both the CFL and CFLPA are in favour of lowering the number of Canadian starters from 7 to 5. It did not take long for players to respond, like Chris Getzlaf who Tweeted "Terrible idea. It's called the CANADIAN Football League. Would mean many players like myself wouldn't have had the chance to show they belong as a starter". Getz is right. And with the long-standing American bias of CFL coaches already, this is horrible news for Canadian football players. For a league so ultra-worried about "how it looks", this move is akin to blasting their own toes off with a shotgun.
2 - SLAM DUNK: On cue, CFLPA Executive Director Brian Ramsay went off on Twitter, lambasting Dunk's report saying "This negotiation is a delicate process and reporting wrong information can be damaging for everyone involved." If someone can point to an instance where Dunk has EVER been wrong - including the Roughriders illegally contacting Johnny Manziel in 2017 - I'm all ears. Dunk doesn't report fluff or Fake News. Stop shooting the messenger!
3 - FREE LAPO: At our sports conference in Winnipeg on Saturday, the topic of the Blue Bombers blocking O.C. Paul LaPolice from interviewing for the Saskatchewan Roughriders head job came up at length. On one hand, Bomber President Wade Miller was simply doing what's best for his organization by not assisting a divisional team (and their top rival). On the other, a franchise that denies its employees the opportunity to advance their careers is doomed for failure. Call it bad karma. The Saskatchewan Roughriders should, actually, be lauded for blessing Chris Jones' signing in the NFL. And, on the topic of Lapo, I STILL think Craig Dickenson was the #1 choice here regardless.
4 - JOHNNY FOOTBALL: Ratings and attendance in the AAF will spike with Johnny Manziel now a member of the Memphis Whatcha-Ma-Call-Its. On the trip home from Winnipeg, some of our contingent asked why there's such a fascination with Manziel. They pointed the finger at the media but I explained the media wouldn't cover him so much if he wasn't such click-bait and a ratings-grabber. John Manziel is an inexplicable phenomena that isn't going away. Oh and by the way, the CFL was supposed to be his last chance. Now this!
6 - SOLD: I spent some time on the weekend with some Winnipeg Jets personnel. They asked, "How's the hype for the outdoor game between the Jets and Flames in Regina?" I replied that everyone's talking about it. That, and the proposed NFL preseason game in August. However I mentioned how much I loathe outdoor games because the vantage points are poor and I don't like the cold. He replied, "No! It's an event! Like Grey Cup! It's not about the game, but the whole week leading up to it! You guys are going to have a blast." It's similar to the CP Womens Open last August where I showed up at the Wascana GCC expecting a golf tournament. What I experienced was the Super Bowl! This seems similar, so I'm in.
7 - VEGAS WHEAT KINGS: You can't spend time in Manitoba without someone pointing out Kelly McCrimmon's Brandon influence on the Vegas Golden Knights, where he is Assistant GM. The first player they ever signed was Wheat Kings alum Reid Duke, their current roster includes former Wheat Kings stars Mark Stone and Ryan Reaves, one of the Knights' assistant coaches is Brandon great Ryan Craig and a key member of the scouting staff is the legendary Bobby Lowes. Am I forgetting anyone?
8 - GO PATS GO: It'll be a shock to the system for many in the Regina Pats organization to have their season end while there's still snow on the ground. They wrapped up their year with a 5-4 shootout loss in Brandon Saturday night, and will miss the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. If it makes ya feel any better, last year's Memorial Cup champion Acadie Bathurst-Titans had the worst record in the QMJHL this season (8-54-5-1). This is how it goes.
9 - BRANDING/MARKETING: If the Regina Pats held a year-end awards banquet in the basement of the Travelodge, I'd go. A speech from the coach about the season followed by a hot stove with Phil The Thrill and some Pats greats would be soul-warming for us Pats fans. These are the kind of events that make fans fall in love with a team; actually being able to MEET the players, coaches and staff. The same goes for the old Roughriders Quarterback Luncheons where the team's QBs would be featured in a similar hot stove and we got to know Kent Austin, Tom Burgess, etc. But what do I know. I always get the, "But Rod that's not the way sports are anymore". BS! And then teams and leagues wonder why it’s so hard to get fans out to games these days.
10 - RANDOM THOUGHTS: Whether this NFL game gets played or not in Regina this August seems like a 50/50 proposition. It does not have universal support which is very disappointing. ... It was announced McMahon Stadium won't be expanded for the 2019 Grey Cup which means ticket prices are inflated. One CFL pundit described this decision as "Cheap and lazy". ... The upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs are going to be a riot! It's always more fun when the Toronto Maple Leafs are in them. Remember my September prediction: San Jose vs Tampa Bay. ... After weekend play in the SJHL Quarterfinals, here's where the series stand - Humboldt 1-Estevan 1, Nipawin 1-Yorkton 1, Melfort 2-Kindersley 0, Battlefords 2-Flin Flon 0. We are headed to Humboldt on Monday for Game 3 and I can't wait. ... We've started two new series on Netflix and so far we are underwhelmed: Ozark and Better Call Saul. Someone please suggest some others, or convince me why we shouldn't give up on these shows. ... Does drinking coffee through a straw actually avoid staining your teeth? I'm not sold on the idea. ... I have a tough time believing European soccer games get better ratings on Canadian TV than junior hockey games, or the AHL. ... Have a great week!