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Friday, November 24, 2017


Welcome to Friday!  Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they come in no particular order.

- Grey Cup Sunday is near. Do you care?  Surprisingly, the answer is no with many I have spoken to and many who texted in or called into the Sportscage this week. I find it hard to believe that in a province where so many eat, sleep and breath Rider football, that there is a lack of interest in the CFL championship.  Are we that jaded as a fan that we can't watch the league's championship game without the Riders in it or do we just hate Calgary that much? It may be a little of both.

- I will be the first to admit that I will be watching NFL games on Sunday and forgoing the pre-game show on TSN, but even though the Seahawks are playing the late game, I will be checking in with the Grey Cup and not ignoring it as so many have said they will do.  If you do that, is it good for the league?  If the league isn't healthy, the Riders aren't healthy.  Yes, they are the straw that stirs the league's drink, but it does surprise me there is so much apathy towards the game.  Is this just the moral minority speaking?

- As for the game, the Stampeders are seven point favourites and they deserve to be. They clearly are the better team, but that was the case last year against Ottawa as well and we know what happened.  If that should happen again this year, what will it say about Dave Dickenson?  It will be two years in a row he has gotten to the big game and been beaten.  Could another veteran quarterback have a day to remember in what could perhaps be his swan-song? If Ray pulls off a Henry Burris, questions will have to be asked in Calgary.  Despite the disparity in records, we all know things can happen in a one-game winner-take-all.  While Calgary has ruled the regular season in the CFL over the past decade, they still own as many Cups as the Riders over that time frame at 2 with Toronto also looking to make it two in the last 10 years with a win on Sunday.

- Commissioner Randy Ambrosie will get grilled today---twice!  Once by the media and then a while later by the fans in what may be a better deal than the session with reporters from across the land.  We all know there are many issues that Ambrosie must face in the off-season.   What is the number one issue?  There are so many different topics ranging from the marketing of the league to its officiating to the playoff format to scheduling.  I think the fans may be tougher on him than what the media will be. They will be the ones sending the message because they are the lifeblood of the league.  I'm sure he will handle everything the way he has handled things since becoming the guy in charge.  I do want to know what his off-season agenda is. As I've said before, I think this will not be an off-season where the CFL closes its doors with many announcements coming from the league office as Ambrosie tries to get a better reputation for his 9 and maybe 10 team loop. In fact, he basically assured us of that when he told Tim Baines of the Ottawa Sun this week.

"In the next five years, I want this game to set reasonable but aggressive targets for growth. I want to set revenue growth targets, I want to set attendance growth targets, I want to set broadcast growth targets. I want our players to be in a league that is on the move and marching forward. We’re going to have two seasons in the CFL from now on – football season and business season. Football season will end Sunday night at about 9:30 (EST). Business season starts Monday at 8 a.m. I use this word ‘co-opetition.’ We compete like crazy sideline to sideline, but we co-operate with each other in the name of a better Canadian Football League.|

How can you not love that statement if you're a CFL fan!!

- They kicked the Rider pep band out of media row?! Is this going to be the story before the 105th Grey Cup much like the fight between Angelo Mosca and Joe Kapp dominated the days leading up to the 102nd GC in Vancouver. It might.

- The Vanier Cup goes this weekend if you've forgotten.  Laval will play Western in Hamilton.  I'm not sure why USports Canada insists on having this game played on the day before the Grey Cup when the contests are in a different venue.  It would benefit USports Canada greatly in having the Vanier played in the same city, but that does present other problems.  The game should perhaps be played the day before CFL divisional finals weekend, Move it up a week if you can't have it in the same place as Grey Cup.

I also wonder when Regina will put a bid in for a future Vanier. You can't tell me it hasn't been discussed by the Rams and the University of Regina. It's not like they don't have a nice stadium to play the game in.

- Congrats to Nick Cross! Everyone around the Rams knew this kid was going to be special right out of the gate and they were right.  The linebacker is more than deserving of his national award for rookie of the year.  It won't be the last award he wins in university and pro football.  Congrats as well to Noah Picton for being named a 1st team All-Canadian. He just puts something else on a resume that should be more than good enough to get drafted and get a good look by a CFL team.

- Week 12 NFL Lock of the Week --- Steelers over Packers
  Week 12 NFL Upset of The Week --- Jets over Panthers

- After watching a tripleheader of NFL on Thursday, I can say  1) The Vikings are possibly setting their fans up for another playoff heartbreak 2) The Cowboys are nothing without Ezekiel Elliott and 3) The sleepiness those in the US had from watching the Giants-Redskins wasn't because of o-d'ing on turkey.

- They say if you aren't in the Stanley Cup playoffs at US Thanksgiving, you aren't getting in. While that does astound me seeing we are just hitting the quarter pole, the numbers do seem to reflect that as 75 percent of teams in a playoff spot now do hold on to make it.  If that is accurate this year, it means Ottawa, Montreal and Edmonton would be on the outside looking in come playoff time.  I'm going to look at the standings and say that 75 percent number won't hold true this year.

If it does though, the Canadian team at the Worlds would be Olympic-calibre.  You could have Carey Price and Corey Crawford in net. Your defence could consist of guys like Brent Burns, Aaron Ekblad, Brent Seabrook and Shea Weber. Your forwards would be led by Connor McDavid, Jonathan Toews,  Brad Marchand, Claude Giroux and Logan Couture.  Not bad! Olympics Shmolympics!

- Gary Bettman and the city of Houston are apparently talking about the NHL. The Flames ownership is talking about leaving Calgarry if they don't get a new rink.  Hmmmmmmm!!! I still don't think Calgary is leaving, and I still think Quebec City is back in the NHL before places like Houston and Seattle are.

- Great point from Sportsnet's Ian Mendes. He sent out a tweet Thursday saying good on the NHL for not having any games on US Thanksgiving. He says it would nice for the league to respect Canada Day and not have free agency start that day. I couldn't agree more!

- When I first got onto Twitter, I never ever dreamed of having over 4000 followers.  That number really does astound me. Thanks to all who do "follow".  I do question the sanity of many of you.

- For those who complain about nothing to do in Regina on a Friday night, may I suggest some University basketball.  The Cougar men and women both have a challenge in front of them this weekend as Lethbridge comes to town.  Both teams come in with a record of 5-1. Michaela Kleisinger will start draining threes just after 6 and Brian Ofori will start dunking around 8:15. Come out and support some student-athletes and see some entertaining basketball at the same time.

- That's all I got.  Have a great weekend.  Enjoy the game!