Monday, June 20, 2016

DON'T BRING GUNS TO SCHOOL

In light of the incident at the Yorkton Regional High School on Monday where, depending on who you talk to, a gun was brought to school by a student and police stormed the building (guns drawn) and, immediately, took a student into custody seizing a firearm in the process, I feel the need to write my own thoughts.

The time has come for us to take a major stand against the politically correct.  This is not a matter where we consider ‘feelings’ for the person who brought the gun to school nor should we take into account his mental state or any other side explanations that could be used in order to lessen a penalty.  Now, is the time to say enough is enough with jack off people jeopardizing the safety of those who do nothing wrong and don’t deserve this added stress.

I don’t care if this was a rifle, semi-automatic, BB Gun, Paint Ball Gun or Squirt Gun.  Doesn’t matter.  You do not, under any circumstances, bring a gun to school.  You just don’t.  There is no acceptable reason.  You can’t plead ignorance, you can’t plead anything but guilty.  Look around.  La Loche.  Sandy Hook.  Orlando.  Colorado.  The examples are everywhere.  The punishment needs be harsh enough that the next kid doesn’t decide that he, too, is going to bring a minor firearm to school.  Kids may be stupid, but they aren’t dumb.  Don’t think for a minute they don’t consider what the worst case scenario will be for sending a few hundred people into panic mode.  And, if the answer is barely more than, “Oh the police will come and take you away, but within a week you will be back at school,” then that isn’t enough.  To me, if you bring a weapon to school, you may as well use it because the punishment needs to be the same.  This will eliminate the jack offs from those who are completely off their rocker and are a big-time danger to society.  Actually, those people shouldn’t be in school to begin with but that’s a whole other topic.

The time has come for those of us who sit idly by and say nothing, while the precious minority get their way, to stand up and say we will no longer tolerate putting our loved ones (whether that be a student, teacher, janitor, trades worker, police officer, etc) in danger just because we need to be sensitive to some social issues being experienced by the person who brings a gun to school.  I don’t care about him.  I really don’t.  The rights of those who are in school to learn should trump those who aren’t.  If law abiding citizens in Yorkton all decided tomorrow that nobody goes to school until a satisfactory punishment is handed down to this person (who, by the way, has a video on his Facebook page promoting violence to police) I would be in full support.  People have gone to extremes to prove a point much more trivial than this one.

It’s up to you.  Pressure the people who are in positions to punish.  And, yes incarceration needs to be a punishment, not a rehab center.  Again, a different topic for a different day.

PS - Emergency workers get an A+ for their handling of the situation Monday afternoon.  Their hands are tied by a justice system that is geared to favor criminals.  They do what they can and it’s not their fault.  I blame people in suits who work 9-5 trying to come up with plausible, acceptable reasons why people can’t stay on the straight and narrow.  Sometimes you just have to accept people get mad at the world and are just bad.  And, when they get that way, their rights should no longer be equal to my kid’s rights who is sitting in school trying to become a productive member to society when grown up.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

HOCKEY NEEDS MORE GOALS

I’m happy to hear the NHL is, seriously, looking at ways to get more scoring into its game.  It’s been broken for 20 years.  The time has come.

To me, 1996 was the end of the NHL in its best form.  That was the year the Florida Panthers choked everyone to death to make the final, only to lose to Patrick Roy (who some say wouldn’t make an NHL roster today and I’ll expand on that shortly) and the Colorado Avalanche.  There can’t, possibly, be any argument from fans who was the more entertaining team to watch of the two.  And, the NHL should be in the business of entertainment.  The league office should always be determining ways to make the game more entertaining for its customers and sponsors.  That’s how you keep the league healthy.  I’d argue watching Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Sandis Ozolinsh, and Valeri Kamensky is better than watching Scott Mellanby, Johan Garpenlov, Rob Niedermayer, and Robert Svehla.  

One of the arguments from the pro-2015 goalie faction is that the goalies of yesteryear were not as good as the goalies of today.  While this sends me up a wall as I feel there is no comparison and that goalies from the 90s were far superior, I will tackle this argument from a different perspective.  Let’s pretend they are better today.  Are they more entertaining to watch?  Do you leave the rink or the television screen after watching the NHL finals between Tampa Bay and Chicago and think, “Wow, Corey Crawford and Ben Bishop played some of the best hockey I’ve ever seen.  What athletic specimens.  Forget Patrick Kane, Tyler Johnson, Steven Stamkos, and Jonathan Toews, I want to see more of Bishop and Crawford.”  Anyone feel that way?  Anyone?  Crawford, you may remember, lost his job for a spell in last year’s playoffs.  Bishop finished with a nice 2.18-GAA and .921-SPCT; which would lead you to believe he was tremendous.  But, go back and watch the video and I think you will come to the conclusion that while he wasn’t a negative on their team, he was hardly a top reason for the Lightning getting as far as they did.  Even if he was, I will again ask the question.  Who got you more excited, Bishop’s play in net or Tyler Johnson’s 13-goals in 26-games?  Would it have been more exciting if Johnson’s goal total was closer to 18?  Or, would it have been better if Bishop’s average was 1.95, but nothing about how he played his game changed?

I’ve watched NHL hockey since 1982.  I was 7-years-old.  While a 7-year-old is, hardly, able to talk intelligently about the NHL, I can tell you my fondest memory was Richard Brodeur’s play in net.  Brodeur’s GAA was 2.70 in those playoffs and the historians will tell you it was one of the single greatest goaltending playoff performances ever.  And, while Tyler Johnson’s 13-goals kept us excited last year, it is worth noting that both Stan Smyl and Thomas Gradin averaged more than a point per game for the Canucks in the 82 playoffs.  Johnson had 23-points in 26-games.  Keep in mind, I’m not arguing who’s better.  I’m only trying to stimulate your brain, if you are old enough to go back to 1982, to try and get you to think which playoff year was more enjoyable.  It is possible to have goalies be at the centre of that excitement, but in 2015 that’s just not the case.  They hinder it.

The Gretzky/Lemieux era produced never before seen offense and I’m not willing to compare it to anything else.  It’s not fair.  There was expansion that diluted the talent pool and I also think Gretzky and Lemieux were far greater than any other player before or after them so to use them as comparables to players of today isn’t right.  Having said that, if you are old enough to remember Gretzky and Lemieux, were you entertained?  Was it awesome turning on the highlights to see if Gretzky could get his 50 in 39 games?  What about Lemieux trying to track down Gretzky’s consecutive games with a point streak? Was that fun to watch or no?  In the mix of all that, you had Pete Peeters chasing a consecutive unbeaten streak in net.  I also think Peeters had 8 shutouts that year he was chasing a record.  So, there was excitement if you like goalies too.

Let’s look closer at the goalies.  As I go off the top of my brain without looking at any stats, some of the more memorable performances in the playoffs came in 1985 (Pelle Lindberg), 1987 (Ron Hextall), 1990 (Bill Ranford), 1993 (Patrick Roy), 1994 (Mike Richter and Kirk McLean), and 1996 (John Vanbiesbrouck and Patrick Roy).  There were some unreal netminding from all of those goalies (and others if I bothered to go back and look at what all unfolded in those years).  Now, as I go back through the last few years I am required to cheat and look at who won the Cup, because aside from Jonathan Quick in 2012, I can’t recall a big time goalie performance that brought me out of my seat.  And, even Quick’s wasn’t all that remarkable when you factor in his average shot total per game was 26.  Hey, a GAA of 1.41 is incredible.  I don’t care what era it is.  But, Vanbiesbrouck faced an average of 34 shots in 1996.  He gave up over a goal per game more than Quick; and yet (and this is for debate, I know it’s not a slam dunk) I look back and I say Vanbiesbrouck’s body of work in 1996 was better than Quick in 2012.  Here are some of the players Vanbiesbrouck went up against in ‘96:  Oates, Bourque, Tocchet, Lindros, LeClair, Renberg, Hawerchuk, Brind’Amour, Mario, Francis, Jagr, Nedved, Zubov, Sakic, Forsberg, Kamensky, and Ozolinsh.  Here’s what Quick had to face: Sedin Twins, Kesler, Andy MacDonald, Patrick Berglund (I had to name them in full or you wouldn’t know who they are), Antoine Vermette, Doan, and then in the finals he got Kovalchuk, Parise, Zajac, and Clarkson (sorry Leaf fans, but he did have 12 points!).  What year would you rather watch over again if you could go back, without knowing who will win?  All you have to go on are the names I have provided in this paragraph.  Can you say with a straight face you will go with the best line-up that faced Quick over the worst line-up that faced Vanbiesbrouck?

Again, forget what eras goalies are better.  Just think about the excitement and entertainment.  Looking at the stats, we should be left with the impression that the best goaltenders EVER are playing right now.  Let’s pretend that’s the case.  Why aren’t Carey Price, Ben Bishop, Henrik Lundqvist, Corey Crawford, and Deven Dubnyk worth the price of admission?  Connor McDavid, Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin, Tyler Seguin, and Patrick Kane sure are.  Why is that?  It’s because the skaters score goals!  And, they’d be worth even more to a viewer or sponsor if we are tuning in to see if Ovechkin could score 92 and break Gretzky’s record.  What about Seguin challenging the 215 point plateau?  What do you think that does for hockey in Dallas?  Yeah, I know.  Who cares about Dallas?  Well, the NHL and it’s advertisers care a great deal.  Do you even know who has the all-time lowest GAA record?  Highest SPCT ever?  I don’t.  Is it captivating for viewers and sponsors?  I’m going to say NO since nobody really knows.  What’s the single season shutout record?  No idea.  And, I don’t care.  

So.  Let’s compare.

The best goalie I’ve seen, according to my eyeballs, is Patrick Roy (with all due respect to Martin Brodeur, who’s 2nd).  This is hard for me to admit.  I despise the Habs and despise Roy even more.  But, the guy was amazing.  Without him, Montreal doesn’t win the last 2 Cups they’ve won.  Heck, they maybe aren’t even in the playoffs.  Without looking at his stats, I feel he played his best hockey early in his career when the Habs won their two Cups, but he was also really darned good for the Avs too.  Better support cast, no question.  But, how do you explain a 36-year-old who’s ready to retire posting the best stats of his career?  Roy had 9 shutouts and a GAA 1.94 in 2002; yet all I remember is him fighting Chris Osgood one time in the playoffs and winning 3 Stanley Cups by age 30.  Until we reached the era of no scoring (1997 and beyond), Roy had a goals against average of 2.50-2.95 and a SPCT of .900-.918.  He was one of the best.  Or, I think.  The best.  Yet, all of Roy’s best stats come AFTER 1997 when he should be getting worse due to his age.  I would argue his stats from 1997 and beyond are misleading.  35-year-olds don’t put up career seasons. Ask Gretzky and Lemieux.  And, to sit and watch the games...he was way better prior to 1997 despite what the stats tell you.

Again, I will refer back to the entertainment factor.  For me, I go back to 1993 and it was all about Roy.  I wanted the guy injured so some other team could win.  He was that good.  I don’t get a sense the Chicago Blackhawks are any less of a threat to win a Cup if Corey Crawford goes down.  In fact, even the Montreal Canadiens are showing that the best goalie in the world (Carey Price) today can get hurt and it doesn’t change a single thing.

Arguing who’s better gets you nowhere, but I still maintain that if you dropped today’s goalies into the 1990s, most of them would be out of the league within two years for sure.  There’s no way the majority of them survive outside their ‘blocker’ style of play.  It’s entirely possible Dominik Hasek would look ridiculous trying to play the way Carey Price plays.  There’s no denying that.  But, again I will ask you as a fan:  who would you rather watch do his thing?  For me...it’s Hasek and it’s not close.

I will not concede today’s shooters and players are less than what they were in the 90s and the pro-2015 goalie faction will say the goalies are better and the shooters are worse.  That’s a silly argument.  I look at the stats put up by today’s players and I have no reason to believe they couldn’t reach the levels we saw in the 90s.  I think Stamkos and Ovechkin are good enough to score 70.  I think Stamkos, Ovechkin, and Seguin are better than players like Bernie Nicholls, Luc Robitaille, Doug Gilmour, Sergei Fedorov, and Jeremy Roenick (players who put up more than 100 points a season, regularly).  I think Ovechkin is every bit as good a goal scorer as Brett Hull, but he won’t get Hull’s numbers.  I don’t think it’s crazy to say his 53 last year is the same as 80 from when Hull scored 76.  It becomes a lot more fun for media, fans, and sponsors if you can look at the record books and follow his charge towards it.  Do I think McDavid has a future to be one of the best ever?  I sure do, but in the current climate he won’t go anywhere near Gretzky’s 215.  But, think of the excitement and interest if he could.  

For fun, here are the best single season performances by goalies as far as GAA is concerned in the modern era:  Brian Elliott (1.56), Josh Harding (1.65), Mikka Kiprusoff (1.69), Marty Turco (1.72), Ron Tugnutt (1.78), and Roman Cechmanek (1.83).  Aside from Kiprusoff (and, maybe Turco) these guys can’t even come close to laying claim as being the best of their kraft even in the same season in which they posted these records!  Did any of these goalies make you want to turn the tv on to see if they could continue their season of excellence?????

Folks, the time has come to increase scoring in hockey.  It has to be done.  I don’t care how they do it.  But, it has to be done.

Monday, August 31, 2015

ARE YOU GREAT JUST BECAUSE YOU WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP?

Corey Chamblin is the perfect example on fans exaggerating greatness when it comes to players and coaches who win championships.

Chamblin won a Grey Cup in 2013 as the head coach of a team that, frankly, had they NOT won a Grey Cup would have gone down as one of the bigger failures in CFL history.

His overall body of work as Saskatchewan Roughrider coach is one that says he isn't a good coach.  The Grey Cup should be disregarded.

I've thought a lot about this in recent weeks.

Mad Dog Sports Radio had a debate about Philip Rivers and Eli Manning.  Two quarterbacks drafted and then traded for each other in 2004.  The consensus is that Manning has two Super Bowl rings, so he's a much better player.  Yet, I'd argue that if Rivers was plopped into the same environment Manning had, he'd also have those same two Super Bowl rings.  And, remember that Manning needed two miracle catches in both of those games in order to win.  Manning wanted nothing to do with the San Diego environment at the time of his being drafted and was moved in exchange for Rivers.  I'm not saying Manning isn't a good quarterback.  He is.  But, I think Rivers has been dealt a bad hand in San Diego but has made the best of it.

You could make a similar comparison when it comes to Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck.  Wilson has a Super Bowl and Luck doesn't.  But, if you were starting a team today would you pick Wilson over Luck?  Some of you might because of the ring, but if Luck is in Seattle he has a ring too.  It's environment.

I think when you compare players like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, the rings are a very good indicator on who's better.  But, it's not as cut and dry as 'Well he won a Super Bowl, so he's a better player.'

Is Corey Chamblin a better coach than Scott Milanovich?  Go ahead and make that case.



1PM MONDAY AND CHAMBLIN IS STILL THE COACH

I was going to write a post about why Corey Chamblin should be fired; but everybody knows why.

What I'm going to write about today is that if I was Roughrider brass, I'd be investigating with a lawyer as to whether or not there is just cause for his dismissal and, therefore, you don't have to pay him.

I am not willing to suggest Chamblin is as stupid as what the entire country saw yesterday.  He has to be doing this on purpose.  He is, surely, orchestrating his own release.  A release that, so far, isn't forthcoming from Roughrider headquarters.  That, in itself, is as disappointing as watching Chamblin on the sidelines yesterday.

The evidence to remove Chamblin has been overwhelming for quite some time; but I was in the camp to keep him until the end of the year.  However, he's now doing damage to what could be an integral part of this team's long term future and the people who make decisions above Chamblin can't sit back and allow the destruction to continue.  This team has no hope.  No direction and no future under Chamblin.  Do you think any decent free agent is going to sign here in the offseason?  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Weston Dressler demanded a trade by Wednesday.

My philosophy is that coaching is overrated in times of success and times of failure, but when you look at the points differential and how the Riders have lost their nine games; you could make a very good case that this is a 4-and-5 team and not an 0-and-9 one.  And, that's without number one quarterback Darian Durant.  When you look at where the Roughriders need to be better, just about everything falls at the feet of the coach.  The coach who has eliminated an entire support staff from his 2013 Grey Cup squad.  I think Chamblin, for as brash as he comes across, was always fearful of losing his job to someone under his watch who was smarter than he was so he, simply, had them removed and now he has a coaching staff that is plentiful in numbers but not in capabilities to assume a lead role in the event of his dismissal.  To this, I say, anyone is better than Chamblin.  Let Jacques Chapdelaine do it.  Heck, anyone.  Anyone who isn't, purposely, sabotaging this team.

In the offseason, conduct an exhaustive search for a replacement and get it right.  Give the new person a three year contract and if that person can't do the job, clean out the entire Roughrider head office.  If you can't hire a competent head coach with the resources this team has, then you have no business making decisions in professional football.

There are those that say because Chamblin has a Grey Cup, he deserves some benefit of the doubt.  I say he does not.  He had a powerhouse team in 2013 and was surrounded by an all-star staff of assistant coaches.  Yet, he still almost blew that.  There were stories of discontent and dressing room turmoil that didn't really hit mainstream media because a lot of the Regina folks were cuddly with their favorite team.  Last year, there was the infamous off field incidents with Taj Smith and Dwight Anderson, not to mention a team that was 8-and-2 but by all accounts, not playing that well.  Durant's exceptional ability was bailing them out late in games.  Once Durant went down, the world crumbled.
I think now that we have Chamblin's full body of work, and even in  year one they went through an extended losing streak; it's reasonable to draw the conclusion that he has never been a good head coach; but rather the product of having a tremendous support staff with a stand out quarterback.  No, he doesn't have either of those things and the proof is in the pudding.

So far today, the Roughriders have opted to not even comment on the status of Chamblin.  To me, this is a sign of complicity and incompetence.  But, I'll reserve any further opinion for now in the hopes that i'm wrong.  

To me, what I saw yesterday was similar to being a supervisor at Walmart and watching the employee dip into the til and steal some money several times and decide at the end of that worker's shift to do absolutely nothing about it.

I know it would be nice to have a plan in place for a replacement, but this is an emergency.  Chamblin should be shown the door.  Figure the rest out later.  It couldn't be any worse.






Friday, August 14, 2015

STACKHOUSE SOAPBOX: YTW Aug 12

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are so bad, they have the CFL’s top offense through seven weeks and still haven’t won a single game.  This, despite, their head coach turfing the defensive coordinator at the end of last season because he wanted a better unit and also wanted to run it himself.  It’s a mighty big plate of crow that will need to be consumed at the end of the year.

I’ve watched a lot of junior hockey players come through Yorkton in my fifteen years of living in this city, but two of my favorites have to be Dustin and Chad Nehring.  Dustin, to me, never was fully credited with how great a Junior ‘A’ defenseman he really was.  In his 20-year-old season, he missed about fifteen games and Yorkton’s record was around .500 when he didn’t play.  When he did play, they seldom lost.  They won a championship, actually.  To this day, I consider him the best shot blocker the Terriers have had since 2000.  He was also tough as nails and contributed better than a point per game as a defenseman.  You don’t see many of those types.  And, if I had my pick of any 20-year-old defenseman that the Terriers have had, I’d start my team with him in a heartbeat and that’s with all due respect to the Norrish twins, Devon McMullen, and Perry Faul.  Dustin was that good.  Chad is one of the most focused kids I’ve ever seen.  I remember sitting down with him in his final year here and he was very determined to pursue an NCAA scholarship and was keen on learning what more he could do in order to make it happen.  Well, he not only made it happen but he’s carved out a nice pro career to boot and will try out next month with the New York Rangers.  Chad’s 28-years-old.  NHL tryouts don’t get handed out for fun to 28-year-olds.  He’s not a kid anymore, but I still look at him as one and I couldn’t be more in his corner as he pursues his childhood dream.  Chad, by the way, has been a great mentor for younger guys like Davis Vandane and Turner Ottenbreit.  Davis will tryout with Chad’s pro team from last year (Hartford Wolfpack), while Turner returns to the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds.  I can’t help but wonder if Chad had that same mentor when he was 18 if he wouldn’t already be in the NHL.  I wish him all the best.  Dustin, as many know, runs a very successful construction business in Yorkton and is a steady contributor to the local economy, especially through the football ventures at Century Field.  I’m proud of both of those guys.

The NHLPA has filed a grievance over the Los Angeles Kings’ handling of the Mike Richards situation.  Richards was stopped at the border and is being investigated on possible drug offenses, but absolutely no charges have been laid and it’s been a few months since the incident occurred.  The Kings, who were looking for an out of his undeserved large contract, used a loophole in the collective bargaining agreement to terminate the contract because of the off-ice incident.  They have hid behind the fact they are a team that demands high morals of its players.  Well, if that was true, defenseman Slava Voynov would have been sent packing long ago.  Voynov was charged over a year ago with assaulting his wife.  Actual charges.  The league (not team) suspended him and then the Kings proclaimed it would be best to wait out the legal process before making a decision.  Voynov pled guilty to some of the charges and Los Angeles now says that since he’s done his time, he deserves a second chance. 

Here’s the problem with ‘let the legal system play out’ defense with teams and players.  Ray Rice was never found guilty of anything.  Legally, didn’t commit a domestic assault.  Yet, we all saw the video.  He’s not guilty, yet he sits without a team willing to give him a second chance.

The federal election campaign, so far, hasn’t focused on any issue.  Instead, it’s on Justin Trudeau’s sex appeal and Thomas Mulcair’s ability to be a jovial soul.  The NDP are trying hard.  They’ve changed Thomas’ name to Tom.  I’ve gone one step further and will refer to him as Tommy.  They also have him laughing and smiling more in public.  I guess that makes people vote for you and you don’t even have to talk about your platform.  Trudeau was seen, over the weekend, patting a pregnant woman’s tummy.  How sweet. You can bet if Stephen Harper did that, he’d be branded a creep.  That, my friends, is what we call a double standard.

Speaking of double standards, pretend a male television announcer is conducting a report from a lively music festival and an attractive, scantily clad, woman runs up to him and kisses him on the cheek while on live television.  What would our reaction be?  Most of us would laugh and tell jokes about it and say ‘how lucky’ that reporter is.  Well, this very thing happened to a female reporter as an attractive male did what I just described.  The reporter filed an RCMP complaint and the majority of the general public was outraged.  The man has since apologized and it looks like cooler heads will prevail. 

Nice people this week:  Sherry Popov, Karlie Shewchuk, Amber Merriman, Brenda Kulpa, and Jill Datema.

Monday, July 13, 2015

NO, THE ROUGHRIDERS ARE NOT AS CLOSE TO WINNING AS IT APPEARS

The Saskatchewan Roughriders blew another late fourth quarter lead on Friday night, falling 35-32 to the BC Lions (who aren't expected to be very good this season) after they led 29-18 with about two minutes left.  The Riders are now 0-and-3 despite allowing only nine more points than they've scored this year.

Saskatchewan's record since Darian Durant got hurt last September is 2-and-13.  Hardly that of a contender, but everyone seemed to feel this was a roster that would be in the mix this season with Durant coming back and a capable back-up (Kevin Glenn) having been signed in case something disastrous happened to Durant (which it did).

First of all, the CFL is the easiest professional sports league (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) to be competitive in and the Roughriders have a war chest of money and resources with which they could be competitive; yet they have four Grey Cups in over one hundred years of existence and there have been many  years where they have not been competitive at all.  While I don't expect Grey Cups every single year, I do expect a team that contends for one.  There's really no excuse to have your starting quarterback go down and discover the back-up isn't much better than a direct snap to the running back on every play.  Look around the league.  Montreal, Edmonton, Toronto, Calgary, and Hamilton all have back-ups that can get them through if need be.  This season, some of those teams have needed to rely on their back-up.  Last year, Saskatchewan got caught with its pants down. Tino Sunseri can't play (although he's good enough to bring back and not take a look at someone else).  This year, the Riders have themselves covered.  Glenn will be serviceable; but he isn't the answer in a close game or a big game.  The proof is in the pudding on that.   It's, partially, why they've lost every single close game they've been in this year.

Kicking. Why go down the Chris Milo street again to start the year, only to discover what everyone in the province has known for quite some time already?  Now, they've added a 45-year-old former kicker, who isn't going to be much better in the grand scheme of things.  You are the New York Yankees of the CFL.  Get a kicker.

John Chick.  Unfortunately, the results speak for themselves since about week eight of last season.  Is he washed up?  If the answer is 'yes', will the Ricky Foley trade be one Saskatchewan will regret?  Personally, I wouldn't have traded Foley.  He brings too much to the table to move out of here.  I think Emry is a nice player; but if you are doing your homework in the offseason; you can find guys like him without having to make a trade.

Injuries haven't helped.  Durant, obviously, is the huge one although I can't say Saskatchewan has lost any of their three this year because they didn't have him.  Perhaps they win week one against Winnipeg; but that was a tight game at the point he went down.  Ryan Smith looks like a breakout candidate and he missed week three.  Shea Emry, Nic Demski, Weston Dressler, and Tyron Brackenridge have all also missed time.

I'm not going to critique Corey Chamblin's call of going for it on 3rd and short; but I will critique all the coaches who seem to think that putting a cold back-up quarterback in for a crucial play is a smart idea.  Brett Smith dropped the ball and also got hit really hard as he dove into the pile.  Guess what?  He is not injured and there is no reason to think your starter would get injured either.  I don't know why teams do this.  I feel Glenn makes that play on third and short; but if you also don't have a running back on the field, it's pretty easy for the defense to put all their eggs in one basket.  To me, 3rd and less than a yard in the CFL should be automatic.  You get a yard at the line of scrimmage!  Yet, the Riders, it seems, have been less than efficient at this play over the last number of years.

So, if Chamblin goes for it on 3rd and short late in the fourth to try and seal the game; surely he's going for it in overtime isn't he?  Nope.  He kicks a field goal.  Field goals are, pretty much, automatic in overtime and anything less than a touchdown puts you at serious risk of losing.  So, why kick it?  A field goal is the same as turning it over on downs.  You are screwed.  His decision to kick is a damning indictment of the offense.  They failed in the fourth, and he wasn't going to trust them to try again.  Really?  They are going to be 0-for-2 on third and less than a yard?  Just mail in the season then.

Players aren't stupid.  They can see Chamblin doesn't have faith in them.  If they don't mail it in on Friday; then they deserve a lot of credit for sticking together.  Chamblin holds them all to very high standards.  One fumble and you are out.  One mistake and you are out.  Well, he should hold himself to that same standard and, at least, admit he's wrong whenever he's wrong.  


A guy who prides himself on being an aggressive coach showed the complete opposite on Friday when the offense took a knee at the end of the fourth and then kicked the field goal in overtime.

Chamblin won a Grey Cup in 2013 and he deserves added rope because of this accomplishment.  I don't, necessarily, think Chamblin did a great job; but he didn't screw it up like we've seen many, many times over the years of Rider history and their ability to write tragic endings.  The list of Rider coaches who have won a championship is extremely short.  Having said that, I remember when Kent Austin (who also has a Grey Cup title as Rider head coach) announced he was returning from the NCAA; I felt Jim Hopson should have sat him down and given him the keys to the franchise.  All Austin has done is appear in the Grey Cup game every single year he's been a head coach.  The man gets it done.  He's a pro.  At the time, fans told me we had someone better than Austin in the fold as Chamblin was coming off an impressive rookie year; but my feeling is that when the best becomes available; you do whatever it takes.  Get him in here.  Now, we've got Austin in Hamilton and they look like the best team in the league.  Chamblin, if you listen to fans, has forgot how to run a team.  Nice.

 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

WHERE ARE THE OILERS, BRUINS, AND SABRES GOING?

I don't dislike the Edmonton Oilers, but it has been fun poking at them and their fans since the mid-1990s.  No other NHL team (Toronto included) has over valued its prospects and, at the same time, been so inept at getting talent from the junior level into the NHL beyond the very obvious draft selections.

This season, they were smart.  They drafted Connor McDavid and then traded all of their other picks.  I mean, it's not like they knew what to do with anything after the first round anyway.  Plus, General Manager Peter Chiarelli just fired all of the incompetent scouts; so I'm not sure what list he would have used.

To find an Oiler player who has made it to the NHL to play significantly who wasn't a first rounder, you have to scroll back through the years until you get to Anton Lander, who was a second round selection in 2009.  Theo Peckham was a third rounder in 2006.  To find a steal, you would have to go back to 2003 and the 7th round selection of Kyle Brodziak or 1998 and the 4th round choice of Shawn Horcoff.  I mean, this team just drafts badly.

I had some hope for them once word got out in April they had won the draft lottery (again) and would be choosing the next Wayne Gretzky (Connor McDavid).  Ownership got rid of the 'old boys club' hierarchy in management and put Bob Nicholson and Peter Chiarelli in charge.

Chiarelli was just fired by the Boston Bruins and seeing what the Bruins did on the weekend, the picture as to why is becoming real clear.  The man created a roster that was destined for salary cap hell.  But, at least, he had good players and his team won a Stanley Cup.

Let's review the weekend.  The Oilers traded 2 early picks to the Islanders for Griffin Reinhart, who hasn't proven a thing in the NHL.  He still has a bit of a shine on him as a prospect; but when you consider arch rival Calgary was able to get Dougie Hamilton for 3 early draft picks, this move has to go down as an epic fail.  The word is that Chiarelli refused to part with Darnell Nurse in order to get Hamilton.  We will see in two or three years whether that was the right thing to do or not, but I'm thinking if Nurse ends up being a Norris contender on a regular basis throughout his career, this is still a move Chiarelli should not have passed on.  Hamilton is 22 and coming off  a 42-point season.  He's already one of the better blueliners in the league and only going to get better.  Nurse and Reinhart may have futures, but how many other young Edmonton prospects have we said that about? Let me help - David Musil, Martin Marincin, Troy Hesketh, Alex Plante, Taylor Chorney, Danny Syvret, Doug Lynch, and Michael Henrich just to name a few.  With that kind of track record, Nurse is expendable to get Hamilton locked up for five or six years.  Hamilton, by the way, plays the game similar to Chris Pronger and the Oilers made the finals the one year they had him in the fold.  So, I'm going to give the Oilers a fail on the Reinhart acquisition combined with their refusal to step up and pay to get Hamilton into the fold.  To make matters worse, Hamilton isn't likely to make things easy for McDavid and company as that will now be a match-up that will get a lot of focus in the Battle of Alberta.  Calgary, by the way, didn't need a defenseman; but they recognize the importance of having a back end that is superior to other clubs.  They've got five defensemen better than Edmonton's number one.  Ouch.

Let's assume you pass on Hamilton because, at 22, he's deemed to be too old at 25 when you are ready to be a contender.  That's silly talk, but astute Oiler fans will justify it.  So, I'll give you that.  Don't bother with Hamilton.  It's too early.  Why then would you give up more draft picks for one year of Cam Talbot to play goal?  And, is Talbot coming to Edmonton with any better a pedigree than what Ben Scrivens had?  Talbot may very well be better than Scrivens, but it's the exact same risk.  I'd much rather see the Oilers fix their defense and then make another judgement on Scrivens.  The days of having a goalie bail out or mask other weaknesses are gone.  There are no more Tommy Salos, Curtis Josephs, or Dwayne Rolosons.  Nowadays, you just hope your goalie doesn't mess his pants bad enough to cost you a playoff position or series.

It's still very early in the offseason, but call me very underwhelmed and disappointed in Edmonton.

Boston....wow.  To me, if they thought Chiarelli had screwed things up that bad; they should have given him a chance to manage his way out of it.  What they did this weekend ranks up there with their Boston Red Sox baseball cousins.  It's just plain stupid.  You don't trade players of Dougie Hamilton's ilk.  You just don't.  If you have to trade Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Milan Lucic in order to keep Hamilton...you do it.  Those players are just so hard to get.  Speaking of Lucic, he was traded too but the Bruins kept half of the money.  Why bother if you are in a salary cap crunch?  And, why get a back-up goalie in this deal when they can be found anywhere?  Or, are the Bruins setting themselves up to trade Tukka Rask too?  Wouldn't surprise me.  I'm having a hard time in believing there is a sensible means to the ends of what new GM Don Sweeney is doing.

A lot of folks were impressed with Buffalo, but if Ryan O'Reilly continues to seek maximum money then he is only going to be a one year player for them.  He's in dreamland.  There is nothing to suggest he's worthy of even 50% max money.  No wonder Colorado punted on that one.  Matt Duchene makes $6-million a year.  O'Reilly is not Duchene.  And, if O'Reilly's dreamland resembles that of Evander Kane then it's going to be a great year of drama in Buffalo.  The Lehner acquisition in goal is risky, but all netminder trades are.  It's the most inconsistent position in the NHL.  If you are a rebuilding team, why make a trade for someone who only has one year left on his deal?

I really like what Calgary has done.  They are building a nice club and not afraid to make the trades to add to their group.  I wish Winnipeg would take this next step and get a game breaking forward (no, not Phil Kessel).

But, speaking of the Leafs, I wonder what TSN and Sportsnet will tell us as far as the offers received by them on Kessel and Phaneuf.  I'm sure they will spin tales of 'almost' and 'just not enough for an elite talent like Kessel', etc.  Let them.  The reality is that it's going to be hard to find a sucker to take on that money and term Kessel is owed, all the while knowing he could go into Operation: Shutdown at any second.