Well so far, I have yet to hear any factual numbers reported from the commissioner’s office (and believe-you me, if they had them, he--Randy Ambrosie--would be bragging all about them) of any profitable TV deal with any of these countries.
As we drift further and further into CBA negotiations, it’s sounding more and more likely that this whole international thing was and still is a waste of time. Securing a stadium deal for the Halifax franchise would have helped the league far more than his vacations to Mexico or Europe.
This Commissioner has done and continues to do a good job. But this is one where he just has no endgame in sight.
2. SHEPLEY IS RIDERS BIGGEST OFFSEASON SIGNING: Has perennial all-star written all over him at a position you’ve just got to have Canadians at. Micah Johnson and William Powell are nice pickups. But I would score Dakoda Shepley a much bigger coup for Jeremy O’Day any day of the week.
3. SOLUTION TO IMPORT RATIO: We don’t need less Canadians starting, but rather more Canadians starting at skilled positions. No offense to the hoggies (Who doesn’t need more Mike Abou-Mechrek on the TV?), but the Canadian player quota was never set up with the intention of being filled by one position for roughly 40% of the Canadian starters. We have too many offensive lineman and not enough quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, defensive backs, linebackers, pass rushers.
This has to change.
The solution: How bout not only allowing teams to use one of their 7 Canadian starters at quarterback whether it be the 1st, 2nd or 3rd string spots, but also put incentives to start Canadians at other skilled positions? If you start a Canadian at quarterback or even bring him into the game, you can drop down to just 4 other Canadians at starting positions. That’s an advantage that would foster growth of Canadian quarterbacks (which for the past 50 years has been an embarrassment) and might even make Brandon Bridge look good on the field.
Well, maybe I shouldn’t go THAT far.
4. LAPOINTE GOING ABOUT ALOUETTES SALE ALL WRONG: This Eric Lapointe fellow sounds like an ex-jock who craves the spotlight and needs to feel like a bigshot. That’s a not a bad thing but I do have a few concerns with him mouthing off about the Montreal Alouettes current ownership:
A) He says they shouldn’t worry about the uniforms. WRONG! Alouette merchandise has never been a big hit in Montreal and a rebrand was long overdue.
B) Says he’s not interested in getting into an investment that would only break even or lose money. Profitability for the Alouettes is a terrific goal but if this group that he brags about has any there-there and expects not to lose money while turning this thing around, then he’s clearly never run a sports franchise.
C) He’s being pretty disrespectful to Bob Wetenhall, who saved the Alouettes and, by extension, the CFL.
Be careful what you wish for as you just might get it. New ownership might not be a bad thing for the Alouettes who have clearly lost their way since Bob Wetenhall stepped aside but Eric Lapointe? I would keep looking.
5. PRO DAYS AND DRAFT COMBINES OVERRATED: We don’t play the game in our underwear so why do we don’t draft combines and pro day workouts in our underwear? If teams are basing their decisions on these events and not on actual game-film, medical reports or face-to-face interviews, then they probably won’t be working in pro sports for very long. Don’t get me wrong, the draft combine is a great idea to engage prospects. But all this hype on NFL Network and players being sent home from the CFL combine? Pllleeeaaase.
6. HERITAGE CLASSIC TICKETS: The average ticket price will end up around $250. Seems fair to me. If I don’t want to go or can’t afford to go, then I will watch it on TV. (Full disclosure: It’s on my birthday so I’m 100% going). But please let’s not get into the whining we had around the Memorial Cup ticket prices.
7. ATLANTIC SCHOONERS FEDERAL FUNDING: I just cannot justify how they would get it when Parliament Hill has said no to federal funding for the Riders new stadium and the Quebec City NHL arena. The population base of Halifax-metro is nearly double that of Regina and Nova Scotia isn’t much smaller than Saskatchewan that way either. The Maritimes gets enough handouts from Ottawa. They either want this team and this stadium or they don’t.
8. MARQUISE WILLIAMS: Watched him come off the bench to lead a breathtaking game-winning scoring drive to propel the San Antonio Commanders to a late game victory over the Salt Lake Stallions Saturday night. Never could figure out how he dropped from being ‘the next one’ to Chris Jones’s doghouse in Riderville seemingly overnight but if/when this Alliance of American Football folds, I would love to see Marquise Williams give it another shot in the CFL. Especially if the Riders haven’t solved their quarterbacking issues by then.
9. NEW WOMEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE: Pretty embarrassing how the NHL hasn’t made this happen yet the same way the NBA did when it created the WNBA. Just another reason why Gary Bettman is far overrated. Let’s just say, he ain’t no David Stern.
10. THE MONTREAL EXPOS WILL RETURN BY: 2028 at the latest, but perhaps sooner. The Tampa Bay Rays rock-solid lease runs out the year before but if the Montreal group gets a deal done by about 2023, then they can put shovels in the ground and the city of St. Petersburg, Florida might even allow the Rays to leave early. The Oakland A’s might even end up in Montreal before then. But make no mistake, the Montreal Expos 2.0 will be a reality. There’s just too much upside for this not to happen.
(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)