Thursday, December 28, 2017

The one thing I noticed during last year’s disaster was that Hellebuyck was good at the start of the season when challenged by Michael Hutchinson and then was good again after Christmas when Ondrej Pavelec was brought up from the AHL to challenge him for time.  He was good again in the final games of the regular season when Hutchinson was given more of an opportunity after the season was, officially, over as far as playoffs go.  In between, it appeared Hellebuyck really struggled when anointed as a number one.  This year, with Steve Mason on board as a security blanket, Hellebuyck has been fantastic.  I suspect as long as the threat of a credible replacement is in the background, Hellebuyck is going to be fine.  Note - when Mason was injured earlier in the year, Hellebuyck didn’t play as well.

His play was brutal in the first two games of the year.  He was, deceptively, outstanding after that until that last game before Christmas when the Islanders got to him for five.  His true value is in his ability to push Hellebuyck.

More depth on the blueline has meant a reduction in minutes per game for Byfuglien and the results have been promising, except for the two injuries he has sustained.  It would be nice if he had some goals, but the Jets don’t play a style that promotes goals from their back end.  Hopefully, he comes back fully healthy and plays with more of an edge.

I have to admit I was a non believer in this player.  Yet, I watch him on a nightly basis and see a guy who is a solid two-way defenseman and he doesn’t get nearly the attention that he should.  Again, the Jets don’t promote offense from their defensemen, but if they did he would get more points.  The sophomore jinx has missed him.  He just keeps improving.

My biggest issue with him is consistency.  He was awful and great in the Edmonton game last night all within the 60 minute framework of the game.  He’s not a number one defenseman, but he is going to want to be paid like one.  I see him more as a player who will tease and have stretches where he looks like a number one, but he’s a solid 2-4 overall.

Winnipeg’s most reliable and most complete defenseman this year.  Remarkable after missing almost a full year last year.  There is nothing to complain about with this player.  He could, perhaps, be a little more mean considering his size but then he’d end up in the penalty box more often and he can’t help you there.  Underrated.

A steal of a free agent signing by Kevin Cheveldayoff.  Kulikov has been the perfect partner for Myers.  He’s reliable, contributes a bit on offense, and plays valuable minutes.  I don’t think there is any question the Myers-Kulikov pairing has been Winnipeg’s best for the first half of the season.

Chiarot was a top four defenseman last year and he just isn’t that good.  But, as a seventh defenseman who can fill in when injuries hit, he’s better than good.  He deserves to be one any team’s third pairing.  The fact he’s a spare part for the Jets is a bonus.  He doesn’t hurt you.

A much heralded signing from the NCAA and I think had the Jets not added Kulikov or gotten the full season thus far from Myers, we’d have seen more of Poolman and been desperate to expect more.  But, he’s been brought along slowly and hasn’t shown that he doesn’t belong.  Again, the Jets don’t promote offense from the point, but Poolman has upside here.

Hurt every single year, it seems.  He isn’t the powerplay specialist he used to be either.  He makes too much money for fans to be happy with ‘not noticing him as a liability most nights’ when he does play.  His contract is up soon and I don’t imagine he will be brought back.  It could be argued he doesn’t deserve to play over Poolman or Chiarot, but his salary dictates that he will.

One of the top ten players in the NHL and his loss will be felt, greatly.  He’s a complete player who has worked hard on improving his face-off efficiency too (the one area you could nitpick at the start of the year).  Hopefully, he is back closer to the 6 week end of the time table and not the 8.  The Jets have depth to fill the gap, but they are about to learn just how important this guy really is.

Maybe the most underrated player in the league.  All he does is put up points, skate fast, lead by example, and stay healthy year after year after year.  The one good thing about the Scheifele injury is that we are going to see Wheeler distribute the puck to Patrik Laine.  I, suspect, this will be an overwhelming success and pose some questions for the coaching staff when Scheifele gets back.

The Scheifele injury will tell us whether or not Connor is a product of playing on the Scheifele line or whether he’s capable of being a first liner in the NHL without having a centreman the calibre of Scheifele out there with him.  I think it’s a bit of both.  Nobody will be hurt by the loss of Scheifele like Connor.  Look for a dip in production for the next two months.  Hopefully, he weathers the storm.

A grinding centre who is fantastic on face offs and seems to have a knack of being clutch.  As the Jets improve, I feel Little best helps them as a third line centre and not a second line one.  That’s not a slight on Little at all, but rather what I think teams need to win a Stanley Cup.  I think his style is a poor match for the wingers he’s had this year (Ehlers and Laine) , but the three of them have found a way to make it work, for the most part.

He’s had periods of the season where he’s disappeared and then he has had games like the Edmonton one last night where he looked like he could score three or four a night.  He’s fun to watch but has had his ups and downs.  I think playing with Wheeler will be better for him and his style.  He needs a centre who can get him the puck and just let him do his thing.  I am predicting this Jet will take off with his new linemates.

While not as noticeable as Laine, he’s also had peaks and valleys to his season.  He also had this last year.  Maybe he will be known as a streaky player, but we have to remember he’s still very young and getting better with each passing season.  He’ll move to right wing in the absence of Scheifele and the pressure may be on him the most to make up for the lost offense.

He got hurt after five games and I felt the team wouldn’t miss him at all.  He came back and got hot and has been a real driving force on the fourth line, giving Winnipeg something they’ve never had:  a scoring threat from their depth forwards.  He will move up into the top six with Scheifele out and I don’t feel he’s good enough to be much of a factor there.  He’s best when deployed as further down the line-up where opposing teams forget about him.

Why Vegas didn’t take him in the expansion draft is beyond me.  But, hey the Knights are one of the best teams in the league so who am I to wonder?  Armia was bad enough at the start of the year that he was a healthy scratch three times.  He has been invisible many nights, but has also shown glimpses of untapped offensive potential in the last month.  I’d love to see him play with better players.

Probably has found a home as a third line centre.  On a Cup contender, I think he’s best used as a fourth line centre.  He’s hard to play against and matches up well against opposing teams’ top lines and is a very effective checker.  He’s going to see more powerplay time in the absence of Scheifele in what may be his last opportunity to show he can score more than he has so far in his career.

After the first 10-15 games I found myself wondering what the Jets saw in him to keep him in the line-up night after night after night.  By the 40 game mark, I have finally seen the light.  He’s a buzz saw.  Skates like the wind, creates havoc out there, and does have the ability to pop the odd goal.  You have to watch him to appreciate him.  

I think he leads the team in +/-.  He doesn’t have Tanev’s or Lowry’s tenacity; but he does have the most offensive upside of the three.  He is defensively sound and is another underrated player.  A darkhorse to step into a more prominent role with Scheifele hurt, but it can’t be discounted.  He came into the league as a centre, so he has the experience.  Also, he put up points when given a top six role last year during a brief period (albeit as a winger on Scheifele’s line).

I don’t get too excited about fourth line players, but Matt Hendricks is perfect for the role of fourth line centre.  He doesn’t skate fast, but he brings a great set of intangibles and folks around Edmonton will tell you he’s badly missed in their dressing room.  He’s added more offense than I thought too, although playing with Perreault and Armia has given him two decent options in this regard.

He’s been pushed out of the line-up because of the effectiveness of other players.  I liked his game last year, but the sign of an improving team is when you see players like Matthias, who deserve to be in the line-up, but can’t seem to earn their way in.  Look for him to get first shot with Scheifele out, but the Jets have other options to look at.

He has only played six games because, until now, there has been no opening for him.  He will have to put up points to stay in the line-up (assuming he gets a chance with Scheifele out).  


BRENDAN LEMIEUX - He’d be a Jet already if the team wasn’t as strong.  He has a future as an Andrew Shaw type.

NIC PETAN - Jets have to decide what to do with him.  He can’t play a checking role.  He’s best suited as a playmaking centre in the top six, but is he good enough for that?

JACK ROSLOVIC - He’s a centre.  Scheifele is a centre.  Roslovic is a first rounder, a top player in the AHL.  It almost makes too much sense to call him up and pop him onto a line with Connor and Wheeler to see what he can do.

Monday, June 20, 2016


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


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’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


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.


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


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


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.