ARE YOU READY?
Then on Friday, the Regina Pats open the 2017 WHL Playoffs with mammoth expectations as they host the Calgary Hitmen in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal. This week is going to be absolutely fantastic and you're going to have a front row seat right here.
2 - The week actually began on Sunday with a media tour of New Mosaic Stadium. I'll post all of the photos at the bottom of this notebook segment but suffice it to say, the Riders FAR exceeded our expectations. You don't have to take my word for it. When asked about the Riders' football operations facilities, newly-signed quarterback Vince Young gushed, "WOWWWWWWW!" when asked about it on 620 CKRM's SportsCage. Vince has seen every NFL stadium and I'm not exaggerating to say Saskatchewan actually tops them all.
3 - Rider President Craig Reynolds oversaw much of the new stadium details and design, and should truly take a bow. Sunday's tour reaffirmed my belief that Reynolds will knock it out-of-the-park when it comes to the onfield product too, with his hire of the triumvirate of Chris Jones, John Murphy and Jeremy O'Day. Rome wasn't built in a day, but this franchise will field a team that will match its jaw-dropping stadium.
4 - I'm going to steer clear of predictions when it comes to the Pats-Hitmen series, but I'll go out on a limb and say the Saskatchewan Roughriders will achieve 10 wins this in 2017. Where that will shake down in the standings remains to be seen.
5 - It will be great to renew acquaintances with all CFL types during Marks CFL Week, particularly new Argonauts Head Coach Marc Trestman. CKRM football analyst Luc Mullinder said he read a report that Trestman signed for $600,000 per season with Toronto, and that has several CFL players upset. Head Coaches' and GMs' salaries don't count towards the salary cap of course, but players feel they continue to get the raw end of the deal. None will go on record as saying as much however, but they'd like to let their feelings be known.
6 - When two CFL players are charged with drug trafficking in one calendar year, it should serve notice that perhaps player wages should be revisited once again. $52,000 as a rookie minimum is a pittance, but of course that's no excuse. There are plenty of good, honest people making far less than that who don't resort to illegal activity.
7 - In the case of the Riders' Jordan Reaves, it appears (from the outside) as a case of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Having gotten to know Jordan fairly well last year, the charge certainly seems out of character and he strongly maintains his innocence. The immediate question is whether or not Reaves should be allowed to play with the Roughriders this season but I don't see why not.
8 - The CFL was nice enough to forward Luc Mullinder's results from the 2004 Combine in Toronto. He, ahem, achieved 16 reps on the bench press and clocked a speedy 5.22 in the 40-yard dash. Mullinder didn't dispute his bench press numbers (saying he wasn't as serious about training back then) but thinks his 40-time is a misprint. That's roughly the same speed as a road grader.
9 - The food company Kraft is doing a great thing by once again by sponsoring the Kraft Hockeyville Challenge and offering $100,000 to a lucky Canadian community for sports facility improvements. Ituna, SK has made the final two communities and voting ends on Monday night. You can vote for Ituna here:
And when you're trying to decide which peanut butter to buy when you're standing in an aisle at your local grocery store, I encourage you to choose Kraft. I do.
10 - Playoff tickets - both singles and full playoff packages - are on sale now for the Regina Pats through their office at 522-PATS or website www.reginapats.com. Plenty of tickets remain, but I expect sellouts come Friday and Saturday for Games 1 and 2.
I bought four playoff ticket packages. and plan to do some contesting on this blog so stay tuned for that.
At the outset of the column I noted that expectations are mammoth for the Pats. They set a club record for wins at 52 along with a host of other individual and team records but that won't mean a thing if they don't go deep this spring.
That four game losing streak a few weeks ago came at a good time. It showed the team that they aren't infallible, and that they'll need to pay attention to details and play a full game each and every outing. Anything less will be fatal.
The atmosphere at Evraz Place this week is going to be electric, and it'll hit a crescendo by the weekend.
11 - Access TV is advertising their Pats playoff coverage on billboards all over town and I can guarantee we'll have at least Round 1 in its entirety on Channel 7 and in High Definition on Channel 70.
I'll be calling the home games but will step aside for the road contests due to sports dinners I'm appearing at March 30 (U of R Rams) and April 1 (Assiniboia with Tiger Williams).
Again, buckle up.
12 - The Pats have won eight games in a row entering the playoffs. Their opponents, the Calgary Hitmen, will be profiled on this website later in the week.
13 - The Prince George Cougars clinched the WHL's B.C. pennant which represents the first time in 23 years since relocating from Victoria that the club has won a banner. Who says ownership doesn't matter?
NOW FOR THE PHOTOS OF NEW MOSAIC STADIUM!
The reception area for Football Operations ..
The Players' Entrance ..
Another players' entrance ..
The hallway connecting all meeting rooms ..
A meeting room which can house 120 bodies ..
The weightroom .. 7,000 square feet ..
The locker room is simply too large to fit into one photo! It is much, much bigger in person ..
The quarterbacks' stalls with Vince Young's locker room waiting for him ..
A barber shop for the players ..
Paying homage to legendary Rider therapist Ivan Gutfriend ..
Gordon Gilroy's equipment room ...
Rider Ass't GM Jeremy O'Day explains some of the amenities of the Players Lounge ..
For video of all the Rider facilities, check out my Snapchat account at: Pedersenmedia
MARKS CFL WEEK SCHEDULE
(Click on photo for a clearer look)
THAT'S IT! THANKS FOR READING. SEE YOU ON THE RADIO!