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Thursday, June 18, 2015



1 - THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN:  Describing their time in Saskatoon as "awesome", Corey Chamblin and the Saskatchewan Roughriders officially broke 2015 training camp Wednesday afternoon and returned to Regina to get ready for the season.  Perhaps camp isn't officially "over" since they have one preseason game remaining and the final wave of cuts still looms on Sunday.  For nervous rookies and those "on the bubble", there are still a few sleepless nights ahead.

So what exactly do we have in the 2015 Roughriders?  It's still far too early to tell.  It's not the All Star-laden bunch of 2013 and it's not the ragtag bunch of 2014.  One thing's for certain -- it's a fairly young group.  Back-up quarterback Kevin Glenn is the oldest at 36 followed by 33-year old Jamel Richardson and 32-year old Darian Durant.  The core group of receivers which includes Chris Getzlaf, Weston Dressler and Rob Bagg all hover around 30 and then there's a fairly steep drop off in age after that.  To steal a movie line, "Our kingdom is young.  Our stories have not yet become legend."

By the way, has it already been a week since the last noteboook column??  These weeks are going by like days.  Hopefully that doesn't continue all season.

2- AS FOR SASKATOON:  It remains a beautiful, bustling, vibrant city.  It's an excellent place to stage training camp and the community is always waiting with open arms for the club.  The Leader Post's Murray McCormick reports that training camp will likely return to Saskatoon in 2016 however it will be held in Regina's New Mosaic Stadium in 2017.  We assume camp will be back in the Bridge City right after that.  Being Saskatchewan's largest city, Saskatoon continues to long for a pro sports franchise.  They should get one however the NHL is a pipedream and I'm told an AHL franchise is an impossibility.  A CFL franchise could likely work, but it would be years and years away.  There were rumblings of a new football stadium for Saskatoon three years ago but as we sit here today, we're not any closer to that being a reality.

3 - BRING ON THE STAMPS:  The Roughriders will play their preseason finale Friday night at 7:30 at Mosaic Stadium against the Calgary Stampeders (CKRM Rider Radio Network).  The forecast for the game continues to change hourly, with the first prediction I saw calling for clear skies and 24 degrees.  As of Wednesday evening, it had been modified to include a 60% chance of showers.  It will likely change many times more before kickoff.  But if it rains, so be it.  The farmers need rain far more than the Riders need sun.

With the game not being televised, you're going to have to buy a ticket to see what the club's been cooking up the past three weeks.  And at this point we're not sure what the roster will look like however we received a tip on Wednesday that veteran defensive end John Chick will not be in the lineup.  That may change too.

4 - LAPO RETURNS:  CFL on TSN panelist Paul Lapolice returned for another season of the Coach's Playbook in the SportsCage on Wednesday presented by the Press Box Sports Bar.  From his home in Winnipeg, Paul reported that he served as a guest coach for Argonauts training camp and filled an entry level position, charting plays.  He said it was a fantastic experience.  As for the Argos placing quarterback Ricky Ray on the 6-game injured list to start the season, Lapolice feels it won't serve as a major blow to the club.  He feels Trevor Harris is ready to fill the void, and the team had been planning for this for months. Regarding Winnipeg Blue Bomber camp, Lapolice reported that second round pick Addison Richards has returned from injury and looked great the past few days.

As for the Press Box Sports Bar, they have 10 tickets left for Friday's game.  For $50 you'll get a game ticket, transportation to and from the game, a burger and Molson product.  Call 306-924-0111 to reserve your seat or stop in and ask a server.

5 - PLAY IT AGAIN SAM.  OR DON'T:  With rookie defensive end Michael Sam walking out on Montreal Alouettes camp on Friday, he can add another term to his resume.  Quitter.  No one's saying what the personal reasons are for Sam's departure, but the popular notion is that he saw the writing on the wall and cut his losses.  It's disappointing he didn't see the venture through and as Alouettes GM Jim Popp told reporters, Sam's football career is likely over unless he returns to Canada.

6 - TROUBLE IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL:  As if a 2-16 inaugural season wasn't bad enough for the expansion Ottawa RedBlacks, they looked dismal in two lopsided preseason losses.  40-year old quarterback Henry Burris put it in perspective saying they played two exhibition games with the benefit of only one week of training camp but many CFL observers feel the RedBlacks could be an even worse team in 2015.  Hopefully that's not the case but if it is, can the fanbase withstand it?  We may be about to find out.  Ottawa visits Montreal on Thursday evening to kickoff the brand new season.

The RedBlacks have a 40-year old quarterback.  Incidentally the Saskatchewan Roughriders' president and head coach are both under 40.

7 - THE GREATEST BLUE BOMBER EVER?:  The topic came up this week in Winnipeg in a poll to decide who's the greatest Winnipeg Blue Bomber ever.  The list was whittled down to Chris Walby and Milt Stegall.  This is for Bomber fans to decide but if I had a vote, it would have to be for Walby.  I mean, Stegall never won anything during his time in Blue & Gold other than a boatload of individual awards.  Plus Walby's from there, if that counts for anything.

Incidentally you can join Walby and fellow Blue Bomber Hall of Famer David Black along with Carm Carteri and me on the inaugural Football Fan Cruise through the Caribbean next February.  The sooner you book, the cheaper it is.  Contact Christine at Ixtapa Travel in Winnipeg at for information.

8 - MOVING THE SEASON UP:  The news broke last week courtesy the Calgary Sun's Scott Mitchell that all nine CFL teams are in favour of moving the regular season up to begin as early as June 1 next year.  The number one reason is to sell tickets in warmer weather, and to avoid playing playoff games in inhumanely cold temperatures.  However the hold-up is TV rightsholder TSN who isn't fond of the lower ratings in the summer months.  It's a back-and-forth issue and everyone has an opinion, and stake, in it.  The CFL feels the NHL is a bigger threat than the NFL and is wary of battling the Stanley Cup Finals in June.  However the way it is now, the CFL battles both the NHL and NFL in the fall.   Other factors include the final NFL cuts just prior to Labour Day and the reluctance to hold the CFL Draft ahead of the NFL Draft.  It's going to take some deep thinking.

9 - RECOVERY MONTH:  Have you been affected by the demons of addictions?  Of course you have, whether it's you yourself, someone in your family or someone close to you.  Well September has been tabbed Recovery Month and former NHL goaltender Clint Malarchuk will be speaking in Regina about his struggle with addiction and his personal success story.  The Recovery Day Luncheon will be held on September 22 at the Conexus Art Centre featuring Malarchuk and I've been given the responsibility of selling tables and tickets for the event.  It promises to be an inspirational and positive day!  For ticket information please call 306-535-4552, email or go to  Tickets are only $40.

10 - HOCKEY NOTES:  Next week will be jam-packed for the NHL with the Awards Show next Wednesday in Las Vegas and then Round 1 of the Entry Draft on Friday in Sunrise, FL ... Congrats to Regina's Bruce Franklin, a full-time scout with the Chicago Blackhawks, who won his third Stanley Cup ring on Monday evening.  He told the SportsCage on Tuesday that he's taking his daughter to Thursday's Stanley Cup Parade in Chicago ... It's a foregone conclusion that Connor McDavid and Jake Eichel will go 1-2 in the Draft to Edmonton and Buffalo but no one knows who the Arizona Coyotes will select at #3.  Franklin says the Coyotes will have the luxury of taking the top defenceman available in the draft and you can't understate the importance of blueliners.  Bruce said to take, for example, Conn Smythe Trophy winner Duncan Keith ... It was disappointing to learn that former Regina Pats captain Barret Jackman has likely seen his tenure with the St. Louis Blues come to an end after 13 seasons.  Barret's poised to become a free agent and the Blues don't intend to re-sign him.  Interestingly, Jackman is the longest-tenured pro athlete in St. Louis dating back to 2002 ... A bevy of NHL players will be in Rouleau on Thursday for the 4th Annual Hockey & Hearts Charity Classic hosted by Keith Aulie of the Edmonton Oilers.  John Lynch and I will be on hand for the SportsCage on 620 CKRM at 4:00 pm live from Rouleau Town Hall ... The wisest marketing slogan I heard this week, "Preparation H: Don't stand for hemorrhoids".


Instagram: ridervoice


Anonymous said...

Yup, Michael Sam is a quitter. Just like a certain rider player quit on his team half way through the season.

Anonymous said...

But he still made the Rider Plaza

Parkside said...

The NFL cuts prior to Labour Day is a huge factor. But if they found some common ground, sometimes even a week makes a difference. I'm good either way. I don't mind the cold late in the season.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about moving the season up a whole month but a couple weeks wouldn't hurt. That way the CFL could do some cross promotion with the NHL whom I feel is the lesser of the two threats. The NFL is actively going after football fans in this country and it blows me away how the CFL is oblivious to this. Perhaps the new commish has a plan in place to combat it but Cohon sure seemed like he didn't do squat.

The CFL ought to be asking fans and non-fans what they need to do to get people back. We have large and passionate fan base; utilizing that will help to grow the game. Be honest and don't try to sugarcoat things. If there is an inferiority complex going on regarding Canadian NFL fans' attitude towards the CFL, ask those fans what would get them into the CFL. Tailgating, fantasy football, all those things need to be included in the discussion.


Anonymous said...

Did Michael Sam have a business to go to? There's a big difference anon 1. Put your hate somewhere else! #LOSER

Anonymous said...

He made the plaza?? I guess the riders were able to find him.

Anonymous said...

The Boys are back in town finally !!

Anonymous said...

If they can't find you then you lose you spot in the plaza.

Anonymous said...

Ohhhh the irony!!!
Michael Sam won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at last year's ESPY Awards.

Anonymous said...

A quitter is a quitter. If his business was so important, I wonder why he started the season. Pretty disrespectful to his teammates.

Anonymous said...

One guy played professional football for how many years. The other realized he was never gonna play professional football and ran back to mommy. Nuff said. Be glad when we don't have to talk about Sam anymore, the guy has done ZERO in professional sports.

But in the words of one legendary rider, and football Friday analyst "It's all part of it"

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Bomber fan, but if I was it would be Leo Lewis. What a talented running back he was on those great Bomber teams 50 years ago.

Anonymous said...

As a season ticket holder with my Riders, I would like to see the season start earlier, although it would be better to wait until 2017 and the new stadium where we would have cover from the rain. The only risk for the TV rating will be if the Habs and Leafs go deep into the play-offs. But what are the odds of that ever happening?

The Grey Cup at the end of October would be perfect.

Old Hank

Anonymous said...

Great column RP... Glad to be able to comment back:

1) "And at this point we're not sure what the roster will look like however we received a tip on Wednesday that veteran defensive end John Chick will not be in the lineup. That may change too."
- John Chick does not need to 'make the team' nor does he need practice with defensive schemes. If he needs a rest prior to the regular season than that is what is best for the team.
- If the media is hoping that Chick is in the line-up, then the media is selfish and not looking out for what is best for the Riders

2) Re Michael Sam, "Sam's football career is likely over unless he returns to Canada". Seems a strange comment when in the same paragraph we heard, "The popular notion is that he saw the writing on the wall".
- Okay, if the writing was on the wall that he was going to be unable to make the CFL, then how can it be that 'unless he returns to Canada' his career is over? Doesn't make sense.
- And for this story not to be about an openly gay football player is a bunch of crap. There are many college stand-outs in the CFL, and there are many that have great NFL connections and stories from that league, what makes this an interesting story is that this man 'came out'; that is the reason everyone was following him - let's not deny it.

3) "Trouble in the Nation's Capital" and "can the fanbase withstand it?"
- The difference between this horrible Ottawa football team and the others that did not make it, is that they have a brand new stadium. For fans to be expected to show up and watch a losing team in a run-down old stadium compared to a new state of the art one, well... I am not worried.
- Does having a 40-year old at QB help or hurt the situation? Hey folks, come on out and enjoy our new CFL football team the RedBlacks. We are building a strong future here and we are building it around the oldest QB in the league (oxymoron statement).
- Last year the RedBlacks got off to a bad start when on draft day, with the spotlight on them and everyone waiting to see who the future star-players will be, Ottawa instead traded away their #1 pick and killed the momentum from that very moment. A real missed opportunity.

Apologies for my large comment reply...

Kel in Victoria

Anonymous said...

Still a bit more to say...

4) "Greatest Bluebomber ever?"
- really???
- I just went and threw-up my breakfast

5) "Moving the Season up?"
- If any of the cities with both an NHL and a CFL team happen to have a game on the same night, especially with the NHL in playoff times, the CFL will be embarrassed (and I am not watcher of hockey myself, but the reality is what it is)
- Many of the middle age folks will be watching NHL playoffs, while many of the more hip youngsters will be watching the NBA playoffs, I am really not sure just how far the CFL minds have their heads up their a**es when they they think moving the CFL up to compete against both high profile leagues is a good idea. This is one instance where TSN actually has it right to stick to this point.
- I live a good life - football starts with the CFL, and then I watch much College ball through the bowl season, then I watch one or two NFL playoff games to cap off my football year. Then I watch the NBA (while others watch either NBA or NHL) through to the playoffs, then the CFL starts again. Life is good - don't f*ck with it!!!
- Please stop calling for the CFL to move up it's season!!!

Kel in Vic

Wanda Harron said...

Pretty easy to make rude remarks without owing up to it. Wish these anonymous posters would start having the guts to leave their names.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous photos on today's Stanley Cup Victory parade and celebration on the Chicago Tribune website.

Also, Kel needs to take a chill pill or get his ass out of Victoria and back to a life in Sask.

I am 100% behind moving the CFL season up. Kel may have forgotten how it can be sitting outside in extreme cold weather. Now if all 9 teams were in domes like the Lions then ...


A Fish call Wanda

Anonymous said...

'If the media is hoping that Chick is in the line-up, then the media is selfish and not looking out for what is best for the Riders'

Sorry to tell you this Kel, but it's not the media's job to look out for what's best for the Riders. Nor is the media supposed to be a cheerleader for the team...but we know that doesn't always happen (hey Scruffy). The media's job is to present an unbiased opinion for readers and listeners. It is the Riders' job to look out for what's best for the Riders.


Anonymous said...

Rod, maybe you've already discussed this with your CFL insiders the CFL prepared to have the Canadian College draft before the NFL draft if they truly plan on starting the season a month earlier?

The date of the NFL draft has always been (from what i've been told)one of the road blocks for starting the CFL season earlier.

It only makes sense to hold the CFL draft AFTER the NFL draft. Just imagine the issues we would have had this year if we started camp in the first week of May and the top 15 CFL prospects sat out waiting for the NFL draft to take place and see if they either get drafted or sign a FA deal following the draft.


Anonymous said...

I was for moving the season up but then realized that this would interfere with kels TV schedule. No need to move the season if Kel is happy.

Happy said...

There is this great line in Thin Lizzy's song "The Boys are Back in Town" that seems apt for this week's game:

"Friday night they will be dressed to Kill
Down at Tino's Bar and Grill
The drink will flow and the blood will spill
If the boys want to fight, you better let them


The nights are getting warmer, it won't be long
It won't be long till summer comes
now that the bays are here again"

Go Riders!

Anonymous said...

When Ottawa folds the CFL will have zero cred, it barely has any now.

Anonymous said...

What I really want to know is ...... has anybody signed Alex Anthony yet ?

Handy Andy said...

Great column, RP!
1) I say let's move the schedule up one or two weeks at most. It solves all the concerns ... less chance of colder weather in early November than late November.
2) Chick has no need to play ... great call by the Riders. They can look at the other DE's. Chick played enough last week.
3) Sam's got problems, to be blunt. Either he's not capable of playing (and that's why he left) or he's not good enough (and that's why he left). Notice how there was a victory parade when he arrived and he snuck out like a mouse when he left. No reasons given.
4) Greatest Bomber ever could be #85 Milt, but they had great teams before I was born and some of those players should be in the mix.

Anonymous said...

Chad Johnson just edges out Michael Sam in the greatest Alouettes players of all time category. Of course, they are basically on the bottom of the pile.

Anonymous said...

Being gay isnt the only reason we are talking about Sam. We are also talking about him because he sucks and can't make the team. Tino Sunseri isn't gay and we talk about him. Also the greatest blue bomber of all-time is Mike Abou-Mechrek. Also move the season back a month. It would be good for the teams that matter, Wpg, Sask. Calgary.

Steve from Grey

Anonymous said...

agree moving up the season,makes no sense playin in -40!!

Anonymous said...

So Playboy of Regina has jumped all aboard the cruise ship "Blue Bombers" on the Carribean. He seems to be living the high roller $$$$, balling $$$$ good life while working for a little known country AM radio station on the prairie's. Finest restaurants, finest night clubs, smoking big cigars, Miami, Phoenix, Vegas, Mexico, Carribean's, etc, etc. Playboy of Regina, that's a fine recipe for making an appearance on the Bachelor with Tino. Blue Bombers????? Isn't that considered treason In Riderville?

Lol and a bit jealous.

Anonymous said...

TBrack's brother was saying he knows high profile football players that are gay, they just keep their private life private. That's what the media and the bleeding hearts need to realize: not all straight people are homophobic and care about a persons sexuality. Bragging about the fact that you're gay will not gain you any more respect. Look at Rick Mercer, he's gay and nobody cares. Why? Because he doesn't make it a big deal about it and therefore it isn't. Michael Sam decided that making a big deal out of the fact that he's gay would help his draft stock and of course the media was all over it. But the reality remains, if you can't play, you're out.

Mike Hunt

cflsteve said...

Another issue with moving the season up a month would be training camp and the end of the semester for rookies who are still enrolled in school.
Riders, TiCats, Als, and Argo's are all now nicely set up at respective Universites for TC.
With semsters and finals ending in May sometime would any dorm space be available for the teams?
What about National Rookies? They would be joining camp late if still in school. Would/should/could they be able to take finals early?
Would the league expand rookies coming on after the semester 2 more weeks to be evaluated during the first two weeks of the season?

Anonymous said...

The Riders do have a colourful defense this year - a player named White, one named Brown, another named Green and a new player named Gray. Too bad they let Tristan Black go. Maybe we can bring in a player named Orange or Red.

Anonymous said...

It seems a bit odd that the Rides would undermine the CKRM play-by-play radio broadcast by doing a live stream with a alternate play-by-play crew of Plaster and Mullinder. Makes no sense to me. I guess Rod and Carm will be for those driving on the highway or out in a tracker. If I was a radio advertiser I would be a bit miffed. I would insist on the CKRM sound being part of the live video feed.

Old Hank

Anonymous said...

John Chick tweeted out earlier today that he is attending a Family wedding tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Riders game will be streamed on the rider site.
Sorry Rod. I know that means loss of listeners.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the spelling errors in my last post - me and Oblahma have been out on my deck pounding back cold brewskies this afternoon and listening to the Sportscage. Burp, oops ... Rock on John Frenzy!! Bombers will be last in the west ... Love ya ferever John ... the retired life is FANTASTIC !!

Old Booze-hound Hank

Anonymous said...

You'd have to be drunk to listen to Sportscage. If any more than 3 brain cells were functioning it would be too painful.

Anonymous said...

Good thing they hold training camp in Saskatoon. Can you imagine if the new Americans actually saw Regina first.

Anonymous said...

the hoppy retirement just created another meddling spewing getting in the way hang around ala john frenzy.

Anonymous said...

Steve from Grey,

So why are we not talking about the approximate 100 players cut in the first round of CFL cuts???

Correct yourself ... We are talking about Sam because he is gay!


Anonymous said...

The perfect cycle of life:

Cycle #1:
CFL July...
College football and NFL September...
Grey Cup.... College Bowl Season.... NFL playoffs...
NHL and NBA seasons play out...
NHL and NBA playoffs...

Cycle #2
CFL July...

Whoever wants to mess with the cycle of life should go 'F' themself!!!


Anonymous said...

Kenny Ploen; greatest Bomber ever.

Anonymous said...

One Rider game is going to be streamed by the team. Big deal! Other teams are doing it so why can't the Riders? I'm guessing dropping the blackout years ago killed a lot of radio listeners too. Its one game a year. If it was more, I would be some kinda pissed. Thank god its Plaster and not Nye, Gasson or Morrison doing the game. That would be about one or two levels below a Rod Black game. Then again, those idiots could then say they actually got to do play by play of a football game cuz they ain't seein no rights for 20 years. LOVE THE READ TODAY RODDY!!!!


Anonymous said...

It's very obvious your pathetic cycle of life doesn't include any celebrated CFL Grey Cup championships by the team from Saskatchewan, they of the 4 titles in a 100 plus year history, what losers!

Anonymous said...

Chris Walby is a joke compared to Kenny Ploen.

Ploen led his team to six Grey Cup appearances (1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1965), including four victories: 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962 and two losses: 1957, 1965. In the 49th Grey Cup game (1961), he scored one of the most memorable touchdowns in professional football history, eluding numerous defenders on an eighteen yard run into the endzone during overtime to win it. He was voted the 1961 Grey Cup Most Valuable Player, was selected as a divisional All-Star three times.

Kenny Ploen was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1975, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 1987, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1997, and the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2005,

Anonymous said...

The CFL could start when they do and draft when they do and still beat the weather man by playing a perfectly balanced 16 game schedule.

The Woz said...

Hey rocket scientist. Even if you average 20000 for a game at $50 a ticket that is $1 million per game. So cutting 18 games to have a "perfectly balanced" schedule would cost the league $18 million minimum. So hey you could be at the stadium on the warm weather but you will be watching a plastic bag role down the field cause there will be no cfl. Othewise brilliant idea!