NOTES FROM THE HEARTLAND OF THE CFL
Dan Plaster of the Saskatchewan Roughriders handed over a cheque for $37,500 to Thunder President Brin Werrett, proceeds from the Rams 50/50 draws at Rider home games. The evening was attended by personalities from the NFL, CFL, CIS, PFC, RMF and just about all other levels of the game.
Thunder head coach Scott MacAuley gave another passionate speech in which he said if the Thunder and the University of Regina Rams are going to be successful individually, they need to work together. His comments drew a loud ovation and he admitted that although the two organizations compete for players, coaches and sponsors, they still need to build a good working relationship. MacAuley also noted the Thunder will once again play host the NCAA's Saint John's Johnnies football team in a scrimmage on Saturday, May 7 in Regina.
2 - "THE GIZ": Canadian Football Hall of Famer and Edmonton Eskimos great Henry "Gizmo" Williams has spoken in Regina before but he gave his best performance as the keynote speaker at Saturday's Thunder dinner. As time passes, we tend to forget Gizmo's struggle growing up in Memphis, Tennessee. Orphaned by the age of seven and raised by his older brother, Henry is now the only remaining member of his Memphis family. Multiple Schlerosis claimed almost every member of his family, and he performs daily checks for signs of the disease each morning when he wakes up. "Gizmo" (nicknamed by Memphis Showboats teammate Reggie White in 1985), made it all the way from The Projects in Memphis to the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles but he walked away from the NFL because he felt his talents weren't being appreciated nor properly utilized. He re-wrote the CFL's record book from 1986-2000 with the Edmonton Eskimos and states most of his records will never be broken.
His tragic personal tale landed interview requests from Larry King and Oprah Winfrey but he turned them down because he didn't want anyone to feel sorry for him. And even when his pain became almost too much to bare, Gizmo said he was humbled when a high school student in Red Deer - with no arms and no legs and speaking from a computer - told him he'd give anything just to be Gizmo for a day. "People wanna feel sorry for me?" Gizmo questioned. "For what?"
Williams was hilarious too, telling stories of how the Eskimo players got tired of coach Ron Lancaster constantly harping on stories of Saskatchewan and the glory days of "George and Ronnie" and legendary Rider coach Eagle Keys. Giz even admitted he would've loved to suit up for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, saying "If I'da been a Roughrider, I'da been God!" Williams continued, "In Edmonton I walk down the street and they say, 'You're who?'"
He also said legendary Eskimos broadcaster Bryan Hall just never shut-up and always asked the most-ridiculous questions. I may have been the only one applauding after that quip.
If you're in the market for a motivational speech for any group, give Giz a call.
Picot officiated at every level of football for over 35 years and worked eight Grey Cups. If you played football in Regina, there's a good chance Ken reffed one of your games. Or at the very least, attended one.
Picot was a regular at Roughriders practices and I loved the fact he always referred to the Roughriders as "we". He always wanted to visit and share scoops of what's new in the CFL. Kenny also took great pride in hosting the "Rules of the Game" segment on our television show In The Huddle on Access 7 weekly, and I felt he just loved to have a reason to don the stripes once again. He loved the notoriety too, and I remember when he was so excited to be recognized in a Tim Hortons in Moosomin, SK. It was never hard to pick Ken out as he was habitually wearing a CFL cap and jacket!
The CFL and Regina football mourn the loss of Ken Picot. I say the football gods (Lancaster, Murphy, etc.) now have someone to officiate their games in heaven.
4 - TRADING PLACES: There was news of a few personalities changing jobs or careers last week. ... Long-time CFL V.P. of Communications Jamie Dykstra announced he's leaving his post with the League to assume the role of Sr. Director of Media & Communications with the Toronto Argonauts. ... Former Roughriders defensive lineman Demetrious Maxie announced on LinkedIn that he's the new Linebackers Coach with the Edmonton Eskimos. ... CTV Regina Morning Live host Chris Hodges announced on Facebook that he's leaving the bright lights of television to take a communications position with the Ministry of Education. He told me he'd still be glad to have a recurring role on the SportsCage as a sports pundit and for that, I'm thankful.
5 - THE SUMMIT: Many people stopped me over the weekend and asked what the inaugural Pedersen Media Summit on Saturday, May 14 at Mosaic Stadium's Pilsner Place is all about. Well it's a one-day seminar on social media strategies, media relations, publishing, branding and public speaking. For one, it's ideal for small business owners who don't have a full-time social media person (or a budget for a contract worker). A great deal of time will be spent on understanding and utilizing Facebook, Twitter, etc. and a handbook will be provided for business operators to do it themselves.
The workshop will be beneficial for sports teams, organizations and leagues as well, as we'll cover the secrets to ensuring your news releases are seen by the most media outlets and stand the best chance at being read on-air or published. The teams for which we provide media relations have all renewed their deals. These tricks will be included in the manual.
Some bloggers and P.R. people have said they can't attend the seminar due to conflicts but would like to purchase the manual and that option is available as well.
So far we've already had enough people sign up that the event will definitely go ahead. To register and book your seat, visit www.pedersenmedia.ca.
Incidentally this blog hit 15-million all-time hits on Sunday, one day after celebrating its 10-year anniversary of the first post published on March 19, 2006.
6 - WHAT'S UP WITH THE ROUGHRIDERS?: Good question. But we'll get an update on Canada's Team from the Riders' Assistant V.P. of Player Personnel John Murphy on the SportsCage's Rider Monday on 620 CKRM. Murphy is slated to join us at 5:10 pm Sask Time. We'll also be joined by Hall of Fame Stampeders broadcaster Ken Newans and Thunder President Brin Werrett.
Newans is expected to give an update on the Calgary-NEXT project, which is the effort to build new NHL and CFL facilities in Calgary. I have a bet with SportsCage co-host Kelly Remple that these facilities won't be built within the next decade.
7 - The Roughriders announced their 2017 ticket prices on Thursday and it was shocking to learn that the Riders don't have the most-expensive tickets in the CFL. In fact, they're below the league average. Kudos to the Riders for consulting with the Blue Bombers, Tiger-Cats, Vikings, 49ers, Cowboys and Yankees on how to go about their seat transition into New Mosaic Stadium. The Riders want to deliver the best football fan experience in Canada through great sightlines, modern comforts and protection from the weather. My season tickets are going up by $200 each but you won't hear any grumbling here. We really have no choice and in the end, it'll be worth it.
8 - DUB HUB: The regular season is over and the Regina Pats will face the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Round 1 of the WHL Playoffs beginning Friday in Alberta. It's the first time the two franchises have met since a Regina Pats sweep in 1996. The MMG predicts the Pats will take the series in six games. We've got plenty of time on the airwaves this week to explain why. ... Kudos to Pats Head Coach & GM John Paddock who put together another Coach of the Year-worthy season in Regina. For the longest time it looked like the Queen City Kids weren't going to be able to put it all together at once however they constructed seven- and five-game win streaks down the stretch to prove they are, in fact, for real. ... What a shame the Pats went away from a year-end awards banquet several years ago and have gone instead with a pregame ceremony prior to their final home regular season game. Those banquets were the only time to get the players, coaches, sponsors, fans, billets and media together under one roof at one time, other than the games. ... The Victoria Royals won the WHL's regular season and it's the first time a Victoria franchise has accomplished that feat since Grant Fuhr's Victoria Cougars did it in 1980-81. ... Curious that the Vancouver Giants would fire Head Coach Lorne Molleken prior to the final weekend of the regular season. With four coaches in two seasons, you'd have to think that coaching isn't the problem there. Many in the Dub are pointing the finger at the team's ownership.
9 - NHL NOTES: The Maple Leafs were eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend. The NHL has played 47,565 games since the Leafs last won the Stanley Cup. ... Hockey Night In Canada's Paul Romanuk provided a chuckle when 14-year old Mason Greer concluded Oh Canada prior to Saturday night's home game against Buffalo. "And with that," Romanuk smirked, "The Leafs' youth movement is complete." ... Disturbing to see CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos refer to the CN Tower as "Old Glory" at the outset of Saturday night's telecast. That moniker should be saved as the nickname for the official flag of the United States of America. ... Did a smile cross your face when Chicago's Patrick Kane got lit up with this head down by Minnesota's Matt Dumba, as it did mine? ... Carlyle, Saskatchewan's Brenden Morrow retired as a Dallas Star last week with 991 career games played, and is fifth on the Star's all-time games list. He was a great Star, and I particularly enjoyed calling his games when he was a member of the Portland Winterhawks. God we're getting old. I recall calling the Carlyle School several years ago when the Stars made the Conference Finals and tried to get an interview with one of his old teachers. Sadly, no one remembered him. Apparently he doesn't get back all that much.
10 - S-JAY PLAYOFFS: We are through the opening weekend of the SJHL conference quaterfinals and here's where the series stand: (Weyburn-Flin Flon 1-1), (Nipawin 2-Estevan 0), (Melfort 2-La Ronge 0), and (Battlefords 2-Kindersley 0). If you're in one of these communities, get out and buy a ticket!
|Keith Hershmiller Photography|
The Western Hockey League's leading scorer, Adam Brooks of the Regina Pats has to be the front runner for the WHL Player of the Year Award. Yes I am biased, but I think anyone who watched Brooks do what he did this year, night in and night out shares my bias. Here is the case for the 19-year-old to win the WHL's highest yearly honour.
1.) Led the WHL in scoring with 120 points. Finished tied for 1st in assists with 82. First Regina Pat to win the WHL scoring race in 33 years. (Dale Derkatch in 1982-83).
2.) There have been a lot of great scorers play for the Pats over the last decade. Brooks 120 points in a season is higher than any single season for Jordan Eberle or Jordan Weal. The last Pats player to reach the 120 plus point plateau was Louis Dumont in 1992-93.
3.) Had the highest point total for any player in the WHL since the 2011-12 season (Brendan Shinnimin 134 points).
4.) Tied the league lead in short handed points with team mate Austin Wagner with 10.
5.) Factored in on 49.3 per cent of the Pats 243 goals this season. Highest amongst players nominated for the Player of the Year Award. Had 50 more points then next closest player on the Pats roster.
6.) Brooks was a plus 41 on the season, that is second best among all nominees, behind only Ivan Provorov of the Brandon Wheat Kings. What's most incredible about that number for Brooks is that the Pats were a minus 10 as a team in goals for and against. Played against the oppositions top line every night of the season and came away plus 41, was consistently the best player on the ice.
7.) Was named the Pats interim captain in early January after Colby Williams went for follow up surgery. In the 29 games he had 54 points to lead the Pats to a 17-10-0-2 record.
8.) Incredible example of development from his 16-year-old season. Had 12 points as a rookie, 11 as a 17-year-old, 62 at 18 and then 120 in his 19-year-old year.
9.) Had the leagues longest point streak of the season at 18 games. He had 38 points in that stretch. He also holds the third longest streak of the season at 15 games where he put up 32 points.
10.) One of only two players to be named WHL player of the Week twice during the regular season. The other, Reid Gardiner of the Prince Albert Raiders.
There are a ton of great players in this league and just 22 get nominated for the Player of the Year. But the numbers show that no player was more important to a team's success than Adam Brooks in 2015/16.
The Pats open the playoffs in Lethbridge against the Hurricanes at 7 o'clock on Friday on 620 CKRM.