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Monday, February 22, 2016

THE MONDAY MORNING GOALIE


MONDAY NOTES & RIDER QUOTES

1. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was certainly the place to be on Friday night.  11,042 fans occupied the SaskTel Centre to watch the NLL's Saskatchewan Rush hold on for an 11-8 victory over the Rochester Knighthawks.  It was the largest home crowd the Rush have attracted since relocating from Edmonton last summer and what's remarkable about that is a packed house filled TCU Place across town for the annual Saskatoon Kinsmen Dinner featuring Joe Montana and Chris Jones at the same time.  Saskatoon can certainly give off a "big city" feel and they did on Friday.  It was a true honour to have 620 CKRM's SportsCage on location prior to the Rush game, and the team and SaskTel Centre definitely rolled out the red carpet for us.

2. Who knows if the Rush's promotion to have 12 members of the Seattle Seahawks cheer team - The Seagals - on hand to take pictures, sign autographs and perform three routines sold some extra tickets but it certainly caused quite a buzz.  The pregame theatrics were truly astounding but the game itself fizzled somewhat.  The Rush jumped out to a 7-1 lead after the first quarter and while the wave of early goals brought the fans out of the seats, the rout seemed to drop the game's intensity.

3. It was my first ever NLL game in person however I think we've all watched pro lacrosse games on TSN over the years.  That's the power of national sports networks.  If it's on, we'll watch it and that's why I've been such a proponent of airing CFL games in the U.S. over the years even if there's not much in the way of rights fees ... Regardless, the skill level Friday night was high and the athletes were impressive.  However I don't feel it's any more entertaining than your local Western Hockey League team.  Still, it's remarkable that there are so many goals scored when lacrosse nets are smaller than hockey and goalies wear much more padding.

4. We continue to marvel at how the Rush's crowds have consistently been between 9500-11,000 when the hometown Blades are hemorrhaging at the gate.  Perhaps Saskatoon is in love with the fact the Rush is its first professional team and the fans are more eager to watch men rather than teenaged boys.  The lacrosse players are paid around $25,000 per season but it's clear they're on track to becoming stars in the Bridge City.  Robert Church, Mark Mathews and Ben McIntosh are well on their way to becoming household names within the Wheat province.

The only question now is:  can Saskatoon sustain this support?  Currently there is no reason to think they cannot.

5. Some notes that struck me prior to, and during, the game:  Whomever sung the national anthem is a star.  We've got to get him down to sing Oh Canada at a Roughriders game ... Why oh why would Saskatonians chant "True North" during the Canadian national anthem? Are they hoping the Winnipeg Jets will relocate to the Bridge City? It wasn't the whole crowd who belted out the Winnipeg war cry but there were enough to make it very noticeable ... The Rush front office prints lineup cards with both teams' rosters on it and distributes them to the crowd!  That's something that's missing at sports games in Regina.  One marketing executive in the Queen City said awhile back, "Fans look at their phones for the rosters nowadays".  No they don't. ... The SaskTel Centre (pictured) looked like an absolute jewel all lit up in the prairie sky Friday night ... It was a young crowd at Friday's Rush game with several young ladies.  That, in turn, brings out the young men.

6.  What a concept:  Crank up the music and make it a party!  I've been begging the WHL to do just that for years but they are afraid to rankle the seniors ... I had the song Jump, Jump by Kris Kross ringing in my ears well into Saturday afternoon following Friday's game.  The NLL keeps the music playing continuously throughout the play and it was a tremendous playlist.  Very similar to the NBA.

7.  All in all, we'll be back.  The Rush has assembled a rockstar front office, led by President Lee Genier, and so far they seem to be doing everything right.  Friday games will be tough to attend but we'll get to our share of Saturday contests.  It certainly gives you an appreciation for what out-of-town Roughriders fans have to deal with.

8.  The Saskatchewan Roughriders may reside two hours south of Saskatoon but they still reign supreme in the province's largest city.  I wasn't wearing any Roughriders garb but that didn't stop fans from grabbing me on the concourse and asking questions related to the Green & White.  They all watch In The Huddle.  One concession worker asked, "Did you bring any players with you?"  Sadly I did not, other than Rider alum Luc Mullinder.

One guy plopped himself down right at our broadcast table and rattled off a series of questions and comments during Friday's SportsCage.  "How are the Riders gonna be?",  "I'm still mad they let Ryan Smith go", and "How's Darian's health?"  Some of those questions will be answered further down in the column.

One gentleman at the pregame party grabbed my arm and asked, "Why didn't they build that new stadium in the middle of the province?"  I asked him if he was referring to Davidson, SK (I was dead serious), and he screwed his face up and said, "No, Saskatoon!"  There really wasn't any answer for that question other than the obvious; the Roughriders play in Regina.

9.  Hey -- we've got a HOCKEY TEAM in Regina!  By that I mean the Regina Pats are for real.  I caught a portion of Sunday's 3-1 Pats victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings, the club's fifth win in a row.  Regina was creative offensively, sound defensively, and got stellar goaltending out of Tyler Brown in the triumph.  I was sitting beside a couple of scouts and one leaned over and said, "All they were missing was their play on the back-end".  It would seem Pats Coach & GM John Paddock has somehow figured out what the club was lacking and they're rounding into form at a perfect time.

The Pats are marching upwards in the standings and will swing into Medicine Hat and Lethbridge this week before returning home on Friday to welcome the Prince Albert Raiders.  There should be a huge crowd in the Brandt Cenre for that one.

However one thing struck me at the Pats' recent home games:  why are people still lining up to buy tickets at the box office in the east end of the Brandt Centre up until game time?  It's 2016 ya know.  Isn't it far easier to buy your seats online and flash your smartphone at the door to gain entry?

The same thing goes for the movies, although I'm happy the majority haven't caught on yet.  By downloading the Cineplex app, we buy our tickets ahead of time and breeze past the line.

10.  Speaking of, we were fortunate to hit a couple of movies in the last week.  While Deadpool starring Ryan Reynolds isn't exactly my cup of tea, I'm glad we went.  It was scintillating to hear the star proclaim, "Regina, Saskatchewan" while he was beating up a bad guy ... We also took in How To Be Single, which is a must-see for anyone who's still out there roaming the herd.  If you need to pick between the two movies, the MMG suggests the latter.

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A CONTEST

The American band Disturbed is performing Monday evening at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw and that fine facility has jumped back on RodPedersen.com as a sponsor.

If you'd like to go, text exactly why you'd like a pair of free tickets for tonight's show to 393939 and a winner will be randomly selected at noon today.

The winner will be able to pick up their tickets at Mosaic Place's Will Call prior to the show.

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CAMPBELL BLANKED ON SUNDAY

GRAND PRAIRIE, Alta.(CP) - Alberta's Chelsea Carey went undefeated through the opening weekend of the Canadian women's curling championship with a 3-0 record.

The host province downed B.C.'s Karla Thompson 8-5 and beat Stacie Curtis of Newfoundland and Labrador 6-4 on Sunday.

With a draw remaining at night, Quebec's Marie France Larouche and Northern Ontario's Krista McCarville were both 2-0.

Defending champion Jennifer Jones, Ontario's Jenn Hanna, Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Birt, New Brunswick's Sylvie Robichaud and Manitoba's Kerri Einarson were all 1-1.

McCarville stole two in the 10th and another deuce in an extra end to beat Nova Scotia's Jill Brothers 9-7.

Larouche cruised to a 10-4 win over Saskatchewan's Jolene Campbell, who fell to 1-2 alongside Brothers.

Robichaud scored a 7-4 victory over Newfoundland and Labrador's Curtis, who dropped to 0-3. B.C.'s Thompson was 0-2.

Saskatchewan plays at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm on Monday.

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MR. JONES

Saskatchewan Roughriders Head Coach & GM Chris Jones made his third and final public appearance at Friday night's Kinsmen Dinner in Saskatoon.  Rider fan Ange Clark posted this photo featuring Jones and Rider defensive lineman Shawn Lemon to the All Rider Fan Page over the weekend.

At Friday's Kinsmen luncheon, Chris Jones spoke to Saskatoon reporters and CJWW's John Fraser - the Voice of the Rush - forwarded me the audio.  Here's a transcipt of Jones' comments:

HAVING A BYE IN WEEK 1

CJ:  It all comes out in the wash.  We handled the same situation last year in Edmonton and you hate to have those early byes because you haven't played yet but the one thing I do say is if you've had injuries in camp, it allows you another week to get healthy before you have to actually play a meaningful game.

ON THE RELEASE OF DRESSLER AND CHICK

CJ:  It's one of those things.  We are dealing with pro football and unfortunately we have a salary cap that you have to adhere to.  Sometimes the answers are right in front of your face and you have to be willing to make those decisions.

IS THE TEAM BETTER?

CJ:  Yeah I feel we've had a good free agency.  We've picked up some good players and made some good trades.  We've got some guys in place that are good players and know our system.

DID YOU GET EVERY FREE AGENT YOU WANTED?

CJ:  We pretty much got all the guys that we'd earmarked and wanted to make a run at.  J.O. and Murph did a great job of securing those guys and like I say, we're assembling a pretty good football team.

WHY DO PLAYERS FOLLOW YOU?

CJ:  It's not just players, but coaches too.  We've got a great group of guys and that's probably the best thing.  We try to hire good people first, regardless of how they coach or play, good people who are loyal, want to work and put the better good of the team ahead of what they want.

HAVE YOU FELT THE EMOTIONS OF THE FANS?

CJ:  You know what, I don't read a lot of newspaper articles and I'm down in the States doing personnel stuff so I'm not privy to all the ups and downs.  I get it from Ryan Pollock.  He tells me the temperature of the room and that type of thing.  We're just trying to make the decisions that we feel like are best and give us the best chance to win when we start.

ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR CANADIANS?

CJ:  There's no doubt, if you look at the teams that are sucessful, they've got a quarterback and they've got quality Canadian talent.  Adding the Canadians we added, we feel it has bolstered our roster.

DOES THE NEW STADIUM MEAN MUCH TO YOU?

CJ:  I've been in the league 15 years and it's nice to be able to come here, instead of being scoffed at.  Maybe they'll like us a little bit, ya know?

HOW FAR HAVE CANADIAN PLAYERS COME?

CJ:  They've made huge strides.  You've got guys that can go down and compete in the East-West Game and they don't stand out negatively.  They stand out positively, actually.  That kid from Manitoba was one of the best kids down there.  I think the coaches and players themselves have made a commitment since I've been in the league to better themselves and prepare themselves for pro football.

WILL YOU TAILOR THE OFFENSE TO DARIAN'S ABILITIES?

CJ:  If you were playing quarterback, we'd be doing the same things.  We'd be chipping the ends and chipping the 3-techniques.  We're gonna keep the fullbacks in to protect the quarterback because you've got to keep him upright.  The downturn offensively the past couple of years, the CFL wants to change every rule known to man, and really if we just protect our quarterbacks, you'll put more points on the board.  We ask our back to protect the quarterback first and run the ball second.  That's the nature of our offense.

LOOKING FORWARD TO RETURNING TO EDMONTON?

CJ:  Edmonton was very good to me.  Ed Hervey and Paul Jones, Paul's one of my best friends in the whole world.  Getting an opportunity to go over there and compete against somebody you used to be with is always fun.

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Meanwhile Roughriders Assistant V.P. of Football Operations Jeremy O'Day joined us on the SportsCage to discuss the latest on the club.  Here are some of his comments:

ON TRAINING CAMP IN SASKATOON

JO:  It's a great location for us to come to Saskatoon.  From a football operations perspective, it's a great set-up facility-wise.  It has everything all-in-one that we need and it's a great opportunity for all of us to be in the same buildings and develop that team bond and camaraderie.  And the people up there in Saskatoon are great to us.

It's a little ways away but it goes so fast.  It just never really stops where we're always moving to the next phase of the off-season.  It just kind of rolls into each thing and builds up to where we're gradually ready to get out on the field.  It's all exciting.  Gone are the days of the six month season.  It seems to go for the whole year now and it's exciting all the way through.  It'll be here soon enough.  We've started to assemble the roster and we have a ways to go yet, but we feel great right now.

HOW'S DARIAN'S HEALTH?

JO:  Darian's doing great.  He's doing everything that anyone could do that wasn't injured.  He's back up to running full speed and doing all the things you need to be doing this time of year.  The positive thing about that is he has plenty more time to keep working on his conditioning and strength before we really get serious.  All the indications are that he's doing real well and the reports are that he's on schedule.  That's real good news for us and we're gonna do our best not to let everything hinge on him and put that pressure on him.  But we know what a huge part of the team Darian is.

*And now we wait.

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THAT'S ALL FOR THIS WEEK! THANKS FOR READING
RP
@sportscage

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

"We're gonna keep the fullbacks in to protect the quarterback because you've got to keep him upright"

Thank GOD! This pissed me off to no end how few blockers we had on the line, last year.

Anonymous said...

It's good that Sasktel and the rush welcomed you. The drives hopefuls were pleasant and uneventful. i agree for game days those Friday night drives are tough. The 8 pm starts make for a early Saturday AM at work and many no longer have the Mon to Friday work week. Few have red carpet service as they are in line for gas, washrooms, and food. There are few places open after 11. It is hoped that the goodwill of the travelling fans is not taken advantage of during scheduling.

Anonymous said...

The same people that don't look at their smart phones for rosters are the same people that lineup to buy tickets.

You cant have it both ways!

Rod Pedersen said...

Haha that's good! I'm not sure it's correct, but it's good!

Anonymous said...

Your "True North Strong And Free" Comment ! Same as "Why do people Chant Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na Na when the Habs are losing in Opposing Rinks? And that isn't just this year .

Anonymous said...

Did anyone do the Wave?

Curt Dittmer said...

Rod, as to why attendance is way down for the Blades, it is the result of years, if not decades, of putting out a poor product. I used to be a season ticket holder but gave up on those years ago as under the Molleken-Brodsky regime they continually put out a very poor product due to poor coaching and poor drafting/player management. Crowds were better the year they went for it and acquired Brayden Schenn. However, they were seriously outcoached in the playoffs and folded their tents early. Since that run the team has been horrible. The product on the ice is boring. It is going to take a few more years before this team has a hope of being competitive. Molleken and Brodsky effectively killed this franchise for many people in the city and there is a lot of work to do to bring people back on a regular basis. As an example of how tough a sell the Blades are in the city, I was given 12 free tickets to a January Blades game. I was only able to find 8 people who would use them after trying for a few weeks, no one wanted to go. This was the first Blades game I attended in 4 years and it was a terrible game to watch. I won't be going back anytime soon. It is not a question of money,or even wins and losses, it is a question of losing 3 hours of my life that I will never get back. Until the Blades give fans a reason to want to come to the rink they will continue to struggle. The entertainment value is simply just not there and it has not been there for years.

Nikarax said...

I went to both a Blades Game on Wednesday, and the Rush game Friday. The Rush provide a more exciting experience, the fast pace, few whistles and pumping music just add to the energy in the building.

It also helps that the Rush already have a League Championships, where the Blades are still trying to get a WHL title 52 years later.

Having a Pro team in Saskatoon is a great feeling. Sure we all cheer for the Riders, but it's nice to have a pro team the local community can get behind.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Curt Dittmer hit the nail on the head.
I remember taking my son to a game when he was 5, the team stunk but I thought that maybe the next year might be better....wrong.
He is 25 now, and in the last 20 years they may have won 2 or 3 playoff series.
The Molleken / Brodsky era was terrible, however it seems that Mr. Preistner is making an effort to build the franchise to a respectable level, that will take at least another couple of years though.

Edward said...

Guessing the guy who thought the stadium should have been built in the "middle of the province" isn't a deep thinker. Just look at the funding model. Most of the funds for the stadium come from the City of Regina taxpayers or the users of the stadium. The province only pitched in about 1/3 of the cost (and keep in mind, probably more than 1/3 of those taxpayers are in the Regina area).

Was anyone else putting up the cash?

Rod Pedersen said...

Actually he's a pretty successful businessman. Either way, his comment caught me off-guard.

Anonymous said...

Saskatoon Blades have been a disaster for many years now. I purchased season tickets the first year they were in the new rink and I never missed a game for 8 years until things started to change drastically and the Blades went into a slump that they have never gotten out of. I keep saying it over and over that we should get rid of the Blades and pick up an AHL Franchise. There would be no doubt about big crowds because it would be run by REAL PROFFESIOALS not Friends of the Family and relatives etc. which went on here forever. Blades are still terrible and will stay that way until they move out of town. By the way it has been close to 20 years since I went to a game and that will stay the same until they are gone.

Anonymous said...

Rod, sorry you had to go to Saskatoon. Hope your smile increasing as Saskatoon faded in the background on the ride back didn't cause you a headache. Watching Lacrosse and the Rush is enjoyable but to call it a "pro" sports team is a stretch. I'd rather watch the Saskatchewan WHL teams then the Rush. Go Pats Go!

Anonymous said...

We here in Regina are still waiting for our professional team to come to town as we have nothing close to professional here

Anonymous said...

Regina is in the middle of the province is it not? 3 hours west you’re in Alberta, 3 hours east you’re in Manitoba.

Anonymous said...

Technically the province didn't donate anything to the stadium. They provided a loan or mortgage if you will. Their portion, $80 million I think, is expected to be paid back.

By fact the largest financial contributor is the roughriders. $40 million to construction then $100 million of ticket revenue will be paid back over the next 30 years.

Also by fact, tax payers have a very small contribution and the raise in taxes is no more than normal growth. Had they put a roof on stadium - taxes would have skyrocketed due to the costs of operating for 12 months per year.

Oh yeah right, concerts and trade shows...

Anonymous said...

Heh Rod,
Thanks to the Sportscage for making the drive up. Can't believe our local radio stations can't do the same we know who we are talking about. As for the guy making the comment about the stadium he is a very low minority most people support it up here in Saskatoon and we are more than happy that the new stadium is being built in Regina. Why can't we all just be happy that we have 2 pro sports teams to cheer for in this province and get behind. The Rush are the best thing to keep us busy between football seasons. Also not sure what the Pats do for game day entertainment sounds like they do a better job of entertainment by your comment. But the Blades game day is not even close to the RUSH games and this will hurt them in the end.
Thanks to you and Luc for coming. Great seeing you guys do your thing at the Back Stage lounge.
Ron - Saskatoon

Anonymous said...

Blades have a darn good head coach and GM who knew the huge task ahead of him when he took the job. It's been getting better but still a long way to go. Build a winning team combined with some savvy marketing borrowed from the Rush and they'll bring the fans in.

The CFL ought to hire some of the Rush marketing people. They've taken a niche sport and made it the most popular thing in town. Grassroots involvement, catering to both families and milennials, entering the sports bar scene and making each game a special event. Exactly what the CFL needs to do.


Dubya

Anonymous said...

In 1947 the Riders moved from their red and black team colours to the green and white uniforms.

It is therefore worth noting for Rider trivia buffs that in 2017, along with the opening of the new Mosaic Stadium, it will be the 80th year that the Roughriders have worn the green and white uniforms.

(Also a bit ironic that what was once the Ottawa Rough Riders are now the Ottawa Redblacks.)

Old Hank

Anonymous said...

You must be an NFL snob. Let go of your hate bro.

Anonymous said...

To all the people from Regina bashing Saskatoon, as John frenzy would say "Very Winnipegish!!"

Anonymous said...

Blades are on the right track with events like today. They partnered with the Saskatoon Kinsmen to have a matinee game with thousands of school kids to promote anti-bullying. Heard there was 7000 or so in attendance. That's the kind of grassroots activities that helps to build a fan base. Great job guys, keep it up.


Gundersons Yorkton

Anonymous said...

It's probably just Scruffy posting anonymously. He hates Stoon with a passion. Probably ragging on Rod all day today for speaking so positively about Stoon on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Old Hank,
Do your math again! I think you are out by 10 years! Not?

Anonymous said...

For those of you that need a game day experience PLEASE do not blast music for the whole game. It is bad enough to have to endure it during breaks. I value my hearing after watching my grandmother suffer with little to no hearing the last 20 Years of her life. We see little kids (babies too) at Rider and Warrior games subjected to excessive noise which will show up in later life. My wife wears earplugs from outside Mosaic Stadium until we are well clear of it and still gets pains in the ears. I have industrial ear protection with a radio and can listen to the broadcast of Rider games and still hear everything that is said over the PA system. Nobody will convince me that damage is not being done to 30,000 pairs of ears at every Rider game. There are many public functions and concerts we would attend and spend money at if it wasn't such a pain in the ears.

I go to games to watch and appreciate the talents and abilities of the athletes. No amount of hype or noise is going to improve my opinion of the play on the ice or field. I can sure you from the comments that the Rush will never see me at a game - even if the ticket is free.

Darren M said...

Hey Rod sure nice you made the trip here for a game. Really glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for your great comments and supporting the Rush. It does make for a late night but goodness knows how many trips the fellas and I have done for Rider games. Winter does pose an altogether different scenario but the effort that you all make from all parts of the province is great and appreciated!!

Anonymous said...

I can't figure out what the last guy is going on about.

Anonymous said...

Old Hank- I was born in 47. If next year makes me 80, I musta pulled a Rip Van Winkle or something.

Try 70th year.

Anonymous said...

Have been to three Rush games (missed the last one) and haven't heard anyone chant "True North" at any of them. Might just be a couple sections for some reason.

Definately a different crowd from Blades games (or any other WHL ones I have attended). Many more in their twenties and thirties (male and female). Lots of beer flowing (can be good or bad), but the atmosphere really keeps you in the game. I agree with you that its not more entertaining than a good WHL game, but the atmosphere will keep me going back. Attendance will stay up this year, I would worry somewhat about next year if our weather returns to normal. How many are going to drive a distance from out of town (Regina or closer even) when it is 40 below. Thats the difference between driving for a Rider game in the summer

One of the few things Sasktel Centre does right, is how they now light up the outside for Rush (green lights) and the Blades games (blue lights). Doesn't bring more people in, but it sure looks great in the dark.

The Blades certainly have a long history of being crappy and as another comment said Mollenken and Brodsky destroyed the team a few years ago. Not convinced that the new owners are much better - they certainly have done some strange trades and promotions but have also done a few good things (like todays game). Would have been nice to have local owners in the same way the Pats have ended up (althought they are far from perfect either). I have been a season ticket holder for 15 years and hope to continue, but always dissappointed at the small crowds and sub par teams.

Cheers
Maddog

Anonymous said...

Hey Roddy, does that app get you to the front of the popcorn line or allow you to pre-order so you can just walk in and pick your stuff up?

Carl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carl said...

Surprised all the anti-Saskatoon comments from people of Regina. You would think this Team is perfect for the Riders off season. Oh well, I guess it's our team. Didn't think the article was too pro-Rush either.

Anonymous said...

And the good news is ... there are only 18 'Monday Morning Goalie' columns until the Rider's home opener against the Argos!

Anonymous said...

Regina is having the same sort of thing at the brandt center next Monday Gunderson

Rod Pedersen said...

I only use the app for tickets. You can buy concession coupons too, but I never have.

Anonymous said...

I think every team hosts/plays in one of these. The pats have one next monday.

Anonymous said...

New stadium build North end zone wall will be dangerous problamatic for all players running full flight, jus saying.