1. Saskatchewan Roughriders President Craig Reynolds will hold a news conference Thursday morning at 11:00 at Mosaic Stadium to update the team's General Manager search. It will be very interesting to hear what Reynolds has to say because not much is known at this point. Will he give a date for when he'd like to make the official announcement? Possibly, although I'm not sure the club wants to do that because a deadline may "paint them into a corner".
Will he tell us how many candidates have applied? Has a shortlist been determined? Will he provide any names besides current interim GM Jeremy O'Day, who reaffirmed this week his desire to land the position? I'll be providing updates from the gathering on my Twitter account at @sportscage. Reynolds will also join us live on the Cage Thursday afternoon.
2. Wednesday's Remembrance Day episode of the SportsCage on 620 CKRM was a special treat as we were joined in studio by Hall of Fame Roughrider broadcaster John Lynch. Lynch reported that a "credible source" told him Argos GM Jim Barker has applied for the Roughriders' GM job. I notified Lynch that Barker signed an extension with the Argos when the team's ownership changed hands last spring however John stood by his rumour. Meanwhile a prominent Calgary reporter reportedly predicted on Calgary radio this week that John Hufnagel will be coaching elsewhere in 2016.
Things are getting very interesting and the rumours will only get wilder and wilder over the next month. The Riders' GM search may upstage Grey Cup Week in Winnipeg.
3. Receiver Ryan Smith may be the most prized free agent on the Riders' list given the fact he led the club in receiving this year with 991 yards and finished with a bang, recording 144 yards and two touchdowns in the team's final game of the year Sunday at Montreal. Ryan seems to have taken a page out of Weston Dressler's Handbook To Being A Free Agent, as he was very elusive regarding his future when meeting with the media at Monday's locker room clean out day. The Wahpeton, ND product said he hasn't begun contract talks with the Riders because of the team's uncertain management future. He was very uneasy when I asked him which CFL market is closer to Wahpeton: Winnipeg or Regina? "Winnipeg," Smith said, as he looked at the floor. I've gotten to know his parents, Randy and Trudy, this year because they made several road trips with the team and when I asked if they'll have any impact on where he signs, Ryan stammered "I don't know". Then, he literally ran away. With regards to talks with free agents, it's clear that a decision on a GM needs to be made ASAP.
4. One question that's come up a lot from CFL fans over the past few weeks is: "Where is Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge?" He seems to have gone into hiding. Is this by design? Does he simply prefer to stay out of the spotlight? The fans want to see their leader.
5. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was front-and-centre at Monday's Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Toronto. The speeches from Sergei Fedorov, Niklas Lidstrom and Phil Housley were tremendous and it got me thinking about the best parts of the induction speeches of 2015 Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductees Dave Dickenson, Eddie Davis and Gene Makowsky. Wait a minute -- we didn't see them! It sure would've been nice if TSN had televised the proceedings from Saskatoon. Or at the very least, canned a production for airing during Grey Cup Week. Perhaps they did.
6. This blogger just learned on Wednesday that the NHL Network is no longer available in Canada. Who else was aware of this? Will it even be missed? The prevailing notion is that due to Rogers' blanket coverage of the NHL, the NHL Network became obsolete.
7. Bloggers are having a field day with the fact CFL ratings are down 15% this season, because those writers unfortunately love a scandal. However Yahoo.ca's Chris Zelkovich pointed out all the reasons for the decline in his weekly blog and the numbers aren't considered to be a trend. CFL spokesman Paulo Senra said the League expects big ratings for Sunday's Division Semifinals with Toronto at Hamilton and B.C. at Calgary. Incidentally the oddsmakers have the Ticats as 2-point favourites and the Stamps at 9-point faves. Our prediction is the Argonauts and Stampeders will win.
8. Bob Dyce's three wins as head coach of the Roughriders are one behind Ron Lancaster's total with Saskatchewan and ties Dyce with Ken Preston, Glenn Dobbs and Cal Murphy.
9. When asked on Monday how many more years he thinks he can still play pro football, Rider defensive end John Chick smiled and said, "10 or 20". In the back of his mind, I'm sure he was thinking "God will decide." And, John would be right.
10. There was a great debate on ESPN this week about the secret to building a successful pro football franchise. The analysts, including Hall of Famer Cris Carter, said a close relationship between the scouts and coaches is paramount. The coaches dictate the type of player they want, then scouts go out and find them. The GM is responsible for building the blueprint for all of it. The analysts went on to say "culture" within an organization is more important than scouting and that 90% of players are "systems players", meaning they'll excel in a successful system rather than on talent alone.
11. They say Cris Carter isn't the best guy but darn it is he outstanding as an analyst. Perhaps the best on TV.
12. Because of their support of Greg Hardy, I'm considering switching allegiances from the Dallas Cowboys to the Arizona Cardinals. Football maven John Lynch described Hardy as "an animal" on the air on Wednesday. Don't know what Greg Hardy's all about? Google him.
ESPN's Chris Berman said this week, "Dallas - you say you're American's Team. Prove it".
Unfortunately, without Connor McDavid, the Oilers just aren't as entertaining to watch right now. However they won 4-3 in overtime at Anaheim and for long-suffeirng Oilers fans, I'm sure they far rather prefer the wins than being entertaining. New head coach Todd McLellan certainly does.
Incidentally I loathe the time change. I can't stay up much past the middle of the second period for these west coast games. This has significantly hindered watching my favourite team, the Arizona Coyotes.
And regarding last Saturday night's Boston-Montreal game at the Bell Centre, well it was just breathtaking. We arrived two hours before the game to take an arena tour and were treated FIRST CLASS by the Canadiens staff. My heart started racing when we got into the press box lounge where we were surrounded by portraits of Dick Irvin, Danny Gallivan, Bertrand Raymond and other Montreal media greats. That may not be a big thing to most, but it was to someone like me.
Then, during the game, they flashed on the big screen that on November 7, 1959, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante wore a face mask for the first time in hockey history. 56 years ago Saturday night in the same place we were! I got goosebumps, which generally happens in that arena.
Thank God they're preserving the history of hockey in Montreal because the geniuses in the NHL office in New York are considering changing the names of its trophies because the millenials don't know who Art Ross and Lester Patrick are.
And THAT'S why I do so much so preserve Roughriders history on all my media forums. The Leader Post's Rob Vanstone does the same.
14. Another Regina minor hockey success story, Josh Harding, will be honoured at Friday night's Pats game on Josh Harding Bobblehead Night. He's the greatest goalie I ever saw in the WHL although my longtime radio partner Al Dumba still contends that honour should go to Steady Eddie Staniowski. I'm ecstatic to be back in the broadcast booth Friday evening, calling the Pats game against Red Deer on Access 7. The Rebels come in as a CHL Top 10 team, and hosts of the 2016 Memorial Cup.
15. We very much enjoyed the movie Burnt on Wednesday evening but didn't have the best overall experience at Southland Cinemas. Jon Taffer would've had a field day! The movie itself was an excellent story although star Bradley Cooper was better served shooting terrorists as Chris Kyle in American Sniper than as chef Adam Jones perfecting seasoning in a bowl of Risotto in this flick. Still, the MMG gives it two thumbs up.
THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY! SEE YOU IN THE CAGE