Monday, November 21, 2016
THE MONDAY MORNING GOALIE
ODDS & ENDS
Well as of Monday morning, there's not much. A text message from the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday afternoon reported, "Quiet on all fronts".
Meanwhile in the Durant camp, they're still *digesting* Chris Jones' comments in last Saturday's Regina Leader Post.
Both Durant and Chris Jones will be in Toronto for Grey Cup, I'm told, and who knows if they'll bump into each other at Riderville. Truly, there is no need for animosity if they do cross paths.
When this contract situation eventually wraps up (and it'll likely take at least until mid-February), my prediction remains that Darian Durant will be a Saskatchewan Roughrider in 2017. I can't speak for what his mood will be after taking a gigantic paycut, but I expect him to be in Green & White nonetheless.
That's what I'm telling people when I get asked about it at least five times per day in this town.
2 - The MMG certainly doesn't have all the details of the discussions because I'm not sitting in the room but some of the issues on each side appear to be:
* The Riders would prefer to sign Durant to a contract for far lesser money a la Travis Lulay, Drew Willy, or what Henry Burris is scheduled to earn in 2017 which is far less than what he makes now,
* Durant can poke around in free agency and there are possible landing spots in Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg. However those franchises all have quarterbacks in the picture named Vernon Adams, Drew Willy, Ricky Ray or Matt Nichols so it's unlikely they'd open their wallets to the tune of $350,000 or more for a stranger,
* Durant could sign here for less money and compete for the starting job in training camp, but there's a danger he could still be perceived to be behind guys like Mitchell Gale, Jake Waters and Brandon Bridge heading into Week 1. I know that sounds preposterous but that's what happened to Henry Burris with Nealon Greene.
* It's likely however, that Chris Jones and offensive coordinator Stephen McAdoo would put the best quarterback on the field at New Mosaic Stadium coming out of training camp and that will be Darian Durant if he earns it.
3 - The whole scenario remains quite a head-scratcher. It appears the Riders are playing with fire with the possibility of Durant signing elsewhere and no capable replacement waiting in the wings but as many, many football people have told me over the past few weeks, "Jones has his way of doing things and it's different than what you've seen before".
So we'll wait and see how it turns out but it's my conclusion that the Roughriders are holding all the cards in this situation.
Therefore, I expect Darian to be back which would be a relief to just about everybody.
You can purchase it now to have it in time for Christmas.
5 - The suits in the CFL office must be clicking their heels this morning at an Ottawa-Calgary Grey Cup this week in Toronto. Not only does it represent an East-West scenario, but it also presents a match-up of the two best teams in the CFL judging by the results of Sunday's Division Finals.
In the East Final in Ottawa, the hometown RedBlacks football club seemed FAR more prepared to handle the snow, even if their stadium crew did not. 41-year old Henry Burris shrugged the blizard off and although it might not have been the game of his life, he got his team to the Grey Cup for a second straight year. The Eskimos and quarterback Mike Reilly just seemed completely overwhelmed by the elements.
All signs pointed to an Eskimo victory leading into the game, but they really didn't show up which is disappointing.
Meanwhile out West, the Stampeders laid an absolute beating on the B.C. Lions in the West Final to punch their ticket to the Grey Cup and finish what they started.
Kudos to the football fans of Calgary by the way, for nearly selling out McMahon Stadium and making enough noise for it to be a factor. I didn't think they were capable of it. And who cares that tickets were sold at vastly discounted prices? They sold a ton of them and it looked great on TV. I've been after the WHL to do that for years but no, I don't know what I'm talking about.
Now with the Stampeders ready to oppose the RedBlacks this Sunday at BMO Field, we can all get excited about the 104th Grey Cup in Toronto rather than hold our nose at the prospect of a Battle of Alberta for the CFL championship!
6 - Over a family breakfast on Sunday, my brother-in-law discussed a story on MSN.com by the legendary Terry Jones stating that the CFL needs to scrap the East-West divisional alignment and go with one big nine-team division. Come playoff time in Round 1, teams #1 and #2 would get a bye while teams #3 and #6, and #4 and #5 would meet in the semifinals.
I haven't read the article yet to determine what Terry's points are, but I will.
However I feel this whole concept should take a backseat to the idea of moving the season up two more weeks to avoid weather conditions like we saw at TD Place Stadium on Sunday.
That, first and foremost, is what the CFL needs to be investigating far more than divisional realignment.
Furthermore on that topic, I maintain that Canada is split into an East and a West and therefore so should the Canadian Football League.
And what's wrong with what went down in the 2016 Playoffs and every year prior?
Stop fiddling with this stuff and enjoy the game as it is!
7 - Interesting that the RedBlacks wouldn't touch the CFL East Division championship trophy on Sunday when it was presented by Commissioner Jeffrey L. Orridge. I find that notion silly, particularly after Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby got his fingerprints ALL OVER the Prince of Wales Trophy in last year's NHL Playoffs yet they went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Jinx bedamned! However apparently the RedBlacks touched the trophy last year and the Grey Cup didn't turn out to well for Ottawa? That's the story I heard anyway.
However it's going to take a little more than karma for the RedBlacks to beat the Stampeders in the Grey Cup. The odds haven't been set yet, but our football consultant Gary Etcheverry has installed Calgary anywhere between 10-14 point favourites.
8 - Love, love, love that we're heading to Grey Cup on Wednesday and diving headfirst into the CFL rumour pool! Women call it gossip, men call it "rumours". And in both cases, people love it until they're the focal point of it.
Either way, there's going to be some juicy stuff coming out of Hogtown and we'll be on the air from Toronto with the SportsCage on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
We've already got a headstart on some of the rumours, like the one that says Argos coach Scott Milanovich has been telling people he expects a complete house-cleaning of the Toronto football club.
With the Alouettes searching for a GM as well, the rumour mill is on "HIGH". A text I received on Sunday said, "Do you think Tillman will go after the jobs in MTL and TOR?"
Meanwhile another CFL source said to me face-to-face on Sunday, "Don't be surprised if Burris ends up here in 2017".
THIS. IS. GREAT.
9 - Many are scoffing at the whole concept of CFL Week and how the only place it can be successful is Saskatchewan. Of course Commissioner Orridge and Rider brass announced on Tuesday that the inaugural week-long party is coming to Regina March 20-26 and Rider fans are positively giddy about it.
The naysayers are saying it'll only work in Saskatchewan but I strongly oppose that thought. Particularly since other CFL teams were miffed the first event was automatically awarded to the Riders rather than be opened up to a bid process.
I don't know who those other teams are, but there's no reason this CFL Week couldn't work anywhere on the prairies along with Hamilton and Montreal out East. CKRM football analyst Mike Abou-Mechrek is suggesting taking it to non-CFL markets like Saskatoon, Thunder Bay or Halifax to grow the brand which is a remarkable idea.
Others really don't even know what CFL Week is all about and frankly, neither do I. However I do know I'll be eyeballs deep in it come March.
10 - Go Pats Go. No one seemed to bat an eye that the Regina Pats lost their first game in regulation all season long, on Saturday night in Victoria by a 5-3 score. I listened to the game, and Pats voice Phil Andrews was not drowning in his own tears at the game's conclusion. (I likely would've been).
Everyone knew that first loss was coming, and it equaled the franchise's best start since 1965. It's funny how the sports gods have a way of humbling you. Chris Milo's consecutive field goal streak tied Dave Ridgway at 28. Kory Sheets' run of 10 games with 100-yards rushing tied a franchise mark set by George Reed.
It's like the gods are saying, "Whoa, whoa whoa. You're good but you're not that good."
However former Pats goaltender and scout Pat Ansell was at Sunday's 8-3 Pats victory at Vancouver and reported, "It's not even close".
That's generally what people say when they see the 2016-17 Pats and I expect they'll only get stronger the rest of the way.
Upgrades? They're needed on the blueline but not in goal. Debbie Downers keep writing into this blog's comments section saying Tyler Brown isn't adequate but the comments do not get published.
This website will not be a vehicle for the Negative Nellies of this town as it relates to the Regina Pats goaltending situation.
THAT'S IT! THANKS FOR STOPPING BY ...