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Thursday, May 21, 2015

THURSDAY RODSERVATIONS

10 ONE-TIMERS

1 - WHAT TO DO IN MOOSE JAW?:   At long last, we're heading into the final weekend of the CFL off-season.  Our clan will be spending it at the Moose Jaw Mineral Spa, and enjoying all the Band City has to offer.  Any suggestions on eateries and things to do?  Unfortunately Bonanza is out - the girls draw the line on buffets - but that wing place Deja Vu is certainly on the agenda.  What else?  Please advise.

2 - SO LONG HUGHESIE:  The curtain came down on Neal Hughes' 11-year career with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Wednesday.  As an unheralded fullback, the highlight reel of his career is relatively brief but it would include his unlikely touchdown in the 2007 Western Final at B.C. which helped propel the Riders into the Grey Cup.  On 620 CKRM's SportsCage Wednesday evening, Neal said he was left uncovered by Lions linebacker Javier Glatt and dearly wanted to make good on the playcall.  He did.

And that's what Neal will be remembered for best:  he always did what was asked of him and never let the team down.  Scruffy pointed out the little-known fact that Neal Hughes caught Darian Durant's first-ever touchdown pass, in a game at Hamilton in 2008.  Neal related on air that he reluctantly gave the football to Durant after the play.  Knowing Darian, he still has the ball displayed prominently somewhere.

CBC's Glenn Reid noted that Neal's retirement news conference was the most highly-attended by current and past Roughrider personnel that he's covered in his 30-year career which tells you what Neal has meant to this football club over the past 11 years.  Interestingly, Neal said his career highlight was being on the field for the final play of the 2013 Grey Cup admitted to being "as shocked as everyone in the stands" at the game's conclusion.

Rider Assistant GM Jeremy O'Day said Neal Hughes was a Roughrider who never took a single day of his career for granted.  He looked forward to pulling into the stadium parking lot each day and loved to practice.  Neal said every time he strapped that helmet on with the /=S=/ on the side, he felt he was representing the whole province.  O'Day said the current Rider who displays the same type of gratitude is offensive lineman Dan Clark.

Hats off to you Neal.  You were a great Roughrider.

3 - ARRRRRRGGGOOOOOOS:  If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll remember that I've written  several times over the past few years that Toronto football people weren't too concerned about the state of their franchise despite all the squalor around it.  As it turns out, they were right.  In a seemingly tidy business deal, the Argos were sold to Bell and MLSE Chairman Larry Tanenbaum on Wednesday and the team will be moving to BMO Field for the 2016 season.  That seemed easy, didn't it?  So why did it take so long?

The move has been applauded across the CFL.

"Hopefully it's great news for the team and some security for the organization," Jeremy O'Day, a former Argo, said on Wednesday.  "Obviously they're a huge part of the success of the CFL, and its success going forward.  It's always a good day.  It's a positive day when you can see an ownership group take charge of the organization.  They had a very good owner (David Braley) who helped them through some tough times.  Looking forward to seeing some changes and the move that's gonna happen there.  Hopefully it'll only strengthen our league."

This truly is excellent news.  The Argos have always been my second favourite team.  It's likely because blue is my favourite colour.

4 - GREY CUP IN TORONTO:  It wasn't officially announced on Wednesday but it's expected the 2016 Grey Cup will be held in Toronto - preferably BMO Field - but Rogers Centre will be ready if needed.  That will make for an interesting scenario.  The temperature dipped to minus-20 in Toronto for the 2007 Grey Cup and I remember it well because I tore the knee out of my suitpants while slipping on some ice on Front Street during Grey Cup Week.  But, it will be fun to broadcast outdoors at Riders-Argos games and it'll be equally as exciting to finally get into the home of Toronto FC.  Here's hoping the Riders are in that championship game in 2016.

5 - STEROIDS?:  The comments of former CIS President Dick White in the MMG over the CFL's flimsy steroid policy drew some national attention but it's still a reluctant topic in pro football circles.  Perhaps it's an uncomfortable topic too.  Here's my take:  fans generally don't give a rip if pro athletes use Performance Enhancing Drugs.  Did I care as a child watching my heros in the WWF knowing full well they stick a needle in their butt before every workout?  Not a chance.  It really is no different with pro football players, and the teams don't seem to mind either.  In society, steroids are thought of as bad.  So the pro leagues have a "steroid policy" but it's only about optics in order to calm the public and show there's a concern about it.  Amateur leagues such as the CIS and CHL have a policy as well, and they should, because we're dealing with amateur, young athletes.

However if you're an aspiring slugger, football or hockey player, or even a pro wrestler (or your child is), make sure you read up on all the nasty side effects.  Two words: Lance Armstrong.  If you're not concerned about losing a sexual organ because of PED's, have 'at er.

6 - FOLEY MOUTHS OFF:  God bless Argonauts defensive end Ricky Foley.  He's getting lambasted for his Twitter comments on Wednesday regarding the timing of the Maple Leafs' hiring of Mike Babcock, but thank God he's willing to speak his colourful mind.  Life in sports would be awfully boring without guys like Ricky Foley.

"Dick move announcing Babcock news the day the Argos are finally sold," Foley wrote on social media.  "Guess some people are still jealous we the only team who wins in this city.  So congrats on your new coach Maple Leafs.  Hopefully 50-mill and sky high ticket prices are enough to give your players heart and a compete level."

Nothing more needs to be said here.  Although hopefully Foley has an endorsement deal coming from my new favourite breakfast restaurant, "Ricky's".

7 - BABCOCK ROCKS:  Sometimes you get a nagging feeling about something and for me, it was that Mike Babcock would be named the next head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  That's why I had no hesitation in writing in the MMG that the Leafs would hire Babcock and it happened a day later.  (That's no pat on my own back however, as I've been wrong at least as many times with predictions like this and I know it).

To me, the Toronto Maple Leafs were the only plausible destination for the Saskatoon product and that's for two reasons: 1) They weren't going to be outbid and Mike was going to go to the highest bidder and 2) Toronto presents the grandest stage and biggest challenge for Babcock and that suits his ego magnificently.

And that's no shot at Babcock.  As I've learned over the past few months, the term "ego" doesn't necessarily have to be a swear word although it generally is in the sports and entertainment worlds.  It speaks to one's confidence in their abilities and Babcock is the best in the world at what he does.

I know Mike, although not well, but he was nice enough to open his home to me in Spokane in the 1990s.  I recall it because I remember thinking Mrs. Babcock bore a striking resemblance to Maura Tierney in the movie Liar, Liar.

Again, Toronto was the only logical landing spot for Babcock and it's going to be incredibly entertaining to see how this all plays out in the seasons ahead.  Good hire.

And regarding these 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, how could you ask for anything more?  Especially Tampa Bay's 6-5 overtime win over the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.  These guys are playing their berries off.

8 - DAAAAAAVIDDD LETTERMANNNNN:  With all that's been going on in sports this week, it's been tough to keep an eye on the actual news but everybody's worked up about the retirement and final show of late night talkshow king David Letterman.  Regina news outlets have aired some tremendous stories this week on the 1995 phenomena of Regina gas pump jockey Dick Assman, who was made popular by Letterman that year.  Dave was infatuated by Assman's surname and flew him to New York to appear on his show.

The Roughriders got swept up in the craze as well, having Dick Assman perform a ceremonial kickoff before a game in 1995.  Those were the days!  I remember Globe & Mail football writer Marty York predicted the Riders to win the Grey Cup that year so the Riders flew him in for a ceremonial kickoff too.  Those days are lonnnnnng gone but God were they fantastic.  I'm just glad to have been around for it.

Regarding David Letterman, Saskatoon Star Phoenix writer Corey Wolfe once asked me in an article who were the top three people I'd like to meet or have dinner with.  They were: 1) George Strait 2) David Letterman and 3) my late Grandpa Marion Nicholas.  I've been fortunate enough to meet the first two, and the third will have to wait until I get to the big press box in the sky.

My favourite Letterman shows were when a dog drank milk out of his owner's mouth during Stupid Pet Tricks, and when Mike Vanderjagt kicked field goals in the back alley with Letterman holding.

Last night's final show was side-splitting but it was shocking that Howard Stern wasn't part of the 10 stars who came out to read the final Top 10 list.  Among those who were: Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carey, Julia Lous-Dreyfuss, Alex Baldwin and Bill Murray.

9 - DOING IT RIGHT:  Kudos to former Regina Pat and long-time NHLer Jamie Heward for being named an assistant coach for team Canada Red in the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge on Wednesday.  Heward's spent the past couple seasons as an assistant coach for the Swift Current Broncos but this latest posting shows Jamie's serious about the coaching craft and is willing to take the necessary steps to realize his dream.  Another Regina product, 36-year old Kris Knoblauch, will be the head coach for Canada Red.  After being dumped by the Kootenay Ice, Knoblauch only went on to coach Connor McDavid with the OHL's Erie Otters this year.

10 - KINDLY CAL:  The Murphy family is keeping alive the memory of dear old Canadian Football Hall of Famer and former Rider head coach Cal Murphy with the Holy Cross Cal Murphy Memorial Golf Tournament on Sunday, June 14 at Aspen Links Country Club.  It's a Texas Scramble with a shotgun start at 1:00 pm.  For information or to register, please call Cal's loving wife Joyce Murphy at 306-789-1983.

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THAT'S ALL! THANKS FOR READING...
RP
@sportscage
Instagram: ridervoice

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not saying what Foley said is wrong. But how much is the Argo's franchise worth? And how much is the Maple Leafs franchise worth? That is why the Babcock hiring was announced on the same day.

Anonymous said...

Only problem with Babcock's 8 year contract is that he will probably have to have another 8 year one before they win the Cup.

Rod Pedersen said...

Babcock's yearly salary is more than the Argos' franchise worth. But good on Ricky for standing up for the CFL.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, a Stanley Cup final series with Tampa Bay and Anaheim would be a heck of a lot of fun. Here is hoping!

Anonymous said...

Veroba's in MJ is a great place to eat. Not a fancy place but the food is homemade & 1st class. Check it out my family loves the place

Anonymous said...

My old buddy Jake the Snake is still wound up about the Leaf talk today. What the heck does he expect when it is still May, Stanley Cup fever is high, and it is a "Hockey Wednesday" on the Cage? I tuned in to hear Tiger Tales and was not disappointed. Now, if it was June and Rider training camp was on ...

By the way, the media is doing a fine job covering Neal's retirement and as always good video on the Rider web site.

Old Hank

Shawn Young said...

Roddy, if your looking for good Chinese Food, check out Delight Cafe and Wok.

Shawn in MJ

Anonymous said...

Kris Knoblauch, actually from Imperial, SK. Played hockey against him...well he played...I chased lol

Anonymous said...

Veroba's on Fairford Street West is a great place to have breakfast. It is located beside the Times Herald office. There is also a Brown's Social House on Main Street which has great food. We have eaten there several times and have never been disappointed.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting a little tired of the broadcasters referring to the Rangers goalie as 'King Henrik' he's allowed 12 goals in 2 games. On another note I'm hoping for anybody but the Rangers. They don't have any WHL alumni.

Rod McNabb said...

Rod. A great place to eat in Moose Jaw is Grant Hall. Hands down Moose Jaw's finest dining.

Don said...

Nit"s on Main- ask Schultz

BO Don

Anonymous said...

No worries in regina about an NHL announcement overshadowing the riders. lol

Anonymous said...

So Rod I see you still have no opinion on whether or not the Riders should have any responsibility in drafting or not drafting players that are taking steroids. Way to take the company stance.

Anonymous said...

I like to live in a world where if you're a kid growing up you have a chance to become a pro athlete without doing terrible things to your body with illegal drugs. Obviously not everyone can make it, but in a world where everyone can take performance enhancers its a lot harder to reach that goal without doing the same.

Anonymous said...

Yeah the Babcock announcement timing wasn't ideal regarding the Argos one. But it certainly didn't hurt that when they caught wind of it they were interviewing all the big wigs while the Argos logo and BMO field were prominently displayed in the background. It was all over Sportscentre; the more exposure the better. Glad to see the announcement happen and even better to see those snooty soccer fans lose their battle to keep football out. I'm sure not all soccer fans are like that but that pompous attitude regarding their "beautiful game" is super annoying. It's always awesome to see the hipsters lose!

As for MJ, definitely hit up Smoke's Poutinerie. Best poutine ever. Why Regina doesn't have one yet is mind boggling.


Y'er welcome
Dubya

Rod Pedersen said...

I think I've said repeatedly it makes no difference to me that the Riders drafted a steroid user. I simply don't have any feelings towards it. Drafting players is not my job.

william weppler said...

If the weather is nice take in Crescent Park right next to the Spa...very nice scenery and usually lots of wildlife.

Anonymous said...

If people only knew how many players actually take steroids... I'm not saying I know but I'm not naive to think that they don't. I assume the numbers would be staggering. Olympic type drug testing would decimate pro sports everywhere.

Phil Kershaw said...

Ricky Foley just doomed himself as an Argo by slagging his new employers. Is he not smart enough to know Larry Tanenbaum and Bell own MLSE? Not very smart.

Nathan Zafar said...

rarely do i disagree with your viewpoints rod, but on steroids i do.

1. i think PED's should be banned

i think PED's do create an unfair advantage and widen the gap between between athletes in natural physical talent (despite the fact that most athtletes them take them in order to narrow that gap). and as far as we know now, they are largely harmful so we should be protecting our players by not allowing them and giving them all a safe even playing field. a smaller example of this, was the league did not mandate leg pads. so players who wore them were at a disadvantage in terms of speed. leg injuries also rose along with the decline in leg pad usage.

2. it's in the rules

i think this is the more important point. if it's in the rules then enforce it. if we think it's ok, then allow it. i have no sympathy for putting in an unenforced rule to satisfy public sentiment. stand behind your viewpoints. right now players that follow the rules are at a disadvantage. and that disadvantage could cost them a job or bigger paycheck that they would otherwise have, and have invested a lifetime's worth of work to achieve.

and if we have a "look the other way.. this rule is just for to quell public outcry" then there is nothing stopping the players that do use PED's from at some point being banned from the league once they're caught and there is public outcry against them specifically... after all, it's "in the rules"

Anonymous said...

To Phil Kershaw,

I disagree...

First off, Foley will be employable anywhere - anytime, so it really does not matter what he says, he is a star Canadian player.

Secondly, I think that Tanenbaum and Bell just got a much needed wake-up call of what is an ongoing occurrence in Tornoto (and the rest of Canada), whereby the CFL continuously gets trounced on by the culture and belief that only the NHL matters in this country (that is simply not so, despite the loud-mouths of hockey only, CFL fans are excellent sports fans).

In hearing Foley's remarks, I am sure the coaching staff and GM realized that they have someone in Rick Foley with exceptional guts, someone willing to go to bat for their team - this is a guy you want on your team.

The new owners better wake up to the reality of the Maple Leafs stealing the show... time to re-grow the Argo brand and step up to the challenge.

TSN (part of Bell) could start by doing a better job of announcing CFL stories, rather than first promoting that Joe Blow of whatever NHL team just did whatever, then at the end of the show, 'and finally, today in the CFL...'.

Kel in Victoria

Go Riders!

Anonymous said...

I hear that WHL Coach of the Year John Paddock was contacted about the Leafs job and turned it down. Has more talent in Regina.

Anonymous said...

Leafs announcement was the same day as the Argos announcement for 1 reason only

Despite the fact that both are partners in MLS, Rogers (Sportsnet) wasn’t going to let Bell (TSN) have all the attention.

Anonymous said...

Foley outsmarted the entire Toronto media. He got the Argos on the news on a day when the sacred Maple Laughs spent
$50 million on a new coach.

Anonymous said...

Hey Toronto. Don't ruin my favorite coach...you know, like how Edmonton supposedly ruined all their first round draft picks.

Anonymous said...

How did you hear that with your head so far up your butt?

Anonymous said...

LOVE Ricky's comments! Man, he's still going to be one of my favourite players even with the Argos. I have to wonder if his time here showed him what a CFL city can be, and as a result he'll now be much more vocal about holding Toronto to that standard.

Keep tellin' it like it is, Ricky!

Lewis Grant