Friday, February 22, 2013
* Getting that itch for Roughrider football? I don't blame you. These off-season days are going by more slowly than ever, it seems. For a great football fix, please come on out to Gull Lake, Saskatchewan (the home of Roger Aldag) for their Sportsman Dinner & Auction on Saturday, March 9. Weston Dressler, Scott Schultz and I will be there telling Rider stories and 800 CHAB Moose Jaw's Craig Hemmingway will be the emcee! All proceeds go to the Lyceum Theatre. Here's the poster for the event:
* Country star Eric Church is in town for a sold out show at the Brandt Centre. I'm hoping his last song will be "Springsteen", but it will likely be "Drink In My Hand". Either way, the Dome will be Can't wait...
* The 2013 Canadian Football Hall of Fame induction class was announced on Thursday and there wasn't a Roughrider in the bunch. That's too bad but after we put out a call for Rider nominations on the Sports Cage Wednesday night, the list of names wasn't very long. Amongst the players who came up were Eddie Davis, Eddie Lowe and Dan Rashovich. Chris Szarka, Scott Schultz and Gene Makowsky were nominated as well, but of that group only Schultz is elligible and none are even in the Riders' Plaza of Honour yet. Once elligible, Gene Makowsky and Jason Clermont are slam dunks for the CFHOF. What about Schultz?
* One listener wondered why Kent Austin isn't in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame yet and it's a splendid question. He owns three Grey Cup rings and frankly, while we think of him as "our Kent Austin", he belongs to the entire CFL since his stops include Saskatchewan, B.C., Toronto (twice), Winnipeg, Ottawa and now Hamilton. Anyways, put him in the Hall!
However with that resume, one wonders for long he'll be in Hamilton?
* A hearty congratulations to our good pal Miles Gorrell for being named to the 2013 induction class. His CFL stops include Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton and Winnipeg and he won one Grey Cup with the Ticats. As he often jokes with us, "I never wore green in my career!"
* Quote from 2010 CFHOH inductee Don Narcisse on Twitter this week: "It costs you NOTHING to be nice."
* Scott Gordon was the hard-hitting starting safety for the 2007 Grey Cup champion Saskatchewan Roughriders. He reached out via Twitter this week and we learned he's now a plumber in Ottawa with a company called Tackle Plumbing. You can follow Scott at @tackleplumbing. Incidentally he celebrated his 36th birthday on Thursday.
* The Roughriders will soon announce a contract extension for middle linebacker Joe Lobendahn. I learned of the extension last weekend while in Winnipeg and Lobendahn confirmed on Twitter that the deal is done. It's a good move.
* You're in charge of chiseling a Mount Rushmore of Rider coaches and need to choose the four faces. Who do you pick? Mine are Eagle Keys, John Gregory, Ken Miller and either Danny Barrett or Kent Austin. Please discuss.
* The Tweet of the Week comes from @CFLHistory:
"According to the CFL, the delay in the 2013 schedule is because the 87 Argo season ticket holders can't agree on which home dates they want"
* The trip to Winnipeg last weekend was first-rate other than the weather. The Jets aren't very good, but the game day production in the MTS Centre is as good as any I've seen in the NHL, CFL or NFL. They're all basically former Manitoba Moose employees who clearly are good enough to work in the NHL. The opening video of a fighter jet taking off, featuring Jets captain Andrew Ladd, really gets the crowd going.
* The jumbotron also boasts "THE LOUDEST FANS IN HOCKEY" and I believe that to be true. Winnipeg hockey fans are the loudest in the game but the decibel level in the MTS Centre was nowhere near what it was in the old Winnipeg Arena. Your ears rang for days after going to game in there. It was awesome.
* A Winnipeg Jets alumus from the old WHA days told me this week it's "disgusting" that Evander Kane is allowed to wear #9. That jersey hung in the rafters of the old building, honouring Bobby Hull, but it was a different franchise back then. Even Evander Kane says it's time to move on and stop living in the past. That was one major bone of contention I noticed while in Winnipeg over the weekend.
* The other is that Jets fans are getting impatient and want a winner. As noisy as they were when the Jets came on the ice on Sunday against the Boston Bruins, they didn't hesitate to boo the team once things went wrong. They want a winner? "Then get in line," Curtis Hunt said on the Sports Cage on Wednesday. It's going to be awhile before there's winning hockey at the MTS Centre.
* Back to football for a second. The B.C. Lions let it be known this week that they'd like to host the 2014 Grey Cup. My boss said on Wednesday, "Hey, they just had it!" but I say who cares? Like many others I'd like to see the game on a three year rotation through Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver with all eight teams splitting the revenue equally. These cold weather games are for the birds. Heck, of the 47 Super Bowls, 20 have been played between New Orleans and Miami.
* IF our new facility in Saskatchewan has a roof put on it, then it would be great to enter that rotation. The cold weather isn't so bad for the festivals, but it sucks for the teams during the practice week and it really sucks for the fans on game day.
* Has the Grey Cup outgrown little ol' Regina? The event has gotten so huge over the past decade and expectations are immense for the 2013 Grey Cup but this accomodation situation seems to be a nightmare. Our house is going to be full of out-of-town visitors that week. Why is there no hotel space this far in advance?
* Speaking of Cups, the voice of the Ottawa 67s - A.J. Jakubec of Team 1200 radio in Ottawa - says Guelph has pulled out of the running to host the 2014 Memorial Cup. That leaves London, Barrie and Windsor in the running to host the event.
* The Saskatoon Blades will host the 2013 Memorial Cup this may and the Blades made it a Rider Dozen this week with their 13th consecutive victory, tying a franchise record which dates back to 1987-88. This year's Memorial Cup promises to be a tremendously exciting event and the Sports Cage will be there broadcasting live all week on 620 CKRM.
* The SJHL Coach of the Year nominees for 2013 are: Humboldt's Dean Brockman, Yorkton's Trent Cassan, Battlefords' Kevin Hasselberg, Nipawin's Doug Johnson and Notre Dame's Kevin White.
* It was somewhat sad to see Lindy Ruff get turfed as coach of the Buffalo Sabres this week. He was the longest-tenured coach in the NHL and he outlasted three Sutters (Brian, Darryl and Brent) with the Calgary Flames during his time.
* WHAT DECADE IS IT?? The Canadiens, Leafs and Senators are all in a playoff spot in the NHL's Eastern Conference! That's great news. Vancouver is comfortable in the west, so now all we need is for the Oilers and Flames to pull up their socks. Oh, and the Jets too.
* The Quote of the Week comes from Sportsnet's Doug MacLean: "(Buffalo goalie) Ryan Miller talks too much. Stop the puck!"
* Despite the euphoria around the Maple Leafs' start, Sportsnet's Arash Madani tells us it's surprisingly quiet on the streets of Toronto. He figures the Leafs Nation is waiting for the bottom to fall out. Leafs fans are eerily similar to Rider fans; they're eternally optimistic but ultimately broken-hearted.
* They're hard up for celebrities at New York Rangers' games when they're featuring Phillip Seymour Hoffman for games at Madison Square Garden.
* Raptors play-by-play man Matt Devlin was harrassed by Washington-based rapper Wale during the Raptors-Wizards game this week, which made international news. They got in a Twitter exchange, and then Wale stormed the broadcast booth. A few years ago we had a fan crawl into our Roughrider broadcast booth and I pushed him down the stairs. Tampering with a live broadcast is a Federal offence, I'm told. Security seemed to be on our side.
* In a new commercial for Chevrolet, Bobby Orr says "Kids never forget their first hockey helmet". Excuse me, but how would Bobby know? He never wore one!!!
* Got my hands on a new BlackBerry 10 this week. I'll wait for the edition that has an actual keyboard. No touchscreen for me.
* Friday's Press Box Sports Bar lunch buffet lineup:
Mango Glazed Ham
Terriyaki Chicken Bites
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Mac & Cheese
Hot Dogs and Pork & Beans
THAT'S IT! SEE YOU IN THE CAGE AT 5!