Monday, June 29, 2015
MOSAIC PLACE MONDAY MORNING GOALIE
1 - ALL ABOUT DURANT: It's been a very long time since I've seen everyone running off in all different directions like they did Saturday night when Darian Durant went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon which ended his 2015 season shortly after it started. From the moment he was carted off the field with two minutes to go in the first half of the Riders' eventual 30-26 Week 1 loss to the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the rampant speculation began. In this instance, the speculation turned out to be right.
Darian went down innocently enough - without even being hit - but within seconds the theories were rampant throughout the sidelines, the stadium, the press box, the national viewing audience and the Twitterverse that his left Achilles was blown and his season would be kaput.
Now I've called enough football and hockey games to know you shouldn't go on air and speculate on an injury. Leave it to the professionals in the medical field. So I wasn't going to go out on that limb but CKRM Rider analyst Carm Carteri wasn't afraid to and - after having suffered the exact same injury himself as a player - he accurately diagnosed the wound before the second half even kicked off. However I still wasn't comfortable with reporting the Achilles news until the team actually confirmed it themselves.
And here's how that went down: Riders head coach Corey Chamblin was understandably agitated when he joined us live on CKRM's 5th Quarter Postgame Show. At that time, he still hadn't received confirmation himself and would only say, "All I know is, he's out." The interview lasted less than a minute.
15 minutes or so later, the still-upset Chamblin faced the assembled reporters in the Riders' postgame press conference room however he still didn't have an update on Durant. He told the masses - and the live listening audience on 620 CKRM - that he'd be briefed on Darian's status later in the evening and the team would then hold a news conference Monday morning to inform the world.
Good enough for me.
However when I jumped in my vehicle and turned on CKRM's SportsCage Rider Roundtable, analyst Luc Mullinder reported that the team had just issued a news release stating Durant had indeed suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and his 2015 season was over.
Chamblin was quickly hassled on social media, including by at least one local reporter, for not being forthright about Durant's situation during his postgame interviews. However the fact of the matter is Chamblin wasn't handed the bad news until minutes after the news conference had adjourned. The head coach even asked if it was possible to call the media back but by then it was too late.
Cue the hysteria in the Rider Nation. Facebook and Twitter exploded even further, with many writing the season off and some season ticket holders offering up their seats for the rest of the season. Even in the "Austin" parking lot as I was walking out, one inebriated fan in a DURANT jersey kicked a Pilsner can and screamed, "F*&K!" as he looked up at the sunset.
He summed up pretty much everyone's feelings on the matter.
2 - OUTPOURING OF SUPPORT: Social media can actually be used for good too. Here's a collection of comments from CFL-types on Twitter after Saturday's game regarding Darian:
HAMILTON QB ZACH COLLAROS: @ZCollaros7 - Prayers and well wishes for Darian Durant and Mike Reilly ... 2 great players & ambassadors for our league! Prayers 4 speedy/full recoveries
OTTAWA QB HENRY BURRIS: @HenryBurris - Darian Durant I'm feeling your pain this morning! I'm lost at words because of all the hard work you put in to achieve excellence this year!
TSN'S Rod Smith: @RodSmithTSN - I feel terrible for Darian Durant after everything he endured to get back this year. Awful first week in the CFL for the health of QB's.
CTV REGINA'S LEE JONES: @LeeJonesCTV - Feel so bad for Darian Durant. Worked so hard to get back after elbow injury. Football can be so cruel
OTTAWA REC ALEX PIERZCHALSKI: @Pierzchalski18 - Devasted at the news Darian Durant. You are in my prayers brother
FORMER SK QB KERRY JOSEPH: @kerryjoseph4 - Praying for you Lil Bro! I hope it's not serious
TSN'S MATT DUNIGAN: @MattDuniganTSN - Too many Q-Dawgs going down! Absolutely horrendous to watch. Feel for Darian Durant, Mike Reilly, Jonathan Crompton and Dan LeFevour. Heal fast. Godspeed!
VIKINGS LB BRIAN PETERS: @brian_peters10 - Prayers up for Darian Durant. #soldier
** Durant himself took to Twitter after Saturday's game writing: @DarianDurant Thanks to everyone for their prayers ... especially my fellow Q's around the league and #RiderNation
I'm usually pretty good with emphathizing with the sports figures we cover but in this case I'm at a loss for what Darian Durant is going through right now. His 2014 elbow injury was bad enough that it could have broken a lesser-athlete. He endured so much and put in so much work to come back at 100% and now this. In football terms, it's unspeakable how tragic and devastating this is for him and potentially the team.
3 - SO NOW WHAT?: If the Riders hadn't signed Kevin Glenn as an insurance policy for Durant, I'd be right there among those writing the season off. After all, that's what happened last year. The whole team sagged after the 2014 Banjo Bowl and no one could put a finger on why in time to salvage the campaign. Chamblin said this spring they felt they've strengthened the club in a lot of areas in an effort to ensure that doesn't happen again.
Surely he didn't expect it to happen at all, let alone this quickly. However on Saturday, they couldn't overcome it as a group. And to hang Saturday's loss on Durant's injury would be misplaced. After all, they were trailing 15-14 at the time of the injury and Kevin Glenn actually put the Riders into a 26-23 lead with 7:09 to go in the football game.
No, the defense was fitted with the goathorns for this loss giving up 452 yards and eschewing effective tackling. Chamblin admitted as much afterwards. (It should be noted the Bomber defense will be looking in the mirror as well, giving up 497 yards to Saskatchewan including big plays of 53, 47, 53 and 36 yards).
Is this season now a wash? Not on your life.
But the amount of work facing Chamblin, Taman, et al right now is unfathomable. I can't imagine this regime will get a pass just because Durant's out. The expectation from above should and still will be nothing short of the 2015 Grey Cup.
4 - PAGING A QUARTERBACK: The quarterback issue is one thing, but Chamblin noted that they lost four other starters as well Saturday night but the severity of their injuries wasn't immediately known after the game. The list included linebacker Shea Emry, cornerback Marshay Green, safety Keenan MacDougall and returner/receiver Nic Demski.
The havoc facing the Saskatchewan Roughriders right now is head-spinning. As the postgame show went on and on Saturday night, the worse the feeling got. Stomach-turning really.
So now the Riders are in the hunt for another quarterback, not to mention players for the other ailing positions. As far as the QB goes, the club told me preference will be given to a player who's versed in the Jacques Chapdelaine offense. That would include just about anyone who's played quarterback for the B.C. Lions between 2003 and 2013 or for the Roughriders over the past few months. Tino Sunseri would likely be an option, but would he be willing to come back two weeks after being cut by this very same club?
One thing's for sure, in this situation, Tino is holding all the cards. I'd guess his agent has been in touch with the Alouettes and Eskimos as well since Jonathan Crompton, Dan LeFevour and Mike Reilly all went down in Week 1.
What about Casey Printers? Don't scoff. The former Lions quarterback actually let it be known on Twitter Sunday that he'd be willing to come to Saskatchewan to help fill the void.
However a quick text message from me to the Roughriders basically resulted in a "Thanks but no thanks".
Case closed there. God bless technology.
The Roughriders will be holding an 11:00 am news conference on Monday and we'll likely get an indication at that time which direction they intend to go. Time is limited. Their Week 2 practice week begins on Wednesday and on Sunday they host the Toronto Argonauts (1:30 pm, TSN, CKRM Rider Radio Network).
I haven't seen the Roughriders get hit with so much turmoil all at once since the 2009 Grey Cup and the 13th Man.
Holy Smokes! Things have calmed down since Saturday night but it doesn't seem that in any way they've been stabilized.
5 - "THAT'S A BULLSH*T QUESTION MURRAY": I've mentioned that Chamblin's blood was boiling and his mind was racing in the moments after that emotional game on Saturday. But it still came as a surprise when Chamblin uttered the above response to a question posed by the Leader Post's Murray McCormick in the news conference. McCormick asked, "Was that the defense you envisioned...?" which caused Corey to go off. Carm Carteri's eyebrows raised above his glasses as we were listening live upstairs.
The message boards have had a field day with this situation but it should be noted that Chamblin apologized at the conclusion of the news conference. What was the reasoning behind the question? Surely Murray couldn't have thought Chamblin expected his team to give up 452 yards of net offense. But I shouldn't speak for McCormick. I've invited him on Monday's SportsCage to present his side of the story and am waiting to hear back.
I bet if you asked Chamblin right afterwards, he wouldn't have been able to recall much of what he said. Think for a second about what a chaotic situation that was for the man in charge of the Saskatchewan Roughriders at that period in time. I don't blame him one bit.
6 - JUST NOTES TO WRAP UP: The official attendance on Saturday was 32,288 which is 1,139 short of a sellout. The empty seats in the corners of the south endzone were an eyesore on national television. The Roughriders can't sellout their home-opener, against Winnipeg, on a Saturday night when the temperature was 29 degrees Celsius? WTH? ...
* The city was a ghost town Saturday night after the game. As I drove some friends and family home, tumbleweeds blew across the streets. Local bar owners tell me it's a $20,000 hit when the Riders lose a weekend home game ...
* Congrats to the three winners of the Twitter contest I held on Saturday from my account @sportscage. Jade, Mitch and Kelly were all appreciative recipients of Week 1 tickets and I personally handed them over outside the Rider ticket office at noon on Saturday ...
* That's what I've tabbed, "On The Ground Marketing" ...
* That was also just before CFL Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge met with the media at the north end of the New Mosaic Stadium. Regarding his Regina experience, Orridge said, "This is exactly the atmosphere you dream about as a Commissioner." ...
* Why was Indianapolis Colts lineman Ben Heenan wearing a #97 John Chick jersey in the crowd at the Riders' preseason home game against Calgary 10 days ago? Because it's the only Rider jersey in his family that doesn't have 65 HEENAN on the back ...
* I'll be interested to see the TV ratings for Friday night. The CFL's Hamilton-Calgary game - a ringadingdong dandy on TSN - was up against Round 1 of the NHL Entry Draft on Rogers Sportsnet. I honestly can't even guess which would've drawn more viewers. It should be pointed out too, that all the drama of Connor McDavid going #1 occured about an hour-and-a-half before the kickoff at McMahon Stadium. And gosh was that orange Oilers jersey hideous. Conversely I thought the new Arizona Coyotes jerseys were resplendent.
* Congratulations to the five Regina Pats who were drafted over the weekend: Sergey Zobrovsky (NY Rangers), Austin Wagner (L.A. Kings), Jesse Gabrielle (Boston Bruins), Connor Hobbs (Washington Capitals) and Colby Williams (Washington Capitals). Having Capitals birddogs Ross Mahoney and Darrell Baumgartner living in Regina certainly didn't hurt.
* Vancouver radio station News 1130 reported over the weekend the Vancouver Giants head coaching job has come down to two WHL coaching veterans: Lorne Molleken and Ryan McGill. The announcement should come this week.
* The power was out here in the southeast end of Regina from about 8:40 AM to at least 2:30 PM which was a major pain. Why was it out? We headed to Ricky's in Harbour Landing but it was empty and the workers were outside twiddling their thumbs. The lineup to Smitty's at Southland Mall was out the door. So we went to The Chimney to experience their Sunday morning brunch. It wasn't bad. I'd rate it slightly ahead of Brewster's. Any other Sunday morning suggestions in this town?
* Caught two movies over the past week: Jurassic World and Spy. Given a choice between the two, I've got to steer you to Jurassic World. It was a great, old school flick with a love story, comedic kid adventures, heart-racing suspense and no swearing. It also brought up the warm fuzzy feelings of the early 1990's when Taylor Field was dubbed "Juri-Sack Park" because of Bobby Jurasin's ferocious attack on the CFL's sack record book. Love Bobby J.
That's all for this week and thanks to Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw for sponsoring the MMG over the past 12 weeks. We're expecting to have a new sponsor in place by next Monday. In the meantime, Mosaic Place has jumped on board as the sponsor of our Roughrider game recaps.
GOD BLESS MOOSE JAW! HAVE A GREAT WEEK...