Friday, December 21, 2012
• The news out of Riderville has slowed to a trickle although the team will have some player signings to announce before long.
• Of course there was sad news Thursday night with the passing of former Rider coach Eagle Keys at the age of 89. He passed away at his home in Burnaby. There will be no funeral as per his request. Thank you Eagle, for your service with the Riders and the CFL.
• Some of the biggest news in the CFL revolves around the vacant Roughrider offensive line coaching position. The front-runner is indeed Bob Wylie, who spent the 2009 season with the Riders before bolting to the NFL. However Wylie is biding his time being paid out for 2012 by the Oakland Raiders who fired him after the 2011 campaign. He will not make a decision until the New Year.
• The case of Kelly Bates is a curious one. I was told by the Riders they had asked for - and received - permission from the BC Lions to talk to their assistant coach. Heck, the Rider person who told me this even asked for Kelly's phone number. However when Vancouver radio station NEWS 1130 contacted Rider GM Brendan Taman to check if they'd asked for permission, he told them "sorta yes, sorta no".
Wally Buono is on his annual vacation to Hawaii but maintains he has not been contacted by the Riders nor has anyone on his staff. However I've spoken to BC and they don't think I've made any of this up. Like me, they are just wondering what is going on.
• In the end the Riders will likely hire Wylie however he didn't seem too enamoured with the CFL lifestyle during his first go-round here. He would often grumble about our commercial travel and the CFL's lax media policies when it comes to filming at practices (ask CBC's Glenn Reid). I remember on one flight some lady next to Wylie flipped out a boob and started breast-feeding. His response was, "I've never seen that in the NFL."
• Wylie was also particularly livid over the 13th Man incident in the 2009 Grey Cup. At the departure gate the next morning he was grumbling under his voice about how something like that could be allowed to happen. No one was happy about it, but he seemed the most upset.
• The other hot news is who will make up Kent Austin's staff in Hamilton. CKRM analyst John Lynch nailed Tommy Condell as the offensive coordinator and has predicted Greg Marshall will run the defence.
• Roughrider President Jim Hopson offered this Christmas greeting to the Rider Nation on the Sports Cage this week:
- "I'm excited. I can't ask anymore of the Rider Nation. They're tremendous. They're unbelievable in the support they give us an not just the tickets and the merchandise and all that. That goes without saying. But just the love they show for the team and the way they interact with the guys. And we're hearing that more and more.
"Mike Sinclair said he wanted to coach here to coach with Corey but also to be in a place where football matters and we're hearing that more and more when we talk to players and coaches. If you want to play football where it counts, this is the place to be and I think that's pretty special."
• Rider coach Corey Chamblin offered a Christmas greeting to you the fans as well but it was short and sweet: "We still love you and you should still love us. Happy Holidays."
• Here's an interesting snippet from Steve Milton's Hamilton Spectator column this week. He's the one who nailed the Austin hiring:
"Anyone else out there been thinking about the Little General this week?
The hiring of Austin, his eagerness to return to southern Ontario, his family's affinity for Canada and his umbilical connection to Regina are all reminiscent of the late Ron Lancaster. Both quarterbacks, despite leaving the flatlands for larger opportunities, are still gods in Saskatchewan, although that doesn't mean Austin won't hear about it when he returns to Regina with the Cats this year.
And, with both men eventually getting the coaching and GM jobs in Hamilton, it's a reminder that, for most CFL fans who live outside the two areas, if the Roughriders aren't their second-favourite team, the Ticats are."
• Is Hamilton's Bob Young the only owner in pro sports who insists on wearing a ball cap for all public appearances? I can't think of any others.
• Happy belated 29th birthday to former Rider Andy Fantuz who celebrated on Tuesday.
• The Blue Jays should send a Thank You card to the NHL for the lockout. They're leading sportscasts across the nation and are front-page news after the Miami trade and the signing of R.A. Dickey. Might have to become a Jays fan again! It's been tough since they haven't been in the playoffs in 20 years.
• The Blue Jays favourites to win the World Series in 2013 and the Vegas oddsmarkers have that at 8/1 favourites. The Dodgers and Angels are next at 17/2.
• A discussion around the table at Chilis the other day: Do the owners and players know, or care, about the horrific damage they're inflicting upon their league and themselves? Some guys said yes while some guys said no. I say they don't.
• Speaking of Chilis, what ever happened to former TSN Edmonton reporter Ken Chillibeck?
• Ran into Rob Sillinger at Tim Horton's this week. He's a Regina Rams great and older brother of long-time NHLer Mike Sillinger. He's trying to get into soccer to fill his time as a sports fan during the lockout.
• I take back what I said about empty seats on WHL telecasts. What the heck is going on in Abbottsford? I watched the Texas/Abbottsford game on Sportsnet and there were empty SECTIONS at that game. Gosh how much longer can that go on?
• I saw this strange thing in the game where two players dropped their gloves, took off their helmets and engaged in fisticuffs. I think they called it a fight! The Heat guy won.
• Had to feel for Sportsnet's Roger Millions having to interview Texas Stars coach Willie Desjardins on live TV. He hasn't changed from his WHL days in Saskatoon and Medicine Hat. Willie's motto must be: Why use five words when one will do? Oh well they didn't hire him because of his interviewing skills but he makes Kris Sweet look like Jerry Seinfeld.
• Don't know who won that Abbottsford/Texas game because my PVR ran out at the end of regulation and they went to extra time. However I learned a ton about the AHL and the league's website (www.theahl.com) got a great plug. I learned a lot there too including this:
- "On Saturday night in Oklahoma City, Jordan Eberle's four goals and one assist led the Oklahoma City Barons to a 5-3 win over San Antonio. The five-point night helped Eberle finish the week with a league-best 19 goals, and tied with teammate Justin Schultz for the AHL scoring lead with 38 points.
It was the first professional hat trick for Eberle, who has five multiple-goal games in 2012-13 and now has 28-33-61 in 46 career AHL contests. Eberle was the third Barons skater to score at least four goals in a game; Linus Omark scored five times vs. Toronto on Nov. 7, 2010, and Colin McDonald had a four-goal night against the Rampage on Apr. 8, 2011."
• What's fueling my passion for pro hockey during the lockout? The AHL.
• Texted congrats to Eberle for being named Canada's greatest World Junior ever. His response was "Yah I heard. Pretty cool."
• One thing I took away from my face-to-face chat with Eberle two weeks ago was his comment that if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can make it in the NHL (size), Jordan Weal can. The older Jordan has always been a staunch supporter of the younger Jordan.
• I have now watched the HBO documentary NAMATH three times and will be going back for more. The man is absolutely fascinating. The man is the same age as my Mom but he's still a Rockstar. He won a Super Bowl in 1969 nut STILL has over 58,000 followers on Twitter!
It was hilarious following his Twitter feed while his New York Jets were circling the toilet bowl on Monday Night Football. Don't count Namath as a fan of Rex Ryan nor Mark Sanchez.
• The documentary airs Saturday morning at 7:00 am on HBO.
• I feel dirty and ashamed that I read less magazines and books and more Twitter and Facebook. *shudder*
• Joe Namath's Twitter handle is @RealJoeNamath.
• This blogger gives two thumbs-up to the Dixie Chicks being named Saturday night replacements for Lady Antebellum at Craven 2013. I can't believe there was some backlash to this.
• The Harlem Globetrotters will be playing at Spectra Place in Estevan on Sunday, January 6 at 2 pm. GO! Just don't bet on the opposition.
THAT'S ALL! MERRY CHRISTMAS!