Friday, January 12, 2018
10 THINGS I THINK I THINK
70-some interviews were conducted and an avalanche of CFL stories were generated. Dave Naylor's mountain-side reports on TSN looked amazing. While no earth-shattering news was broken, the goal was achieved: plenty of CFL coverage in the dead of winter.
2 - HALIFAX SCHOONERS: There was next to no talk about a CFL expansion team for Halifax and as RedBlacks GM Marcel Desjardins pointed out, Nova Scotia hasn't even been awarded a franchise. However that seems inevitable and once an expansion draft is conducted, Desjardins says it should be a little different than Ottawa's draft in December of 2013.
"I think there would need to be certain tweaks," Desjardins stated. "I think the rules back then were okay but in certain instances guys that could be claimed were still set to become free agents. Those types of things would need to be cleaned up. I did a mock draft when I interviewed for the job and we knew the first wave of Canadians would put us on the map and then the Americans and second wave of Canadians would become a lot trickier. That's the way it played out. If the rules stay the same, it'll likely play out that way again."
3 - LIONS DEN: Ed Hervey has a reputation of being truculent with the media but the new B.C. General Manager was exceedingly gracious to me. It was fantastic to rub elbows with these guys "out-of-season" because from June-November, they're in Beast Mode and generally hot-under-the-collar 24/7. Anyway, Hervey knows that several critics are questioning the Lions' new organizational structure.
"Of course it's going to look awkward!" Hervey smiled. "People will say how can Wally report to me when he's my boss? But we had a month of discussions leading up to my hiring and we both agreed that the look of it doesn't really matter. The results on the field do. I've never been concerned about perception."
4 - JOHNNY FOOTBALL: Hamilton's pursuit of Johnny Manziel is a story which will unfold daily over the next several months. Ticats boss Kent Austin wasn't fazed by Manziel's agent's claim that the 25-year old quarterback should be one of the highest-paid players in the CFL.
"I wouldn't look to much into that," Austin winked. "You want a player at that position to have a very high opinion of himself! Haha. At least we do. We don't want a guy questioning his skillset! Having said that, this is not abnormal in a negotiating scenario. The agent is going to do whatever's best for Johnny. And things can change very quickly as everybody knows."
5 - THE GREEK FREAK: No question, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will be a factor in the CFL West in 2018 with the addition of veteran pivot Zach Collaros. I asked Riders head honcho Chris Jones if Collaros is the missing piece to a Grey Cup championship.
"We'll see," Jones said. "We certainly hope that he is. We believe very strongly in him or we wouldn't have made the deal. Like I told Brandon Bridge after the trade, I wanted him to hear it from me first rather than seeing it on his phone or from someone else. It's not a slam dunk. We'll compete every single week and the best players will play. I don't think this trade came as a surprise to Brandon."
6 - NINE LIVES: One of the most interesting stories emerging in the CFL off-season is where free agent QB Kevin Glenn will land. Everybody knows the only team Glenn hasn't played for - or belonged to - is Edmonton but Eskimos GM Brock Sunderland says that won't factor into whether they sign him or not.
"No it won't," Sunderland advised. "That would be a very, very outside factor. We make every move to help the team win but it would be a cool story for sure. We do have interest and I've been in touch with him. Where that goes, we'll see. Everywhere he goes, he's won and we've done enough research to know he's a good person."
7 - 2019 GREY CUP: Commissioner Randy Ambrosie described the Calgary stadium situation as "horrible" during Grey Cup Week but this week he said dilapidated McMahon Stadium won't hinder Calgary's chance at hosting a Grey Cup.
"Right now, no," Ambrosie said. "That has not been part of the conversation. The issue of the stadium in Calgary is that the most successful franchise of the past two decades is deserving of a new stadium. You look at the cathedrals that have been built for football in this country, come on, it's time for Calgary."
So with that, the Stampeders feel they should be in line to host the 2019 Grey Cup but they'll likely draw strong competition from the Saskatchewan Roughriders and jaw-dropping New Mosaic Stadium. However this is now a bid process, so may the best bid win.
8 - D.C. CHILLIN': Chris Jones met Duron Carter for supper in Fort Lauderdale Thursday evening to find out where his head's at. Carter reportedly turned down NFL opportunities in Arizona and Baltimore which leads one to believe he'll be back in the CFL this season. Given the fact Carter loves his coach, his teammates, Rider fans and this stadium, I'd be stunned if he wasn't back in Saskatchewan for at least another season.
9 - GO PATS GO: The Regina Pats are rivaling the Roughriders for the #1 topic on coffee row in the Queen City these days. The Pats completed a massive makeover leading up to the WHL Trade Deadline and program sales will be at an all-time high with half the roster being overhauled. But the Pats and their fans can exhale. It would take an historic flop for the Queen City Kids to miss the playoffs in 2018 and I definitely don't expect that to happen. So we sit and wait, and watch it all play out. John Paddock's biggest task now is bringing the new faces together and keeping the culture he's built the past four seasons intact.
10 - BETWEEN THE PIPES: It's no secret that I've been a staunch supporter of veteran goalie Tyler Brown over the past four seasons and was dismayed to see him dealt to Saskatoon. People tell me that I get too attached to players but I'm not going to change now. But any WHL pundit will tell you the Pats are NOT better off in goal following all the trades and that will become an elephant in the room come Memorial Cup time, if not before.