Friday, February 15, 2013
By now you've also likely read Dan's impressive history with the Roughriders, having worked in the front office many years ago, volunteering his time on the Board of Directors and running the Plaza of Honor Dinner for almost 20 years. Having MC'd a half-a-dozen or so Plaza induction ceremonies, I don't have to tell you how closely I've worked with Dan over the years. As Rider President Jim Hopson said this week, Dan loved the Roughriders, loved life and most of all, loved his family. You never saw Danny without a smile on his face.
He was very much a behind-the-scenes type of guy, so much so that it was difficult to find a picture of him online to post to this website. Many, many people love the Saskatchewan Roughriders but how many have actually dedicated their life to the franchise? I can count on one hand how many have, and Dan Marce is one of them.
Marce had big plans for the 2013 Plaza of Honor and I've had a few meetings with him over the past couple of months to discuss them. He planned to radically change the program, which has been the same ever since I can remember. He mentioned that he'd like to have a rotation of Craig Adam and me as MC for the foreseeable future and to honour Dan's wishes, we will do just that.
There was supposed to be a Plaza committee meeting on Friday, but it has obviously been postponed. Speaking with the Roughriders about it this week, I mentioned some ways that Dan should/could be remembered and they thought it was a pretty good idea. When you come to Plaza this fall, hopefully those plans come to fruition.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around this tragic situation, and have been in contact with Dan's family throughout. They're great people.
The Rider Nation lost a huge, huge member this week and Dan Marce cannot be replaced.
- Today is a very big day on the CFL calendar. The free agent deadline hits at noon eastern time, or 11 am Saskatchewan time. It's a welcome change from the awkward time of midnight on February 15 from not too many years ago. We were never really sure if that meant 12:00 am on February 14th or the 15th. Now, there is no doubt.
- The Winnipeg Sun's Kirk Penton listed his top 10 CFL free agents and of those, the top three are BC lineman Jovan Olafoyie, SK defensive end Odell Willis and Montreal DB Dwight Anderson. I'd love to tell you who 4-through-10 are, but then I'd have to pay for a Winnipeg Sun subscription to find out.
- Vancouver radio station News 1130 reported that Olafoyie has assured the Lions he'll sign with them if he doesn't hook on with an NFL team (most likely Cleveland). That leaves Odell Willis as the #1 free agent on the market. Last Friday Odell tweeted "One more week" which was a rather ambiguous statement. Does it mean he's waiting to announce an NFL deal? A CFL deal? A new deal with the Riders? Only Odell knows but we'll likely find out Friday.
- The Saskatchewan Roughriders have six free agents as of today but the club told me each of them will be offered contracts. That includes receiver Jordan Sisco, a Regina product, whom I was led to believe hadn't been offered a new deal but apparently that situation has changed. I'm also told if Saskatchewan's offer is not satisfactory, Sisco hopes to hook on with another CFL team.
- Roughrider season tickets are on sale now. To date, they've sold 23,000 for the 2013 season and they plan to cap sales at 30,000 which is an all-time high. Purchasing a season ticket will allow you to also buy a Grey Cup ticket for the game November 24 at Mosaic Stadium.
- Hall of Fame football writer Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette reports the Alouettes have hired 52-year old Dan Hawkins as the successor to Marc Trestman as head coach. He's a highly successful NCAA coach with a career record of 121-61-1. Even Hawkins' Wikipedia page has been updated to reflect the fact he's been hired by Montreal.
- With Thursday's announcement that the Toronto Argonauts have extended the contract of GM Jim Barker, that absurd rumour that Eric Tillman would be named GM of the Argos went out the window. Where did that story come from anyways?
- A CFL personnel man told me this week "Tillman will be in Hamilton within the next year". That's not surprising giving Eric's close association with Ticats boss Kent Austin however he still has one more year to be paid out by the Edmonton Eskimos.
- One thing is certain; Eric Tillman doesn't have to worry where his next meal is coming from. You want to win? Hire Eric Tillman.
- Another popular rumour making the rounds is that Marcel Bellefeuille will be the first head coach of the new Ottawa CFL franchise. That would cue MASS chaos in their front office with a GM named Marcel (Desjardins) and a head coach named Marcel as well. I suspect they would go by "M.D." and "M.B.", should the rumour turn out to be true. Remember Bellefeuille is something of a football hero in Ottawa having led the GeeGee's to a Vanier Cup over a decade ago. He would be a solid choice and his bilingual background would be an added plus.
- Tip of the cap to long-time BC Lions public address announcer Bob Saye who announced this week he's stepping down after 19 seasons with the club. Bob's a popular radio morning man in Vancouver and regularly stopped by our broadcast booth before games to go over pronunciations of the Riders' names. Kennedy Nkeyasen was always Bob's kryptonite.
Farewell Bob! Hopefully you continue to stop by the booth before Riders-Lions games at BC Place.
- Star receiver Fred Stamps signed a contract extension with the Edmonton Eskimos this week. With a name like that, he has to play at least one season in Calgary before he hangs it up doesn't he?
- The 61st annual LIT (Luther Invitational Tournament) for senior boys basketball is on right now. What a fantastic event this is on Regina's sporting calendar! Their annual press conference is a must-attend for CKRM sports and it's definitely old school. They have a media relations committee made up of high school students who speak at the press conference along with all the coaches of the Regina teams involved, plus the President of Luther and the tournament organizer. And like the old school news conferences, cookies, dainties, tea, coffee and juice are served. Back in the day every news conference had that bonus.
- LIT is one of the things that makes Regina an unreal sports town but let's be honest, we need to upgrade our facilities. Mosaic Stadium is currently an embarrassment but thankfully that situation is being rectified. And then how long do we wait for an arena to replace the aging Brandt Centre? The facility looks great on the surface but it was unsightly to have to dodge 45-gallon barrels in the men's washroom at Tuesday's Pats game. They were put in place to catch the drips from the leaky ceiling. We have first-class fans in this town who deserve first class facilities.
- First-year University of Regina men's hockey coach Todd Johnson was a labelled as "a star" by an NHL scout recently. Johnson's Cougars open the CIS playoffs Friday night in Winnipeg in Game 1 of a best-of-three series with the Manitoba Bisons. The U of R is proud to say they have Johnson locked up to a long-term deal.
- Speaking of, new SportsCage co-host Rob "Sharky" Jamont announced on the show this week that Tiger Williams will be the keynote speaker at the Cougar men's hockey team fundraising dinner on April 25 at the Travelodge. Sharky will be the auctioneer and I'll be the MC. It's supposed to be a "Boys Night". Get your tickets at www.reginacougarhockeyalumni.com.
- Got my weekly Oilers update from that firefighter Jared in Gold's Gym on Thursday. He reports Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has no goals so far this season for Edmonton. When Jordan Eberle was in town in December he stated that the Nuge is more of a set-up man but I say even Wayne Gretzky was known to snipe every now and then.
- Is it just a coinky-dink that the NHL isn't publishing its attendance figures in game recaps at NHL.com? I was looking for the attendance at last night's Montreal-Florida game in Sunrise, FL and couldn't find it anywhere.
- Sun-Sentinel writer Harvey Failkov covered the game and said there was a sparse turnout at the game, which Montreal won 1-0 in overtime. He wrote that even though it was Valentine's Day, the Canadiens and Panthers acted like they were on a bad first date; "not much action and ending in heartbreak".
- How embarrassing; the NHL's Alexander Ovechkin and Kris Versteeg dropped the gloves and engaged in fisticuffs this week. They were assessed minor penalties.
- Accidental or not, Matt Cooke should have answered the bell with a fight this week after ending the season of Senators star Erik Karlsson.
- Heard TSN's Jay Onrait refer to Dallas Stars captain Brendan Morrow as a "Saskatchewan product" this week. More specifically he's from Carlyle, SK and I remember calling down to the Carlyle school for an interview with one of his teachers a few years ago. The trouble is, the person I spoke to had never heard of him! Isn't there a "Home of Brendan Morrow" sign down there?
- Question from Regina Pats great Dale Derkatch; if graphite golf clubs can take 10 strokes off your game, then why don't graphite hockey sticks lead to more goals? We couldn't come up with an answer.
- Heard a noble comment from a Pats season ticket holder this week when I asked him if he's going to renew his tickets in 2013-14. He said "These kids deserve someone in the stands to cheer for them, and I'll always be one of them." I've never heard that from a fan before, in a lifetime in sports.
- Saskatoon Blades play-by-play man Les Lazurak guaranteed the players he will shave his head if they finish in first-place in the WHL's East Division this year. The way the Blades are rolling, Les had better get the clippers ready.
- Great to see Prince Albert officials touring Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw this week to hopefully start the process to get a new arena built in that northern Saskatchewan town. PA's Art Hauser Centre, home of the WHL's Raiders, is the tiniest rink in the 60-team CHL. It would be a shame to see that wonderful facility go, but there's a lifespan for everything. But that building was built to last. And it's seen some INCREDIBLE hockey games over the years.
- After setting an NBA record with six straight games with 30 or more points this week, Miami Heat star Lebron James threw a used towel into the crowd. My question is, if you caught that towel, what would you
do with it?
- The L.A. Clippers pasted the L.A. Lakers 125-101 last night to claim the season series between the city rivals for the first time in 20 years.
- Scruffy asked on his blog recently who the most-famous guest we've ever had on the Sports Cage is? I would suggest it's Bill Pollian, who was President of the Indianapolis Colts at the time. We called down there for an update on John Chick and Jordan Sisco.
- What's with this new Linkedin.com social media thing? Seems like another pain in the butt to me.
- In the Monday Morning Goalie I asked for some help selling tables for an Evening In Greece and VIP sponsorships for the CIS Women's National Basketball Championship. No readers answered the bell but some long time friends and partners did. They are, so far: the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Pat Fiacco/Fortuna Restaurant, Prairie Mobile, Daytona Homes, the Press Box Sports Bar, John's Place and, I'm hoping, Al and Jared Dumba at Investors Group. Thanks a million guys!
- Today's Press Box Sports Bar weekly lunch buffet lineup from Chef Chris:
Spaghetti & Meatballs
11am - 2pm 909 Albert St. N.
THAT'S IT! SEE YOU IN THE CAGE FRIDAY AT 5PM ON 620 CKRM