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1 - It's not just that the Regina Pats are winning games at a franchise record pace. They're doing it in wildly entertaining fashion. Wednesday evening's last minute 4-3 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors will have the 5,402 in attendance talking for several days, or at least until Saturday when the Edmonton Oil Kings come to town. It was the Pats' sixth win in a row.
Saturday's home game is Brandt's Hockey Night In Regina and has already been announced as a sellout.
One concerning factor though: the buzz in the arena Wednesday night was, "I sure hope the Pats don't meet up with the Warriors down the road in the playoffs!"
It's true. The Pats are the better of the two by a smidge, but Moose Jaw works harder.
2 - Pats President Todd Lumbard was on 620 CKRM's SportsCage on Wednesday talking about the club's string of sellouts, and habitual crowds of over 5,000.
"There are a lot of people coming to games who hadn't been here in years," Lumbard observed. "We felt all along that if we could just get them into the building, that we'd give them enough of a show that they'll want to come back."
That's been exactly the case. Many Regina hockey fans have said that Pats games offer an NHL atmosphere and they're right The $3-million scoreboard, glitzy replays and crowd-pumping music have made Pats games the place to be in the Queen City right now.
The music was so loud Wednesday evening that you couldn't carry on a conversation in the seats, which is fine by me.
And when they had a "dance-off" on the scoreboard in third period, I wondered if they hired professional models for the contest. They were twerking their considerable assets for the entire arena to see.
The club even added additional seating this week to accomodate the rush the rest of the way.
3 - The buzz amongst the NHL scouts in the VIP room prior to Wednesday's game was about the Pats' bid to host the 2018 Memorial Cup last week. "I heard their presentation was Olympic-worthy," said an NHL executive. That's heedy stuff.
We should've known the Queen City Sports & Entertainment Group would put forth a world-class pitch and it's the talk of hockey right now. The word is the winning franchise will be named on a Hockey Night In Canada telecast in the coming weeks.
Unfortunately no one is quite sure when the CHL will make that announcement.
I've heard February 4, but also February 11. It's a head-scratcher that no firm date has been nailed down.
4 -While on our trip to Mexico, I saw a 13-year old boy from Saskatoon wearing a Pats bunnyhug. I asked him why he was repping a team from a rival city and his response was, "Because they're the number 1 team in the country."
How do you spell marketing? W-I-N.
End of story.
5 - It was sad to learn of the Riders' release of veteran long-snapper Levi Steinhauer on Wednesday. He was a true home-grown talent and the Moose Jaw product gave everything he had for four seasons with the Green & White however lingering injuries kept him off the field in 2016.
The Riders cleared a Canadian roster spot with this move and were obviously not willing to gamble on Steinhauer's availability for 2017. Good luck to Levi in his future endeavours. He did he and his family proud.
6 - And while I'd hoped that the Riders would make a pitch to sign free agent Canadian defensive tackle Keith Shologan after he was released by Winnipeg on Tuesday, it wasn't a shock to learn he signed with Montreal on Wednesday. At 31 years of age and with quite a bit of wear and tear on his body, "Sholo" just didn't seem to fit with the Riders' youth movement.
The Spruce Grove, AB product was a huge part of the Riders Decade of Decadence from 2008-2013 and he fit this province like a glove. But the past is the past.
The signing of 37-year old Kevin Glenn certainly doesn't fit with what appears to be the Jones youth philosophy but it's looking more and more like he was brought in for insurance. I'm hearing rumblings (externally) that the Riders have had talks this week with a fairly big name former NFL quarterback about resuming his career north of the border.
However those talks are unconfirmed.
7 - I've mentioned a lot about how Chris Jones looks to be following the New England Patriots template constructed by Bill Belichick. As has been noted several times, the Patriots were 5-11 in Belichick's first season in 2000.
How were they in Year 2 under Belichick? 11-5.
11 wins seem like a lot for this franchise in Year 2 of the Jones regime but we now know it's not unheard of.
8 - Congratulations to CFL Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge for being honoured with the African Canadian Achievement Award for Excellence in Sports. He's a tireless promoter of the CFL.
9 - It's entertaining to see sports stars biting back at their critics in the media, such as NBA star Lebron James lambasting NBA on TNT's Charles Barkley this week and calling him "a hater". It reminded me of Ottawa quarterback Henry Burris calling out the CFL on TSN panel this summer. THAT was gold, and Hank got the last laugh.
It's clear that the athletes have heard the scathing criticism all along but as Lebron said, "I'm tired of biting my lip."
Which athlete will be next?
10 - If you've got some spare time the rest of this week, I encourage you to check out the motion picture Patriot's Day, which re-enacts the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing with star Mark Wahlberg. It certainly gives some perspective on current world events, and it should have you leaving the theatre with a knot in your stomach.
I haven't been so physically moved by a movie since Boyz In The Hood way back in 1991.
And, as an added bonus, the hotdogs at Southland Cinemas are the best in town.
11 - NHL Thoughts: Was the firing of Ken Hitchcock expected to turn the St. Louis Blues around? I'm sure it was, but I doubt it will. Leaky goalie Jake Allen is the culprit in St. Louis and as long as the Blues don't have NHL-calibre goaltending, they're not going anywhere ... Might the Arizona Coyotes deal All Star Mike Smith to St. Louis? It's a fair question. Smith backstopped the Coyotes to the 2012 Western Conference Final but hasn't been the same since. Perhaps a change of scenery is needed ... The New York Islanders will be on the move out of Barclay's Centre after this season but prefer NOT to go back to unsightly Nassau County Coliseum. Meanwhile some media in Hamilton are causing a stir that perhaps the Isles should move to the Hammer, creating the "Hamilton Islanders".
12 - Super Bowl LI between the Falcons and Patriots figures to be a case of the Young Bull versus the Old Bull. And, generally, the old bull wins and that's why I expect New England to cover the 3-point spread. I'll be cheering for them too. You have to admire their expectations of winning, and doing so at all costs.
13 - Is there anything more entertaining than Facebook drama? Whether it's people airing their family's dirty laundry, poisonous political observations or spewing jealously over other peoples' sunny vacations, it's all popcorn-inspiring stuff.
And just remember - people are free to post pretty much whatever they want on social media. If you have a problem with what you see, simply Unfriend of Unfollow them. Getting in fights isn't going to solve anything and is only a reflection on you.
THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY! SEE YOU IN THE CAGE AT 4