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Thursday, June 11, 2015

THURSDAY RODSERVATIONS

EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK

1 - Immediately after the Roughriders' Wednesday afternoon workout here in Saskatoon the team announced it had released 3-year veteran non-import receiver Alex Anthony.  Originally drafted by the Riders in the 5th round of the 2013 CFL Canadian College Draft, it appeared that Alex was finally coming into his own.  He had a solid showing at the Florida minicamp and appeared to carry it over to main camp.  However the powers-that-be saw otherwise.

However as camp wore on it became apparent that the Wilfred Laurier product was going to have a tough time finding a spot on the roster, even as a back-up.  We've been reporting for two weeks about the solid stable of Canadian receivers the Riders have under contract and competition has been fierce.  Rob Bagg isn't going anywhere and with the emergence of younger Canadians such as Alex Pierczalski, Alex Carroll and first round pick Nic Demski, the writing was on the wall.  Perhaps Anthony was one of the "bubble" players head coach Corey Chamblin referred to on Tuesday.

And, I'm told, Anthony was given his release well in advance of the first mandatory roster cutdown date so that he could land a spot on another CFL team.  Don't be surprised if that happens.

2 - It was likely a very sombre, discouraging drive for Alex Anthony out of Saskatoon but he left with his head held high.  He was classy upon his departure, writing on Twitter: "Life happens.  Move on and stay positive.  I will never forget my time here.  Great organization and amazing fans!  Thank you Rider Nation!"

3 -  As we speak, the Roughriders football operations staff is huddling up to formulate a roster for Saturday's preseason game against Edmonton in Fort McMurray (8:00 pm, TSN, CKRM Rider Radio Network).  This much is known; Darian Durant will start at quarterback but won't see action past the first quarter.  And former Stampeder Keenan MacDougall will start at safety in place of the injured Tyron Brackenridge.  Beyond that, who knows?  Chamblin was asked by reporters how many players will make the trip and he was coy with his answer, laughing that they'll have enough to field a team for four quarters.  At this point, I don't think they even know for sure.  The public will know by Frida afternoon.

4 - The importance of "winning" Saturday's preseason game will be bantied about in the days leading up to the game but Chamblin's already covered that.  He expects Eskimos coach Chris Jones will be out to win however Saskatchewan is more intent on evaluating their depth players.  The Riders were 1-1 in exhibition games in each of the last two seasons, but it's how you play in the games that matters.  On June 14, 2013 in Edmonton, when rookie Sunseri led the team on a game-tying drive with a 1:00 to go and Graig Newman sealed the win with a pick six in the dying seconds, I knew there was something special in the making.  The Riders will be looking for a "special" performance out of their players Saturday night, no matter what the scoreboard says at the end.

5 - Players I'll be paying the most attention to in the Edmonton game: Darian Durant (obviously), centres Dan Clark and Corey Watman, tackles Fulton, Adock, Phillip and Richards, receivers Ryan Smith and Jamel Richardson, defensive tackle Rory Connop, middle linebackers Shea Emry, Akwasi Antwi and Jake Doughty, defensive backs Keenan MacDougall and Paul Woldu, kickers Chris Milo and Ray Early and a rash of youngsters like Nic Demski, Melvin Abankwah, Devin Wilson, Naaman Roosevelt, Marrio Norman and Eltoro Freeman.  Players will be moving in and out at a frantic pace but we'll do our best to keep on top of it.

6 - FATHERS:  Are your wife and kids hounding you for ideas for a Father's Day gift?  Ask for a Fit Bit.  I've been raving about mine since I first strapped it on and the conversation continues daily since most of the Roughrider coaches wear them as well.  The device monitors your steps in a day, heartrate, calories burned, distance walked and stairs climbed.  Rider coach Corey Chamblin says he habitually walks 30,000 steps during a typical day of training camp.  By comparison, I strive to reach 10,000 per day!  Chamblin noticed CBC's Glenn Reid was wearing one on Wednesday morning and chirped, "How many steps you at?  I'm at 5,000!"  I'm glad he didn't ask me, because I was ashamed to admit it was only at 1200.  You can get a Fit Bit Charge at SportChek or Best Buy for around $180.  Just like the coaches wear.

7 - Many of you will know a regular caller into the SportsCage who goes by the nickname "Sarge".  He's a war veteran of many tours overseas in the Afghanistan War but retired after a 25-year career with the Canadian Armed Forces at the age of 43.  He's an old gym buddy of mine but lives in Saskatoon now and showed up at Rider camp on Wednesday with a 1966 Grey Cup football autographed by the entire Roughriders team!  He discovered the ball in a box at his parents' house.  The signatures are as plain as day, and feature the likes of Ron Lancaster, George Reed, Alan Ford, Ted Urness, etc.  Immediately he asked me the ball's worth and I was stumped.  Anybody have any idea?  He's currently considering what to do with the priceless heirloom, including donating it to the football club.

8 - I continue to marvel at the passion of Rider Pride here in the Bridge City.  There is Rider merchandise EVERYWHERE.  And no matter what restaurants Luc Mullinder and I frequent daily, the patrons all know us and come over to chat about the team.  Invariably they ask, "How's the team looking?"  I always respond with, "Like Grey Cup champs!" but when we dig deeper into the conversation, I tell them that we have a serious Grey Cup contender on our hands.  Football maven John Lynch has gone so far as to predict a 14-4 season, but that's without seeing a milli-second of training camp.  Who knows?  Maybe he's right.  But it's exciting to know this team has a chance.

9 - We are deep in the throes of the Roughriders but a lot of talk on Wednesday around here centred on the latest lease fiasco between the Arizona Coyotes and the City of Glendale.  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman discussed the matter in the second intermission of Wednesday night's Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final and not surprisingly, he took the Coyotes' side.  It should be noted that both Coyotes GM Don Maloney and head coach Dave Tippett say they've been through all this before and expect a reasonable and peaceful solution to be found.  It's interesting to read the comments of media and fans regarding Coyotes ownership and hockey in the Valley in general.  After spending hours discussing this situation with the team's owners, I've concluded you can't paint these guys with the same brush as Coyotes' ownership in the past.  However they're all lumped in together.  And as for hockey fans in that market, they're passionate and loyal.  However at present there just aren't enough of them.

Of course this latest lease fiasco has people in this city suggesting the team be moved to Saskatoon.

STOP.  Just stop.  Stop.

The Blades are an afterthought and your minor league baseball team just folded. It's a fantastic city but who on earth believes the NHL could work here?

And I continue to hear more about Regina while in Saskatoon than I do in Regina!

10 - Thursday is D-Day for Kelly McCrimmon.  The Owner/GM/Coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings has until June 11 to accept or decline a management position offer with the Toronto Maple Leafs.  What a conundrum!  Crim must be having some sleepless nights this week.  I put my head together with hockey writer Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon Star Phoenix Wednesday and discussed the matter.  On one hand, this could be Kelly's last shot at the NHL and he was hand-picked by the new Leafs regime as the top junior hockey mind in western Canada.  On the other hand, the Wheat Kings are entering a very special season in which they're expected to seriously challenge for a Memorial Cup title, which would be their first-ever.  If McCrimmon were to accept the job, he'd then have to find a new Governor, GM and coach and things haven't worked out that well for the Wheat Kings when Kelly's not on the bench.  Whatever he decides, we wish him well.  He deserves the best.

ANOTHER HOCKEY NOTE:  Happy 78th birthday to my Dad!  He's the best, and toughest, man I've ever known.  And up until his retirement, he was the longest-serving employee of the Dallas Stars (26 years)!

------

THAT'S ALL FOR ANOTHER DAY! THANKS FOR CHECKING IN...
RP
@sportscage
Instagram: ridervoice

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

#10
The question is, why would Kelly McCrimmon or anyone else for that matter want anything to do with the Toronto Maple Laughs?
It's one thing to take on a hockey challenge but dealing with Toronto media would negate any benefits.

Anonymous said...

Oooohhhh ..... Alex Anthony got released. Is that really that big a shock. He had 2 catches 2 years ago. If cabana boy Rod wouldn't make it sound like every Rider draft pick is a future all star then nobody would even know who this ham and egger is.

Anonymous said...

But if McCrimmon leaves the Wheat Kings then who will Rod and all the Pats fans keep blaming when the Pats lose to them. Because we all know that only happens because the WHL gives McCrimmon preferential treatment.

Anonymous said...

That's why the players love Rod.

GWil26 said...

There are no "ham and eggers" on CFL rosters, just some guys who get opportunity and some who don't. You have absolutely no idea what these guys put into their profession but you sure dont mind being crass and rude about who they are.

Had we sustained 2 or 3 canadian receiver injuries in the last couple years maybe he steps in and lights it up but the opportunities were never here. Hope he finds a roster somewhere and gets a shot.

Anonymous said...

Yes Rod. Anthony will be picked up by another team.
Players who get cut BEFORE the first pre-season game are always in high demand.

Anonymous said...

The mouth breathers are in full force this morning.

Bitch bitch bitch

Anonymous said...

FLUSH, that's the sound of Brandon's Memorial Cup dream going down the toilet.

Too funny.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rod,
The traffic hits must be slow on the ole blog, so your resorting to the tried and true Regina / Saskatoon thing eh?

Anonymous said...

what no mention of the womens world cup of football?

Anonymous said...

Kelly McCrimmon needs to go to the NHL. If he doesn't he'll always wonder, and he can always come back. The comparison I use is Brian Kilrea. Kilrea won a couple of Memorial Cups, but he spent two years with the Islanders. He was a better coach when he came back to the OHL. Terry Simpson is another one who could have stayed forever in the WHL, but he moved on to. McCrimmon probably looks at a guy like Brent Sutter and knows he could feed him his lunch so you always want to prove yourself or see what you have on the biggest stage.

My prediction is he'll go the the Mapler Leafs.

Anonymous said...

Good write up today. Always amazed with the negativity. There are so many people out there who hate / complain about everything!

Tough call for McCrimmin – wouldn’t be easy to leave his current role. But also tough not to take a shot in the best league in the world.

Rod – do you plan on continuing with your “Under the Helmet” segment? Also enjoyed those!

Brad

Anonymous said...

Another great report from Riders training camp, thanks Rod. I appreciate all of the info you have provided us!

Mike

Anonymous said...

You couldn't be more right with the Saskatoon comments! It is funny to see though and I live here!!! Great TC reports.

Anonymous said...

Rod,

I think that ball belongs in a museum or am Hall of fame where people can see it. Maybe Saskatchewan Sports hall of fame? Or in a glass case at the new rider offices? or in a case at the new Mosaic?

But I think some Rider fan here in the province, or country, would probably pay a couple thousand for that ball.

Travel safe.


Russ from Saskatoon

Anonymous said...

I would hope Sarge would do the right thing and donate the ball to the Sask Sports Museum, or alternatively, to a charity of his choice which could then auction it off at their fundraiser.

Anonymous said...

Rod you are right regarding ...Quote "And I continue to hear more about Regina while in Saskatoon than I do in Regina!". All you hear in Saskatoon about Regina is the ongoing crime, how bad the potholes are and many other negative things about the "2nd largest city" in Saskatchewan. Please do not compare our great city with yours.

Anonymous said...

It's time to finally admit that the coyotes don't belong in Arizona and should never have moved there. It's clearly not a hockey market and the issue doesn't need to be forced any longer. Why is it so hard to believe that Saskatchewan couldn't support an NHL team? The fan base is much stronger here.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Jim.

Anonymous said...

My older brother Frank lives in the States and he recently sent me a new device called Fan Bit ($99 US).

It is strapped on your neck and monitors your number of chews, calories consumed, time sitting and stairs avoided.

It can give you real time reading on how many burgers, fries and wings you consume, how many ounces of beer or whiskey, how often you hiss, boo, heckle or cheer and at what db level.

Best of all it can monitor your heart rate when your team is winning or losing, and your blood pressure during any over-time situation.

It also has a feature you can program to alert you to when there is a new post in the comment section of this blog and a friendly reminder as to when the Sports Cage is starting.

I lent it to my friend Harvey and he is now striving for 50 wings a day so he is in proper shape for the Rider's home opener.

Old Hank

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Brad and Mike, another great column. Thanks Rod for all the info and comments. As for the comments section, I suppose there are a--holes everywhere.
Dave in the Hat

Anonymous said...

Coyotes will be moving to Regina if the City of Glendale goes through with breaking it's contract. Sorry Saskatoon in the weeds of Regina again.

Anonymous said...

hahahah heh mr anonymous like you should be talking. Saskatoon has no crime and no potholes really? Oh ya we got the Riders

Anonymous said...

I disagree with you Dave. Studies have established that all the a--holes are in Saskatoon and that there are none in the Hat. In fact, everyone who wears a hat is a cool Cat!

Doug in the Cap.

Anonymous said...

To the annon saying don't compare your city to ours. We don't, that was the whole point, you guys are always worried about us , we forgot who you were long ago. Kick rocks. As for an NHL team in Saskatoon, it ain't happnin peeps, sorry. You cant even have a CFL team, you think you can support an NHL team? hahahahahhahahah. Regina could because of the people, Saskatoon.......no chance......bunch of hippies. Enjoy your super amazing bridges and lovely water, just don't go near either if you wanna guarantee your safety....

Jack Mofo from REGINA

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of bitter nobodies out there. And yet, they keep coming back here every day. Thanks for the blog hits, I'm sure Rod's advertisers appreciate the traffic!

Stan

Anonymous said...

The Riders should offer lifetime season's tickets to Sarge in exchange for the ball.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why Saskatoon thinks it could support an NHL team. Drawing a few suckers to an NHL exhibition game won't convince anyone your a serious candidate. No shortage of cities that have expressed interest in NHL teams; Quebec City, Las Vegas, Seattle, Hamilton/Southern Ontario,Kansas City, Houston, Seattle, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Portland, Hartford, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Norfolk, New Orleans, Cincinnati and Baltimore.
Keep dreaming Saskatoon

cflsteve said...

I have to agree there just are not enough Hockey fans in the desert for an NHL team at this point.
Bettman stealing clubs from smaller Canadian Markets and forcing them into Atlanta (again), Miami, and Phoenix just because of market size.
Get those teams back to smaller yet much much bigger hockey markets like Winnipeg. Quebec City, where NHL will be THE biggest thing, should be next as well as a smaller yet big hockey market in Portland, where it will be on par with NBA and MLS. Also the winterhawks will be a great compliment to an NHL team. Portland has a new and old pro style arena which they can fill for all 3 NBA, NHL, WHL
Those same hockey fans in Phoenix could be served by another western NHL team moving it AHL club to the new PAC AHL division for now and retry latter in the future if the demand is there. Right now the NHL is a distant 4th to NBA, NFL, and MLB in Phoenix.

JMO

BO Don said...

Happy Birthday to the OLD GUY

cflsteve said...

Great battle at C with two up and coming starting Olineman. Better to have two starting calibre C than one with both having the ability to play OG as well

Anonymous said...

Am involved in lots of different organizations in Saskatoon, both sports related and not. Why is it that the only place I hear talk of NHL in Saskatoon is on this blog??

Anonymous said...

Because, if you listened to the sportscage you would of heard some lame brain saying "move the Yotes to Saskatoon for one season and see if it works". Riiiiggghhhtttt

Anonymous said...

canada 0 vs new zealand 0 what a barn burner!!!
non stop action lol

Anonymous said...

Anon #2 vs Alex Anthony:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. "
Theodore Roosevelt

Anonymous said...

Regina is not getting an NHL team.
Saskatoon is not getting an NHL team.
Let me clear up the arguement, Saskatchewan is not getting an NHL team! lol

Anonymous said...

Anybody signed Alex Anthony yet ........ didn't think so

Anonymous said...

Anthony is currently fielding offers from 6 CFL teams, and getting some NFL interest.

Anonymous said...

Rod - a Fitbit HR can be purchased at Costo for $145.

Anonymous said...

yeah but he chooses to pay 180 just because thats how he rolls. kinda the same as paying 5$ for mud from starbucks

Anonymous said...

I light Cuban cigars with 100 dollar bills. So what, do what I want.

Anonymous said...

If Anthony is that good that he's getting offers from 6 CFL teams and the NFL then the Riders coaches and management must be absolute idiots to cut him. LOL

Anonymous said...

Did I miss anything ..... has Anthony signed anywhere ..... lol