard or if you’re at a pond. All the little towns have rinks so kids play hockey, the girls play hockey now. Everybody plays hockey now. It’s kind of always been that way; that’s the culture.”

“It’s an awesome hockey community,” said Bozak, who’s from Regina. “Every kid grows up playing hockey. We’ve got long winters, long cold winters. The outdoor rinks are probably open longer than most places. It’s something we always did growing up, playing on the outdoor rink. All your friends played and everyone had fun doing it.”

If there’s a stereotype of a Saskatchewan player, it’s of a big strapping hard-working farm boy. “When I was a kid we’d always go to tournaments and there would be teams from Saskatchewan,” said Jay Bouwmeester, who hails from neighboring Alberta. “It’s always the farm kids. And they always had a couple of really good little players, that’s like Schwartzie or Schenner and then they’d have some big guys you didn’t want to go too near that created room for everybody else.”

There is a provincial pride the pervades the three – “You can never have enough Sasky guys out there,” Schenn said – and all three make visits home in the summer to keep in touch with their roots.

Pedersen said that Schwartz’s sister Mandi, who died of leukemia at the age of 23 in 2011, is “a mythical figure here. She inspired a generation of female hockey players. I think it’s a real heart-tugging factor with the Schwartz family for sure.”

“I’m from there so I’m biased,” said Schwartz, from the Regina suburb of Wilcox and who Bouwmeester said is the most prototypical Saskatchewanian of the bunch, quiet and low key off the ice, a tireless worker on the ice. “Everyone loves Saskatchewan people. They’re nice. They’re hard working. There’s a lot of small towns, so people get close. There’s a lot of good relations with people and they’re very caring, which is really nice. Any time you go back home you can tell the warm welcomes you get from everyone.”

“Hard working people, great people, friendly people,” Schenn said. “I’m proud to be from there.”

GREEN & WHITE DAY A GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS AFFAIR FOR RIDERS

Photo: @BradDixon3
On a Saturday described as "gray, cold and gloomy" in Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Roughriders held their annual Green & White Day at SMF Field, home of the PFC's Hilltops.

It was Day 7 of 2019 Roughriders Training Camp.

What do you want first: the good news or the bad news?

Okay, the bad news.

Undisputed #1 quarterback Zach Collaros was reportedly 1/10 passing for 15 yards - a completion to Cory Watson - and was intercepted by sophomore DB Nick Marshall before calling it a day.

The fate of the 2019 Saskatchewan Roughriders is closely tied to the performance of Collaros, but not on a Saturday in mid-May.

The good news?

The practice was an energetic, high-tempo event which featured big plays from several of the newcomers to the Green & White, including a pair of global players.

Rookie German receiver Maxx Zimmermann caught an 18-yard TD pass from veteran QB Cody Fajardo while rookie Mexican DB Javier Garcia scored on a 47-yard Pick 6. Another highlight of the day was an interception by Hilltops defender Colton Holmes, one of three juniors participating in camp.

The third TD of the day was scored on a 1-yard run by QB David Watford.

Watford, Fajardo and rookie Isaac Harker are said to be in a 3-way tie for the back-up QB job behind Zach Collaros.

A lot of that will be sorted out in Friday's preseason game at Calgary.

As far as the rest of Saturday's scrimmage went, "I'm happy nobody got hurt," Head Coach Craig Dickenson told reporters afterwards.

The Riders will have Sunday off before returning to the Griffiths Stadium turf on Monday for Week 2 of training camp.

RP
@rodpedersen

SUNDAY SPORTS

Kawhi Leonard had 27 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Toronto Raptors into the NBA Finals for the first time with a 100-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raptors overcame a 15-point deficit to win the series in six games and will host the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night. Pascal Siakam scored 18 points, Kyle Lowry had 17 and Fred VanVleet 14 for the Raptors.

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Canada can win its first men's world hockey championship since 2016 on Sunday. Mark Stone scored his tournament-leading eighth goal and Matt Murray made 39 saves as Canada downed the Czech Republic 5-1 in the tournament's semifinal. The Canadians take on Finland in the gold-medal final.

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Austin Hedges connected for a grand slam, and San Diego hit a franchise-record seven home runs to romp to a 19-4 win in Toronto. Cal Quantrill, from nearby Port Hope, Ontario, and the son of former major league pitcher Paul Quantrill, earned his first win in his fourth career start.

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Kole Calhoun drove in the tying run in the ninth inning with an RBI double and then scored the winner on pinch-hitter Jared Walsh's single as the Los Angeles Angels rallied for a 3-2 win over the Texas Rangers. Calhoun, who finished 3 for 3 with two R-B-Is and two runs scored, also homered in the third inning.

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Mike Fiers won in his first start at the Oakland Coliseum since pitching a no-hitter this month, and the Athletics handed the Mariners a 6-5 loss. Matt Chapman homered and Ramon Laureano doubled in his fifth straight game, matching Miguel Tejada for the Oakland record.

(Canadian Press)

CALGARY ROUGHNECKS CLAIM NLL CHAMPIONSHIP

Photo: Candice Ward/CalgaryRoughnecks.com
CALGARY - For the first time in 10 years, the Calgary Roughnecks are the champions of the National Lacrosse League.

Rhys Duch's second goal came in overtime as the Roughnecks captured their third NLL title on Saturday night with a thrilling 14-13 victory over the Buffalo Bandits to sweep the best-of-three final.

Duch fired a shot past Buffalo goaltender Matt Vinc 1:12 into extra time to send the Scotiabank Saddledome crowd of 17,038 into a frenzy.

"This is what we live for. It's just a fantastic feeling,'' said veteran Dane Dobbie, who had four and three assists and was named Most Valuable Player of the final. Dobbie was the post-season's leading scorer with 12 goals and 26 points.

"We deserved this. Our guys worked hard. Our young kids came in and played hard this season and they were great. I'm just super excited right now.,'' said Dobbie.

Dobbie's spectacular breakaway goal with 55 seconds left in the fourth quarter gave the home side a 13-12 lead, only to see Corey Small tie it 27 seconds later, silencing the raucous crowd.

It was the fourth time in the second half that the resilient Bandits had come back to tie the game.

"Stay even keel. That was written on our line-up from the coach (Curt Malawsky), before the game,'' said Roughnecks captain Dan McRae. "That's something that we've been preaching pretty much since training camp. To have our emotions in check. Credit to the coaches for instilling that in us.''

Riley Loewen and Curtis Dickson had two goals apiece for Calgary, while Jesse King, Zach Currier, Tyler Burton and Tyler Pace also scored.

Chase Fraser and Jordan Durston each had a hat trick for Buffalo. Shawn Evans and Small each added a pair with Chris Cloutier, Matt Spanger and Dhane Smith also scoring.

Christian Del Bianco made 43 saves for Calgary, none bigger than his early stop off Small in overtime. Vinc finished with 37 stops in Buffalo's net.

Bandits co-coach Rich Kilgour applauded the fight in his team, which opened the second half down 9-6, but tied it with three straight goals.

Tied 10-10 entering the fourth quarter in a back-and-forth thriller, the Roughnecks took a two-goal lead on goals 48 seconds apart from Duch and Dickson, who both sent low shot past Vinc.

But the resilient Bandits battled back.

Durston's third of the night cut the deficit in half at 7:49 and Smith's diving goal at 11:07 tied it. Smith's goal was originally waved off for a foot in the crease, but the Bandits challenged the ruling and it was overturned on video review.

Calgary's 9-6 lead at half-time disappeared when Buffalo scored the first three goals of the third quarter.

Dobbie restored the lead at 13:57 before Durston replied at 14:24 to tie it 10-10 headed to the fourth quarter. In the final 15 minutes, the back-and-forth play continued, the Roughnecks took a two-goal lead on goals 48 seconds apart from Duch and Dickson, but Durston's third of the night cut the deficit in half at 7:49 and Smith's diving goal at 11:07 tied it.

"So very proud for keeping coming back. It's too bad we couldn't get the goal to put us over the hump,'' said Kilgour.

Buffalo (14-4) was the NLL's best team in the regular season, but the East representative could not contain Calgary (10-8), who came out of the third spot in the West to its first NLL Cup since 2009.

After road victories over the San Diego Seals (12-11) and the Colorado Mammoth (8-4) to reach the final, the Roughnecks kept the momentum going with a 10-7 victory in Game 1 of the final last Saturday at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.

"Our guys came in this year and we knew we had something, just within our locker room and we just beared down and I couldn't be more happier right now for the boys,'' said Dobbie, who was also part of the 2009 team.

Down 5-3, Calgary took control of the game in the second quarter when a string of five straight goals turned a 5-3 deficit into 8-5 lead .

The tying goal at 5:11, 15 seconds after King drew the Roughnecks to within one, was an acrobatic effort from Currier for his first goal of the playoffs.

The sophomore collected a rebound off the end boards and from behind the net, dove into the air and dunked the ball under the crossbar, behind the Bandits unsuspecting goaltender.

(Darren Haynes/Canadian Press)

Saturday, May 25, 2019

10 WEEKEND THINGS

1 - WALLY'S TOUGH TALK: Wally and Christie Buono were fantastic speakers at the Regina Thunder Dinner of Champions on Thursday but the CFL career wins leader delivered some ominous news for the CFL. Buono referred to the league as "stagnant" right now and says it "won't survive" unless it evolves and expands with its business. That's why he's such a big fan of Commissioner Randy Ambrosie and his CFL 2.0 initiative. However as far as the larger markets go, Buono feels the CFL is in for a rough ride due to competition for the sports and entertainment dollar.

2 - MORE WALLY: Buono's address was insightful ... This is the first CFL training camp season he's missed since 1968! ...  Wally referred to Doug Flutie as the best player he ever coached but that's as much due to his leadership attributes as it was to his athletic prowess. Buono ranks Stampeders pivot Bo Levi Mitchell in Flutie's class, and feels Bo is special. ... Wally's most-cherished Grey Cup victory? The 2001 CFL title game in which his underdog Stampeders upset Dave Ritchie's Winnipeg Blue Bombers. ... And Buono is a champion of player safety. He feels the CFL has never been in better shape than it is now with the way it's coached, played and officiated, relating to the safety of the players.

Thanks to Paul Drouin and IKS Media for inviting us to the Thunder banquet.

3 - THE R.P. SHOW: On Friday we announced details of The Rod Pedersen Show which will debut on Monday, June 3 on a variety of media platforms. More information will be unveiled next week. The interviews we taped on Friday were incredibly revealing, like the fact Wally Buono would've liked a chance to coach the Saskatchewan Roughriders before his career was up. Meanwhile 2013 Grey Cup MVP Kory Sheets admitted he attempted to end his life over the past few years, and was institutionalized for five days. These are going to be must-see shows! Thanks to these gentlemen for obliging us with their time.

4 - PLAYERS GIVING BACK: Nice to see former Rider OT Ben Heenan on the coaching staff of the Regina Thunder, along with former CFL official Brett Strong who's coaching the RB's. Meanwhile former Rider DT Marcus Adams is a guest coach with the Blue Bombers and the great Wes Cates is a guest coach with the Roughriders.

5 - FOR THE W: Many pundits have installed the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as the top team in the CFL at this point, and likely for good reason. Bomber LB Adam Bighill says it's the best group of talent he's ever seen assembled. However I've learned over the years that a team doesn't win on talent alone. As Rider great Don Narcisse is fond of saying, "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard". Fortunately for the Bombers and their long-suffering fans, these guys won't cheat head coach Mike O'Shea with their work ethic.

6 - NFL IN THE PEG: We learned on Friday that Winnipeg's IG Field will host the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers in a preseason game in August. It appears there will be several football fans from Saskatchewan making the trek to the 204 to witness their first-ever NFL game. Have fun! I'd love to go but plan on working Touchdown Atlantic in Moncton between the Alouettes and Argonauts that same weekend.

7 - STANLEY CUP FINAL: Game 1 of the NHL championship series goes Monday night at TD Garden with the Boston Bruins home to the St. Louis Blues. Boston is favoured to win the series. I've got St. Louis taking it in 6!

8 - SASK BLUES: Much has been made - and rightfully so - of the three Saskatchewan kids on the Blues: Brayden Schenn (Saskatoon), Jaden Schwartz (Wilcox) and Tyler Bozak (Regina). When you throw in alumni and long-time Blues broadcasters Bernie Federko (Foam Lake) and Kelly Chase (Porcupine Plain), you can see why Saskatchewan is going somewhat Blues crazy right now. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked me which of those players is Sask's favourite, but I said we love and admire them all equally. That story will be published Sunday in the Post-Dispatch courtesy writer Tom Tinnermann.

9 - OILERS COACH: Reports on Thursday suggested Oilers GM Ken Holland and free agent head coach Dave Tippett were meeting in Vancouver, presumably to iron out details on a lucrative contract. However on Friday we learned from TSN's Bob McKenzie that the two parted without reaching a deal. Should the Oilers land Tippett they'd be getting, in my opinion, one of the top 3 coaches in the NHL (Mike Babcock and Joel Quenneville being the others).

10 - RANDOM THOUGHTS: This week, Sirius/XM Radio ranked Garth Brooks' Friends In Low Places as the #1 country song of all time. Sorry guys! I still go with Amarillo By Morning by The King, George Strait. ... I'm primed to eat my words from a week ago on the Toronto Raptors. As sportswriter Steve Simmons wrote, "Where did these guys come from?" ... I've been buying more Leader Post newspapers in the past week than I have for 20 years. An outstanding source of Rider coverage! The clerk at 7/11 said the LP boosted their price by 20 cents this week to $2.85. Well worth it! ... The host Halifax Mooseheads will face the Rouyan-Noranda Huskies in Sunday's Memorial Cup Final on Sportsnet. ... Junior hockey is my favourite hockey. ... Congrats to Michael Ball (aka Ballsy) on being given the Murray Sawa Lifetime Achievement Award by the Regina Thunder on Thursday. Way go Ballsy! I guess that means you're old! :)

Y'er welcome,
RP
@rodpedersen

MOOSEHEADS-HUSKIES TO MEET IN MEMORIAL CUP FINAL

HALIFAX - The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies will face the host Halifax Mooseheads in the Memorial Cup final.

Felix Bibeau scored two third-period goals as Rouyn-Noranda beat the Guelph Storm 6-4 on Friday in the tournament semifinal.

Bibeau made it 4-3 for the Huskies from the slot 5:20 into the third with a shot Storm goaltender Anthony Popovich never saw, then added another from nearly the same spot to give his club some breathing room with 7:27 to play.

Alex Beaucage, Joel Teasdale, Tyler Hinam and Rafael Harvey-Pinard also found the back of the net for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Huskies. Samuel Harvey made 34 saves.

Isaac Ratcliffe struck twice while Jack Hanley and Cedric Ralph also scored for the Ontario Hockey League champion Storm. Anthony Popovich stopped 31 shots.

Guelph, Rouyn-Noranda and Halifax finished tied with 2-1 records after round-robin play. The Mooseheads won the tiebreaker to earn a bye right to Sunday's final while the Storm and Huskies were forced to go the semifinal route.

(The Canadian Press)

Friday, May 24, 2019

JEFFERSON HAPPY SWITCHING SIDES IN BOMBERS-RIDERS RIVALRY

WINNIPEG - Willie Jefferson thought there would be some backlash when he left the Saskatchewan Roughriders for the rival Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Turns out he was right.

Some Saskatchewan fans had "outlandish'' reactions on social media for the all-star defensive end, but one creative insult left the prized free-agent acquisition laughing.

"The funniest thing that I remember was a picture of me, my wife and our daughter in our Saskatchewan jerseys,'' Jefferson said Friday after Day 6 of training camp.

"The guy reposted the picture but he put the poop emoji on our faces. Yeah, man, that was funny.''

All of Jefferson's green-and-white memorabilia from the past three seasons is now packed up in storage and he has quickly adapted to wearing Winnipeg's blue and gold.

Signing a one-year contract with the Bombers in February after being pursued by Montreal, Saskatchewan, Hamilton and B.C., was the right move, he said.

"Being here now and seeing how practice goes, seeing how the coaches are with the players and how interactive they are outside of the locker-room, it's nice here,'' said Jefferson, 28, a CFL all-star the past two seasons.

The six-foot-six, 245-pound Texas native played his first two seasons in the league with Edmonton. Last season, he had a career-high 10 quarterback sacks, 24 defensive tackles and took two interceptions back for touchdowns, including a 97-yarder off Bombers QB Matt Nichols.

Jefferson's skillset of speed and shifty moves is expected to give the club a dominant duo with Jackson Jeffcoat on the other end.

"He's just such a great player,'' Jeffcoat said of his new teammate. "He's very rangy so he can do a lot of things on the field. He's got a plethora of moves so tackles can't really get a bead on him.

"We want to be the best we can be, and being the best we can be, I think we can be the best in the league.''

Jefferson is a familiar name to Jeffcoat. His father, former NFL defensive end Jim Jeffcoat, had watched Jefferson excel in another sport.

"My dad actually got to watch him play basketball and said he was a really good high school basketball player as well,'' Jackson Jeffcoat said.

His father was glad to hear Jefferson had joined the Bombers.

"He said, 'It's going to be good. You guys will complement each other well,''' said the six-foot-three, 251-pound Jeffcoat.

That theme carried over to Winnipeg defensive line and linebackers coach Glen Young, who chuckled when he discussed the potential of his bookends.

"(Jefferson's) presence is going to make a difference for us,'' Young said. "To have him and Jackson coming off the edge is going to be such a tremendous asset for us.

"I can't even tell you how much fun it's been for me to watch it as it's been developing through training camp. They're so different, but they're so effective.''

He described Jefferson as long with finesse and Jeffcoat as powerful with great hands.

"They bring so many differences, but collectively together it's like everything you want as a D-line coach,'' Young said.

So could Jefferson and Jeffcoat be the league's premier pair of rush ends?

"I think the sky's the limit for them,'' Young said.

(Canadian Press/Judy Owen)

NFL HEADED TO WINNIPEG

Jeff Hamilton of the Winnipeg Free Press reports IG Field in Winnipeg is set to host an NFL preseason game this August.

The game will feature the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers in Week 3 of the NFL preseason, however the precise date hasn't been determined.

The preseason contest - which organizers had originally planned to stage in Regina - has been all but confirmed by Blue Bombers officials.

Representatives from the NFL, Packers and Raiders reportedly toured IG Field in April and were impressed with the facilities.

An official announcement from the event company On Ice Management is anticipated before long.

RP
@rodpedersen



DURON AIMS TO SHED BAD BOY IMAGE

Photo: Kamloops This Week
By: Christina Heydanus
CTV Vancouver

KAMLOOPS - He may have just arrived in B.C., but it didn’t take long for Duron Carter to face questions about his supposed bad boy reputation.

"Can you really be a bad boy with a smile like this?" Carter said with a big grin.

The wide receiver joins the BC Lions with a bit of spotty record, which includes two cannabis-related charges he faced while with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Duron Carter says he's looking to put his reputation behind him.

"I feel I'm a genuine good guy and most of the people I encounter feel that same way," Carter explained. "I can't change what you think and what you read, and that's not my prerogative at all. For me, my main goal is winning football games and it seems when you win, everyone looks at the bright side of things so that's going to be my goal."

Carter has made a career on both sides of the ball, and joins the B.C. franchise as a wide receiver.

He’s known for his highlight reel plays, and in 2017, had just over 1,000 receiving yards in the 18 games he played with the Riders.

"He makes catches that no one other than myself can make," said slot back Bryan Burnham. "He's a big time player and I think he's great for our locker room."

Carter is the son of NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter, and says he wouldn’t be where he is today without the help of his dad.

"He's put me into a place where not many people can get at my age," Carter told CTV News. "Being able to be here and have the coaches know my football brand and be able to step up, it just puts me at a whole different level in my career."

https://bc.ctvnews.ca/duron-carter-shakes-off-bad-boy-reputation-for-fresh-start-in-b-c-1.4434645

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 you're not a Boston Bruins fan, how can we not cheer for St. Louis in the Stanley Cup final? This is a team that years ago just about ended up in Saskatoon. They had training camp in Regina for a few years.   They have had the likes of Bernie Federko, Doug Wickenheiser, Barrett Jackman, and Ed Staniowski play for them. They have Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn and Tyler Bozak now. The Blues are Team Saskatchewan! The Gloria thing still doesn't make sense to me, but whatever. By the way, why aren't we starting the Stanley Cup until Monday? A Saturday start would have been much better.

--It's tough to get a good gauge on what is happening at Riders camp in Saskatoon, but it would appear as if Jon Ryan can still kick the ball. Word has it he was booming punts on Wednesday with several of them being over 60 yards. Word also has it the 37-year-old is the first guy on the field each day. His leadership is going to be huge as the year goes along.

--If Zach Collaros remains healthy, are the Riders fighting with Edmonton and Winnipeg for 3rd or are they fighting for a home playoff game? I say it's the latter. Sadly though, I just don't see Collaros staying healthy for a whole season.  From the people I talk to, many feel the same way.

--I love what I'm been hearing from Craig Dickenson in post-practice scrums this week. He's what this football team needed after Chris Jones. Players will play for Dickie the way they did for Jones, but for different reasons.

--Shouldn't Solomon Elimimian be at Rider camp instead of going around to other camps talking to players about the CBA? Is there no one in the PA that can do Solomon's job for him? He needs to be on the field and not the boardroom right now.

--The new deal ends at the same time TSN's contract comes up. I don't see Sportsnet wanting to get involved with the CFL because of the Blue Jays and the NHL. Would CBC want back in?  If the answer is no, TSN basically controls the purse-strings and can give the league as thin an offer as possible if they desire.  I guess there is no use worrying about this for three years, but it is something to remember moving forward.

--I am guessing there are no Vegas Golden Knights fans that are disappointed to see St. Louis beat San Jose. Of course those fans still don't want to admit the team gave up four power play goals on a five minute major to get into the position they did.

--I'd rather have Patrick Marleau win a Stanley Cup than Joe Thornton and you know how I feel about the Leafs.

--The decision to give Vladimir Guerrero a day off on Monday was one of the dumbest things I have seen a pro sports team do. VGJ is the future. He is coming off a four homer week. It was a holiday Monday matinee game so I am guessing there were many kids at Rogers Centre. For some, it might have been their first and only game of the year. VGJ is who they came to see and someone in the Jays organization said nope, he sits. What a great way to appease a fan base that is already dwindling.

--The Golden State Warriors or the New England Patriots. Who has had the better decade?

--What would happen if a Rider fan came on the sidelines and gave Craig Dickenson a shoulder massage or yelled at an opposing player?  Security would haul his or her ass off the field immediately. Yet there is Drake looking like a complete ass-clown. He is worse than Spike Lee was in the Knicks heyday. It's embarrassing and it makes the Raptors look bad. Somebody in the organization needs to sit him down and tell him to continue sitting and not being a part of the game.

--Are the Raptors going to the NBA Final? I'll be the first to admit I didn't think the Kawhi Leonard trade would be that great for them, but he has taken that team on his back in the playoffs. If Toronto gets past Milwaukee, will it do for basketball what the Jays did for baseball in Canada when they reached the World Series. The Raptors have already made Canadian basketball better, but this could take it to a new level.

--Dave Tippett as the new coach of the Oilers? It's a move that doesn't excite or disappoint me. I just want results. Is it too late to call John Paddock?

--Why can't the WHL win a game at the Memorial Cup anymore? Add Prince Albert to the list as their 0-3 mark in Halifax means the WHL champ has lost 13 straight dating back to Kelowna's loss in the 2015 final.  There are many thoughts out there. A lot of them are valid. What's yours?

--The WCBL (formerly the WMBL)  season starts next week. It will be great spending some time at Currie Field watching baseball. It's too bad we couldn't have had games last week when the weather was perfect. If you have never been to a WCBL game, go and enjoy.

--Once again this year, some NHL teams are allowing fans to come and paint the ice with a message or something once the season is over before the ice is taken out. What a great idea! I'd love to see the Pats do something like this. It would be a blast for the family. By the way, I would take no responsibility if the phrase "Phil Andrews Sucks" was found in one of the corners, but some kid might find himself $20 richer!

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

(Follow Mitchell Blair on Twitter at @scruffyregina)

MODANO RETURNS TO MINNY

ST. PAUL - Mike Modano has decided to return to his NHL roots in Minnesota.

The Hall of Fame centre was named Thursday as the executive adviser to Wild owner Craig Leipold and president Matt Majka, a newly created position that Modano will assume on Sept. 1. Leipold and Modano often communicated by text message during Wild games this past season, sowing seeds for his hire.

Modano, who played the first four of his 21 NHL seasons with the North Stars before the franchise moved to Dallas in 1993, will focus on sales, corporate partnerships and community relations. Modano held a similar role from 2013-15 with the Stars, for whom he played 16 years and won the Stanley Cup with in 1999.

"I'm excited about it. I've been looking forward to this opportunity for a while,'' Modano said. "I needed a little space to get away. But the time has come. I've been itching to get back into it.''

Modano, a seven-time All-Star, had 561 goals and 813 assists in 1,499 career NHL games. He's a native of Livonia, Michigan. He currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with his wife and four children, but the family is planning to move to the Twin Cities area.

Though Modano's assignment with the Wild will be on the business side, Leipold said he'd be available to consult with general manager Paul Fenton as needed on hockey-related matters.

(Associated Press)