Todd remembered the Jays exhibition game at Taylor Field back in 1993 and admitted to becoming a CFL fan while sharing the old Exhibition Stadium and later the Skydome with the Toronto Argonauts. He appreciates what CFL players go through understanding they don’t get paid the big bucks like he and his legendary teammates did with the Blue Jays.
He also picked the ’93 Jays to beat the ’92 Jays in a game because he said, “As defending champions, we were on everybody’s radar. America hated us and we still beat them all.”
The person most blown away by how well Sharon Clarke and her crew organized the event: Todd Stottlemyre. “I can’t believe how awesome this whole thing is,” he told Mitchell Blair and I on stage during intermission. He's right. Team President Gary Brotzell, Bernie Eisworth, Tony Playter, and the entire Red Sox board make every day at the park feel like a Saturday. #Isitballseasonyet?
2 – AMBROSIE BEST COMMISH IN DECADES: The Regina Thunder did pretty well at their own dinner a night earlier. CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie gave a marvelous speech of how we’ve evolved from a ‘dutiful bunch’ who organized our lives around sporting events in the 1960’s to today’s challenge of sports leagues fitting into millennials' viewing schedule.
I don’t like to ever heap too much praise on any commissioner but the thing that strikes me about this guy is that you get a sense he’s legitimately a fan of his own product and still will be when he’s done. Not sure that was always the case with Jeffrey Orridge and I’m still not sure it’s the case today with Gary Bettman either.
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4 – CFL DRAFT STILL A NON-EVENT: Rod and I talked about this on Monday’s Sportscage and we agreed that neither one of us is excited about the CFL draft coming up on Thursday. Rod and I both love the Canadian Football League and have heavily invested our livelihoods into eating up any content we can get out of this wonderful 3 down game.
If the Draft can’t get us excited, then it’s probably time to rethink the whole process and consider re-inventing the wheel.
My suggestion: Mandate Canadian quarterbacks on each roster. And if that doesn’t wake people up, then start including all players—not just Canadians—into the draft. Very few star players enter the draft today and until that changes, almost everyone will continue to ignore it.
5 – PATS WANT TO SEE BRONCOS AT MEMORIAL CUP: Congratulations to the great people of Swift Current whose Broncos punched their ticket to the Ed Chynoweth Cup Finals with their Monday night win in Lethbridge. At the end of the game, radio play-by-play guy Shawn Mullin was over the moon in comparing this Bronco bunch to the likes of Todd Holt, Trent McCleary and Tyler Wright from 25 years back.
But he’s not the only one hoping Swift gets to Regina for the Mem Cup. The Pats had a great fight with Speedy Creek in the first round, know they can beat them and want another crack.
No matter how long the championship round between Everett and Swift goes, the Regina Pats will root for the Swift Current Broncos to win the WHL crown.
6 – BROCKMAN TO SPEEDY CREEK?: Juiciest rumor to come from the hobnobbing of 2 weekend Regina Sports Dinners: Dean Brockman to Swift Current after the Memorial Cup.
Not as crazy as it might sound at first. Brockman has made it no secret he would love to stay in the WHL in Saskatchewan and although I’m sure he would be honored to coach the Humboldt Broncos again while they recover from the recent tragedy, WHL coaches who go back to the SJ are usually never heard from again.
One WHL insider pointed out the Swift Current Broncos are built to win now and there wouldn’t be much incentive for current Head Coach/GM Emanuel Viveiros to stay when surely a high-end AHL or even NHL assistant coaching job will be waiting for him.
The whole idea sounds like a perfect fit for everyone.
Legendary Weyburn Red Wing coach Dwight MacMillan thought it was a bad idea to scrap the Anavet Cup after 2012 and seeing how the replacement tournament failed miserably, he has been proven right. Dwight has been right about a lot of things in the last 50 years.
8 – STANLEY CUP FINALS PREDICTION: I used this space last week to predict the winners of the Caps-Pens and Preds-Jets series would end up meeting in the Stanley Cup Finals. This week I take it a step further and predict the finalists.
Winnipeg will beat Nashville because of adrenaline from the Winnipeg fans and because the Jets had a much longer offseason to charge their batteries for this. Washington will beat Pittsburgh because the Caps are hungrier and want it more than anyone right now.
The other two series are just the side-dish. The Jets and Capitals will be the meat and potatoes by the end.
9 – RAPTORS BEST SHOT YET TO BECOME ‘CANADA’S TEAM’: We’re just not a basketball country yet and the Toronto Raptors don’t feel anywhere near the level of “Canada’s Team” that the Blue Jays do. However, beating LeBron James and ending his reign of 7 straight NBA finals appearances would be something we’ve never seen and just might be enough to galvanize the country for this playoff run. A series win over the Cleveland Cavaliers would be the finest moment in Canadian NBA history since Vince Carter’s ‘Vincanity’ swept the nation some 17 years ago.
10 – DOCUMENTARY/BOOK OF THE WEEK: Leo MacDonald’s book “Loyal Men” chronicles the glory days of the Regina Red Sox in capturing back-to-back championships in 2011 and 2012. As the head of Regina’s first family of baseball, King Leo reminisces about the camaraderie, starring roles of his sons Mitch and Geoff who run the Red Sox today, and how a rag-tag group jelled together under Managers Rob Cherepuschak and Justin Eiswirth to create Regina’s finest baseball memories.
(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)