REGINA - You came here today - I'm guessing - for an update on the Darian Durant contract talks with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Well, get in line.
On the weekend I was at the till at the Rider Store and the young gentleman behind the counter quizzed, "Anything new on Durant?"
I asked him if that's what most people ask when they've come through the Rider Store lately.
"No," he said. "But I am."
The truth is this back-and-forth siutation between the Riders and their star quarterback is like watching a turtle race. Or a game of "Tag" between senior citizens. Each volley moves as fast as a cruise ship across the net.
Last week in the MMG we reported that the Durant camp is seeking a new deal in the range of $350,000 per season. The Riders were unfazed, but didn't pick up the phone to negotiate although Head Coach & GM Chris Jones said he was confident a deal could be reached.
He told reporters at his year-end news conference that he wanted to keep everything "in house".
Then in Saturday's Leader Post, Jones told the peerless Rob Vanstone "We want to try to secure (Darian) if we can, but we're going to make the right business decision. We set the bar last year when the guys that were here didn't want to work within the financial constraints of what we're trying to get done. We're not going to step outside that mindset."
Translation: Accept what we're offering Darian, or move on.
That was the latest volley from Jones, and the ball is now in Durant's court.
Finances? One member of the Durant camp feels it's preposperous to expect the quarterback to suffer for all the financial carelessness of this new Rider regime. The up-front money blown on Maurice Price and Shawn Lemon for instance, or all the fines associated with Roster-Gate, Ratio-Gate and every other kind of Gate.
But unfortunately - if you're a Durant fan, and I'm one - it's the Riders' money and they can spend it however they choose.
One CFL power broker said to me last week, "At what point does Rider President Craig Reynolds step in and talk some sense into Jones and Murphy?"
The fact is, he can't. So many other football people have chimed in saying, "Reynolds gave the car keys to Jones. He has to let him drive."
It's doubtful Craig Reynolds wants the reputation of being a President who sticks his nose into the GM's business. It's also likely that Jones came here with the guarantee he'll have a free hand to run the outfit the way he chooses.
So again, the ball is in Darian Durant's court.
Chris Jones wants him, but at a significant, significant paycut. Perhaps down to $250,000?
It's now Durant's decision as to how much he wants to stay in the 306.
"Darian really wants to win," said another source close to the situation. "And that's why he'll probably land in Winnipeg as opposed to rebuilds in Montreal or Toronto."
This is the scuttlebutt behind the scenes folks.
Meanwhile the popular Regina clothing company 22 Fresh - for which Darian Durant is a spokesperson - wrote on Instagram on the weekend: "Regardless of where he plays next year, Darian Durant will always be on #TeamFresh. We can't say enough about this man and what he means to the community on and off the field. Oh, and he loves the new jogger-sweats".
As we sit here today, I'd suggest we start saying our good-byes to Darian Durant although that could change in a flash.
It's just up to him now to send another volley back across the net.
This could very well play out until February.
18 RANDOM THOUGHTS
1 - I don't know about you but frankly I found it tough watching the CFL Playoffs yesterday with the likes of John Chick, Justin Capicciotti, Weston Dressler, Ryan Smith, Chris Getzlaf, et al. It's hard to believe that there wasn't a way for some combination of these Rider favourites to be back with the Green & White this season. Still, deep down, I do believe Chris Jones knows what he's doing and he has charted a map to get Make The Riders Great Again.
Right now though, it feels like we're driving in the fog.
2 - Jones and Murphy must have a Plan B at quarterback which doesn't include Darian Durant. However for the life of me, I have no idea who it could be. James Franklin is under contract in Edmonton through next season and I'm told there's no way Ed Hervey would deal him to Jones and Saskatchewan.
And, James Franklin hasn't peed a drop in the CFL compared to Durant who also has several good years left in him.
3 - The MMG thought the CFL Playoff games on Sunday were very well-officiated regardless of what they might think in Hamilton. I thought the Odell Willis hit on Zach Collaros late in the game was "borderline" while colleague Gary Etcheverry said, "It wasn't even close" to Roughing the Passer. Judging by his postgame comments, Kent Austin felt otherwise.
Credit where it's due: the refs were good and the games were entertaining. The video delays were no longer than what we currently endure in the NFL, NHL and now, the NBA.
4 - It's remarkable how much better the officiating gets when you don't care who wins.
5 - After Sunday's loss, I expect some sort of shake-up in Hamilton. Although it's been rumoured that Kent Austin is on shaky ground with owner Bob Young, I can't see how they can get rid of him. Although there will be a thorough review, and there could be some changes under Austin.
6 - TSN's Gary Lawless reported on Sunday that when Danny Maciocia is hired as GM in Montreal, he'll likely hire Geroy Simon. It seems like a shot in the dark, but it'll be real interesting if it happens. Geroy definitely needs to get out and spread his wings.
7 - The new commercials for the 2016 Grey Cup in Toronto seem spectacular. Hopefully it'll make some people across Canada want to go. It's a head-shaker that so many tickets are still available, and someone needs to answer for the ticket pricing sham which made this Grey Cup a punchline.
8 - TSN provided some great aerial shots of Vancouver during the Western Semifinal broadcast. Why didn't they do the same of Hamilton? Or did they and I missed them? Believe it or not, there are some beautiful areas of the Hammer.
9 - And was the CFL Commissioner at the games on Sunday? That's not to pick at a wound or to bully Jeffrey L. Orridge. I just didn't see him shown on the broadcasts. If he was in Hamilton or BC, it would've been nice for TSN to show him. An interview would've been even better.
10 - To reitereate, I reported Jonathan Jennings was the best quarterback present at the 2014 Roughriders minicamp in Bradenton, FL. Instead, the football club chose to go with Tino Sunseri and Seth Doege as the back-ups to Darian Durant that season. All was great until Durant went down with the elbow injury after an 8-2 start.
It's been hell ever since.
11 - It won't be a disaster if Edmonton makes it to the Grey Cup and faces either Calgary or BC. 65,255 showed up to Olympic Stadium in Montreal for the 2001 Grey Cup between Calgary and Winnipeg and it was a tremendous Grey Cup. Let's not fear monger here.
12 - Two words to describe the anti-Trump protesters in the U.S. and Canada: Sore Losers. I predicted a Donald Trump victory on the CJOB Winnipeg pregame show of the Banjo Bowl on September 10 and never wavered from it. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few years.
13 - Why are we celebrating Eric Lindros going into the Hockey Hall of Fame this evening? I really have no problem with his induction but if "The Big E" goes in, then Wendel Clark better go in next year.
14 - It's a shame to watch what first-year coach Glen Gulutzan is going through with the Calgary Flames. They didn't put up much of a fight in Saturday's home loss to the New York Rangers and were booed by the Saddledome crowd throughout the evening and particularly at game's end.
However it's a familar refrain for Calgary sports teams: They're just not as good as they think they are.
And if the hockey team doesn't turn it around soon, Gulutzan may pay the ulimate price.
That's what I'm reading out of Calgary anyway.
15 - It was tough to have to choose between the CFL Western Semifinal and the Regina Pats game on Sunday but I make my living in pro football. As it turns out, I didn't miss anything out of the ordinary. Regina spanked Red Deer 8-4 for their 10th consecutive victory.
Further evidence that Regina is a Rider town, and not a football town: 6484 packed the Brandt Centre to watch the #1 team in the CHL rather than stay home and watch the CFL Playoffs.
I think that's fantastic!
People around here aren't dumb. It just took them awhile to catch onto how dominant the Regina Pats really are.
16 - Somebody in Moose Jaw hinted last week that some within the Pats aren't pleased with me trumpeting how great the team is. Presumably my "boasting" is putting too much pressure on the club.
Well, there's an image of the Memorial Cup at the tail-end of the intro video they play each and every time the Pats take the ice at home. They've shown it for two years now.
If they're not striving for the Memorial Cup, why is it in the video?
However no one within the Pats has contacted me about my coverage and they all have my number so if there's any gripes, they can't be too serious.
The Regina Pats are the best team in all of junior hockey and we predicted it was coming in the summer.
Just keep proving it.
17 - Not sure why pundits and fans seem to think Regina needs to upgrade its goaltending. Tyler Brown is as good as there is and, ummmmm, no one can beat the Pats as it is so where is the threat going to come from?
Brown's awareness is as good as anybody's and he never, ever gives up on a puck.
He can carry them to the Memorial Cup, no sweat.
18 - DO go watch the movie Hacksaw Ridge but DO NOT go watch the movie Keeping Up With The Joneses.
You can thank me later.
THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEK! SEE YOU ON THE RADIO AT 4