15 QUICK HITS
1. This impromptu Corey Chamblin media tour this week has become a fun game of "Where's He Going To Pop Up Next?" On Tuesday Chamblin gave an exclusive interview to Andrew Buckholz of Yahoo.ca and on Wednesday he did the same with Dan Ralph of the Canadian Press. The former Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach is scheduled to appear on 620 CKRM's Rider Game Day pregame show this Sunday morning with host Michael Ball, however who knows if he'll surface somewhere else between now and then. I have a policy of not putting fired Rider employees on the air but Ballsy and Chamblin have a good relationship and therefore I'm interested in hearing what Corey has to say. I don't expect Corey to come out guns-ablazing. He's been classy and generally grateful in these interviews.
2. I don't have a ton of thoughts on Chamblin's recent interviews however one question that needs to be asked is, "What was your role in the team's implosion?" There didn't seem to be any answers for that in the two interviews he conducted this week. However - judging by the interview transcript on Yahoo.ca - the absence of a clear plan for the franchise on the football side since the 2013 Grey Cup was abundantly clear. I like Corey, think he's got the qualities of a tremendous football coach, and hope he's on the sidelines somewhere soon.
3. The last time I looked, the poll at the top left of this web page regarding the Riders hiring Jeremy O'Day as General Manager is a clear three-way split between YES, NO and Undecided. Regarding the anti-O'Day sentiment that seems to be out there, one CFL executive pointed out this week that these are the habitual "haters" in the Rider Nation coming out again. Some people were never willing to accept Eric Tillman, Kent Austin, Brendan Taman or Darian Durant. However they were all proven wrong, as all of those gentlemen led the Saskatchewan Roughriders to Grey Cup titles. That's our take anyway.
4. I'm one to generally take things at face value however there are several conspiracy theorists out there and some CFL-types have questioned Jim Popp's absence on the sidelines for last Sunday's Montreal game at Edmonton. Popp didn't make the trip due to symptoms of Vertigo however some are questioning that there may be more going on than meets the eye. We'll know the answer to that within the next couple of weeks.
5. Congratulations to former Roughrider offensive lineman Ben Heenan who was signed to the Indianapolis Colts' practice roster this week. Ben was reportedly having a spectacular training camp with the Colts in August before he went down with a meniscus tear. We wish him well, but his return to the Green & White would provide a massive boost to the offensive line and ratio.
6. Heenan reportedly was a favourite of Colts coach Chuck Pagano. However Pagano is in the firing line due to his club's 3-5 start (yet they still lead the AFC South). CKRM NFL Insider Nick Ferguson (former Bengal, Bear, Jet, Texan, Bronco, Blue Bomber and Roughrider) predicts Detroit's Jim Caldwell will be the next NFL coach fired and Pagano likely won't be far behind him. Ferguson is the latest top-notch football analyst we've added to the SportsCage stable.
7. Going into the 2015 CFL season, Calgary and Hamilton were the favourites to get to the Grey Cup in a rematch of the 2014 championship game. However due to a rash of injuries to the Stampeders and Ticats, the favourites are now Edmonton and Ottawa. Perhaps, in retrospect, injuries can be used as an excuse for a derailed season. However no one's letting the 2-15 Roughriders off the hook for that reason.
Happy birthday, by the way, to Stampeders running back Jon Cornish. It came up in my Facebook feed.
Also, today marks the two year anniversary of the passing of legendary sportswriter Bob Hughes. I miss him, and his writings, dearly.
8. The 2015 Grey Cup game could get some competition for television viewers. The game is scheduled to kickoff around 6:00 pm Sask Time on November 29 at Investors Group Field however the top two teams in the NFL, the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, are set to clash at 7:30 pm on NBC's Sunday Night Football.
9. The yearly debate on the Grey Cup halftime show came up again this week when the CFL announced American group Fall Out Boy will rock IG Field at the 30-minute mark of this year's Grey Cup. Count me in the group who feels the CFL championship game halftime show should always feature a Canadian act. I'd vote for k.d. lang every year over any entertainer from the USA. The habitual use of Americans plays into this country's inferiority complex. Incidentally in the 1995 Grey Cup game in Regina, the half-time act was Jack Semple.
10. HOW TO FIX THE NHL #1: Any fan of the NHL was devastated by Tuesday's long-term injury to Oilers star rookie Connor McDavid due to a broken left clavicle. We've seen the replay a thousand times but did anyone notice the end boards at Rexall Place didn't give a millimeter? Islanders legend Clark Gillies noted on the SportsCage some time ago that the NHL needs to go back to the old boards that swayed as much as a foot when players collided against them. Hits back then gave off a thunderous thud (to the roar of the fans), but players quickly got up and scampered on their way. Hopefully NHL GMs put this on their agenda in the next round of meetings. In the WHL, boards like those were legendary in Spokane's Boone Street Barn or Portland's Glass Palace. The glass had a lot of give as well but now they're like concrete boundaries and the players are paying the price.
11. HOW TO FIX THE NHL #2: There was a great debate on Sirius/XM satellite radio Thursday morning on Gord Stellick's show on NHL Network Radio. The hosts discussed the annoying policy of NHL teams habitually wearing their dark jerseys at home while the 29 visiting teams ALWAYS wear their whites on the road. I've been saying for years the NHL has this backwards and the WHL has followed suit. Two reasons were given: 1) Up until the 1960s, the NHL had the same policy of wearing whites on the road but away teams were hindered by laundry facilities and couldn't get the blood out of white jerseys in time for the next road game so they switched to darks. Now that laundry's not an issue, they've gone back. 2) Nowadays NHL teams think fans are more apt to buy their team's dark jerseys because they see them so much at home. As usual it's a shortsighted, greedy approach that ends up costing the game in the long run. It's boring to see every team come in wearing whites each game when the road jerseys, or third jerseys like San Jose's teal throwbacks, are so much more exciting. Chicago's legendary red road uniforms are the greatest in sport however the only fans which get to see them live are those in attendance at the Madhouse On Madison.
12. Another reason to love Roughrider linebacker Tyron Brackenridge: Brack's annual steak night fundraiser goes Tuesday Nov. 10 at Birmingham's from 5 til 9 pm. Proceeds support his Fields with Dreams Foundation: Inspiring underprivileged youth to believe in themselves, realize their potential and achieve their dreams. Proceeds support the Camp Circle of Friends - a local summer camp for those affected by childhood cancer. There will be Silent Auction items, raffles, and a 50/50. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at Birmingham's or from CKRM's Gloria Evans (firstname.lastname@example.org).
13. The flu-ravaged Regina Pats return to action Friday night at Swift Current before returning home to host the Victoria Royals Saturday night in the Brandt Centre. Both teams will be on 620 CKRM. Pats goalie Daniel Wapple was so inflicted with the flu bug which is going around Regina that he had to miss several games on the club's recent road trip. I'm told the Saskatoon product was so sick he couldn't get out of bed and I believe it, because I had the exact same thing. Coach John Paddock could barely get through our weekly chat on the SportsCage on Tuesday. However in the interview, Paddock noted that the club's inconsistent play can be attributed to their youth. He chuckled when I mentioned if the club strung some wins together they'd be labelled as "streaky". Sick or not, the Pats are an exciting team to watch and are the best entertainment value in the city.
14. Former Pats goaltender Rod Houk told the SportsCage his daughter Aubrie and friends have mounted a shoe drive to collect used basketball shoes for underprivileged kids in Regina's inner-city schools. You can drop yours off at Leboldus and Harvest City School this week. I'm proud to say my girls handed over their retired basketball kicks without hesitation. I saw Houker this morning and he says some of these kids have played in rubber boots due to proper footwear. Please help out if you can!
15. Raptors coach Dwane Casey became Toronto's all-time winningest coach over the weekend. I thought to myself, "That was quick". Unfortunately it says more about the Raptors than it does about Casey.
THAT'S ALL FOR THIS WEEK! SEE YOU IN THE CAGE ..