WHAT A WEEKEND! LET'S DISCUSS...
1 - POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME: Sunday evening Regina was treated to a fantastic show by rock legends Def Leppard at the Brandt Centre. It certainly was a trip back in time. Tight jeans, leather jackets, teased hair. And that was just the guys! Proving once again that the Queen City certainly is an 80's rock town, Def Leppard played a soldout show which included 17 songs over 90 minutes and they left with a standing ovation. It definitely brought back memories of house parties, high school dances and the like. We were treated to club seats by Fraser Strategy and had a great time. Thanks Trent Fraser and Tony Playter for an enjoyable evening! And thanks to Ian Jewsbury for the photo.
|Devon White poses with fans at the Red Sox Dinner|
3 - ON ROUGHRIDERS: The calendar is about to flip to May and we're headed into the most agonizingly long month of the off-season. 2015 Roughrider training camp will begin on Sunday, May 31 in Saskatoon but that seems like a million miles away. The Rider coaches are enjoying their last few days off before reporting to Mosaic Stadium later this week to continue preparations for the upcoming season.
What's new with the Riders? Not much, it appears from the outside, although the football operations staff continues to evaluate the individual performances from the April minicamp in Florida and settling on their training camp roster.
The hot question continues to be: how will the Riders fare this year? The club is certainly optimistic, and eager to put the bitter 2014 season behind them. CFL observers have whispered that the Riders have questions at the quarterback position but I don't agree. Darian Durant says he's 100% and that's the biggest relief however if he goes down with injury again, the club moved swiftly to get a competent back-up in place with Kevin Glenn.
The release of Doege leaves the Riders with four quarterbacks: Durant, Glenn, Sunseri and newcomer Brett Smith. Many fans have asked the whereabouts of youngster Keith Price, who joined the club's practice roster late in the 2014 season. The Riders have told me that since Price ended the season on the PR, it means he technically isn't under contract but remains on their negotiation list. The release of Doege opened up the option of signing another quarterback before training camp and Price is a candidate for that spot.
The most-fascinating question I have is, if the quarterback trio coming out of training camp is Durant, Glenn and Sunseri, then who comes off the bench to replace Durant if and when the situation arises? Right now there is no answer for that, so it makes training camp and the preseason all the more interesting.
CFL on TSN analyst Paul Lapolice will join us on CKRM's Rider Monday in the SportsCage to breakdown the CFL's West Division going into 2015.
5 - UP IN FORT MAC: There's lots brewing in the Northern Alberta community of Fort McMurray these days. They are hosting the Junior A Western Canadian Challenge Cup to decide who moves onto the Royal Bank Cup in Portage, Manitoba. Our old buddy Curtis Hunt is the Coach & GM of the host Fort McMurray Oil Barons who are 1-1 so far after a 3-1 victory over Portage on Saturday and a 6-0 loss to the Penticton Vees on Sunday. There are generally two berths available in the RBC out of the WCCC but this year there are three since the Portage Terriers will host the RBC.
Meanwhile the community of 61,000 is buzzing over the CFL preseason game between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and host Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday, June 13 (8:00 pm kickoff). How many Rider fans will be making the trip up to SMS Equipment Stadium for the clash? Tickets are going for around $100. We can't wait to get there, and call all the action on 620 CKRM.
6 - SEASON TICKET CRUNCH: The Roughriders sent out a lengthy questionnaire to season ticket holders recently hoping to get a handle on fans' thoughts as they pertain to moving into Mosaic Stadium 2 in 2017. It's a highly-delicate matter because the club wants as little displacement as possible. I'm a season ticket holder but left Mrs. SportsCage to fill out the survey because she's the one who uses the tickets. Two of the most-important factors are: how important are sightlines to you versus staying amongst your section mates? Perhaps you can still have both. Honestly I wouldn't be as concerned about keeping the community around me together -- I watch Pats games from a different location each night -- but I know it's incredibly important to others. The social aspect of Rider games is huge.
Roughriders VP of Business Development Gregg Sauter will be on the SportsCage on Monday to answer your questions.
7 - AROUND THE CFL: The Calgary Stampeders held their annual minicamp at Bradenton, FL's IMG Academy over the weekend with little fanfare. Calgary is engulfed with Flames Fever right now and the city's football team was able to get their work in without any distractions ... One CFL type scoffed that the Riders were intent to pump information back to Regina about their camp but that actually wasn't the case. With the Roughriders being the biggest game in this province, they had no choice but to let the media in. Most other CFL teams don't draw the type of attention the Green & White does ... The Hamilton Tiger-Cats open their 2015 minicamp on Monday but aren't headed to any sunny locales. Coach & GM Kent Austin will put his troops through their paces at Hamilton's McMaster University this week and they're looking for a back-up quarterback for Zach Collaros after Dan Lefevour bolted to Montreal this winter ... The B.C. Lions will be holding an "offensive minicamp" at their facility in Surrey this week under new head coach Jeff Tedford. Did you forget the Lions hired Tedford? The West Division is shaping up to be tougher than normal in 2015 ... In Winnipeg, Investors Group Field continues to be a horror story. The CEO of the construction company which built the home of the Bombers - David LeMay of Stuart Olson Dominion - held a news conference on Friday at which he maintained his company stands behind its work and delivered the product which was ordered. Stuart Olson said in its statement of defence that stadium owner Triple B and the Manitoba government approved the design without regard for potential problems.
8 - VERY WINNIPEGISH: Over to hockey, and Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Kesler told the L.A. Times that the incessant booing and catcalling directed towards him by Jets fans in their opening round series only served to spur him on. "It energizes me. Obviously you hear it," Kesler told Helene Elliot of the Times. "Obviously I'm doing something right. I fed off it and it helped my game." If you're a Jets fan, that's an "ouch". They helped the other team!
9 - HAIL THE PENS: Which American NHL team draws the highest television ratings in its own market? That's right, the Pittsburgh Penguins for the sixth consecutive season. The Sports Business Journal published the study over the weekend and it appears the City of Pittsburgh has the biggest love affair with its team out of the 23 U.S. markets. Who has the worst TV ratings in its own town? The Florida Panthers, who finished 30th. The least-watched American team in the NHL's Western Conference are the Arizona Coyotes. Plenty of work to be done there. Ratings of Canadian NHL teams in their own markets weren't available.
10 - WHAT'S GOING ON IN EDMONTON?: It seems the teams that missed the NHL playoffs are the ones most in the news this spring. The Edmonton Oilers replaced Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish on Friday with Peter Chiarelli as GM and President of Hockey Operations however as one Oilers fan put it: they must have a huge office at Rexall Place because no one ever actually gets fired there!
Meanwhile the father of projected #1 pick Connor McDavid - Brian McDavid - came out in his son's defense in a column by Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun last week. (Why are they interviewing players' parents anyways? If it's not Walter Gretzky, I don't care to hear from them). Regardless, the elder McDavid explained why his son seemed so stunned at Edmonton winning the NHL's Draft Lottery last weekend. Brian McDavid said his son hadn't considered the thought of Edmonton going to to the Oilers because the odds were so stacked against them. However he said his son would be honoured and humbled at the opportunity to play in Oil Country.
Don't think for a second that the Oilers won't draft McDavid either by the way. Wayne Gretzky placed a call to Connor as did Jordan Eberle and a few other Oilers stars after the lottery. He can start getting used to blue and orange.
You also know it's absolutely eating Edmonton alive that the Calgary Flames have lapped them in terms of rebuilding, whatwith the Flames off to Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Oilers still spinning their wheels.
Meanwhile not everyone in Calgary has Flames Fever. My Facebook friend Tammy Bessette from the Stampede City wrote on Twitter over the weekend: "I dont think I've ever HATED the Calgary Flames as much as I do right now: Hoping for a nice Anaheim sweep in Round 2. Funniest part is the Dome has been 1/2 empty the past 4 seasons, now-suddenly- EVVVVERYBODY is a Flames fan.....Typical f'ing Calgary"
- And one last NHL note -- it was disturbing to read former NHL'er Mike Peluso's open letter in the Globe & Mail on Saturday in which he laid blame at the feet of trainers, coaches and management for the post-career physical issues he's battling. The Hibbing, Minnesota product played parts of 10 NHL seasons and won a Stanley Cup with New Jersey in 1995 however these days he's dealing with a variety of problems associated with his many concussions. The simple question I have for Peluso - as I have for all ex-athletes dealing with these problems - is: would you have done anything differently in your career? They invariably say "no". Peluso stated he was eager to play and would do anything it took to stay in the NHL. For him, that meant fighting.
THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY! THANKS FOR READING