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Thursday, November 19, 2015

THURSDAY RODSERVATIONS

Regina's Jordan Eberle scores Wednesday night vs Chicago.  Photo: Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oilers
TRUTH & RUMOURS

1. EDMONTON --  Told you this Roughriders' General Manager search could end up upstaging the Grey Cup.  Five days in advance of the CFL's Division Finals this Sunday, the two prominent Rider vacancies are what everyone's talking about across the league.  Remarkably, right here in the Alberta Capital, the lead item in writer Kirk Penton's CFL Blitz column in the Edmonton Sun on Wednesday had to do with the rumour Eskimos head coach Chris Jones could be the head coach and General Manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders next season.

Truthfully, I think this gossip about Chris Jones was simply started by someone with nothing better to do.  The Riders' search committee has said NOTHING about potential candidates and far as Jones himself goes, I can't imagine he's focused on anything other than beating the Calgary Stampeders on Sunday in 2015 West Division Final.  So if it's not coming from either side, where else could it be coming from?

I'd be shocked if Chris Jones is with the Riders next year, but wouldn't be opposed to it either. I respect the heck out of him.

2. In truth, the trail of the Roughriders' GM search has gone somewhat cold.  At least, from the outside.  Roughriders historian Graham Kelly (he's written two books on the Green & White) covers the CFL for the Medicine Hat News and is a regular in the McMahon Stadium press box in Calgary.  In an appearance on 620 CKRM's SportsCage on Monday, Kelly scoffed at the notion Stampeders Coach/GM John Hufnagel could jump over to the Riders in a combo role in 2016.  Graham said nothing is pointing that way.  However I got a tip this week that Hufnagel would at least consider an offer from the Roughriders so don't sleep on it just yet.

3. A CFL personnel type predicted this week that the Riders' GM search will come down to Stampeders Assistant GM John Murphy and current Riders Assistant GM Jeremy O'Day.  This gentleman further envisions that if Murphy jumps to Saskatchewan, then former Rider GM Brendan Taman will fill Murphy's role with Calgary.  See how this is the #1 topic in the CFL?

4.  Oh - about Sunday's Division Finals.  Ottawa is favoured by 6.5-points at home over Hamilton in the East while Edmonton is a 2.5-point favourite over Calgary in the West.

Will we finally see the Commissioner at one of these games?  I didn't notice him on the telecasts of either semifinal last weekend.  Is he ill?  I'm starting to get concerned.

5.  Back to the rumours, because they're more fun.  Further down in Penton's CFL Blitz column was the always popular Insiders segment where he anonymously quotes CFL coaches, GMs and scouts.  One of those sources forecasted that Jacques Chapdelaine will end up as offensive coordinator of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2016.  It's a possible scenario since the new head coach of the Roughriders will likely handpick his own staff which may well omit Chapdelaine.

6. We won't see the CFL's official list of free agents for another month but some players have already been identified and it's a stunning smorgasboard of talent.  The list includes such big names as Travis Lulay, Andrew Harris, Jerome Messam, Chris Getzlaf, Rob Bagg, Ryan Smith, Tyron Brackenridge, Macho Harris, Ricky Ray, Ricky Foley and Chad Owens.  And this doesn't even include players from Hamilton, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton or Winnipeg!

This off-season is going to be perhaps the most-interesting the CFL has ever seen.  However, as CKRM football analyst Luc Mullinder was quick to point out this week, almost everyone of these players are over the age of 30 (with the exception of Ryan Smith and Andrew Harris).  It's like looking over a dazzling buffet that was unfortunately put out yesterday.

However if a languishing CFL team wants to rebuild fast, and has room within their salary cap, they could rebuild extremely quickly for 2016 with all of that talent.  Know any teams like that?

CFL free agency will officially begin on Febuary 9, 2016.

7. Due to a lack of sponsorship, the Football Reporters of Canada's yearly "Reporter of the Year" will not be handed out this season.  Over the years the trophy's been awarded to Vancouver's Llowell Ulrich, Winnipeg's Ed Tait and Kirk Penton, and Edmonton's Bryan Hall.  What a shame it won't be awarded for the 2015 season.  However if it were, my vote would go to Sportsnet's Arash Madani.

8. TSN rightfully trumpeted reporter Dave Naylor's selection for the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing during this year's Grey Cup Week but the news release was remiss in identifying Global Winnipeg's Joe Pascucci as the other inductee this year.  Way to go Joe!  He's first class all the way.

9.  An article in Globe and Mail on Wednesday directly linked the 380 layoffs by Bell Media/TSN across the country to the network's loss of their NHL contract.  The axe-swinging didn't take long -- about 100 weeks after Sportsnet stole the NHL from TSN.  However the layoffs were extremely unfortunate and included personal friends of mine such as Jeff Paterson and Matt Baker of TSN 1040 in Vancouver and Sheri Forde from the TSN main network.

10. Regarding our investigation of the NFL vs CFL ratings battle in Monday's column, it should be noted that the Canadian Football League is not in peril.  It simply needs some spiffing up, and it could come in the form of re-worked scheduling.  With brand new stadiums in Winnipeg, Saskatchewan and Hamilton along with refurbishments in Ottawa, B.C. and Montreal, and a stadium move by Toronto, the CFL is in no way going away.  It has survived far greater threats than this over the years and we're not hearing any stories of teams in financial turmoil.

11.  I do, however, feel sorry for Calgary.  McMahon Stadium is poised to become the oldest stadium in the CFL while the Saddledome is one of the oldest in the NHL and as Commissioner Gary Bettman pointed out last season, is substandard.  I was raised with the mentality of "make do with what you have" and there's a difference between "what you want and want you need", however pro sports doesn't look at it that way.  The Saddledome's concourses are cramped and the concessions are out of date.  However with Calgary in a financial crisis due to the price of oil and thousands of jobs being lost, there's NO way its citizens will be able to raise the nearly half-a-billion dollars required for the new CalgaryNEXT project (a brand new adjoining hockey and football complex downtown worth $900-million).

So the Flames will have to watch on longingly as the Oilers move into their splashy new downtown arena next fall and the Stampeders will be fit-to-be-tied with the Roughriders' extravagant new digs at New Mosaic Stadium.  Calgary wants the best-of-the-best, and likely deserves it, but are light years away from actually pulling it off.

12.  Speaking of arena design, whomever came up with the plan for Regina's Agridome in 1977 deserves an award.  The facility, renamed the Brandt Centre in 2004, has ample washroom space and fans can view the ice surface from ALL of the concessions while standing in line.  That's what all of the new arenas and stadiums are building these days but the architect of the Agridome was on top of this 40 years ago.

14. It can't be a coincidence.  The return of captain Colby Williams to the Regina Pats lineup has coincided with a three-game winning streak which has vaulted the Queen City Kids into a playoff spot.  Although the Washington prospect is still not 100% due to an off-season injury, his impact has been immeasurable.

On another note, one Pats executive bemoaned the attendance at Tuesday's 4-2 home win over Medicine Hat (3361).  He's not wrong. One wonders what it'll take for the Pats to average 5,000 fans per home game.  As hockey man Bryan Raymond noted Tuesday evening in the Brandt Centre seats, "This town has shown it will support a winner".  Time will tell, and the Pats are only going to get better and better on the ice over the next few years.

15. Notes From Our Trip To Edmonton:  Don't look now but the Edmonton Oilers' 13 points are the fewest among the 30 teams in the NHL which has them in line to draft #1 overall this June with another lottery win.  (Again).  The Riders may feel they have the "World's Best Fans" but Oilers fans have to be right up there.  They habitually sellout for a perennial loser.  They lost 4-3 in overtime to Chicago last night in a wildly entertaining game .. Overheard many times at Rexall Place Wednesday night was the phrase, "At least we're not getting blown out like last year".  Gulp ... The announcers on the Oiler postgame show provided the natural comparisons of these:  Hall/Messier, Eberle/Kurri, Nugent-Hopkins/Gretzky. But guess what?  There are no Lumleys, MacTavishes, Huddy's or Conachers and there darn sure isn't a Grant Fuhr.  This is still a long road back ... It was heartwarming that former Regina Pats captain Brandon Davidson's first career NHL assist came on Jordan Eberle's second goal of the season Wednesday night.  What a nice Pats alumni connection .. The featured Oilers alumnus at the game was former defenceman Sean Brown.  That got me to-thinking about Tuesday's Pats game where former Regina Pat Rod Williams had to buy a ticket to watch two of his former WHL teams play.  It would be nice if the Pats produced "Alumni Cards" for their former players so they can attend games for free.  The cards would have to come with the provision, "Pass does not guarantee seat" ... Other celebrities at Wednesday's Oilers game were Blue Jays third baseman Chris Collabello and Edmonton Eskimo players Johnny Ojo and James Franklin ...  Felt like I was in Regina amidst a sea of ball caps and sweatpants.  Awesome! ... I had the pleasure of sitting in Section 136, right beside former Eskimo safety Trent Brown, a 1993 Grey Cup champion.  He noticed my Rider ring and struck up a conversation ... By answering a Twitter trivia contest correctly, I won $50 Oilers bucks which they delivered right to my seat!  The questions were: 1) Who was the Oilers' first franchise captain? 2) Who's the Blackhawks career goals leader? and 3) Who leads the Oilers in Shots on Goal?  The answers are Al Hamilton, Bobby Hull and Taylor Hall.  And I didn't even need Google! ... It was a traffic snarl to get out of the Rexall Place parking lot.  That caused Mrs. SportsCage to quip, "Just wait until our new stadium.  Twice the people and half the parking spots" ... Oilers coach Todd McLellan's 195 wins in his first four seasons are the most by any coach in NHL history ... And lastly, the Atlanta Thrashers have made a more-recent playoff appearance than the Edmonton Oilers.  Tough times in the City of Champions.

------

THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY! THANKS FOR READING ...
RP
@sportscage
IG: ridervoice

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

the only guy on that F.A. list id want is ryan smith and it appears he has regina in the rearview mirror.

Anonymous said...

Classic Rod trashing Kirk Penton. Remember last time you said he was a garbage reporter? Y there is people besides you that are in the know about the CFL Rod.

Anonymous said...

3. "This gentleman further envisions that if Murphy jumps to Saskatchewan, then former Rider GM Brendan Taman will fill Murphy's role with Calgary."

I don't believe that for one second. The Stamps may lose Murphy but they're far too smart to hire Taman with his proven track record of depleting Canadian talent.

Anonymous said...

Rod ... you say that in the Brandt Centre 'fans can view the ice surface from ALL of the concessions while standing in line.'
Is that going to be the case with the new football stadium? It doesn't appear to be.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Rod. Fans outside of sask are more focussed on the playoffs and the Grey Cup rather than the GM search.
So regina-ish to think that with the riders having one of the worst teams in history, that no one else cares about the Grey Cup.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rod seen your appearance on Hockey Wives yesterday. Too bad they didn't give you an interview but that's pretty cool they showed you in action. Man that press box looks cramped!


Dubya

Anonymous said...

Always a good read

Anonymous said...

John Murphy has nothing on O'Day. Whats the difference between the two?

Rod Pedersen said...

Thank you my friend.

mister winnipeg said...

You guys are hilarious. Yes, I'm sure Barker, Hufnagel and Jones are just fighting over who gets to be the next Rider coach and GM. Maybe throw Buono in there for good measure. Hell, why not add John Schneider in the mix just to make it extra dramatic.

Reality check, the main attraction this week are the division finals. No one outside the CKRM listening area is really caught up in who the new GM of the last place team is going to be.

mister winnipeg said...

PS Otherwise, great post!

Anonymous said...

If the Riders are smart, and I hope they are, they will not grant permission for any CFL team to talk to Chapdelaine for a sideways move. In most cases coordinators sign a two year contract meaning he should have one remaining. Let the new coach come in and pick his staff. If Jacques is part of his plans great. But why hand something of value away for free.

And this will be another offseason of where will the mighty Paul Lapolice end up. The answer like last year is nowhere.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome you beautiful man. Enjoy your holiday with your lovely wife.

Anonymous said...

Rod; the one thing I can submit about the Pats attendance is about money. Students and Seniors were hit with nearly a 100% increase in the price of their seasons tickets. Many have quit coming altogether. I have my seasons ticket in the gold section but I am mission three people from last year. A man and his wife and another gentleman. I have called them and they aren't planning on coming back. For one guys it's not a money thing but a principle thing. The other two it's about the cost.

Giving away free tickets to the schools hoping that the kids convince their parent(s) to take them is a cheesy marketing strategy. It doesn't build a long term base, especially when places like the oil patch are in trouble.

The "bring a friend" tickets ad a few % off merchandise are really non monetary items most people don't use. They offer bigger discounts at seasons end and on sales. Most bring a friend tickets are never used.

The Pats are one of the few places in the WHL who don't offer discounts to seniors and students. The first thing they should do is get back their older, solid fan base along with students who will be the future fan base. Any remaining seats that are not sold as seasons tickets will be filled when they win a championship. They won't this year in the second year of the rebuild so where will they be in the third and perhaps fourth year of the rebuild? There is much that is still unproven as far as the on ice product.

Anonymous said...

Really?? I don't even think the CFL is on many people's radar's at all. I would say Peyton Manning thinking retirement would be higher news!

On a side note, why do you NEED a sponsor to give away reporter of the year? This whole world is getting freaking stupid with all of their naming sponsors and money needed for this, money for that. JUST GIVE THE AWARD AWAY!!!

Rod Pedersen said...

I agree. But these things aren't up to me.

Anonymous said...

Really, CFL is on nobody's radar huh? You must be one of those "football snobs" that Rod's guest talked about on Monday. Don't ever support the CFL cause it's crap football and only hicks pay attention. We might as well do away with CIS, junior football and all high school football as well cause it's not the big time.

What an ass.

Anonymous said...

Re Pat's attendence - agree with the other comment about it being due partially to the tix cost.
Is the past seniors & students rec'd a reduced price - no longer.
Even the tix you can purchase thru Safeway have gone up to $12.
So if you want to take a family of 4 - cheapest cost is $48. For people on a tight budget, just can't afford it!

Anonymous said...

Kirk Penton is a non-Saskatchewan reporter and the article was picked up across Canada. Seems to me many people are interested outside of the CKRM listening area.

Also watch the TSN pregame show this Sunday, I am sure Gary Clueless will throw out some dramatic information in hopes he finally gets one right.

Alex said...

I'd have to say the highlight of the 2015 Riders season may well be the time Chris Getzlaf's brother came to a game and brought a TV show with him.

Yes, the season was that bad.

Anonymous said...

So Kirk Penton mentions in the Edmonton Sun the rumour Eskimos head coach Chris Jones could be the head coach and General Manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders next season and that somehow upstages the Grey Cup.

Are you serious or joking. Or is this just another example of the Saskatchewan inferiority complex where you hear one person mention anything about Saskatchewan and you all wet yourselves because you think everyone is thinking about you.

Trust me .... nobody in any other CFL city is thinking about who will be the next Rider GM and it is NOT EVEN CLOSE to upstaging the Grey Cup.

Rod Pedersen said...

That's why we're the kings.

Anonymous said...

But but ..... Rod said.

Anonymous said...

If people outside of Saskatchewan and CKRM listening area are not interested in our GM search why are these Non-Saskatchewan residents commenting on this blog. Simply by making a comment proves Rod's point.

Anonymous said...

The Grey Cup can't even sell-out... that upstages the game itself! The John Murphy's and John Doe's of the world are in the same category of nobodies that have zero chance of working for the Riders.

Reynolds is going big-time, big name to try and re-invigorate the fanbase here and across the country, because lord knows it needs it. Here's to hoping that happens. I've went from spending $5-10k a year taking in rider games, meals, beers, hotels to less than 2 games total in last 2 years. I miss it, but will not support crappy product...will be back if that day comes.

JMiller

Anonymous said...

Are you staying in E-town for the playoff game this weekend Rod? I think it's going to be an emotion-filleburner! burner!

Anonymous said...

I am all for O'Day. I think he has earned his opportunity. But if his first move is to hire Paul Lapolice as his head coach I will literally puke. The guy is an overated blow hard. If he really had any value whatsoever he would have been hired in BC, Regina, Ottawa, or any other team that has made a HC or OC change in the last two years.

Anonymous said...

"the Stampeders will be fit-to-be-tied with the Roughriders' extravagant new digs at New Mosaic Stadium. "

OK that is pretty funny - #waaampeders

Newt from YQR

Anonymous said...

"Really, CFL is on nobody's radar huh? You must be one of those "football snobs" that Rod's guest talked about on Monday. Don't ever support the CFL cause it's crap football and only hicks pay attention. We might as well do away with CIS, junior football and all high school football as well cause it's not the big time."

What an ass.

An ass that's a season ticket holder. Guess you should just shut your mouth before you make an ass out of yourself...oh wait...too late

Think of your last 50 leisure conversations over a beer or at lunch (other than this one) and let me know how many times the "grey cup" was in it...exactly. I can tell you that other than NFL, and peyton manning, fanduel or draft kings and fantasy football...that has NEVER been brought up. Even our GM talk has been brought up 3 or 4 times.

"If people outside of Saskatchewan and CKRM listening area are not interested in our GM search why are these Non-Saskatchewan residents commenting on this blog. Simply by making a comment proves Rod's point."

Exactly what I was going to say. Let's be real here...what have you heard about the Grey Cup other than who is the half time show and where Riderville is going to be?? LOL!!! IT ISN'T EVEN A SELLOUT!

Caesar said...

RP, I will sponsor the Award...what do you need. A pack of cigars, a notepad, a pen, maybe a stylus and bottle of Jack?
haha I am joking, maybe you don't need the stylus.

Anonymous said...

I can hardly wait for the return of Tiger Williams to the Sports Cage!

The feature 'Tiger Tales' was one of my favorites on the Wednesday Cage last year. His Leafs are headed in the right direction at last and he should have lots of things to say about the NHL in 2015/16.

Old Hank

Anonymous said...

No to O'Day!

Anonymous said...

The Leafs are 6-9 ... there is really only one direction they could possibly head.

Anonymous said...

Nobody knows who you are, ass!

Anonymous said...

For those that may have missed it, there is a set of articles this week on Peter King's MMQB titled "A Quarterback and His Game Plan".

Of note is the use of virtual reality technology to enable the QB to absorb quite a lot of detailed information.

It makes you wonder if the Riders will invest in this technology for its quarterbacks - a good investment it would seem - or if other CFL teams are considering it.

Old Hank

Anonymous said...

Love the blog Rod, especially when it gets the peanut gallery all fired up. Keep the Rider Rumours coming. The boys on coffee row were discussing the playoffs this morning, whether the layoff will hurt the Eskies, the Stamps O line and ...ooops I mean there is no talk of the CFL, it was all about Peyton Manning and if he is another washed up athlete that stuck around to long.
No CFL talk. Give me a break.

Alberta Bound

Anonymous said...

If I'm Reynolds interviewing any candidate including O'Day my first question is, "What are your plans for scouting and recruitment?"

If the answer isn't "Replace the existing crew." That's the end of the interview.

Anonymous said...

My biggest concern for the CFL is that TSN is hurting. Not sure what will happen if those TV revenues aren't there once the next contact is up. And if the TV ratings keep declining the money just won't be there as Sportsnet has little to no interest in the CFL.

Anonymous said...

Note!
HTC Quarterback/GM/Head Coach and His Game Plan coming soon this Sunday, Ottawa, Ontario.
The Sk. Football God Mr. Kent Austin is virtual reality QB technology.

By the way, Saskatchewan Roughriders organization wouldn't know good team investment if it came by for a chat, shook hands, slapped rider brass across the face while introducing itself.

Old Hank II

Anonymous said...

The Oskee wee wee crew and their Main Man, Mr. Kent Austin, will be heading into a very hostile ONation.

When Ottawa wins they will be 'Canada's New Team', ready to crush either Edmonton or Calgary in Lord Grey's Cup match in cool Winnipeg.

I wonder if Rod Black will be calling the Red Black victory on TSN.

I predict the Red and Blacks against the Black and Reds match-up in Winnipeg at month end.

Igor

Anonymous said...

Oh my oh my delusional Igor! The Sk. Football God, Mr. Kent Austin has a plan for his Ti Cats. Yes it will be loud and proud in the hostile dun of R NATION! But! the Tiger Cats of Hamilton will be walking out the stadium door later into the night as the 2015 CFL East Division Champions and on to a Grey Cup title. Hoo Rah!
Go Cats Go!
Go Cats Go!
Go Cats Go!