Friday, March 15, 2013
* Alex Smith is trading Green & White for Green & Gold. No, the former Roughrider linebacker coach is not joining the Edmonton Eskimos but rather the University of Regina Rams as a special teams assistant to coordinator Denis Losie. Alex was a trusty soldier for the Roughriders for 16 seasons and the CIS will likely be a welcome challenge for him since he's never coached at the university level before. Congrats Alex!
* It appears a major faux pas on Twitter landed Ticats MVP Chris Williams in hot water this week. You'd have to be familiar with Twitter to understand this but apparently, according to the Winnipeg Sun's Kirk Penton, Williams meant to "DM" a friend of his about getting a tryout with Hamilton but he couldn't and now he's upset with the team. He also said he wouldn't be back in 2013. The trouble is the comments went out on his main Twitter feed for all of his followers to read. I'd love to tell you more, but then I'd have to pay for a Winnipeg Sun subscription as they cut off the article online. Grrrrrrrrrr! Trust me, there are no plans to make this a pay site.
* Thank you to Global Regina's Warren Woods and CTV's Lee Jones for crediting the source of this week's John Chick scoop; this very blog. Although there were reports to the contrary on Thursday, I can confirm that the former Rider defensive end is no longer under contract to the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. A trusted CFL source confirmed the transaction on Thursday but warned Chick is likely to sign with another NFL team. At least the Roughriders looked into his availability.
* In typical fashion, the Saskatchewan Roughriders were first-class with their State of the Rider Nation conference for top sponsors this week at the Ramada Hotel and Convention Centre. It was an honour to be asked to be involved. The day was hosted by Bill "Make It Quick I'm Watching Switchback" Wright. Riders' V.P. of Corporate Development Gregg Sauter blew the doors off with his social media and marketing presentation. One of the interesting notes was that the team has over 128,000 Facebook "Likes" and here's a breakdown by location:
3,420 Prince Albert
2,237 Moose Jaw
The other cities tabulated, in terms of the number of "Likes", are: Toronto, Yorkton, Vancouver, Red Deer, Swift Current, North Battleford, Ottawa, Estevan, Lethbridge, Victoria, Weyburn and Brandon. To "Like" the Riders on Facebook, click here: http://www.facebook.com/saskriders?fref=ts
* Another interesting note is that the Roughriders trailed only Edmonton in home attendance last year and were the #1 draw on the road. That means more people bought tickets to watch the Saskatchewan Roughriders across Canada in 2012 than any other CFL team. Canada's Team indeed.
* And, the Riders dispute the claim that the B.C. Lions were the most-watched CFL team on TSN in 2012. I'll discuss this in further detail in the Monday Morning Goalie but it would be hard for the Lions to not draw huge TV numbers. Looking at their 2013 home schedule, seven of the Lions' 10 games are on Friday or Saturday night with a 7:00 pm kickoff. That's prime time!
* In the way of a 2013 Grey Cup update, Regina hotels are booked solid this upcoming November but there's still vacancy in nearby communities such as Moose Jaw and Weyburn. You can bet there will be multiple shuttle services available.
* In the way of a stadium update, the plan is to move into Saskatchewan's new outdoor stadium in January of 2017. There will be no roof. And by the time this year's Grey Cup rolls around there will be tangible evidence of stadium construction. It is to commence in the fall.
* As far as our roundtable chat with GM Brendan Taman, coach Corey Chamblin and linebacker Mike McCullough goes, that will have to stay in the room.
* One of the key things I took away from Bob Hughes' comments on the Sports Cage this week is that the Roughriders have "gambled" this off-season. It's clear they have and generally big things come to those who do. I'm not much of a gambler, but I greatly admire those who are willing to take the risk for a big payoff.
* Forgive me for saying, but Bob Hughes is the most prolific sports writer I've ever read. Rick Reilly, Bill Simmons, Steve Simmons, Stephen Brunt, Bob Ryan, George Plimpton ... I'll take Hughes over them all.
* If you haven't already, please purchase tickets to Saturday night's Regina Thunder sports dinner. Rider President Jim Hopson will be the emcee and I'll be hosting a roundtable with the Riders' Brendan Taman, George Cortez, Neal Hughes and Zack Evans. For tickets, go to www.reginathunder.ca and click on "Contact Us" or call team President Brin Werrett at 306-537-3610 as soon as possible.
* On to hockey. The Regina Pats play their final home game of the 2012-13 WHL season Friday night against Swift Current in the Brandt Centre. It will be the swan song for the Pats' 20-year old players but for at least one of them, his season won't be over this weekend. Lane Scheidl is fielding offers from many NHL organizations and he is in the process of selecting the best one ... after his Pats career concludes.
* Apparently with Moose Jaw's 5-0 win over the Pats on Tuesday, the Mayor's Cup ended up in a tie. However, I'm told, the Pats won it on goal differential.
* Had a great visit with an NHL scout this week who figures this is the harshest winter he's experienced since moving to Regina 15 years ago. He offered his assessment of the Regina Pats but that will remain between us. Honestly I've heard so much from so many people that I don't know what to believe.
* You have to love the Saskatchewan shout-outs from TSN's Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole on Sportscentre lately! It's clear the pair has developed quite an affection for our fine province and why wouldn't they? The pair will be speaking at the 33rd annual Ducks Unlimited dinner on Saturday, May 11 in Regina. O'Toole referred to Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock as "the most terrifying man in hockey" the other night to which Onrait chimed in "he's from Saskatoon!"
* Babs? The most terrifying man in hockey? I don't know about that one. I'd still bestow that honour on the great Scotty Bowman. Rangers coach John Tortorella is making a run for that title, but his act is wearing thin. This week he bellowed "I thought we stunk!" after the Rangers' loss to Buffalo. One former NHL coach said to me this week "with all that talent in New York, Tortorella had better start looking in the mirror."
* One more note on Onrait and O'Toole; if you want to see their best stuff, watch the live version of Sportscentre at 11:00 pm Saskatchewan time. Any antics TSN producers think are too off-colour get edited out for the loop which plays over and over the next morning.
* TSN analyst Craig Button didn't pull any punches with his analysis of Alberta's NHL teams this week. Regarding the Oilers, Button said "this team didn't deliver" and regarding the Flames, Button doesn't think their fortunes will turn around in the second half of the NHL season.
* Fan 960 Calgary's Andrew Walker told us on the Sports Cage this Thursday that whether or not Jarome Iginla stays with the Flames will likely be up to Jarome himself.
* Where's Marc Crawford?
* Great to see the Regina Pat Canadians have adopted a theme for the 2013 SMAAAHL playoffs. They've died their hair red, white and blue. Hopefully somebody can send in a pic of the crew. They'd better go far! It always looks silly once you lose out but it can certainly bring a team together in a playoff run. On the way to a provincial midget hockey championship in the 80's, we bleached the bottom of our mullets blonde. Oh to be young again. And have a mullet. I've asked my barber for one but she refuses.
* A Twitter rule of thumb: you probably shouldn't have more tweets than you have followers.
* Oprah in Saskatoon? Pffft. I'd rather see Dog The Bounty Hunter. Well, 10 years ago anyways.
* Where's Buck Martinez? Missing him on the Jays telecasts. **UPDATE: Sportsnet's Arash Madani tells us he's broadcasting the World Baseball Classic.
* Where's Ken Johner?
* Okay - enough about that. Here's Friday's Press Box Sports Bar lunch buffet lineup:
That's all! Don't miss Four Seasons Football Friday in the Sports Cage live from the U of R and the CIS Womens Basketball Nationals. Scott Schultz and I will be joined by Rider great Gene Makowsky.
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!