1. STARTING WITH HOCKEY: Thoughts from perusing the NHL standings on Wednesday -- Toronto (15-15-7) Is a .500 record enough improvement in Year 1 of the Babcock Regime to appease Leafs Fans? ... Detroit (20-13-7) Was Mike Babcock more the beneficiary of a solid system (Team Canada included)? ... Washington (29-7-3) Are the Capitals legit? Not with Alex Ovechkin as their captain, despite their solid additions ... Montreal (23-16-3) Will GM Marc Bergevin and coach Michel Therien be on the hotseat if they continue to falter without Carey Price? Wednesday's win over New Jersey notwithstanding ... N.Y. Islanders (22-13-5) John Tavares is the real Johnny Hockey ... Florida (24-12-4) Should GM Dale Tallon get more credit for building the Chicago Blackhawks dynasty before he was dumped? ... Arizona (19-16-4) Will the Coyotes shelve their desire to land top prospect Auston Mathews of Scottsdale and make some sort of a playoff run in 2016? They owe it to coach Dave Tippett and GM Don Maloney to ride this horse to the end of the race. This year. ... Nashville (19-14-7) Why did they give up on defenceman Seth Jones so soon? Perhaps it was a case of 'giving up something to get something' in Wednesday's deal with Columbus to land Ryan Johansen ... Edmonton (17-21-3) Oiler fans are fed up with being begged to be patient. All that's left is to stick dynamite in their locker room and shake things up in the way of a trade. Perhaps one involving Jordan Eberle. First-year coach Todd McLellan can only do so much to change the culture, and apparently it's not working. If Connor McDavid is the cure for their ails, they're in more trouble than we thought.
2. MORE ON GETZLAF: It may be awhile before we get definitive word from the Saskatchewan Roughriders that veteran slotback Chris Getzlaf will be back with the Green & White this season but a CFL source - independent of the Riders - virturally guaranteed this week that Getzlaf will be back with Saskatchewan for a 10th season. There's just plenty of paperwork to be sorted out.
3. K.J. BACK IN THE FRAY: 2007 CFL Most Outstanding Player Kerry Joseph - who served two tours of duty with the Saskatchewan Roughriders - was named Co-Offensive Coordinator and Receivers Coach at his alma mater McNeese State this week. Kerry had expressed his desire to get into coaching when he left here in 2014 and it looks like he's off to a solid start.
4. A NICE SURPRISE: Indianapolis Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman was a surprise guest on the SportsCage on 620 CKRM Wednesday evening. Around 6:15 pm a call came in on the toll-free line and it was the former Roughrider calling from Indy. His Colts missed the playoffs this year but cited injuries to quarterback Andrew Luck and inconsistent play on defense as the culprit and feels it's only minor tweaking that'll get them back to prominence. He also said the Colts players were relieved that head coach Chuck Pagano was given a 4-year contract extension Monday evening. Don't forget Indianapolis was in the AFC championship game one year before they fell to New England in "Deflate-gate". Regarding that situation, Jerrell said, "You're gonna ask me that question now? Haha. The truth is they'da beat us with a Nerf football that day and they were just the better team."
5. A NEW YEAR: There have been calls to eliminate anonymous comments into this blog and this week I instituted a mechanism to make commenters log in with their Google account. The result was a 90% reduction in comments so it was quickly switched back to the old method. I'll try to be more judicious in letting toxic comments through, but it's always a tough call. Many readers say they enjoy the comments, no matter how zany they are.
6. LEFTOVERS FROM WORLD JUNIORS: TSN announced 2.7-million unique viewers tuned into Tuesday's 4-3 overtime victory for Finland over Russia in the gold medal game proving the WJC is still a really big deal in Canada ... Ratings were up 16% for Canada's games from the last tournament held in Europe ... Kudos to Team Finland who held their postgame party at a Burger King Tuesday night ... There have been five different champion countries in the past six WJC tournaments and yet Canadian hockey fans want the President of Hockey Canada fired whenever Canada doesn't win ... IIHF President Rene Fasel cited slow ticket sales for next year's WJC in Montreal as a problem and suggests Canada have more French-speaking players on its roster in order to attract Quebec fans. Where's the outcry over this? One can only imagine the furor if it was said Canada needs more anglophone or Western Canadian players. Regina Pats coach John Paddock suggested on the SportsCage that Fassel's comments be "disregarded" ... Temper tantrums were the order-of-the-day in the World Juniors with Russia's captain being tossed from the championship game and penalty problems submarining Canada in their quarterfinal. It's the way today's player is folks, and it was identified as a problem on this blog several years ago. It's a disturbing trend that won't go away ... It's also only a matter of time before the Memorial Cup switches to a format where there are two games per day a la the Royal Bank Cup, which was suggested here last year. When it happens, remember where you read it first.
7. ALL ABOARD THE LACROSSE TRAIN: We're getting behind the NLL's Saskatchewan Rush in a big way and had Coach & GM Derek Keenan on the SportsCage on Tuesday. Did you know he's the second cousin of "Iron Mike" Keenan? Furthermore did you know he's a multi-winner of the NLL's Coach of the Year, GM of the Year and is in the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame? We've got lacrosse royalty in this province folks, and we didn't even know it. Don't forget the Rush is home to the Vancouver Stealth on Friday, January 15 in their home-opener and team President Lee Genier is hoping to fill the SaskTel Centre for the match.
8. APP-ETIZING: The best app for your smartphone currently is The Score. Many of you sports nuts will already have it, but some of you won't and may appreciate the tip. As a sportstalk host, I find myself opening the app dozens of time daily and always find the information I'm looking for. Trending news, scores, standings, you name it. The stories are short and concise, and are always on the money. They're even advertising the Canadian-made app in the USA and it's going over huge down there.
9. BROADCASTING NOTES: Humboldt product and former P.A. Raiders voice Brian Munz is drawing rave reviews for his work calling play-by-play of Winnipeg Jets games on TSN's regional channel in the absence of Dennis Beyak who was at the World Juniors over the holiday season. Nice work Munzie.
10. NFL PLAYOFFS: This weekend's Wild Card playoff winners will be -- Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Green Bay. Incidentally, all are road teams.
I'm going to try to hit up Arizona Cardinals practice next week after they enjoy a first round playoff bye. I'll be headed down to Phoenix on Saturday for a couple of Coyotes games and the Alabama-Clemson NCAA football title game at University of Phoenix Stadium. That'll be some fun reporting!
THAT'S ALL FOR NOW. HAVE A GREAT DAY!