Friday, January 4, 2013
* The news that Craig Dickenson has resigned as Roughriders' special teams coordinator certainly knocked the CFL on its ear on Thursday. Having spoken to both sides, here's my assessment: the Riders needed Craig back earlier than what he'd planned/agreed upon. They couldn't find a compromise and there were other teams in the CFL willing to accomodate Dickenson's work commitments in Montana. Therefore, they parted ways on good terms. End of story. However to be clear, Craig did NOT want to leave Saskatchewan.
* One thing that's been refreshing is that it's been an off-season devoid of Darian Durant bashing. His line in the 2012 CFL Western Semifinal (24/37, 435 yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs) have kept the wolves at bay despite the Riders' 36-30 loss in Calgary. It's been nice not having to argue with people about his performance and capabilities.
* The same cannot be said for Tony Romo whose three interceptions in the Cowboys' must-win Week 17 game at Washington have cued calls for his head in Dallas. I've tried to be a fan of Tony's. It's tough.
* Congratulations! We've made it through one month of the off-season. Only five more to go.
* How's this for a slogan? 2013 - The Year Of The Rider
* There's no Rider talk in Moose Jaw. That's the report from CKRM football maven John Lynch who witnessed the Pats-Warriors game in Moose Jaw Saturday night. That's why the Riders used to party in the Band City back in the day; no one knew (or cared) who they were!
* A good source, a Canadian Football Hall of Famer, tells me Kent Austin is earning $600,000 per annum with the Tiger-Cats. That's what I'm going with until I hear otherwise. **UPDATE: The Ticats have since notified me that this rumour is "ridiculous". I'd guesstimate that 10% of what I hear on the street is actually true. This one falls in the 90%.**
* There have been some interesting prognostications from "experts" around here lately. Fortune-teller Robyn Carrissa told Global News to expect a quarterback change for the Riders in 2013. Meanwhile the famous Pig Spleen Prognosticator predicted above-average snowfall in January. I hope he sticks to the weather! In a 2008 WHL playoff series he predicted the Pats to beat Swift Current in a five-game first round series. The Broncos took it in six.
* Former Roughrider Luc Mullinder wed Mel Winter on New Years Eve in the final ever event at the Regina Inn. The next day six months of renovations began for the Regina hotel to become a DoubleTree by Hilton.
* Ironically that morning I had breakfast with the voice of the Winnipeg Jets Brian Munz in the Regina Inn coffee shop. The employees seemed a little disspirited with their situation.
* It's been a treat listening to Munz's Jets broadcast partner Shane Hnidy on TSN Radio's World Junior broadcasts alongside Dennis Beyak. Hnidy and I became close friends on the 1994-95 Prince Albert Raiders before he went on to carve out a nice 550 game NHL career. The last time I saw him was in the Bell Centre press box before a preseason game a few years ago. "Hnides" was a healthy scratch as a member of the Boston Bruins and it was great to catch up. He has a beautiful family and things could not have gone better for him.
* Also on Monday it was a treat to run into Hnidy's Raider teammate Jay Fitzpatrick while shopping at Walmart. After Fitzpatrick's hockey days he went on to become a roughstock rider in the rodeo and is now a director for the Canadian Finals Rodeo living in Wood Mountain, SK. Hockey, the ties that bind.
* Former Regina Pat Jordan Eberle tore up the Texas Stars on New Years Eve, scoring a natural hattrick in 2:43 of the first period of Oklahoma City's eventual victory over the Stars. An Oilers hockey operations employee told me this week that Eberle is learning how to play pro hockey and have fun at the same time while in the AHL. He said while Eberle was sensational in his first two years with the Oilers, he was still putting too much pressure on himself. He said once he starts to have fun on the ice, the sky's the limit for his abilities.
* The first two text messages I received when the clock struck midnight on New Years Eve were from Sportsnet broadcasters Andrew Walker and Sam Cosentino. We run in 2012 together at the WJHC in Edmonton 12 months ago. Here's a photo of the crew in the Scotiabank Saddledome a few days later while calling the Canada-Russia semifinal game:
* The best Canada can hope for at this year's WJHC in Russia is now a bronze medal. The gold medal drought now stretches back to 2009 in Ottawa. Cue the summit.
* Russia has made the bronze medal game despite the performance of forward Nail Yakupov. I didn't see the semifinal against Sweden but he was a liability in the quarterfinal against Switzerland. It was telling that he was on the bench with 1:36 to go, down a goal, with a faceoff in the offensive zone. It was also nice to see TSN's Ray Ferraro agree as he said "Yakupov's too busy trying to be THE guy rather than ONE of the guys." Perhaps his best is still yet to come.
* Would love to know what TSN's Gord Miller got to voice the play-by-play of that dugout shinny game in the Molson Canadian commercial.
* It's great to see the goal judges at the World Juniors wearing zebra officials jerseys. I say we do that in North America. Why not? It's not like they have an important role anymore with the addition of video replay.
* RUMOUR: Jeff Truitt will be the head coach of the Red Deer Rebels in 2013-14.
* It's an interesting conundrum for Regina Pats GM Chad Lang. His club is two points out of a playoff spot as they get set to host Medicine Hat tonight in the Brandt Centre at 7:00 pm (620 CKRM, Press Box Sports Bar Pregame Show at 6:35). The Tigers are the team which the Pats trail. Finally with a healthy lineup, the Pats look like they could do something in the second half however key 20-year olds Lane Scheidl, Colton Jobke and Matt Hewitt would likely fetch a lot before the January 10 trading deadline. What will he do? What should he do?
* Watching the 24/7 HBO special on the Flyers and Rangers made me realize there's one good thing about the NHL lockout; less John Tortorella.
* The 1995 NHL lockout created a career highlight for me. Kevin Dickie and I were fortunate enough to broadcast the NHLPA Charity Classic at Saskatchewan Place on Prince Albert's 900 CKBI radio. The roster included Ryan Smyth, Wendel Clark, Tim Cheveldae and Kelly Chase.
* Bumped into former Rider defensive tackle Marcus "Chunky" Adams in the Cornwall Centre this week. He scoffed at my phone saying "C'mon Rod, you're the only one in the world left with a BlackBerry!"
I say BlackBerry users unite!! You'll have to pry mine out of my cold, dead hands before I switch to an Iphone.
* Of COURSE NBC's Tony Dungy said Peyton Manning is this year's MVP of the NFL. They won a Super Bowl together!
* The SportsCage's Super Bowl pick: Denver.
* Ratings for Monday Night Football hit a four-year low in America this year. Their highest-rated game was a Week 4 match-up between Dallas and Chicago. That game drew 16.6-million viewers. America's Team indeed.
* Friday's Press Box Sports Bar lunch buffet lineup courtesy Chef Laura:
Honey Garlic Boneless Chicken Wings
Sausage and Sauerkraut
AND THAT'S IT FOR VACATION! SEE YOU IN THE CAGE ON MONDAY