Swift Current has yet to play its best game and I’m actually glad they lost to Hamilton Monday night because it means Wednesday’s first ALL-SASK Memorial Cup game in nearly 30 years between the Pats and Broncos will mean something for both sides.
I love how Acadie-Bathurst plays with a very wide-open style as evidenced with 12 goals in their opening 2 wins. It's a big reason why they are in the driver’s seat. Their coach, Mario Pouliot, says the best way to defend a lead is “to keep the puck 200 feet away from our own net” and keep pressing. If only more coaches saw it that way.
2 – TSN SHOULD SNAG MEM CUP FROM SPORTSNET: No disrespect to Sam Cosentino, R.J. Broadhead, Rob Faulds, Jeff Marek and company at Rogers Sportsnet who do a great job of covering the Memorial Cup. And to be fair, Ron McLean with Don Cherry showing up Monday night was pretty cool too. But just think for a moment how much sense it would make to have TSN snatch this tourney away.
James Duthie, Bob McKenzie, Chris Cuthbert, Gord Miller, and Ray Ferraro would bring an “it” factor this tournament could really use. It’s been hockey’s best-kept secret for generations and deserves to have centre stage on a main network. With Rogers, Canada’s junior hockey championship is relegated to 3rd string status behind the Stanley Cup playoffs and Blue Jays baseball.
And without any of that, TSN could really use the content.
3 – McCRIMMON DESERVES MORE CREDIT FOR VEGAS MIRACLE: General Manager George McPhee is getting an awful lot of kudos for assembling the roster of the Vegas Golden Knights ‘Miracle on Dice’ drive to the Stanley Cup finals in their inaugural season.
Here’s a different take: What about Plenty, Saskatchewan’s Kelly McCrimmon?
At a time when McPhee proved to be a very average GM for 17 years in Washington (including his senseless cheap shot of Lorne Molleken), McCrimmon produced the greatest record in the CHL with his Brandon Wheat Kings from 1992-93 until 2015-16.
McCrimmon didn’t have the luxury of pulling some Ovechkin out of a lottery. He did it through scouting and drafting homegrown players who would give his team a little extra.
If he isn’t hot property to be someone else’s GM in the show, he should be.
4 – NIK LEWIS ALWAYS WANTED THE ‘306’: It became apparent as far back as about 10 years ago that Nik Lewis always had a thing for the lore of Rider nation. He and then-Stampeder teammate Jermaine Copeland seemed pretty enthusiastic about engaging in smack talk with Roughrider fans.
And now we know why. It’s because our fans cared enough to trash talk him back.
So after Lewis chose to play his final game in Regina last fall (the same city in which he played his first CFL game some 13 years earlier) and showed up at the Regina Thunder dinner last month, the news of this future hall of famer joining Rider training camp to help with the receivers and CKRM’s Rider Radio pregame show this year should come as no surprise.
Quite a difference from the days we used to have to “hog-tie players to come here” as the great George Reed once said.
5 – THAT OTHER ‘ZAC’: Who’d have thought we would see the probably the first ever “Zach to Zac” backfield in pro football history? But that’s sounding more and more like a distinct possibility with our beloved Roughriders with Zach Collaros at quarterback and Zac Stacy at running back.
The doping suspension of Marcus Thigpen, release of Cameron Marshall, and absence of Trent Richardson really weakened any threat Jerome Messam might have faced in securing the job. The biggest threat we see today appears to be the teeny, tiny 5 foot 9 Stacy who did 3 years with the St. Louis Rams and New York Jets. He looks about as wide as he does tall and like Thigpen is a retired NFLer Chris Jones talked out of retirement to come north and be his running back.
Like him or not, coach Jones truly has set a new standard when it comes to thinking outside the box to find a running back.
6 – MANZIEL STORY SHOWS TICATS LACK CONFIDENCE IN MASOLI: Everybody wants to talk about Johnny Football finally signing with the Tiger-Cats. In a Monday appearance on a Denver sports talk radio station’s “Coach Les Show”, the coach asked me where Johnny sits on the depth chart in Ticats training camp.
The answer: We still don’t know exactly, but it’s not IF Johnny gets to number one but rather WHEN?
Head Coach June Jones would not have pushed as hard as he did to get Manziel into Steel Town if he really had that much confidence in his incumbent starter, Jeremiah Masoli. It’s a dangerous gamble to put Masoli in this position and the advice I would give him is to try and duplicate what Kevin Glenn did one year ago with Vince Young breathing down his neck, ‘Keep quiet and do your job’.
In other words, ‘Do the opposite of what Casey Printers did’.
7 – KAVIS REED PILES UP MORE DISASTROUS REVIEWS: Released Offensive Lineman Jovan Olafioye is the latest to take a run at the Montreal Alouettes General Manager, describing Kavis as the “most unorganized GM I ever seen” via Twitter.
Couple that with the tweet from TSN stats maven Derek Taylor indicating Olafioye still has the goods to star in this league and only surrendered a single sack in 2017. And then there’s the BC Lions quick signing of Olafioye so someone else clearly thinks he can still play at a high level. This isn’t the first time Kavis has waited until the start of training camp to release a star player. Don’t forget he irked then-Head Coach Jacques Chapdelaine by dumping Bear Woods at the start of training camp last year too.
I wonder if Mike Sherman is still glad he attached his name to this tire fire.
8 – STEPHEN HARPER SHOULD RUN CALGARY STAMPEDERS/FLAMES: Sounds crazy at first glance but hear me out on this one. Current Calgary Sports and Entertainment President Ken King has screwed up the relationship between the organization and Calgary’s very popular mayor, Naheed Nenshi, likely beyond repair.
The Stamps and Flames will need new stadiums eventually and the former Prime Minister Harper has shown the ability to work well with not only the Calgary business community but also its Mayor.
I’m not even a Conservative voter or Harper supporter but this idea makes too much sense to not at least give it some thought. Doesn’t sound like he’s doing much these days anyway and theStamps/Flames could do a lot worse (they already have).
9 – SASKATOON BLADES COACHING SEARCH DOWN TO SHORT STROKES: Glen Gulutzan was a pipe dream and now it’s between Serge Lajoie, who coached at the University of Alberta this past season, and Everett Silvertips Assistant Mitch Love. Or at least so I’m told.
The family dynamics of the team’s front office make it a tough situation to read, say my WHL sources.
The Blades should be one of Canada’s signature junior hockey organizations. It just doesn’t seem that way these days.
10 – DOCUMENTARY/BOOK OF THE WEEK: Fire and Ice: Why Saskatchewan Rules the NHL, is a terrific piece from longtime Leader-Post scribe Darrell Davis who was one of my favorite people to work with around Rider practice in the late 2000’s. In the years I knew Darrell well I had no idea his dad, Lorne Davis, was the legendary NHL player from the 1950’s. The book zeroes in on why our province produces the most NHL players per capita. A great read as we put another hockey season to bed.
(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)