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Friday, November 30, 2018

SCRUFFY'S THIS 'N THAT

Welcome to Friday and the usual thoughts running through my muddled mind. As always, they are in no particular order:

- After a season where the CFL proudly and rightly trumpeted the fact TV ratings were up from the year before, the league received a huge slap in the face when the TV ratings for Sunday's Grey Cup were announced. It was the lowest-rated game since 2001, and the worst showing for TSN since they took over the broadcast rights 11 years ago. The question now is why was this?

Here are some thoughts:

1) The Calgary/Ottawa matchup wasn't appealing. There was an "ABC (Anyone But Calgary)" mentality going into this game and I think it turned some viewers away. Would the numbers have been higher for a Bombers/Redblacks game? I think it would have. What about a Saskatchewan/Ottawa or Saskatchewan/Hamilton game? You can't blame the Stamps for being there year after year after year much like you can't blame the New England Patriots for being in Super Bowl after Super Bowl after Super Bowl. That being said, the ratings for Patriots Super Bowls are still strong as are the ratings for the US national championship which is Alabama vs _______ just about every year.

2)  The Sunday night NFL game featured two teams that many Canadians cheer for in the Vikings and Packers. I know many who are fans of both. On Sunday night, I texted one of those fans and asked him what he was watching. He replied the NFL game stating he is tired of Calgary. He then said I would be doing the same thing if the Seahawks were playing. I didn't disagree.

3) Say what you will about the halftime act, but there are many who didn't know who Alessia Cara was before the announcement was made that she would perform. While there is no doubt, Cara can sing, the league needed someone that appeals to many more demographics. At the end of the day you will not please everyone with who the halftime entertainment is whether it be the Grey Cup, the Super Bowl or Monday Night Football. The league got it right in staying Canadian, but this blogger would have had no problem with Brett Kissel being the performer instead of being the one who sang the anthem. Some of you probably agree with that and others don't which is fine. I liked Shania last year, others hated her. It doesn't matter who you get, the sentiment will be the same. You are in a no-win position.

It is not easy for the CFL to get that perfect person for half-time, but I think they needed to do a better job of informing those who didn't know who Alessia Cara was what she was all about.

4) When the ratings are taken, do they account for people who are now watching on their phone or computer through TSN GO? In this day where people are cutting their cable packages, how many watched it through their app?  As I have said before, I watch many Chicago Cubs games through my MLB.TV app during the baseball season. Do those numbers reflect on the numbers that WGN-TV and NBCSN Chicago put out? I have no idea.

Should the CFL be concerned about the ratings for its marquee game? I don't think so. If we see another drop next year, a conversation can be had, but I am just going to put this down as a blip on the radar and carry on. I think TSN can say the same thing.

- The off-season is now upon us and I would think December would be somewhat slow as the league wraps up the season gone past and then takes some time for the holidays. Once January hits though, I expect things to start happening especially on the CBA talks. I just don't know if this league can afford having a labour stoppage. In a league where you have three teams in a position where hardly anyone notices them now, will a labour stoppage drive whatever fans those clubs have now away?  Both sides will be walking the tightrope on this one. The players do deserve more money IMO, but they also need to give more of a commitment as well. I understand the one-year contracts, but it is hard for fans to build up relationships with players and hard for players to commit fully to their organization by doing that.

Some will tell you one year contracts are the way to go because you make your own bed with your performance (ie: Zach Collaros). I understand that mentality as well. At the end of the day, all we can do is sit back, watch and hope as a CFL fan that the game isn't interrupted in any way.

- Short-term pain for long-term gain. The rebuild at the Brandt Centre has officially started. I love the trade the team made on Thursday as Jake Leschyshyn and Nick Henry head for Lethbridge. After losing their 1st round pick in the bantam draft to Saskatoon last year in the Cameron Hebig deal, the Pats get a first round pick back as they snag Lethbridge's and they get Swift Current's first in 2020 which could be a lottery pick. I don't think anyone in their right mind thought both Henry and Leschyshyn would be here by the trade deadline so the deal isn't surprising in that aspect. What they got certainly is though and sets the bar for the WHL trade deadline.

When the dust had settled on last year's Memorial Cup and everyone knew that the past couple of seasons under Paddock wouldn't be duplicated, the question was "Does the plan go back to square one?" from when he took over. The answer is yes. You may remember Paddock traded Kyle Burroughs and Dryden Hunt to the Tigers in the 2015 season for a 2nd round pick in 2016 and some blueliner named Connor Hobbs.  That was one of many moves made to put the team into a position of contention.  It is what you do.   Swift Current certainly isn't bemoaning the moves they made last year to get Gennaro, Malenstyn and Skinner.  They got what they wanted and now they are paying for it.  They aren't making any apologies though nor should they.  It is called junior hockey!

Meanwhile, the PA Raiders continue to steamroll through the league with a record of 25-1.  Wouldn't you love to have this year's Raiders, last year's Warriors and the 2016-17 Pats play some games against one another?  That would be fun!

- As I write this, the Edmonton Oilers have just beaten the L-A Kings. It was Game 5 under Ken Hitchcock. I like what I am seeing from the club, but there is still a long ways to go if you ask me.  The team is playing better in its own zone, Mikko Koskinen has taken over from Cam Talbot as the number one guy it would seem, and Jesse Puljujarvi seems to be getting the chance he wasn't given and there seems to be some more confidence coming from the players. They are 3-1-1 and probably should be 4-1 had it not been for a last minute meltdown in Anaheim. The move to Hitchcock is working short-term, but whether or not this is a playoff team is still to be decided. More moves need to be made, but things appear to be moving in the right direction.

- As we hit the first of December, the story is the Buffalo Sabres. The league's perennial doormats had won 10 in a row before getting bounced by Tampa on Thursday. How did this happen? It's simple. The team has drafted well (unlike a team in northern Alberta) in getting guys like Jack Eichel, Rasmus Ristolainen, Rasmus Dahlin, Casey Mittlestadt etc etc and have added some nice pieces like Jeff Skinner and Conor Sheary. The Sabres shouldn't be confused with teams like the Lightning, Predators and Leafs, but like a lot of teams in the NHL these days, they are a lot of fun to watch.

- At the end of the day, was Ron Hextall's fate sealed because try and try as he might, he couldn't find a Ron Hextall type player to stop the puck? Carter Hart might have been the answer, but there was a reluctance to bring him up.

--Week 13 NFL Lock Of The Week --  Rams over Lions
   Week 13 NFL Upset Of The Week -- Giants over Bears

- Just when you think the New Orleans Saints are unbeatable, they put up an effort like that in Dallas. I am guessing Luc Mullinder, Derek Meyers and RP are lobbying the mayor to change the green mile to the blue mile for one afternoon.

- Kudos to the Victoria Square Mall for changing things up a little at Xmas. While in the halls of the mall this week, I saw a sign that the Grinch had taken over the mall and was posing for photos. As I got closer to the area, there he was all dressed in green with a Santa hat on! He is the nice Grinch as well. I love this idea! It breaks up the monotony of kids getting their pics with Santa and makes for a different picture.  From what I saw, the kids don't mind it either and the parents love it. Well done Vic Square, well done indeed. Oh yeah, I did not get my picture taken with Mr. Grinch and Santa is there too so he hasn't been ignored.

- One only needs to walk into a Walmart (and it wasn't for Xmas shopping) to remember why online shopping is a good thing to do at this time of year. What a pain in the you-know-what and it is only going to get worse. I make it a rule to basically not leave the house and head to a mall or grocery store on the last Saturday before Christmas. I may extend that to the last two weeks.

Holiday over. Back on the air Monday. Talk to ya then!  Have a great weekend!

(Follow Scruffy on Twitter at @scruffyregina)

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