GLENDALE, AZ -- Just a quick MMG today because it's been a long Sunday. We're in Arizona for Tuesday's Riderville Tour Party hosted by the Arizona Coyotes at their Tuesday home game against the Anaheim Ducks. Tons of Rider fans have already poured into the Phoenix area to get ready to celebrate the Rider Nation in the Valley of the Sun.
Tickets are still available at www.arizonacoyotes.com/riderville. Just enter the promo code RIDERS to get discounted seats and to sit with fellow Rider fans! Be sure to look us up if you're coming...
The Whiskey Rose restaurant & bar will host a special Roughrider tailgate party on Tuesday beginning at 4:00 pm. The honoured guest will be Riders' slotback Chris Getzlaf who's made the trek in from Anaheim for the festivities. There will be lots of giveaways from the Roughriders at Tuesday's party, and the Whiskey Rose will be decked out in Green & White.
My attorney William Howe of Regina. We always travel together and Sunday we arrived early at the Westgate Plaza to check things out...
We're the Land of Living Skies but Phoenix isn't too shabby either! Here's a shot of the beautiful countryside before the sun went down...
1 - If you're dying for Roughrider talk, we've got you covered in the SportsCage this week. We'll be broadcasting live on 620 CKRM from the Whiskey Rose on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with several Rider guests. On Monday, our featured guest will be Roughriders President Craig Reynolds who will join us from Regina on his first official day on the job.
We also plan to be joined by Coyotes personalities such as head coach Dave Tippett, goalie coach Sean Burke and team President Anthony Leblanc. Sports personalities such as Darcy Hordichuk, Brad Elberg and Rob Pederson will be dropping by the show as well. Don't miss it!
2 - For those Rider Priders coming to the game, if you have already pre-determined you're cheering for the Ducks that's great. If you plan on cheering for the Coyotes, that's even better! And if you're on the fence, we urge you to root for the Coyotes and buy lots of merchandise as well. They've been nice enough to open their doors to us and couldn't be more accomodating.
We ran into several Rider fans on the flight on the way down, and they're stoked for the event. The plan wasn't for Rider fans to come down to Phoenix from Canada -- it was more for Roughrider fans in the Phoenix area to come out and celebrate the team but it's become a perfect storm. There will be plenty of photos published on the blog afterwards...
3 - From time-to-time it's nice to get out of the epicentre of Rider Nation - Regina - and visit with Rider fans across the continent. It seems the further out you go, the more optimistic fans are about the club. One elderly gentleman from Victoria, who was raised in Regina, has been gone from Saskatchewan for over 30 years but still follows the club closely. "I feel very positive about the season!" the guy said on the flight. "It seems like they've signed all the right guys!" We like the positivity, and concur.
4 - The question is already coming up daily: "How's Durant's elbow?" The last time I saw the Roughriders' quarterback - about a month ago - was in the Rider locker room and he smiled and said, "The arm feels great!" I can't imagine how tired he is of fielding that question but it's understandable. For now, I'm going with that and expect him to be 100% come training camp in June. I don't plan to get into a daily Durant Watch in March.
5 - There's another Regina flavour to this trip. Queen City product Dustin Molleken is the starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians in their Cactus League game Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds here in Phoenix. Dustin's father Doug will be in attendance, as will we. Dusty's pumped to have some guys from his hometown in attendance to cheer him on and I hope it gives him a boost.
6 - A Roughrider coach is looking on Kijiji for accomodations for he and his fiance for the 2015 season. I just saw the ad, but don't know who the coach is. He's offering $750/month. Do you have a spare room to rent? Let us know in the comments section.
7 - Discouraging news coming out of Hamilton this week that CFL legend Angelo Mosca is battling Alzheimers. He was diagnosed with the horrible disease two weeks after this 78th birthday. There's extensive coverage of Angie's battle on the Drew Edwards' Scratching Post blog which you can find in the links on the left of this page.
8 - There will not be much Brier coverage down here in Phoenix but there were EIGHT pages of coverage in Sunday's Calgary Sun. Frankly since Saskatchewan's Brier drought is at 34 years, I've lost faith in our province's ability to bring it home and am following the bonspiel only casually. However if anyone can win it, it's Steven Laycock's Saskatoon rink. Interestingly the oldest skip at the Brier is Alberta's Kevin Koe at age 40. The average age of the skips in Calgary is 32.5.
9 - Has Toronto's Tyler Bozak been traded yet? Aside from its curling coverage, the Calgary Sun was packed full of NHL trade speculation on Sunday and they surmise Bozak - a Regina product - will be on the move. Columnist Mike Zeisberger writes that the Leafs aren't pleased with Bozak's "regression" nor his "attitude off the ice". When did this become a problem with Tyler?
Sadly the Arizona Coyotes dealt off some of their stars this weekend with Antoine Vermette going to Chicago and Keith Yandle going to the New York Rangers. Skilled forwards Hanzel and Boedker are done for the season so you'll have to punch me in the nose to see some stars at Tuesday's game. However the Coyotes' lone NHL All-Star, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, will suit up.
Interesting factoid with the Flames: they have three defencemen with 10 or more goals (T.J. Brodie, Dennis Wideman and Mark Giordano) for the first time since 1985-86 (Suter, MacInnis and Macoun).
10 - Congratulations to the Regina Pats for clinching a playoff berth with Sunday's 6-2 rout of the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Brandt Centre! It's too bad we had to miss it. The Pats now head out for five straight on the road beginning Friday at Edmonton. But it's a tremendous feeling to know there will be playoff hockey in the Brandt Centre for a second straight year. Our SportsCage shows will be electric from the rink on those nights.
Meanwhile I see elsewhere in the Regina media that there's a movement afoot to retire more numbers by the club. The names of Jock Callander and Rick Rypien have been mentioned. Perhaps they're worthy, but I hope the Pats cool it with retiring jerseys for the next several years. Honouring players would be one thing but when you have to use numbers like 63 (Jesse Gabrielle) and 68 (Pavel Padakin), you start to realize they're running out of numbers.
THAT'S IT! TALK TO YOU MONDAY IN THE CAGE