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Friday, January 22, 2016


Welcome to the usual set of Friday thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always, they are in no particular order.

-- I hope the University of Regina Rams brought in someone to clean up the clubhouse carpet after Mike Gibson's farewell news conference on Monday afternoon because there was a whole lot of you know what being spewed by the new Eskimos offensive line coach, but then again there was a whole lot of you know what spewed by this guy in the short time he was in Regina. Shortly after he was announced as the Rams head coach, I was told by three people in CFL circles that he would jump at the first gig he could find and he might not even start the season with the Rams.

After his debacle in Ottawa, it was obvious that job wasn't coming last year, but when it came he predictably jumped. He states the move was for family, but when you are leaving a place where there is job security for a place where you could be out after one year and you are taking what is reported to be less money in Edmonton than what you were getting here, I say those reasons were pure BS.  Gibson's year in Regina was a joke on several levels from going to Saskjobs to find an offensive co-ordinator (which in truth turned out to be a good hire in Mark McConkey), to his embarrassing display at the end of the first home game against Alberta, to his I don't need Grade 12 comments, to his telling Rod Pedersen on the Sportscage he didn't have good players to his farewell address in which he basically gave those in the room the old double middle fingered salute.  I could go on, but I won't

- As a wise sage told me this week, Gibson was probably put in a no-win position as the person replacing Frank McCrystal and there might be some truth to that. In fact, there is probably a whole lot of truth to that.  After all, Frank didn't replace the legendary Gord Currie as Gerry Zbytnuik coached the Horns for a couple of seasons until Frank took over. The new person won't be the guy replacing Frank, he will be the guy replacing Mike Gibson and that should put that person in a much easier spot as the transitionary period is now over. The key now is hiring the right guy. This program can NOT go through this again.

There are people out there, and the favourite would have to be Thunder coach Scott McAulay. He has a great thing going with the Thunder, but he has Ram written all over him. Others can turn this program around, but Scott deserves the first opportunity IF he wants it. For those suggesting Marc Mueller, I think he is firmly entrenched in Calgary with the Stampeders and has no desire to take the job. If this had happened a year ago, the story might have been different.

I don't know who will get the job, but I do know this. There is a deep divide between the once-proud Rams and its alumni. A very deep divide. It has something which has worsened what is a bad situation. It has to stop and it has to stop yesterday.  The Rams and their alumni need to work together. There are no ifs, buts or maybes in this scenario. There are problems that exist and both sides need to swallow some pride and start working together to make the Rams what they used to be and that is something Regina can be proud of because right now I don't think that is the case. A reputation needs to be restored.

If they can't, the Huskies will continue to be the dominant University program in this province and while that will be considered OK in Saskatoon for obvious reasons, it won't be well-liked here much like the hopefully soon to be forgotten Mike Gibson era which ends with a big fat zero on many levels.  I won't miss him and there are many others who feel the same way I do. As one CFL person texted me Monday morning after hearing the news..."I can't believe Jason (Maas) was that desperate".

Many will be watching what happens very carefully. The future of the program is at stake!

-- The Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers aren't wowing anyone right now, but Kelly Hrudey started a debate last weekend on Hockey Night in Canada and some others have jumped on board when it comes to the future of these two teams and are we ready for another Battle of Alberta the way it used to be like.  Hrudey suggests the Flames are in a better spot right now with young players like Dougie Hamilton, TJ Brodie, Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett while the Oilers have Taylor Hall, Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom and Leon Draisaitl. Being an Oilers fan, I am biased, but how can you not put Edmonton ahead on this list when they have the once in a generation player in McDavid. His script has yet to be written and it is a great debate, but I have to lean Edmonton's way on this one. I will say this. All 10 players are going to make a once great rivalry great again.

-- The NHL got it right with the John Scott story. It's a crime he is playing in the game, but it would have been a bigger crime if he had not been allowed to play. I've said it once and I will say it again---I hope he has the time of his hockey life in Nashville. I think it would be hilarious if he dropped the mitts against someone like Jaromir Jagr who may need a rest after asking fans not to vote for him because he is too old for 3 on 3 for that long. A "fight" between JJ and Scott would make the weekend. I'd watch the highlights though, because John Scott or no John Scott, I'm not watching the game.

-- Where are all those people who said Phil Kessel would score 50 in Pittsburgh this season?

-- Saskatchewan lost a legend Thursday with the passing of Sam Richardson. Those who watched him speak at countless dinners in this province know what a character he was. He was maybe a better story-teller than a curler and that is saying a lot because he was a damn good curler from what I've been told. It didn't take him long to walk into a room and have those inside in the palm of his hand. The curling world has lost someone special. RIP Sam!

-- I expect Sunday's game between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning to be the last head-to-head matchup between the two. In fact, I think if the Broncos lose (which I believe they will) that we will have seen the last of Peyton on the field with his next gig being a talking head on one of the major networks--likely ESPN. Manning has the numbers, but Brady has the titles. Who would you rather have? I'll go with 12.  In the NFC game, I think Arizona is a more complete team than Carolina. I still don't think Carolina is as good as advertised even though they deserved the "W" last week so I am going with the Cardinals.

-- Has "The Ginja Ninja" kicked his last ball for the Seattle Seahawks? Jon Ryan is a free agent. Does he want to go back to Seattle? Do the Seahawks want him back. I would think the answer is yes, but who knows. I am guessing he will get some offers.

 -- Canada's greatest athlete died this week as pro wrestler Iron Mike Sharpe passed away at the age of 64. His gig was outstanding! He was maybe not Canada's greatest athlete, but he was Canada's greatest jobber. Then again, he won more matches than Mike Gibson won CIS games. I digress!

-- Still with wrestling, the WWE trots out the Royal Rumble on Sunday. It is always entertaining, but I think this year, it will be big-time lame especially if current champ Roman Reigns hangs on to the belt. If you didn't know, Reigns used to play for the Edmonton Eskimos under the name Joe Anoai. It was back in 2008 and he played five games getting nine tackles.
-- A lot of heat is being thrown at ex-Riders GM Brendan Taman for the fact Weston Dressler and John Chick were released. However, Rob Vanstone of the Leader-Post makes some great comments in a Wednesday column. The rumpled scribe makes a very good point when he states the blame being thrown Brendan Taman's way is a little unjustified. Taman did his all to get Chick and Dressler back here so they could be a major part of the 2013 Grey Cup victory. Both could have gone elsewhere after returning from the NFL, but Taman made sure they came home. What would you have said if those two had been playing elsewhere for the past couple of seasons? As Chris Jones said the day of the release----it comes down to simple economics!

-- You may want to mark April 23 on your calendar if you're a Blue Jays fan or just a baseball fan. Robbie Alomar is the guest speaker for the Regina Red Sox Sportsman Dinner at the Turvey Centre. That is always a great night and I don't see it being any different this year.

-- Is the NBA all-star weekend in Toronto now made seeing Kyle Lowry is a starter for the Eastern Conference? It's nice to see the NBA and its fans don't make a joke of their all-star balloting by voting some schlub in that doesn't belong.

-- Why is there such a furor over the price of cauliflower. You can't tell me anyone REALLY eats that stuff can you? Why? Broccoli yes, but cauliflower?

-- That's all I got. Have yourselves a fantastic weekend!