Five months on, those same 2 question marks remain. Funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Although Zach Collaros is clearly the guy coach Chris Jones is going all in on, the question of whether or not Zach can rise to be the next Anthony Calvillo or will sink to the next Nealon Greene still lingers. It’s going to be that way until they finally step on the field with the lights on. It’s been a long, miserable winter on the prairies and football season can’t come soon enough. #Isitmayyet?
2 – RIDERS AMERICAN MINI-CAMP SHOULD BE EARLIER: Now I was all in favor of these American mini-camps when they first started but I’m still perplexed in how these offseason workouts happen less than a month before teams across the CFL break for the real training camp.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to do it at the beginning of March?
That would give the new free agent signings a chance to wear their new unis and coaches to evaluate where everyone is physically and put them on the proper workout regimen with months to get in shape before preseason. Not to mention fans having a better reason to book their winter getaways along with these camps and keep them more engaged with the product in the slow season.
3 – MOVING CFL SEASON UP STILL A MISTAKE: I’m telling you the league is really flirting with fire on this one. 2018 won’t be bad because they aren’t moving up all that much and the playoffs are still going to be a November thing but if they push it too much further, like it sounds like Commissioner Ambrosie wants to by next year, the CFL runs a serious risk of having their first 2 weeks of the regular season completely whitewashed by the Stanley Cup finals.
That’s 10% of your overall gate revenue and the league can’t afford to spare it right now. Could you imagine trying to sell Blue Bomber tickets in Winnipeg while the Jets are in the finals? Not to mention competing with playoff and World Series baseball for a Grey Cup TV audience.
It’s a bad idea. The league governors should run for the hills from this one.
4 – SJ, DUB PLAYOFFS WELCOME DISTRACTION: I owe a big thanks to Amanda Wanner in the Estevan Bruin office and my old pal Jeff Pierson who runs the Days Inn down in Estevan for helping arrange me a spot on the fan bus going from E-town to Nipawin for game 7 of the SJHL championship. I’ve always loved the SJ largely because there are usually no agents, no over-aggressive owners or overpaid athletes/coaches. No sharks really. Just hockey.
I’ll be rooting for my Bruins and their fans who were nice enough to put up with me broadcasting their games on the radio from 2002-2005. But no matter what happens, we should all be so grateful to the SJHL and Swift Current Broncos for reminding us all why we love this game in what has been an otherwise miserable spring.
5 – UNIFORMS MATTER: I take a lot of heat for bringing this up and I don’t care. Sharp looking and sometimes cheesy, historic uniforms make a difference in performance. It’s not just superstition, it’s fact. If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. Deion Sanders even said so.
The Swift Current Broncos had great success with their re-entry into the dub unis from 1986 through 1993 winning 2 league championships and not a lot after that while muddling along with some really ugly-looking horsey cartoon drawings. Now they’re back to what they knew and it’s working. Swift hasn’t had a team this good in 25 years.
Hey, it worked for the Blue Jays and my Estevan Bruins too. Retro is in. Now if only we could get the Riders back to that Safeway “S” of Ronnie and George, we’ll be all set.
6 – THE REAL STANLEY CUP SEMI-FINALS: It's still a couple of weeks before the Conference Finals start but don’t kid yourself, we’re looking at them right now. Nashville-Winnipeg and Washington-Pittsburgh will produce the Stanley Cup Finalists. MARK MY WORDS. Never before I have I been so confident in a prediction like this.
What happens in Vegas-San Jose and Tampa-Boston or Toronto will produce some great theatre (and laughs if the Leafs are involved) but nothing more. The Golden Knights have been a great story but they don’t have the horses to hang with the Jets or Preds in a 7-game showdown.
7 – SASKATOON NEEDS BASEBALL: It’s no secret Saskatoon has been that place where semi-pro and collegiate sports teams go to die. Until the Rush came along, no marketing department seemed to figure out how to grab Toon Town’s attention. One of my old sportscasting bosses who has lived in both cities once told me ‘Regina is a far better sports town. Saskatoon is more of an artsy fartsy kind of place.’
I don’t disagree but still choose to believe if Melville and Brooks, Alberta can have Western Major Baseball League teams to compete with the Regina Red Sox, then so should Saskatoon.
A fellow by the name of Jason Bender was leading the charge to find investors to fund a new franchise for the city within the last 2 years but recent text and email messages to that cause have gone unanswered. Looks like that dream has died. At least for now.
8 – BLUE JAYS AT MOSAIC?: Very few people seem to remember but the Toronto Blue Jays did, in fact, appear in Regina for a charity exhibition match during their glory days, early in the 1993 season. Joe Carter wasn’t there but Todd Stottlemyre--who’ll be in town for the Red Sox dinner this coming weekend--and the rest of the Jays were. Darnell Coles smacked 3 homeruns into the sunny side bleachers that day. Taylor Field configured for baseball was hilarious and makes me wonder: If we could do it in that old dump, why not in the new park?
9 – RAPTORS DISAPPOINTING: Just when the Toronto Raptors have me thinking they’re ready to take that next step, they lay a couple of eggs including Sunday night’s 3rd quarter collapse en route to squandering what was their 2-0 series lead to the lowly Washington Wizards. I still see too much chirping from Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. I love DeMar DeRozan and respect his quiet, lead-by-example way of doing things but still wonder if he needs to get in their faces a little more for the Raps to get over that hump and finally crack the NBA finals.
10 – DOCUMENTARY/BOOK OF THE WEEK: Speculation with the Blue Jays baseball crew is rampant about Josh Donaldson’s dead-arm and whether or not it’s 100% mental with no real physical problem. Seems strange this could happen to pro like that until you check out ESPN’s 30 for 30 short “Fields of Fear”. This outstanding 15-minute piece chronicles the career-ending struggles of Mets catcher Mackey Sasser who all of a sudden couldn’t seem to throw the ball back to the pitcher without double or triple-clutching. Very bizarre indeed, but a solution is ultimately found.
(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)