Friday, March 2, 2012
It's our weekly collection of sports notes and quotes. The football followers may as well stop reading right here. It's pretty much all hockey from here on in:
* Fighting isn't going away without a fight! I read with great concern this week the quotes from CHL President David Branch and Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson about eliminating fighting from major junior and amateur hockey. Nicholson said they can't get rid of it fast enough. These two guys are in the top five most-powerful men in hockey and if they want to see fighting go the way of the dodo, they certainly have the power to get it done. However they're wrong. And if they get their way, this game will soon teeter on extinction as well. Fortunately, several of us on the other side of the argument aren't willing to give up quite so easily.
* This stems from last summer, the most tragic summer in the history of hockey, which was marred by the deaths of NHL fighters Rick Rypien, Derek Boogaard and Wade Belak. All three of them were friends of this blogger/broadcaster. The hockey big shots think fighting is the reason these guys died, however they're wrong there too. For instance, in the case of Rick Rypien, his depression wasn't caused by hockey or anything surrounding the game at all. It's truly ironic that these players' deaths could possibly lead to the end of fighting in hockey, yet none of the three of them would have made it in the NHL if it wasn't for their ability to fight. True story.
* Regina's Jamie Heward, a veteran of 394 NHL games, was on CBC Radio on Thursday discussing this very topic. Heward's career was ended by a concussion. In fact, it was ended on a hit-from-behind by Alexander Ovechkin. However as Jamie pointed out, he'd only been in 10 fights in his life. FIGHTING DIDN'T END HIS CAREER! A cheapshot did. And if these guys eliminate fighting, the cheapshots are going to escalate dramatically. I have to think Branch and Nicholson know this, don't they??
* Last year I said at this time hockey was broken and I was scorned. Scoffed hat. Well, I'm sorry to say, I was right. And now the bigheads are going to tinker and screw with it even more to the point where it may never be fixed. Let me ask you this: how much have the NFL, MLB and NBA changed over the years? Hardly at all. But ask yourself how much the NHL has changed in the past 20 years? It's barely recognizable except for the pucks.
* And thank God people in hockey are speaking out against Branch and Nicholson's agenda. Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic told the Vancouver Province this week "I'm totally against it. I think there will be more injuries because there'd be no fear of fighting. The game will become dirtier. And, for myself, I don't think I could have made the NHL the way I did without it."
* Former WHL enforcer Brett Breitkreuz from Springside, SK is playing in Europe this winter but has been following this situation closely. Brett wrote on Twitter this week: "Enough of this no more fighting in hockey BS! Make the ice bigger and the concussions would be cut in half without changing one other rule."
* If Branch and Nicholson have their way, a player's first fight would come once he made the NHL. This is so senseless it makes you want to cry.
* And now for Saskatoon. Come on you guys, you're like an unruly teenager. Just when we got after you for your last caper, you go out and pull another boner. Mitchell Blair alerted me yesterday to Bob McKenzie's TSN report that representatives from Saskatoon have approached the NHL about franchise relocation. My immediate reaction? Uproarius laughter. It's not that I'm NOT in favour of the NHL in Saskatoon. I am. However I didn't see it going down this way. I thought the NHL, 10 years from now, would finally have its act together and will have relocated its struggling teams to suitable markets but were looking for just one more hockey-mad city to situate a team. That's when the NHL would contact Saskatoon. Not the other way around.
* This is like when Katy Perry and Russell Brand divorced. It would be like me calling Katy Perry's publicist and saying "Can you tell Katy that I'm available?". I can hear it now: "Don't call us, we'll call you." The same thing applies here.
* First a CFL team and now an NHL team. What's wrong with you Saskatoon? When the Saskatoon Blades average more than 5000 fans per game, then let's talk. Sheesh, you only cheer for the Saskatchewan Roughriders when they're winning! Otherwise it's the Regina Roughriders.
* Look, as I said, I'm all for the NHL in Saskatoon. There would be nothing better. But there's been something sticking in my craw about Saskatoon which goes back exactly one month. At the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame fundraising dinner, CFL legend Henry "Gizmo" Williams said something to the effect of "You guys are the best fans in the CFL and you deserve a brand new, indoor facility here! What do you think?". The place immediately erupted in robust applause. Except, I might add, for a table of Saskatoon delegates who refused to clap their hands and stared at the floor. They're against our new stadium. At a banquet in Saskatoon two years ago I asked the crowd how many were in favour of a new stadium for the Roughriders and about 25% of the crowd put up their hand. Here's the point: when you get on board with our new stadium and can the anti-Regina crap, and then we'll support your NHL dream.
Until then, get your head out of the clouds.
* Great story in the Edmonton Journal this week about Strasbourg, Saskatchewan's Nick Schultz choosing number-15 with the Edmonton Oilers in honour of Regina Pats coach Pat Conacher. Schultz was traded from Minnesota to Edmonton on Monday. "I looked back at the guys in Oilers' history who'd worn 15 and there was Pat Conacher," Schultz told the Journal. "Before the NHL draft, Pat was part of recruiting me for (agent) Mike Barnett. Pat's been a good influence on me ... he actually took the Pats out to my hometown in Strasbourg for a practice."
In the words of legendary Yankees announcer Mel Allen, "How 'bout that?"
* The Regina Pats play two home games this weekend, Saturday against Brandon and Sunday against the P.A. Raiders. Both are evening games. Please plan to attend.
* I'll ask for your help with the Pats year-end awards right now. Who are your top two votes for the following year-end awards: MVP, Top Defenceman, Top Rookie, Unsung Hero and Most Sportsmanlike Player?
* Like we really need two votes for MVP.
* It's time to bring back the Regina Pats year-end awards banquet. Why did it ever become extinct? As a kid I'll never forget going to the basement of the Travelodge or over to Queensbury to watch the awards with my Dad and hearing the speeches from Doug Sauter, Dennis Sobchuck and the like. It was always a magical evening. I'd even MC it if they'd let me.
* Once the Pats have clinched a playoff spot, they need a theme. I see the Phoenix Coyotes are doing it already with their "March To The Whiteout" campaign which began way back in Winnipeg with the old WHITEOUT promotion. The Pats should get all their fans to come in blue. Has anyone done that before? The Blue Wave. I can see it now.
* Nice to see the Pats are playing Fluxland when the team comes on the ice again. It's our theme music for the Pats on the Sports Cage.
* First-year Warriors coach Mike Stothers is on the verge of some impressive company. CTV Regina's Chris Hodges tweeted this week: "One more victory and Mike Stothers becomes the 4th MJ head coach to guide the Warriors to a 40-win WHL season - (Hunt, Young, Hunchak)"
* U of R Cougar womens basketball coach Dave Taylor was listening to the Sports Cage last night when I apologized for having to miss their Final Four playoff games this weekend at the Cookhouse. Friday night our girls are playing their final game of the season at Sheldon Williams Collegiate and Saturday night I'll be watching Jay Onrait at the Regina Rams dinner. Taylor replied on Twitter "No Pedersen jinx in the gym this weekend. Whew." In the words of Bob Hughes, Y'er welcome.
* As I write this, the podcast of that Onrait interview on the Sports Cage has experience 1941 downloads from this blog. People in internet and radio reading this will understand this is a mind-boggling number for a local Regina radio show. Staggering.
* There's something eerily creepy about the phrase "The Cialis Highlight of the Night".
* Hate when hockey announcers say "He beat the goalie but couldn't beat the post". No, he didn't beat the goalie. Did he score? No. The post is part of the equipment.
* Another pet peeve: young broadcasters who take to Twitter and Facebook to complain about their shift or their hours. I see it all the time. Look, for some reason someone saw fit to give you the job. If you don't want it, get the hell out of the way so someone who really wants the job can have it. Quit, or pipe down. In 2009 I had five days off over the course of 10 months. Guess who cared? Nobody.
* Let me say ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd is the best sports talk radio host on the planet. I mean, for a guy to sit in a studio for three hours and basically talk the WHOLE time and not get boring, well that's simply amazing. I can't do that. I simply am too laid-back and don't have enough strong opinions (except for today). But Cowherd out-did himself this week when the Pittsburgh Steelers cut franchise receiving-leader Hines Ward. Cowherd called up a Steelers fan message board and read on air some of the idiotic comments from the posters. And named them. Then he said "Steelers fans, just shut-up and stop embarrassing yourselves". I think we will be doing that this summer regarding Rider fans on the forums.
* I will likely never have an Iphone. I need tools. Not toys.
* God I miss Buffet Village.
* Some Show Your Rider Pride photos in the blog mailbag (firstname.lastname@example.org):
My brother took these photos of his new son, Kyler Fox. Thought you might be able to squeeze one of them into your blog sometime! I think they are pretty cute, but of course, I’m biased as his Auntie!!!
Hey Rod, We're having some weird weather in SoCal...Cameron took the opportunity to make a Rider snowman! Hope this message finds you well!
* Here's a poster for an upcoming sports dinner you may be interested in attending:
* I got more but I'll save it for the Monday Morning Goalie. Here's the Press Box Sports Bar Friday lunch buffet menu courtesy Chef Trent, who the ladies really like:
Mashed Potatoes and gravy
Honey Garlic Wings
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!!