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Thursday, September 10, 2015

THURSDAY RODSERVATIONS

10 QUICK HITS

1 - THE MOOD AROUND HERE:  Our football friends from other teams across the country regularly ask, "What's the mood in Rider Nation?"  They ask whether the Riders are winning or losing, and are just interested in what's hot in the CFL's most rabid market.

And this has been a popular question since the Riders' 37-19 victory over Winnipeg in the Labour Day Classic.  Well, for anyone reading this outside of the '306' area code, I can tell you everyone is happy.  They're not talking about the Grey Cup, or the playoffs, but the Riders won last week so it's put a smile on everyone's face.  Apparently Sunday night on the Dewdney Strip they were planning the Grey Cup victory parade route, literally, but that's to be expected in the euphoria after a win like that.  But sober thought tells you the mountain is still a high one to be climbed at 1-9.

2 - THE DRIVE FOR TWO:  The Roughriders look for back-to-back wins on Saturday when they visit the Winnipeg Blue bombers in Banjo Bowl XII (4:30 pm, TSN, 620 CKRM).  CFL Game Notes have this game listed as the 11th Banjo Bowl dating back to 2004 but do the math and you'll realize it's the 12th.  That's 11 prior games and the Roughriders are 6-5 all-time since former Bomber kicker Troy Westwood gave this weekend its nickname.

Matt Nichols will start at quarterback for Winnipeg making him the 8th different starting quarterback for the Bombers in the past eight Banjo Bowls.   That may be a big reason why the Riders are 1-point favourites for this one.  Also, the forecast for Saturday's game at IG Field is 24 degrees Celsius and sunny.

3 - GREY CUP HURTING:  The last we heard, only 27,000 tickets have been sold for the 103rd Grey Cup in Winnipeg this November which would make it the lowest-attendanded Grey Cup in 50 years.  The reason?  Possibly the potential for frigid temperatures in the Manitoba capital in late-November plus the struggles of the 1-9 Riders and the 3-7 Blue Bombers.  They're the teams with the heartiest fanbases, yet likely have the least faith their clubs will make the 'big game' this season.  Incidentally, a Bomber fan put ALL of his fan gear on Kijiji this week saying he simply has had enough with the Blue Bombers.  Season tickets, jerseys, hats, you name it.  The Bombers are in BIG trouble, but we'll worry about that next week.

4 - IN A HUFF:  Sportsnet's Arash Madani cranked the rumour mill on Wednesday saying the #1 gossip in the CFL these days is regarding John Hufnagel leaving Calgary to become head coach and GM in Saskatchewan.  I caution this is just rumour, but I'm not prepared to discount it at this stage either.  I've heard rumblings about this going back to last December.  Arash is going to drop a bigger bomb about this on CKRM's SportsCage TODAY and he asked me to hold off on saying anything more until he's had a chance to go on air with his findings.

Let's put it this way -- this rumour has more to do with Hufnagel perhaps wanting out of Calgary than it does with the Roughriders trying to woo him away.  The best thing I can say about it right now is ... John Hufnagel's built the Calgary Stampeders into the CFL's model franchise - two Grey Cup wins in seven seasons - and for anyone to else to try and steal the credit or question Hufnagel's methods, well then that person's an idiot.  Huff doesn't need to put up with somebody else's fragile ego at this stage of his life and career.

Stay tuned.  This will go on well into the off-season.

A lot of this - we're told - is coming out of the Argos' office.

5 - HANG ON A SECOND:  The notion of the Stampeders being the CFL's model franchise will ruffle some feathers around here but it's true.  Even deposed Rider GM Brendan Taman said last November that the Roughriders should try to emulate the Stamps.  Now, would we trade what we have as a franchise for what they have?  Not a chance.  But Hufnagel has the best current Football Operations department in the loop.  However as far as franchise mojo goes, the Stampeders aren't even Calgary's team let alone Canada's Team.

And the fact 1.18-million people tuned into Sunday's Labour Day Classic means it was the highest-rated CFL game this season.  The Riders have also appeared in the top five most-attended CFL games so far this season.

Canada's Team indeed.  However Calgary is 8-2 and Saskatchewan is 1-9.

6 - THE UNOFFICIAL KICKOFF:  It really is too bad the rest of the country is just waking up to the fact the CFL season is on and yet we've already played 10 weeks.  But it is what it is.  Average attendance in last week's Labour Day games was 28,775 and I believe the highest was in Regina at 33,427.  Who's starting to believe the Roughriders have a chance to make the playoffs if this is in fact a brand new season in the back nine?

7 - JONES'ING:  CFL Game Notes pointed out Edmonton Eskimos head coach Chris Jones is 18-10 career as a head coach but 0-4 against Calgary's John Hufnagel.  They say that really gnaws at Jones who left Calgary on bad terms to flee for Toronto some years ago.  Has anybody paid attention -- did Jones and Huff shake hands after Monday's game?  They generally do not.  If any league does away with the traditional handshake, the CFL might be the first.  Which would be a shame.

8 - JUST NOTES:  Rider rookie Nic Demski's punt return touchdown was the 7th in the CFL this season, and the league is on pace for 13 this year which would be the most since 2005.  Demski spoke yesterday about taunting the Bombers on his touchdown on Sunday but doesn't think he'll be Public Enemy #1 this weekend going back to his hometown.  "I think I'm pretty well-respected around Winnipeg," Demski told us ... The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are on pace to win back-to-back East Division titles for the first time since 1980 and 1981 ... Saskatchewan's Bob Dyce is the first mid-season, first-time head coach to win his debut since the great Don "Sudsy" Sutherin in 1994.

9 - NFL KICKS OFF TONIGHT:    It's very exciting to note that the NFL season kicks off tonight with a classic match-up between the Patriots and Steelers at New England.  The NFL does it right with their long off-season, making fans beg for more.  However for anyone to say, "Finally the start of real football", is pathetic.  For so many reasons.  Once again, I'll be pulling for the Dallas Cowboys this season with an eye on Jon Ryan's Seahawks.  We didn't have cable TV on the farm growing up so I wasn't introduced to the NFL until Troy Aikman and the Dallas Cowboys in 1991.  Those things stick with you.

On stage with Hrudey
10 - HOCKEY RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER:  The Regina Pats have a home-and-home with the Wheat Kings this weekend including a home date Saturday night.  That should give you just enough time to watch the Banjo Bowl, then head over to the Cooperators Centre.

Meantime NHL great and current Sportsnet commentator Kelly Hrudey discussed the NHL with us at Tuesday's U of R President's Breakfast and offered these thoughts on Connor McDavid and the Oilers.

KH:  "Well I think Connor McDavid is going to have an incredible season and moreso, an incredible career.  I have not seen him live but I'm told from all my people in the hockey world that he is a generational player.  I think he's coming into an organization that's going through some positive changes.  I'm a big fan of Bob Nicholson, Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan and over time they'll turn the organization around because right now, they're not in a good place.  I don't see this team improving dramatically but over two or three years they'll learn to play the game the right way.  They won't be satisfied with what they've done the past 5,6 years because it's not acceptable.  I think this is a team that will be one to watch down the road.

"I think Connor McDavid is in a good spot simply because his coach will make him a great pro.  More than the people surrounding him in the dressing room.  It's important the organization supports him in the proper ways because, like I said, what they have in the dressing room isn't good.  Individually they're great players but not a great team and they need to get on the right track.  They need to make a big U-Turn."

What a treat it was to work with Kelly Hrudey again!  He was always one of my favourites, in fact I wore #32 for a few years in his honour.  And as a broadcaster, holy smokes is he good.

As the NHL season approaches, here's what I've found:  the Arizona Coyotes will be my American team and the Edmonton Oilers will be my Canadian team.  It's far easier to follow the Oilers because all of their games are on TV in our market.  Plus Eberle's there.  As for the Coyotes, their owner was in my car on Tuesday and you've got to stick with your friends.

------

THAT'S ALL! HAVE A GREAT DAY
RP
@sportscage
IG: riderville

32 comments:

mister winnipeg said...

re the sitch in Winnipeg

It is absolutely staggering how much goodwill the Bombers have squandered over the last six or seven years. The Big Blue was probably second only to the Riders in terms of overall fan support and enthusiasm. But the team has just lurched from one disaster to another. The only thing they managed to get right in that time was the against-all-odds construction of a new stadium, but they have screwed up pretty well everything else.

Things are now at the point where fan anger is starting to become fan apathy. This is dangerous. It's what took down the Ottawa Rough Riders back in the 90s. I have no doubt that corporate sponsorships and season ticket sales are going to plummet in the next couple of years unless things are corrected.

And things won't get any easier either. In addition to having to compete against the Jets for fan dollars, the Bombers are now going to have to compete against their AHL farm team too, the Manitoba Moose.

The Bombers have to do something to pull out of this nosedive, because they're starting to get pretty close to the ground.

Anonymous said...

Finally real football begins!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with mister Winnipeg. Bombers had a strong fan base and it is cause for concern to see the team struggle and this fan base erode. The CFL needs strong teams in every market ..... As the cliche goes --- you are only as strong as your weakest link.
Hopefully the Bomber brain trust do a proper and thorough evaluation at years end and develop a blueprint to bring this once proud franchise back to its glory years.... Too much history and success in Winnipeg to ignore their rich and storyful past.
Hope Bomber fans can hang in there.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking that O'Day and Dyce should/would be strong candidates to have the interim tags removed for next season (&beyond) but if Hufnagel becomes available, that would change the landscape. Would be difficult to ignore Hufnagel's availability.

Anonymous said...

The Bombers are a classic example of what happens when you are saddled with an inexperienced/incompetent GM. It begins and ends there as it does most. It started with Taman and continued right up to Walters. Both were the convenient hires and the results speak for themselves. Just because you were an alumni, a good ole boy, or a cheap convenient hire they results are usually bad.

The best way to become a great coach or GM is to understudy under a great coach or GM. There is a reason why people would do anything to work with Belichek. 10 years under a guy like that and your success chances are really enhanced.

I wouldn't be surprised if ET shows up in that position with the Bombers soon. His problems are apparently behind him. They like him in Hamilton because he knows who to build and stock winners. If he ever takes over Winnipeg they will be GC Champs in three years.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, the name dropping is at an ALL TIME high today. Question do you have any "regular" friends, or all of them "close"? Is the mailman a "close" friend to? Seriously Rod, the ego is through the roof today.

Rod Pedersen said...

Just talking about my life chum. Sorry if yours isn't all that interesting. Thanks for reading.

RP

Anonymous said...

Riders are not making the playoffs. They would need to go 6-2 the rest of the way...Won't happen.

Anonymous said...

People are starting to get interested in the CFL you say? I don't think so. The bumpkins and yokels had nothing else to do Sunday except watch football. The crowd was down in Calgary for a huge game. The Blue Jays are killing the CFL and the NHL is right around the corner. The league has a big problem staring them right in the peepers and they better find a way to fix it soon.

Anonymous said...

If Huffer wants to come to Regina at the end of the season, just put up a sign saying "interviews done" and open the vault.

Anonymous said...

As an Oilers fan since I was old enough to walk, WELCOME!!

JackD83 said...

Huff would want full control (gm, hc,) just like he did in Calgary. If riders are now willing to give one guy full control why not have given it to Austin when he wanted it? And im sorry Rod but i love both football leagues but the way the CFL has been throwing the flags will make me and many others turn the channel to the NFL. Add the fact our team is 1-9. If my nfl team starts strong i will be watching them on Sundays not my RIDERS.

Anonymous said...

Stamps Fan, and Season Ticket Holder here.

I would not be surprised at all, if Hufnagel is getting fed up with the inner workings of the organization. Things have really changed since the Flames bought the team.

I won't pretend that I know of anything that goes on on the football side of things, but the actually game day experience has gotten way worse. You have people who have no idea about football, running the scoreboard, on field contests, everything and it is a joke. An incompetent clock operator nearly cost them the game against Winnipeg earlier in the year. On Labour Day, some moron parked an ATV in front of the play clock, so it was obstructed for the first quarter. The scoreboard operator regularly stops updating the yardage totals in the 4th quarter. Absolute incompetence, and its getting worse.

Following the Grey Cup win, it made me sick to see all the Flames Game Day staff, who now work for the Stampeders on the field celebrating, and taking selfies, like they were somehow part of the team. The same people who would sit around and talk crap about CFL, are now 'huge fans' when they get paid to be.

If this is going on, on the entertainment side, I would imagine the football operations side are experiencing similar interference from their Big Time NHL owners.

If you walk through the Stampeders parking lot, you will see the assigned parking stalls, and the stall closest to the door is Ken King, not Hufnagel. That really says it all.

Anonymous said...

Saturday's Pats game against Brandon is at the Co-operators Centre, not the Brandt Centre. Wednesday's against P.A. is though.

FG

Anonymous said...

Agree Huff would be hard to ignore. However, if we don't hire O'Day as GM I guarantee he will be gone and most likely headed to Winnipeg.

Tough call but Huff seems like he is riding it out for his last few years ... is he a valuable increase or a temp stop gap resulting in us losing a young potential top GM.

Anonymous said...

One thing:

1) John Hufnagel played in Saskatchewan and he understands this market. He's at a point where Wally Buono was at the end of his Calgary tenure. Simply put things change.

Huff would show Craig Reynolds his resume, and in the section for references I'm certain three names appear: Wally Buono, Bill Belichik, and Tom Coughlin. The blank check is given to Huff and then you'll see him along with Smith and Stubler make their way west.

All yours Dave Dickenson so good luck.

Hufnagel would get the same power in football ops that Kent Austin has and you'd have the same results.

Y'er Welcome
Obama

Anonymous said...

Hey Roddy, it ain't name dropping if you actually hang out with those people. Why do jealous nobodies need to chime in on something like that? Oh yes.... thats right..... they are jealous......as they read YOUR BLOG. Keep up the great work and the calls last game were sick! Especially the Demski TD call.

Jake from Lipton

Anonymous said...

A change is as good as a rest my ol' Grandad said when he asked me to buy him a new lazyboy, so hearing all this huffing and puffing about a move to Rider Nation by John Hufnagel has a ring of truth to it. And if Arash is talking about it you gotta know there is some basis to it because he has more contacts than the people at Factory Optical.

Old Hank

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments. If he came here he would be king.

I am a fan of O'Day, but Huff changes everything.

I may even have to stop calling him the angry beaver lol

mister winnipeg said...

Why do people say that the Flames own the Stampeders? The same ownership group owns both teams. The Flames don't own the Stamps any more than the Stamps own the Flames.

Rod Pedersen said...

Thank you Jake

Anonymous said...

Rod, you're a narcissist. Look it up. It's to a T.

Anonymous said...

Above annon. You are an idiot. Look it up, it's under "I" in the dictionary.

Anonymous said...

What exactly do the Riders have that they wouldn't want to trade with the Stamps? Can't be their all time record, Grey Cup championships, or this years record/team. Only thing the Riders have on the rest of the CFL is no NHL hockey in their market. That's it. It's all they have that the others don't so if your claim to fame is having no competition for your provinces sporting dollar I would say that's pretty lame. Statements like this are purge garbage as there's not a city in Canada that has both CFL and NHL where the NHL team isn't top dog. It's not a Calgary thing it's a Canada thing and if Regina got an NHL team it would only take a single season before the Riders were second page news for good and I hop Rod would know that because if he doesn't he's a blind fool. The Riders being Canada's team is a self proclaimed thing and nothing more.

Eric

Anonymous said...

What exactly do the Riders have that they wouldn't want to trade with the Stamps? Can't be their all time record, Grey Cup championships, or this years record/team. Only thing the Riders have on the rest of the CFL is no NHL hockey in their market. That's it. It's all they have that the others don't so if your claim to fame is having no competition for your provinces sporting dollar I would say that's pretty lame. Statements like this are purge garbage as there's not a city in Canada that has both CFL and NHL where the NHL team isn't top dog. It's not a Calgary thing it's a Canada thing and if Regina got an NHL team it would only take a single season before the Riders were second page news for good. The Riders being Canada's team is a self proclaimed thing and nothing more.

Eric

Anonymous said...

Would Huff bring Mark Mueller with him? Could be a game changer there.

Anonymous said...

Riders making playoffs is a HUGE stretch. Would probably have to win all remaining home games AND then in Mtl and BC. This team isn't good enough to win 6 or 7 of 8 remaining games. And this is IF BC and Ottawa completely sh*t the bed.

Let's move on.

Anonymous said...

Hey Eric - what you have to say is not so profound that you have to post it twice.

Anonymous said...

"Now, would we trade what we have as a franchise for what they have?"

Rod you do realize that's no different than Leafs fans saying they wouldn't trade what they have for what the Blackhawks have. Rings kind of hollow unless you prefer group misery over winning.

Anonymous said...

I see the Brandon Wheat Kings open the season ranked #1 in the entire country. But I'm sure according to Rod that's only because they paid off the entire CHL.

Anonymous said...

Obama- I'm not in favor of giving Huff a blank cheque so he, Smith and Stubler can go cavorting on a 24000 mile trip 'west' to get to Regina!

Anonymous said...

Eric,

Don't be sad that no one give a rats ass about your Stamps in Calgary. It will be ok muffin.