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Friday, January 3, 2014

FRIDAY RODSERVATIONS

NEW YEAR'S OBSERVATIONS

* THE TALK ON COFFEE ROW: While getting an oil change for the Titan Auto SportsCage cruiser on Thursday afternoon, I wandered over to a local coffee shop to kill an hour.  It's one of my favourite pastimes; sitting alone with an XL-double cream coffee and eavesdropping on the discussion at nearby tables.  Creepy?  Possibly.  Good show prep?  Absolutely.

The discussion on this day was of Canada's 4-1 quarterfinal victory over Switzerland at the 2014 WJHC in Sweden earlier in the day.  "Did you watch the game Al?" is how it started, with one plaid-clad man questioning another.  Al perched his ballcap on the back of his head, stirred his java and confirmed that yes, he had indeed tuned into the TSN telecast.  They generally concurred that the contest wasn't the most exciting of all-time but Canada played a solid game.  Most everyone around the table agreed that Canada won't be stopped the rest of the way, and our country will claim its first World Junior gold medal since Ottawa in 2009 when Jordan Eberle became a national hero.

It was also interesting to note that the Roughriders weren't brought up once in this particular discussion.  That's rare in this province.  However I have an interesting Rider tidbit further down in the column.

* NEXT UP, FINLAND: Team Canada will face Finland in a semifinal Saturday morning with a trip to the gold medal game on the line.  For my money, the most dominant players in Canada's quarterfinal victory were forward Nick Petan and goalie Zach Fucale.  Petan, whose club team is the Portland Winterhawks, is absolutely magical with the puck.  What a shame East Division WHL fans won't get to see him live this season.  However that's a topic for another day.  He was apparently unaffected by signing an NHL contract with the Winnipeg Jets over New Year's.

As for Fucale, it says here he will be Canada's next dominant goaltender in the NHL.  Why was he not starting all along in this tournament?  The Halifax Mooseheads puckstopper already has a Memorial Cup championship on his resume and a World Junior Gold Medal would really strengthen his cause.  Of course the last great Canadian goaltender to come out of the junior ranks is Montreal's Carey Price.  Incidentally it was the Canadiens who drafted Fucale last June.  CBC's Kelly Hrudey and I had this discussion once - about the lack of top-tier Canadian goalies in the NHL - and the former Medicine Hat Tiger concluded that it's "cyclical".   It's just been a very long cycle.

* GIVE RAMBO A MEDAL: Has anybody noticed the tireless work of TSN play-by-play man Dave Randorf and colour commentator Craig Button at the World Juniors?  By my count Randorf, nicknamed "Rambo", called at least three games back-to-back on Thursday.  It might have even been four, I just happened to catch him on three.  TSN went with the curious move of carrying the TV audio on their TSN Radio broadcasts for their affiliate stations across the country with Jim Tatti and Jack Miller anchoring the intermissions.  Unfortunately you can't get the radio broadcasts in this area unless you subscribe to Sirius/XM satellite radio's NHL channel.  Country 100.7 in Moose Jaw has habitually carried Canada's games but I couldn't find them on the dial locally over the holidays.  What a shame.

* WE WALK AMONG YOU:
Blog Mailbag:

Hey Rod, we were in Malmo, Sweden.  I have Kevin McGran from the Toronto star and Julie Robenheyer from hockeybuzz in Rider gear.

Bob and Karen Richardson from Melville 
Rider season ticket holders 

* WEYBURN'S ON FIRE:  The Hospitality Capital of Saskatchewan could also bill itself as the Sports Capital of the province these days.  Weyburn's Derrick Pouliot, also of the Portland Winterhawks, put the Switzerland game away with a late goal prompting this Tweet from fellow Weyburnite Graham DeLaet of PGA fame: "@GrahamDeLaet: Good ol Weyburn boy ices this thing against the Suisse. #teamcanada #worldjuniors".

The junction of 13 and 39.  The KFC buffet.  Mac.  Spinner Spencer.  Weyburn certainly has a ton to puff its chest out about.  I simply can not wait to get down there for the Weyburn Red Wings annual fundraising dinner on January 18 along with Kory Sheets, Curtis Joseph and Duane Ward.  We certainly have plenty of catching up to do.

* WILL EBERLE BE IN OR OUT?:  There weren't a lot of surprises when USA Hockey announced its Olympic team roster this week.  However Canada's roster selections will be endlessly debated when they are unveiled on Tuesday.  Canada had three Reginans in their summer ball hockey camp: Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Kunitz and Jordan Eberle.  It might be presumptious to expect all three to make the final cut.  With the much-publicized struggles of Eberle's Oilers, not to mention his personal six-game goalless drought which was recently snapped, Canada's greatest-ever World Junior player may not be a lock.

* WHAT'S UP WITH THE PATS?: It's been an oft-asked question this week.  The Queen City Kids shed some detractors with Saturday's 8-4 home win over Brandon but they followed it up with a pair of home losses (4-0 to P.A. and a 6-3 defeat at the ends of cellar-dwelling Lethbridge).  Entering tonight's home date with Saskatoon, the Pats are tied for sixth in the conference but are only two points up on ninth-place Red Deer.

Pats GM Chad Lang finds himself in a familiar conundrum at this time of year; should he be a seller or a buyer at the upcoming trade deadline?  A poll on the Voice of the Pats Phil Andrews' blog indicates that fans want Lang to load up for a playoff run.  I've missed all post-Christmas Pats games but will be in attendance tonight and can hopefully find the answer to the question, "What's up with the Pats?"

Speaking of the Blades, their streak of six consecutive years in the WHL playoffs is in jeopardy.

* GET YOUR TICKETS:  Somewhere I read that Pats' attendance is down 12% from last year at this time.  No one seems to know why because they're playing an exciting brand of hockey but it has been maddeningly inconsistent.  However it's a much different sports world now than when I came into the league in 1993.  Back then there was only one hockey game on TV each week, Saturday night, and there was no UFC to contend with.  No one had a big screen either, unless you were really rich.  Last Saturday, when the Pats were toiling with the Wheat Kings, I went to a local watering hole to watch UFC for the first time ever (I'd seen it at friends' homes before, but never at a bar).  What I saw was staggering -- the place was packed with men, and a few women, aged 20-to-40 and they were absolutely riveted to the TV screens.  They only stopped to visit between matches and even that was to discuss the previous match, not to ask "So how was your Christmas?"

The competition for the sports dollar is fierce in today's world.  I'm glad I'm not a sports marketer.  Sort of.

* A PIPE-DREAM IN NANAIMO: A newspaper story in Nanaimo, BC this week quoted WHL Commissioner Ron Robison as saying the league has interest in Nanaimo as a potential market but until a quality arena is built, no team will move there.  Civic officials seemed lukewarm to the idea however Victoria Royals ownership has encouraged them to at least look into it.  If the WHL does indeed return to Nanaimo, it's years and years away.

* WILL THE NFL EVER SURPASS THE CFL FOR POPULARITY IN CANADA?:  A Canadian Press poll last month was comforting in that it stated the vast majority of Canadians still prefer the CFL to the NFL but you have your head in the sand if you don't think the gap is closing.  We've got weekend football parties planned to watch Wildcard Weekend.  Pulled pork and chili on Saturday followed by steak on Sunday.   Here are the matchups:  Saturday (Chiefs at Colts 3:35, Saints at Eagles 7:10 pm) and Sunday (Chargers at Bengals 12:05 pm, 49ers at Packers, 3:40 pm).  The anticipation makes me shake.  What a great sports weekend ahead!

* THE WOLVES HAVE LEFT: In late September I wrote that the wolves were lining up outside Rider coach Corey Chamblin's door.  The four-game losing skid and the Dewdney Incident were rising up and choking the franchise's wind off and the wolves were howling.  However, Chamblin somehow righted the ship and guided them to the fourth Grey Cup in franchise history.  The jury was out on whether or not Chamblin could deliver, but he did in spades.  It's clear to me he knows what he's doing.

Now, I'm told, there's an appetite from the upper reaches of the franchise to sign Chamblin to a contract extension.   Pronto.  I don't believe those talks have started yet but it will likely be a top priority here in the New Year.  The trouble is Chamblin still has a year left on his contract and he may desire to "play out his option", seeing what's out there once his deal's up.  He's going to win 2013 CFL Coach of the Year, ( at least he should ), and he's going to be very attractive to NCAA programs, and perhaps even the NFL.  This will be a very interesting scenario to watch.

That's why I said to give the man whatever he wants after the semifinal victory over BC.  That was the hump game as the Riders went on to outscore their opponents 80-40 over the next two match-ups and coast to the Grey Cup.

Now, Chamblin has all the leverage.

* SOCIAL MEDIA:  How is it that Linkedin can tell you who's creeping your profile but Facebook can't?  Come on Mark Zuckerberg.  Please get on that.

* MOVIE REVIEWS:  Pretty much all I've done for three weeks is watch movies and read books.  It's been glorious.  But in the way of movies, I'd suggest you go see both of The Wolf of Wall Street and Last Vegas.  Given a choice, go with the latter.  It's like The Hangover, but for senior citizens as it stars Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline who congregate in Las Vegas for a bachelor party.  Wolf is fantastic too, but your jaw gets sore after being on the floor for three hours.  If you go, take an open mind.

* DELIGHTFULLY TACKY, YET REFINED:  Had a dream last night that I was served in a Hooter's restaurant by Rouleau's Bill Aulie, who was also doing the cooking.  I gorged myself on 10 breaded hot wings, a Buffalo Chicken burger, curly fries and a pitcher of Diet Coke.  I woke up so happy.  Perhaps it will last all day, all weekend, or even all of 2014.  Here's hoping.

HAVE A GREAT DAY!
RP
@sportscage

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

******* PATS *******

As Cameron has said this is a mediocre team. They are playing better than predicted or punching above their weight class if you will. There are about equal to five or six other clubs in the conference, but perhaps near the bottom of that group. They are not a deep team. They could make a playoff spot or they could miss it by one. They recently lost one of their veteran defencemen so they have even more holes to fill. Additionally they have come into the second half playing very poorly. Competition wise they have a much tougher second half. We're already missing too many picks in our upcoming drafts so trading more away is foolhardy. We don't have a surplus of anything to trade.

If you look at the broad picture this team is not deep in returning talent. It's time to move some players for the talent we need going forward. We're doomed to continual failure if we haven't learned anything from our recent past mistakes. Trades that could have helped us rebuild weren't made and it hurt us big time. Missing the playoffs five years out of seven isn't success. Time to do things the right way.

Don Mitchell said...

A smart football fan would follow both leagues. I know I do. I live and die with the Riders, and then I watch the NFL after Grey Cup. I like watching the NFL because I am not a fan of any specific team (I usually root for the Seahawks and Packers and boo the Steelers, Giants and Eagles) so I can enjoy the game without the blood pressure and angst!
Then after Super Bowl I'll begin to watch some NHL (within my family and a few friends nobody really follows the NHL until Feb anyway).
There should be no reason why the CFL and NFL shouldn't thrive in this country. We do have the best of both worlds!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The gap is indeed closing and I don't like it one bit. What the CFL needs to do is to market the league better to young people under 40. Sometimes you go to bars and there is no CFL merchandise at all except for maybe a Rider jersey or two. Sign a deal with one of the major beer companies and outfit every bar with CFL stuff. I know Great Western is the current official CFL beer company but do they have the cash flow to pull it off?

In addition, they need to allow CFL-themed shows on the other major TV networks besides TSN. There is no reason that CTV at least shouldn't have one. Your buddy Madani claims to be the best CFL reporter in Canada, why isn't he hosting a show on his network then?? Don't give me this excuse that they don't do so because they don't carry CFL games. TSN doesn't carry Jays games, do they cut bait and stop covering the Jays or Baseball altogether? No.

Bottom line, I really wish that other teams' fans were as passionate and found in large numbers as our fans are. It would make the games that much more fun and the league would thrive. There is no reason that it cannot happen.

Finally, yes I agree that Regina needs a Hooters. It could even be located where that old Tomas the Cook on south Albert was, or even maybe by the new stadium? Kevin, make it happen!


Rex

Anonymous said...

Roddy, getting Chamblan locked up long term would be the best scenerio for the Riders. IMO he is the best coach we've seen in years, and perhaps in the CFL. He knows how to manage the egos, recognize talent and get the most of it, and given his family situation and his wife's current career, I think they are looking fro something long term, regardless of the money. No better place than the Rider Nation to do that.

Anonymous said...

Is my comment not been posted for some reason Rod?

Stewart

Rod Pedersen said...

It was judged to be a tad too harsh!

Gored said...

Please Mr. Lang, don't buy - sell. Trade Chandler Stephenson for a first and a prospect and build around Sam Steel. Trade any other older players of value for picks and propects. Do not make the mistake of thinking that this team can do anything but be a first round casualty. You already traded a first round pick to rent Marincin for a few weeks only to exit the playoffs in the first round. Parker had traded away another first round pick so we didn't have a 1st rounder in 2011 or 2012 so there is a gap in top prospects between Klimchuck and Steel.

Anonymous said...

My apologies Rod, as a long time Pat season ticket holder I just thought I would provide some honest commentary from a paying customer. No disrespect was meant by the email, but I'm sure many on here would have agreed with the comments.

Stewart

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll bite....I want to know what Stewart wrote, and who "judged" it was too harsh? You've always been fair for all of us to post our thoughts on here Rod and vent about our teams I hope no one at the Pats office got to you.

Unless Stewart's comments called out a Player you should post it because hell, the Pats record speaks for itself and if its one fan calling out another piss poor team then post it and have Lang answer the tough questions.

dubfan

Anonymous said...

ha ha "a tad too harsh" are the last 15 Pat fans finally loosing their minds and exploding. Until Parker's sell and the present "brass" are gone I won't step foot at a Pat game, Moose Jaw has a great facility just down the road to watch some WHL hockey when I feel inclined to do so.

Anonymous said...

The NFL is definitely closing the gap on the CFL in Canada. I bleed green all season but I also have my favorite NFL team and follow them just as close. I just attended my first live NFL game and even though I have been to many Rider games the NFL is light years ahead. The fan involvement and experience is second to none. I'll never abandon the CFL but my interest in the NFL grows every year.

Anonymous said...

Go PACKERS!

Steve in Moose Jaw

Anonymous said...

Rex,

With respect to your comment about there being no CFL show on any Major networks besides TSN, you've missed one. Global Regina and Global Saskatoon had "The Rider Coaches Show" last year. Mind you it's a Riders only show, not CFL-wide but it was on a major network available to anyone. (with all due respect to Roddy's excellent job with the Access7 show of course, but only subscribers got it.)

I'm afraid on a national scale you won't see much more than TSN coverage. Rogers gave up on the CFL wholesale 3 years ago. Rod used to report for them and they don't even bother showing up at pressers anymore. Rogers is NOT a sports network, it is a promotional arm for their own Sports entities.

Given that Bell Media and Rogers pretty much own all the sports rights, it is difficult to imagine CBC or Global coughing up the substantial cash required to get into the game.

It will remain staus quo I'm afraid...

-TB

Anonymous said...

I share the same enjoyment that Rod does with the coffee shop talk. I enjoy hearing what the old guys have to say about the current on-goings in the world. A lot of times they're right. Even when they're not they're still hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps what the CFL should do is have a "fan forum" of some sorts to ask as to what they can do to build their popularity. Invite a handful of regular fans from each team, corporate sponsors, team representatives and TV executives to a big event in a hotel somewhere. Spend the day throwing out ideas as to how to improve the fan experience so that it draws in even more fans. Things like tailgating, extensive community and school programs for kids, etc etc. And really, how much would it actually cost? I guarantee the few thousand dollars it would cost to host such an event would be well worth it if the CFL builds its popularity to where it rightfully should be.


Dubya

Anonymous said...

TB you've got a good point. Perhaps Global could get some skin in the game by having a nationally broadcast CFL show. Their newspapers already cover the CFL extensively. But you're right, it's tough to justify such a decision when you don't actually broadcast games.

Perhaps keeping TSN as the exclusive broadcaster was a big mistake. I know that they offered up big bucks and that's a good thing. But if such a deal hinders the growth of the game by limiting the scope of media that broadcasts it, are you really that much further ahead? There are a lot of ticket sales and merchandise that are instead heading south of the border because as far as TV exposure goes the NFL has much more than the CFL does. Don't get me wrong, I love TSN but they are the only channel that you can view CFL coverage (with Global the exception here). On the other hand, the NFL is on TSN, CTV and Sportsnet plus virtually everyone gets the three big American networks that show NFL and the NFL network too. That's SEVEN networks for the NFL compared to ONE for the CFL available to Canadians. And we wonder why that gap is closing? Big mistake on Cohon's part. He should have opened up the bidding so that all networks could bid, with no one network having exclusivity.

I guess I just answered my own question from earlier.


Rex

Anonymous said...

"Chamblin has all the leverage." So what? The Riders have all of the money! Sign him. But to be realistic, all that does is keep the other CFL teams away, wasn't Kent Austin under contract when he left?

Old Cuss

Anonymous said...

Riders have the cash but will it be enough. Coach Chamblin has ties to the NFL (remember Mike Tomlin vouching for him to get the head coaching job), so it would be tempting for him to explore other options. And he should! He is a great coach!

Anonymous said...

As much as I hate to say it, kent Austin deserves to be coach of the year. First year with team, major personnel turnover, and NEVER PLAYED A HOME GAME!

That's significant. If the 'voters' just give it to the GC winner, then the Annis Stukis is worthless.

Anonymous said...

Respectfully, Eberle is nowhere close to being named to Olympic team. I would put him behind Seguin, Bergeron, Staal, Nash ... all guys I believe also will be left off the roster.

Anonymous said...

You had a dream ? Was her name Tayler ? (Mitchell Blair blog pic) Hooters In Regina never going to happen unless the restaurant franchise Is desperate financially. (Theme Is played out, but the ladies still awesome)

Anonymous said...

Agree a Beer Company (or other National Sponsor) should support the visibility of the league and merchandise. The key word here is NATIONAL company (not a local Brewer). Fact is GW doesnt sell beer in Ontario / Quebec and minimal overall presense in the Prairies vs National Brewers such as Molson/Coors & Inbev (Labbat). Thus, if this is an the CFL will need to partner with someone that has the Marketing engine to support the end goal of visibility and prominence.

Anonymous said...

Why not? Regina easily fits the criteria for a Hooters restaurant. So does Saskatoon for that matter. If someone wants to put one up they can go ahead. Actually, I think one guy owns the rights to Hooters on the Prairies. There used to be a map that said "Hooters of Saskatchewan, coming soon!". What the hell happened?

Anonymous said...

Eberle shouldn't and wont make the Olympic team, you could just tell in that half-hour special they had on before the winter classic. His last 6 games have pretty much made of the minds of the Canada brain trust.

Not so sure why hooters is even mentioned on this blog, the women at Earls, Brown's Social House and moxies are hotter than majority of hooter girls. Hooters is as 1980's as Journey and Camaros. Bring a Shark's Club to Regina and you'll see that place packed for all hours.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Easy on the Camaro that is a classic car from my youth. As for Journey, I'll give you that one but easy on the Camaro nothing beat an i-Roc.

Have a feeling Chamblain will be heading to the Steelers sometime soon. Regardless of if he stays or goes I'd be happy for the man and his family to get a great opportunity like an NFL job or College.

Rod, question for you, I read an interesting article the other day discussing how NFL Head and Asst. Coaches get paid a handsome pension and NCAA Head Coaches have a pension but their assistants don't so thats why you see the turn-over of Assistant in the NCAA as compared to the NFL. How does it work in the CFL in terms of that sort of thing?

Rod Pedersen said...

Last I heard there was no pension for CFL assistants but the Riders had their own program. That may have changed.

Anonymous said...

What the hell happened? Nothing. Provincial gov't. restrictions probably had some to do with that.

Anonymous said...

What would provincial government restrictions have to do with opening a Hooters? They're no different than the Shark Club and that place has been in operation for years.

Speaking of which, Shark Club need to build a bigger facility as their current location in the Sandman is always packed. It's going to be nutty in there during Crop Production Show.

Anonymous said...

Was Brittany Thies doing the waitressing at this Hooters you were dreaming about too?

Anonymous said...

Sweden has been the class of the tourney and its not even close. I rea;;y do hate Swedish hockey as I find them to be arrogant, I guess they likely feel the same way about Canada.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to watching Jerrell Freeman and the Colts tomorrow. Perfect weather tomorrow for enjoying NFL play-offs.

Anonymous said...

If you want Hooters, do as RP does, dream.

Ditto for the Shark Club, bigger.

Anonymous said...

Chamblin to the Steelers!! Bank on it!!

Anonymous said...

Good thing I don't do any banking with you! I'd be broke by now.

Captain Jack Sparrow

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Where is that little smokeshow Brittany Thies these days?

Anonymous said...

Pats are an interesting enigma this year. If, as is speculated, it's the swan song year for Parker before selling, he may want to buy some players at the deadline and make a run for the 2nd round and some playoff gate receipts. Then again, if I were a prospective ownership group I'd be demanding they be sellers right now and get some more prospects in the pipeline, or the purchase price goes down.

Time will tell. But yes, the team is punching above their weight and far too inconsistent. More depth needed. Better to miss the playoffs and have some more picks to play in later years than fail at a 2nd round run. If you're not winning it all, you're losing anyway.

Anonymous said...

This comment has been judged to he a tad too harsh by a blog administrator.