Monday, December 10, 2012
THE MONDAY MORNING GOALIE
* It was a Sunday afternoon with nothing better to do. After setting up the Christmas tree and finding myself with a few free hours, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go watch the Pats host the Blades Sunday afternoon at the Brandt Centre. Although the Cowboys were taking on the Bengals in an emotional game, it was a slam-dunk to go watch the Pats for a lot of reasons:
1) to support my old team, coach Pat Conacher and GM Chad Lang and the kids who now wear the Red, White and Blue,
2) I wanted to see firsthand what's going on with this hockey club so I can speak and write about it with some knowledge in the week ahead,
3) I knew my Dad was going to be there and this was a great opportunity to sit with him and also with long-time friend Al Dumba,
4) It was Teddy Bear Toss Day which is always fun and brings out a lot of fans. I figured it would make a great picture for the blog once the Pats scored.
* Unfortunately things didn't go so well. The highlight of the day was the Tim Horton's longjohn and coffee in the media/scouts room before the contest. One day after being pelted 9-0 by the Blades in Saskatoon, the onslaught continued. Saskatoon led 3-0 after one and 6-0 after two periods and the only thing left to wonder was if the Pats were even going to be able to score a goal so the fans could throw their stuffed animals on the ice. They didn't, as the Pats succumbed 7-0 and fans were left to toss their bears on the ice at the game's conclusion.
* The Pats' winless skid has hit seven games and they've sunk into the division basement beside the Brandon Wheat Kings. How did that happen to Brandon anyways?
Regardless, as I predicted in Friday's column, the Pats are in the firing line because football is done and there's nothing else going on in this town for now or the foreseeable future. The combination of the two Saskatoon game stories have drawn a combination of 48 comments in the comments section and very few of them are good. I was afraid this would happen.
Many have wondered why so many of the comments were deleted by yours truly. A close friend of mine said that makes me look bad. Well, I'm not concerned with how I look. There were some personal swipes against people in there and that just can't be allowed to go on. Besides, things are hard enough on the Regina Pats right now without having to deal with that. The Riders deal with this type of stuff all the time after losses but I guess that's the difference between pro and junior. I once asked the Riders if they have a problem with what's said in the comments section on this website and they said "No, we're just concerned with what you say".
* During this particular winless stretch we've heard a lot about injuries. We've also heard that injuries are no excuse. However as I look down the roster, the Pats are severely hamstrung by who's not in the lineup right now. Defenceman Colton Jobke would provide a puck-moving blueliner who could get the puck out of Regina's zone and quarterback the powerplay. He's out. Forward Chandler Stephenson can do great work in the corners in the offensive zone and chip in, likely, with a point a game. He's out. Forward Dyson Stevenson provides a ton of sandpiper, some offence on occasion, and wouldn't allow the much-bigger Blades to push his teammates around. He's also out. Those are just three of the seven players who were scratched for Sunday's game.
* The Pats were outshot 44-22 and I overheard someone say 'You can't score if you don't get shots on net'. Well that's true, but the Pats struggled to get across the opposition blue line let alone get a shot on goal. I read in the newspaper where coach Conacher said they're going through some hard times right now. They certainly are! Hopefully they get some of these players back soon before it's too late. On Friday I wrote that the club was two points out of a playoff spot. This morning they are now five points back. I've always said mid-December is when the wheat seperates from the chaff. I'm sure the Pats are just desperate to get to the Christmas break to re-evaluate but they've got plenty of games left including a trip through the Central Division.
* Forward Trent Ouellette is a great Pat. He dropped the gloves and squared off with Duncan Siemens who was taking liberties in the second period. Ouellette did okay, but it showed guts. I went to search him out on Twitter and tell him how impressed I was but was informed he's not on Twitter. He's old school.
* God bless fans. Some kid yelled at Saskatoon's Andrey Makarov, "Hey goalie! You suck!" Makarov was putting the finishing touches on back-to-back shutouts before heading to Russia today for the World Juniors.
* When the Blades scored to make it 5-0 and Matt Hewitt was pulled, my stomach turned. I don't even know why. I can't imagine how those within the organization with a vested interest actually feel. At 6-0, I left. Had to pick up the family for a 4:00 engagement, but it ended up that I didn't miss any goals.
* The Pats host the P.A. Raiders on Thirsty Thursday which features 20 oz beers for $8. The Molson Christmas party will be held at the Pats game and yours truly will be there with another report.
ON TO HAPPIER TOPICS
* Here are some shots from the Roughrider autograph signings on Saturday:
Star receivers Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf at the Harbour Landing Rider Store...
Keith Shologan and Brendon Labatte at the Mosaic Stadium Rider Store in front of CKRM's Colin Lovequist and My 92.1 FM's Matt James....
* We learned last night courtesy Jason Gregor's Edmonton Journal article that Rider assistant GM Jeremy O'Day is on the shortlist for the GM job with the Edmonton Eskimos. Also on that list are current Eskimo employees Kavis Reed and Ed Hervey. Say it ain't so J.O.! I discussed this with Scott Schultz last night and it was news to him. Jeremy's going to make an ideal CFL GM one day because he possesses all the necessary qualities but hopefully (for our sake) it's not now. Heck, Jeremy would make an ideal international spy. You could pull his fingernails out and he still wouldn't give up the intel.
My thoughts are that Jeremy is just going through the process because, to my knowledge, this is the first GM's job for which he's applied but who knows? Perhaps he's willing to uproot his family of five and head to the City of Champions. Like I said they can do far worse, but I'd be stunned if they look outside the organization. My guess is Ed Hervey will get the job but I've been wrong countless times.
* Looking at that picture of Weston Dressler, it's a shame that he was voted one of the worst quotes in the CFL. He's just painfully shy and I doubt it's something he'll ever get over. With the Regina media he's a regular Chatty Cathy but he's much more guarded with those from outside the 306.
* Speaking of quiet people who have come out of their shell, former Roughrider John Chick of the Jacksonville Jaguars has won the team's Ed Block Courage Award and he will go up against 31 other NFLers from each team at the annual Ed Block Courage Awards Dinner in Baltimore. It's for John's perserverance in coming back from a devastating knee injury which occurred on Monday Night Football exactly 51 weeks ago.
* We've got a long, cold off-season in front of us but it's fun to take a look at what's ahead for the Roughriders in 2013. The Winnipeg Sun's Kirk Penton provided a thumbnail sketch of each CFL team's wants and needs on the weekend and this is what he said about the Riders:
"The Riders in 2013 will attempt to become the third straight team to win the Grey Cup at home, but they have a few holes in their roster they need to patch up.
"The main area of the squad that needs improvement is at receiver, where Weston Dressler, by the end of the season, had become the only go-to guy. The team can't rely on slotback Rob Bagg, who missed all but three games the last two seasons due to knee injuries, and its import receiving talent needs an upgrade.
"The defence was solid last season, but not without fault when you consider the team finished with an 8-10 record."
* Saturday night was our Harvard Broadcasting Christmas party at the Regina Inn and as usual, I spent a good deal of time chatting with our boss, Paul Hill. Unfortunately I forgot to ask him about the status of our new stadium because we spent most of the visit comparing notes on Cowboys Stadium. I had heard construction on our new facility was slated to begin in the spring and then I heard it will actually begin next fall. Somebody also suggested it would be nice to have something done before the 2013 Grey Cup so out-of-town visitors could see there's actually something going on.
* At my urging, My 92.1 FM announcer Matt James jumped on-stage and did about 10 minutes of stand-up comedy and he knocked it out of the park! He performs on occasion on Saturday nights at the Comedy Grind on Dewdney.
* Former Roughrider Ass't GM Dan Rambo has pulled his name out of the running for the CFL's Ottawa General Manager's position. He told the Ottawa Sun he's content doing what he's doing which is selling the scouting software packages which he developed.
* Ottawa CFL team part-owner and frontman Jeff Hunt told the Ottawa Sun that as of last week, his list of candidates for the GM position is at 38. I'm told that the list is underwhelming. Hunt hopes to name his GM in February.
* From the column of the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons, who I just can't get enough of: "People like to point to the Argos' Grey Cup win and complain 'it's only an eight-team league' forgetting that most of the Maple Leafs' Stanley Cups came in an NHL that was a six-team league."
* Argos play-by-play man Mike Hogan of TSN 1050 Toronto wrote on Twitter that he'd be honoured to accept a Grey Cup ring to symbolize his team's 2012 CFL championship. I guess he would! Since David Braley is the Argos' owner, but also owns the B.C. Lions, it's likely Mike will get a ring since Lions broadcasters Rick Ball and Giulio Caravatta were bestowed the honour in 2006 and 2011. You can say a lot about Mr. Braley but you can't say he isn't generous. There are other teams in the league which don't give their broadcasters rings but B.C. and Toronto aren't one of them.
* I've got to find a place to sneak the bad news in here somewhere so here goes: three NHL people have told me in the last couple of weeks that they expect this lockout to go two seasons. The third was an NHL scout at Sunday's Pats game.
* Please vote on the fictitious Leo Cahill Award for CFL GM of the Year which we instituted last year. The Titan Auto Poll is on the upper left side of this web page. Or should we call it the Ken Preston Award? Looking back at Cahill's record, Preston won more Grey Cups than Leo.
* Mitchell "Scruffy" Blair starts on 620 CKRM this afternoon, on an interim basis, reading afternoon news and sports. Regular news reader Kali Bourhis's last day was Friday. Hopefully this turns into full-time and permanent!
* Happy belated birthday to Rider alum #31 Sean Lucas who celebrated on Saturday. He's engaged and living in Atlanta. Miss that guy.
* It would be great if the Riders brought in 13-year old Alesandra Behr for a ceremonial kickoff at a game next year. She's the Calgary girl who wasn't allowed into a Stampeders pep rally at her school because she was wearing a Rider jersey. Wouldn't that be a great promotion?? The 90's were so great when the Riders were struggling for ticket sales so they did things like that all the time. Among those who performed ceremonial kickoffs were Marty York and Dick Assman.
* Speaking of "great promotions" the NBA's Phoenix Suns held Guaranteed Win Night last week where fans would get a free ticket to an upcoming game if the Suns couldn't fulfull their promise. They wound up losing 97-94 to the Dallas Mavericks. The first time I ever heard of this promotion was with the Regina Pats when Kevin Gallant was marketing the team. To my knowledge, the team always won.
* New Regina Thunder coach Scott MacAuley was in Montreal last week when the team announced his hiring. I've had plenty of prospective assistant coaches inquire about getting in touch with Scott to join his staff. Now that he's back from Montreal from a business trip, Scott says he'll get down to work on naming his staff.
* No lunch plans? Hit up the Press Box Sports Bar for their All-You-Can-Eat Soup & Salad deal for $7.99 or check out Monday Night Football (Houston at New England in a marquee battle) and enjoy a full rib dinner for just $7.99! Kickoff is at 7:30.
SEE YOU IN THE CAGE AT 5:00 FOR A RIDER MONDAY!