The people running the arena in Swift really should do something about the idiots who pound on the broadcast booth during the games. The atmosphere in that place being one of the last of the small-town barns is still my favorite anywhere in the WHL but that incessant pounding makes the whole production seem a little too bush league for my tastebuds.
I'm thrilled to see a 2nd round matchup between Swift Current and either Moose Jaw or Prince Albert. Having grown up in a small town, I know firsthand there isn’t much to get excited about. This is a nice nirvana for them. I'm curious to see if those games end up on TV or not. I hope it does but can’t see it happening.
2 – FIXING THE PLAZA OF HONOUR: I’m hearing rumblings about the Saskatchewan Roughriders wanting to make the Plaza of Honour Induction ceremony profitable again. It’s a great event but has become a money-loser in recent years and some have even wondered out loud if it’s time to put the show on hiatus for a year or two to recharge its batteries.
My advice would be for the committee to recognize that fans would be a lot more excited to buy tickets to see the team honor Richie Hall, Omar Morgan or Kerry Joseph than they would to see a ceremony for someone most of them have never heard of like Roger Brandvold. I’m not saying they can’t recognize Brandvold or other management types but last year he was 50% of the headliner lineup with Wes Cates the other half.
They need more star players to make that thing go and not more people from some board of directors most people don’t know or care anything about.
3 – SACK SONG FOR CHARLESTON HUGHES: The CFL has done well with gimmicky touchdown celebrations like Lucius Floyd performing his backflips and end zone choreography from Nick Lewis and Jermaine Copeland. But it’s time for defensive players to get their due also. The Riders should roll out “The Charleston Dance”, a beat from the 1920’s you’ll find on YouTube to play after each Charleston Hughes sack this season. And they could even afford to take it a step further in copying the Oakland Raiders and use some practice time to teach Hughes how to perfect his Charleston sack dance.
Why not? Football is entertainment and not supposed to be serious.
4 – MANZIEL TO MONTREAL COULD STILL HAPPEN: Johnny Football is playing nice and is ready to sign his contract offer with the Ticats once his spring league ends, barring an offer from the NFL. He’s speaking openly with the media and saying all the right things. I give him kudos for acknowledging the CFL is no bush league and even mentioning his connection with Alouettes Head Coach Mike Sherman, who recruited Manziel to play for Texas A and M.
Sources in Montreal tell me Sherman isn’t wild about Josh Freeman or any of the other quarterbacks in Montreal’s system right now and would still love nothing more than to lure Manziel to play for the Angry Birds. It would make more sense for the Alouettes to land Johnny than it would the Ticats since Hamilton doesn’t need the quarterback controversy with starter Jeremiah Masoli.
I could still see a trade getting done here. What it’ll boil down to is if Ticat Head Coach June Jones’ enthusiasm for Manziel to come north is from an actual desire to have him as his quarterback or simply a smoke-screen to get him signed so they can get something in return for his contract via trade.
5 – ARGO NEW TEAM PRESIDENT NOT THE ANSWER: The sale of the Toronto Argonauts to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment before Christmas has - and will - bring a lot of benefits to the CFL but it doesn’t appear new team President Bill Manning is one of them.
Manning, who’s been running Toronto FC soccer since 2015, was asked recently how he plans to ignite a passion for the Argo brand. His answer: Tarp off the upper deck at home games and limit capacity to 15,000 seats.
That’s it? No grand vision of how to connect with a younger audience or Toronto’s immigrant community?
Instead, Manning appears more interested in bragging about the success of Toronto FC while treating the Argos like the ugly red-headed stepchild of MLSE. How on earth will the ticket-buying public of the big smoke think the Argos are worthy of packing 25 thousand into BMO Field if the Argonauts own team president doesn’t see it himself?
The Argos need a leader who loves the Argos and translates that love of the team to the locals. Not some corporate shill taking credit for Tim Leiweke’s work in resurrecting the soccer team. Where’s Pinball Clemons when you need him?
6 – SILVER LINING TO LOW BLUE JAYS EXPECTATIONS: It's so great to have the Blue Jays playing again to distract our minds from the crappy cold and it doesn’t even bother me that even a weekend 4-game split with the Yankees and Monday night win comeback win over the ChiSox hasn’t swayed the pundits from predicting the Jays will get buried in a very tough American League East division.
It just gives us all more time for the Regina Red Sox this summer and to push for the return of the Montreal Expos. The Expo movement had quieted down for a little while but has heated up again with Vlad Guerrero Jr’s walk-off home run to cap spring training in Montreal last week. Rich guy Stephen Bronfman also made waves in telling TSN radio in Montreal that Major League Baseball has told his group of investors to “be ready”.
The moral of the story is that baseball in this country is far bigger than the Toronto Blue Jays.
7 – LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION FOR SASKATOON ARENA: It was just a short time ago I used this very space to suggest the Saskatchewan Rush would secure the long-term future of SaskTel Centre (Sask. Place) and how that would be a good thing.
The city’s latest feasibility study comparing the cost of renovating the arena and TCU Place to a brand new downtown convention centre/stadium has changed my mind.
Any venue/sports franchise/city has enjoyed a far better experience for everyone when it’s been located downtown. People can enter and exit through plenty of different directions to avoid the gridlock that currently plagues their arena and the easier transit of getting to downtown will more than makeup for any shortfall in parking spots. That doesn’t even begin to describe what it would do for downtown businesses.
This is a no-brainer Saskatoon. The $150 million difference in cost between these 2 options would be money well spent for the enormous impact it will give to everyone involved. The Rush have even offered to pony up $20 million for this. Has anyone heard from the Blades?
8 – ESTEVAN BRUINS HISTORIC RUN: Over the moon for my Estevan Bruins who are now one win away from going to their first SJHL finals of the millennium after taking a 3 games to none stranglehold over the Battlefords North Stars Monday night. I began my broadcasting career down there and was always blown away by the honesty of the locals who never put up with mismanagement but always supported an organization putting in an honest effort. Bruin legend Brant Kersey once told me, “The people here know a good organization when they see one and they don’t put up with bull-(expletive)”. Boy was he right.
9 – LATE-SEASON SWOON GOOD FOR RAPTORS: The Toronto Raptors ended March with a very unRaptor-like 4 losses in their last 7 games, shortening their lead atop the Eastern Conference down to 2 games over the Celtics. I’ve been worrying about the amount of chirping and mental lapses from Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and others since Christmas and the fact this appears to be catching up with them is a good thing. Better to get the wakeup call nowthan after the bullets really start to fly in the playoffs.
10 – DOCUMENTARY/BOOK OF THE WEEK: I’ve never done this before and don’t ever plan on doing it ever again, but this week I’m going to recommend a book I have yet to read. Clint Malarchuk’s “The Crazy Game” has been flying off bookshelves at such a rapid pace that I have quite literally struck out at landing my own copy.
The retired NHL goalie connects having his neck slashed open on live TV to his struggle with mental health and subsequent alcohol abuse of downing 30 beer a day. Nobody walks among us who hasn’t either struggled with their own demons or have been very close to someone who has. Clint will speak to the people of my hometown of Kipling Saturday night and I’m excited to be there when he does.
(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)