Sunday, March 24, 2019
10 WEEKEND THINGS FOR TEXTURED TERRAIN
2 - OH CANADA: Regina Minor Football boss Len Antonini is considered one of the country's leaders in minor football. I was with him Friday and posed the "ratio question". It took him an hour to make up his mind, so that tells you how much of a photo finish this issue is. However he doesn't believe a ratio reduction would be a good thing. In fact he thinks it would be bad for minor football and young Canadian players who grow up dreaming of winning a Grey Cup. Registration numbers are steady and concussions are WAY down in recent years. He's met with Ambrosie on all of these topics. Meanwhile Lenny says the Top 3 football-playing provinces in Canada are Saskatchewan, Quebec and Alberta, in no particular order.
3 - COMBINING: Some pundits and fans scoff at the notion of football combines but one fact remains: the kids participating at the CFL National Combine this weekend in Toronto have been waiting for this opportunity their whole life and that needs to be respected. That includes Regina product Brayden Lenius-Dickey (pictured), whose family is at this weekend's event. Brayden is the son of former Rider WR Troy Dickey and was raised my his Mom Shauna, whom I've known for years. The Riders have been lacking in local content for some time now, and I'm praying Brayden ends up in Green & White. Meanwhile Regina product Kade Belyk of the Guelph Gryphons posted a tidy 4.67 in the 40-yard dash at the Ontario regional combine. This is actually really interesting stuff to follow and CFL.ca has live coverage.
4 - CFL LIVE DRAFT: Sources tell me the CFL has explored the possibility of an NFL- or NHL-style Draft to be held in Toronto, live on TSN. It's probably time for a bold move like this for the Canadian College Draft since this hasn't been tried since the early 1990's. We're living in a much different world now. I'm told the Live Draft won't happen in 2019, but there's a good chance it will next year.
6 - AAF: Are you watching the Alliance of American Football? Will you now that Johnny Manziel is in the league? I've been watching it all along on NFL Network and enjoyed it a lot, even if one veteran CFL coach labelled the calibre of play "average". This week the AAF announced its championship game is moving from 40,000-seat Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas to Dallas, and the Cowboys' 12,000-seat practice facility. The NFL - particularly Jerry Jones - is a huge backer of this league and will continue to pour money into it in the early stages. They need a developmental league such as this, and it's great for everybody all around. And as far as the CFL goes, competition is a good thing.
7 - #HUMBOLDTSTRONG: Where to start? The Humboldt Broncos are back in the SJHL Playoffs and the road to the RBC. My heart swelled to walk into the Elgar Petersen Arena Monday night for Game 3 against Estevan. Here's what I can report: the Broncos are playing with an incredible amount of heart and pride - for a myriad of reasons - but the Bruins aren't rolling over for them. Broncos forward Brayden Camrud - with 11 points in 5 games - is playing particularly possessed. The cloud is lifting in Humboldt. It's not gone, but there are smiles in the EPA. It's an amazing community. Always has been. And they were very welcoming Monday night.
8 - LUBIE: Over to Saskatoon, where we found ourselves Friday night to witness Game 1 between the Warriors and Blades. Being invited to sit with Blades legends Darryl Lubienicki, Lorne Molleken and Jack Brodsky was another reason for my heart to pound. Apparently this trio hadn't been together for quite some time and it was amazing to watch the NHL scouts, one by one, come by and shake all their hands throughout the game. Lubie regaled me with story after story, but my favourite was of him "saving Mike Babcock's life" after Dave Brown was beating him to a pulp IN PRACTICE in the early 1980's. Apparently Babs disputes this story, but witnesses swear it's true.
9 - KILLER: The rumour making the rounds at SaskTel Centre Friday night was that the next coach of the SJHL's La Ronge Ice Wolves will be none other than Blades great Kevin Kaminski. The Churchbridge, SK product played 139 NHL games and is currently head coach of the WSHL's Fresno Monsters. I HATED Kaminski in the 80's but now we talk all the time. Turns out we're cut from the same cloth. LIFE!
10 - GO CRAZY SASKATCHEWAN: I'm being urged to write a book on my generation in the broadcast booth with Canada's Team. You know, inside stories on Cal Murphy/Al Ford, Danny Barrett/Roy Shivers, Jim Hopson, Kent Austin/Eric Tillman, Corey Chamblin/Brendan Taman and Chris Jones. The only trouble is, I'm 46 years old! Jim Hopson didn't take over the Riders until he was 54. Marc Trestman didn't come to the CFL till he was 52. Who writes their memoirs before the story is over? The best is yet to come!