- On Thursday evening Regina will host two prestigious dinners: the annual Premier's Dinner featuring Brad Wall and the Cougar Mens Hockey Alumni Dinner featuring Clark Gillies, Bob Bourne and yours truly as the MC. Which one would you rather attend? You can be sure the BS will be flying at both.
- There were some comments circulating on social media on Wednesday saying the 2015 Plaza of Honor induction class is sub-par. Frankly, I think it's sensational that Tim McCray and Scott Schultz will be honoured this year. It's the perfect blend of the 1989 and 2007 Grey Cup championship teams and the fact there are only two inductees into the Riders' version of a Hall of Fame means each man will get his proper due.
- I can go on all day on the topic of Halls of Fame. The Plaza has a different set of criteria than most Halls, but some of the rules say a player has to have spent five seasons with the Roughriders and been retired for at least three seasons before getting consideration. However, in true Saskatchewan style, the rules have been bent in the past to include players like Rhett Dawson and the three-year retirement period was waived for Roger Aldag, Norm Fong and Gene Makowsky. When I suggested to the committee that Kerry Joseph is in line for the Plaza, I got blank stares. How can you exclude a Grey Cup champion quarterback and the first Roughrider to be named league MVP since Ron Lancaster? And don't get me started on the Roy Shivers debate.
- It was great to hang around the Old Boys Club this week at the Plaza news conference. The group of course includes - but is not limited to - John Lipp and Tom Shepherd.
- It would be cool if the Regina Pats introduced a Hall of Fame. There are many worthy players and coaches over the past 98 years. It doesn't have to just include the players whose numbers have been retired, but that's a great place to start.
- Perspective. An elementary school class was given a tour of Mosaic Stadium on Tuesday and one child asked, "Can we see the Rider locker room?" He was told no, and I was immediately disappointed for them. However after asking about it, the tour guide told me there were currently players in the locker room and some of them may be nude. That's good enough for me! Glad I asked.
- While on Troy Westwood's radio show in Winnipeg this week, one of the hosts suggested that Riders head coach Corey Chamblin has a bad habit of "micro-managing". I replied, "Sure -- he'd be the first football coach to be accused of that!" However when you think about it, Chamblin gave coordinator George Cortez 100% autonomy on offense in 2014 and I assume the same applies to Jacques Chapdelaine this season. Does that sound like a control freak to you?
- It was also hinted in that Winnipeg interview that the Bombers were disappointed to see U of M star Nic Demski go to the Roughriders. However Winnipeg passed on him with the #2 pick so you have to wonder if the Bombers will be faced with a Jason Clermont Situation like the Riders were in 2002? Demski was nothing short of sensational on Day 1 of rookie camp on Wednesday. He can start looking for accomodations.
- It's not known what Demski signed for but the top two picks in this year's draft received $20,000 signing bonuses and, reportedly, six figure salaries. Rider Assistant GM Jeremy O'Day noted on Tuesday that these wages are "a positive" for the league. Sportsnet's Arash Madani surmised on the SportsCage that the bump in the salary cap has meant bigger salaries for rookie Canadians and big name imports (a la Michael Sam in Montreal who signed for $100,000 and $150,000).
- An American homophobe tried to get into it with me on Twitter this week saying the only minority Michael Sam belongs to is his race. He said Sam "chose" to be gay, and that's where the conversation ended. Of the gay people I know, none chose to be. But the persecution Sam faces daily must be close to unbearable.
- The Blue Bombers recently announced the opening of their second Bomber Store, and their first off-site (away from Investors Group Field). The Riders can boast that they recently opened their fifth retail outlet, and it's in another city!
- A note to Rider fans in Prince Albert: We'll be broadcasting the SportsCage on Thursday, June 4 from the P.A. Boston Pizza. Come on down for the show!
- Darian Durant will join us live on location for today's SportsCage from Regina Motor Products on 620 CKRM. Darian will be in attendance around 4:30 pm and you're invited down to meet the Roughriders star and get autographs and photos at one of our biggest sponsors.
- Season tickets for the Ottawa RedBlacks have reportedly dipped by 20% from their inaugural season of 2014. That's a bad sign. Sure their club was 2-16 last year but they can't afford many financial slips. It would be horrible to see another pro football venture in Ottawa fail. Their owners have the deepest of pockets but they won't be interested in underwriting big losses.
- The Calgary Stampeders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats are believed by CFL people to have the deepest Canadian talent in the league. Are they on a collision course for a Grey Cup rematch in Winnipeg in November? Right now the Stamps are the favourite to win it all with Bodog installing them at 10/3. The Riders and Eskimos are next at 5/1 followed by Hamilton at 6/1. Rounding out the field are the Alouettes and Argonauts (8/1), the Blue Bombers (10/1) and the RedBlacks (20/1).
- If you haven't booked your summer holidays yet, consider some trips to Rider road games over the next few months. Saskatchewan, Winnipeg and Ottawa are considered by many to be the top three game atmospheres and Hamilton is a must-see too.
- The world of analytics as it pertains to football has become particularly fascinating. PAT's were converted at a 99.6% rate last year but by the CFL and NFL moving them back to 32-yards, the success rate drops to 82.5% (based on field goals of that distance in good conditions). How much will this stat urge coaches to go for two point conversions this season? Analytics have made the world of coaching far easier because now coaches can explain tactical errors by saying, "the numbers say we should have done it".
- The Stanley Cup Conference Finals are both going to Game 7s for the first time since 2000. However it appears interest is waning with our short summers becoming the more-popular choice for finding things to do.
- Former NHLer and 1986 Stanley Cup champion Ryan Walter was a fascinating presenter at the Leadership Impact luncheon at the Delta Regina on Tuesday. He discussed the power of Positive Forward Thinking versus useless Negative Past Thinking. The thing I took away the most from the 45-minute presentation was that the person you will become is shaped by the people you hang around with now, and the books that you read. If that's the case, I think I'm in great shape! Thanks a million to Roughrider Chaplain Rod Donison for the invitation to attend.
- It seems to me the CBC telecasts always interview North American players between periods and after games on their telecasts. On Wednesday night we heard from Patrick Maroon and Patrick Kane. Maybe it was "Patrick Night"? European players seem to be getting ignored - which is fine with me - but the notion struck me on Wednesday.
- What I'm NOT Hearing About: The Memorial Cup. Even the hockey people aren't talking about the CHL championship tournament in Quebec City. It certainly would have been a lot more interesting if Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters had won the OHL. But it promises to be a lot more interesting next year when the Memorial Cup is held in Red Deer, Alberta. Either way, I wouldn't want to be trying to market junior hockey these days. The NHL is sucking up all the eyeballs and advertising dollars in hockey these days.
- Interesting that the Kootenay Ice hired Luke Pierce as their new head coach, who joins the WHL from the BCHL's Merritt Centennials where he was Coach/GM. It's an out-of-the-blue hire by the Ice but I wouldn't question GM Jeff Chynoweth even if he hired Rob Ford as head coach. He's got the Midas Touch.
- It's rare that I'm driving around downtown Regina over the noon hour but this week I was stunned that no noon hour joggers have been picked off by our crazy drivers. The exercise-lovers seem to dodge in and out of traffic wearing earbuds with belief they'll always have the right-of-way. Just when you think that, THUMP!
- Two words for motorcyclists: organ donors.
- I gnash my teeth when I see the age of all the panhandlers standing on our city's boulevards. They're kids! Get a shower and get a job. Please!
- Calling all ROUGHRIDER FANS--book your stateroom for Football Fan Cruise Feb 6-13, 2016, sailing to the Eastern Caribbean with hosts Rod Pedersen (Voice of the Riders) and Carm Carteri (former Roughrider), as well as Chris Walby & David Black (former Blue Bombers). Book with Christine@IxtapaTravel.ca before May 29th to receive FREE CLASSIC BEVERAGE PACKAGE (valued at $700/stateroom).
THAT'S ALL FOR THIS WEEK! SEE YOU IN THE CAGE AT 4 PM