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Friday, January 8, 2016


Welcome to Friday and the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind. As always, they come in no particular order:

-- Today's blog comes from you from the Regina headquarters, but the weekend will be spent in Edmonton as tonight, the Edmonton Oilers take on the Tampa Bay Lightning with a visit by the red-hot Florida Panthers on Sunday. The reason for the road-trip is simple, It is one last trip to catch NHL hockey at Rexall Place as the Oilers will leave the only rink they have played at since joining the NHL and move to the brand new Rogers Arena in the Ice District for next season,  Like many of you may be making one last trek to Mosaic Stadium to see your beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2016, I am making my last trek to Rexall. Yes, I might want to go to a playoff game, but realistically that may not happen so the time is now.  Will Connor McDavid play this weekend? It would be nice to see the kid get back in the lineup from his broken clavicle, but if he doesn't, it isn't the end of the world. I will see him at the new arena.

The debate in Edmonton right now centers around the famous sign that you see when you enter the Alberta capital.

Should they come down or should they stay up. The Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones who coined the phrase back in the Oilers heyday is adamant it should stay and has even written a piece in the paper citing his reasons why. Mayor Don Iveson thinks it is time for the sign to go,  While the sign was erected for the Oilers from their Stanley Cup days, Edmonton has been and will be home to many champions both on and off the athletic surface of choice. I think it should stay. Regina is the city that rhymes with fun and Edmonton is the city of champions while Calgary is-------I'll let you finish that sentence.

-- International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel in speaking about the 2017 World Junior Hockey Tournament suggested organizers could lower ticket prices and that Hockey Canada with the event being in Montreal should have more French-speaking players on the team next year to draw interest. Holy crap on a cracker! Is he serious? Yes, things haven't gone the way Hockey Canada would like them to go at the WJ's over the last few years, but I don't think having a roster that is one third or one half of French players will suffice here. Three words for Mr. Fasel....SHUT UP RENE! I can only imagine the furore that would be caused if the event was held in Western Canada and someone said the team will be 3/4 WHL players because of that. You would never ever hear the end of it.

-- A comment was brought up to me near the end of the World Juniors and it is something that had completely gone over my head until it was brought to my attention. We all know how much this tournament means to TSN and Hockey Canada. They have made it bigger than what it really should be which takes nothing away from the quality of the play we see, but did you notice during the tournament that all the rink boards and logos on the ice were Hockey Canada and TSN sponsors. There was not one Finnish company advertising on the rink boards that we could see. Perhaps there were some on the near side of the ice, but if you go back and watch highlights, you will see those ads were pure Canadiana. How much did that line the pockets of Hockey Canada and TSN with?

-- I have said previously that I hope John Scott has a great experience at the all-star game and doesn't get embarrassed in the 3 on 3 games which will happen. That being said, the fact Scott is going to be there and Sidney Crosby isn't shows you there is something wrong. I think hockey fans would rather see the skills of Crosby than Scott on all-star weekend and there are many players on the Pacific Division team who would look better on the team than Scott including his teammates Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and the ageless Shane Doan. John Scott isn't going to make me watch the all-star game....then again an appearance by Sid or other more talented players wouldn't really make me watch either.

-- Whatever happened to the new rink and stadium proposal for Calgary?  Since Ken King trotted out the idea at the press conference which was met with a big dull thud, there has been nothing else has there. If there has, I've missed it.

-- Ken Griffey Junior was named to Baseball's Hall of Fame on all ballots except for three on Wednesday. Who were the three who left him off the ballot? What were the reasons? In an era where steroids was prevalent, the Seattle and Cincinnati outfielder just did his thing naturally and if he hadn't been sidelined by injuries, he might be baseball's all time home run leader. The kid was a natural at the game --- a game in which others cheated, but he didn't. By the way, kudos to Roy Halladay for his tweet before the announcement was made saying the HOF doesn't need Clemens or Bonds in it. If you put those two in, you have to put in others like McGwire, Sosa and Canseco and you have to explain 100 percent why those individuals put up the numbers they did. If you are going to put those guys in, put Pete Rose in there too while you're at it. I would put Rose in there ahead of the steroid-era guys, as what he did wasn't even close to being as bad as what the others did.

-- The Regina Pats start a six game road trip tonight in Cranbrook, and I think it is fair to say all is not well with the hockey team right now. Head Coach John Paddock was a very frustrated coach in talking with Rod on the Sportscage this week. He should be. This team has been maddening to watch this year as one night they look like the best team in the WHL and the next night, they look like a Junior B team could beat them.  The injury to Colby Williams has been a huge one for the team. I thought the 20 year old defenceman would get traded prior to the deadline, but that obviously won't be happening as he undergoes arm surgery to correct an off-ice injury suffered over the summer. The Pats are a different team when Williams is on the ice and if he returns for the playoffs, he may give them that boost needed, That is if the Pats get to the playoffs and right now, I would say its even money as to whether or not they do. One can only wonder where this team might be if they had someone in the room who did for them what Rick Rypien did when he was here.

-- Back to the Oilers and I can't help but think Peter Chiarelli let one get away on him as the Columbus Blue Jackets sent Ryan Johansen to Nashville for Seth Jones. Nashville was a prime spot to make a trade as they had a surplus of d-men and a guy like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would have made that a good deal in my mind, I have to think Chiarelli is waiting to see what the Oilers will look like with the lineup he thought he would have. Remember Jordan Eberle and Connor McDavid have not played one game together.  I am guessing that needs to be done before Chiarelli makes any decisions as to what to do with the hockey club. I just don't see RNH being a 3rd line center as McDavid and Leon Draisiatl are 1-2. He woSuld seem to be the most expendable guy in my opinion and certainly more expendable than Eberle.

-- NFL picks this weekend are the Seahawks, Packers, Chiefs and Steelers. I don't see Teddy Bridgewater having success in his first playoff game against that Seattle defence. As bad as Green Bay has been, I still think Aaron Rodgers can gut out a win in Washington. Kansas City just continues to roll along with no one paying any attention to them and if Ben Roethlisberger can  play clean football, they seemingly can't be stopped---although tighter coverage on Antonio Brown wouldn't hurt.

-- The 2nd half of the university season begins this weekend with the Cougar basketball teams home to Trinity Western in Saturday and Sunday games and the mens hockey team home to Calgary Friday and Saturday at the Co-Operators Centre, With the Pats out of town, it is a great chance for you to see how good U of R Cougar athletics are so check it out. Speaking of the hockey team, the L-P's Ian Hamilton had a great story on a truck crashing through the office of head coach Todd Johnson this week. There is a major league mess to clean-up, but thankfully no one was hurt.

-- Regina needs to go and look at bringing Waskimo back? Do you remember Waskimo? It was where a boatload of winter activities would happen at Wascana Park from shinny to skating to cross country skiing to just enjoying a winter Sunday at one of the city's jewels which is in far better shape now than it was when Waskimo was a yearly thing.

-- That's all I got. Have a great weekend! GO SEAHAWKS!!