Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday musings

Thoughts in the aftermath of the Riders' 21-18 loss to Montreal in the 2010 Grey Cup:

  • Yes, Darian Durant's last minute throw (that ended up as a Billy Parker interception) was a remarkably poor decision. It's not the reason the Riders lost, though.
  • The Alouettes receivers exposed a sub-par secondary (especially on the corners), and that was the deciding factor in the game.
  • Cornerback Donovan Alexander's confidence is shot. Completely. The score would have been much more one-sided if he had stayed in the game, actually.
  • I predicted Wes Cates would be named Grey Cup MVP. If Saskatchewan had come back to win, I may have looked pretty smart.
  • Cutting down on turnovers should be the number one priority for Darian Durant next season. Frankly, he was lucky to only be picked off once yesterday.
  • Was yesterday's game the CFL swan song for a few key members of the Riders? It wouldn't surprise me if 3-4 retirements were announced in the off season.
  • So, what improvements need to be made? Well, special teams is an obvious starting point.
  • Was anyone really surprised the Alouettes would be able to successfully pull off a fake punt? Nope.
  • It might be time for an upgrade (or two) at cornerback. An impact defensive lineman (or two) wouldn't hurt either.
  • Coaching changes? I think at least 1-2 assistant coaches will be gone, and it wouldn't surprise me if Ken Miller decides to step away from his head coaching duties.
  • Changes on the offensive line might be unavoidable, and are probably necessary. I could see Makowsky and O'Day riding off into the sunset together, as did Aldag and Poley after the 1992 season.
  • Speaking of o-lineman, congrats to Marc Parenteau on his touchdown catch in the 4th quarter. Nice job, Marc!
  • And thank you to the Riders for an exciting 2010 season. There were lots of peaks, and a few valleys, along the way - but it was a fun ride from start to finish. Thanks Riders!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday thoughts

It's the eve of Grey Cup weekend. Frankly I'm just grateful to be able to form any thoughts - lucid or otherwise.

  • Congrats to the Riders' Andy Fantuz on his first CFL Outstanding Canadian award. There should be more to come.
  • Fantuz beat out Dave Stala, who the Montreal Alouettes basically tossed on the football scrap heap following the 2008 season.
  • I had no idea (or maybe I just didn't care enough to find out) that Stala was born in Poland. We're practically home boys!
  • Mind you, Fantuz and I went to the same university - so we're obviously very tight as well!
  • Henry Burris wins the league MOP and the incessant whining stops. For one night.
  • On Locker Talk this week, Mitch Blair made Weston Dressler his pick for the 2010 Grey Cup MVP (do you really need to ask who Mitch is picking to win the game?).
  • I'm going out on a bit of limb here, but I'll pick Wes Cates.
  • The game's outstanding Canadian? Fantuz. But Chris Getzlaf is a definite possibility also.
  • So yeah, I guess I'm predicting a Rider victory as well. I won't embarrass myself by trying to predict the final score.
  • One fearless prediction I can make with 100% certainty. Cheesy treats will be consumed and enjoyed while watching the 2010 Grey Cup. Enjoy (burp) the game!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thursday Cheers and Jeers

Oh yes, we're back with another installment of the much-ballyhoed Cheers and Jeers. Can't you just feel the excitement? Let's do this thing...

  • (no brainer) The Saskatchewan Roughriders, for advancing to their third Grey Cup in the past four years.
  • The many Rider priders who are making the trek to Edmonton to cheer on the boys in person this Sunday. Be loud and proud at the game folks!
  • The U of R men's basketball team. The squad is back in the Locker Talk good books, after an appearance on this week's show by head coach James Hillis. Extra bonus points for Coach Hillis who (after being unable to secure a commitment from a couple of his players) took time away from his large and busy family to hang out with us. Much appreciated!


  • Sears (latest in a series). Their inability to service a one year old treadmill would be comical if it wasn't my one year old treadmill.
  • The Door Store. Gosh, it only took an exasperated email to the company head honchos to get a return call from their service department. Apparently the phone calls and voice mails that preceded said email weren't enough to get their attention.
  • Dwight Anderson and Brandon Browner. The Calgary Stampeders' dynanic duo of cornerbacks were about as classy as a case of stomach flu in a crowded hot tub following their elimination by the Riders in the CFL west final. Couldn't happen to a nicer couple of fellows.

Anybody have something to add to the list? Fire at will!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Locker Talk lineup for . . .later

Here's the lineup for this week's show. Alas, due to a WHL game tonight this week's edition of Locker Talk will only air once - Thursday night at 6 p.m. I know, I feel your outrage. (Edit: We're not taping a show next week, so Locker Talk will also air next Thursday - Dec 2 - at 6 p.m.)

Locker Talk Guests for week of November 23/10
Co-Host: Mitchell Blair

1. The Campbell Tartans celebrate a 4A high school football provincial championship. Guests: Ron Cherkas (Head Coach), Connor Bloom & Linden Clark (Players).

2. A recap of the CFL west final and preview of the Grey Cup showdown between Saskatchewan and Montreal. Guest: Matt Dominguez (Rider broadcaster/alumnus).

3. A post-mortem on the 2010 season for the University of Regina Rams, with two of the seven Rams named conference all-stars. Guests: Adrian Charles (Rams running back) & Bruce Anderson (Rams linebacker).

4. The Riffel Royals celebrate a city senior girls large schools volleyball championship. Guests: Lexia Chamryk & Alyssia Kajati (Players).

5. An update on the 2010/11 season for the U of R men’s basketball team. Guest: James Hillis (Head Coach).

6. The Blair Necessities. Mitch’s weekly sports commentary.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday musings

Is it Grey Cup Sunday yet? Is it Sunday yet? Is it? Huh? Huh?

  • Congrats to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on an exciting 20-16 come-from-behind win over the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL west final.
  • Could a crushing defeat happen to two nicer (and classier) individuals than Dwight Anderson and Brandon Browner?
  • Kudos to Darian Durant and Doug Berry for figuring out the Stampeders defence after falling behind 11-0 in the first half. The Stamps were able to stymie the Riders' offense for most of the opening half by rushing three on second down and dropping nine men into coverage.
  • For a change, Rider fans have absolutely nothing to complain about from Andre Proulx and the officials. Not a thing.
  • Chris Getzlaf has made the Stampeders his bitch. How else would you describe it?
  • Henry Burris is now 0-4 against Saskatchewan in the playoffs.
  • Ryan Grice-Mullin tried to give the game away by dropping another ball on a punt return. I assume he won't be back next year? Hopefully?
  • Linebacker Jerrell Freeman saved Grice-Mullin from becoming one of the all-time villains in Rider history by falling on his fumble in the end zone. Freeman just seems to get better every week.
  • So now it's the Grey Cup showdown everyone (outside of Calgary) wanted to see. Which also means the 13th man jokes will be picking up again. Oh joy.
  • Mind you, that's a pretty small price to pay for a return trip to the Grey Cup!
  • Hands up everyone who thought - while watching the Riders beat Montreal in overtime in the first game of the season - "Wow, I sure hope this is a Grey Cup preview!"
  • The Riders are on a three game winning streak. This run of success must be particularly upsetting for some of the drama queens who inhabit Rider Nation (and a certain fan website). What are the Negative Nellies going to complain about this week?
  • Some simpleton actually suggested last week that the Riders should dump head coach Ken Miller and replace him with Richie Hall. Immediately.
  • The brain power that went into that suggestion is staggering to think about.
  • Is it Sunday yet?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Here's why you don't make your own kid the quarterback

The Western Mustangs blew a golden opportunity to advance to the Vanier Cup today, thanks to some of the most inept quarterbacking I've ever seen at the CIS level. The Mustangs lost 13-11 at Laval in the national semi-final, with 'Stangs quarterback Donnie Marshall completing just 9 of 19 passes for a meagre 61 yards and four interceptions!

So, why didn't the Mustangs replace young Marshall when it was obvious he was in way over his head? Maybe because his dad (Greg) is the head coach. Not a good scenario.

In the meantime, Western's championship dreams lay dashed on the jagged rocks of nepotism...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday Cheers and Jeers

Back by popular demand - a weekly look at the good, the bad and the downright fugly from the previous seven days.

  • The 20,000 + fans who made Mosaic Stadium one noisy place during last Sunday's CFL west semi-final. The noise definitely rattled the visiting B.C. Lions, and likely helped the Riders advance to the west final in Calgary.
  • The Deli Llama restaurant. This week's special (soup and sandwich for $10) is unbelievable. You won't be disappointed!
  • The J man. Congrats to the boy on a fantastic report card. Straight A's, with the exception of a B+ in phys ed. Nothing wrong with that academic performance!


  • The leather-lunged buttheads at Mosaic Stadium (and elsewhere) who can't be bothered to remove their hats for the national anthem, or keep their mouths shut during the anthem or the moment of silence for our veterans. Here's a newsflash - you are neither funny nor original. How about a nice, refreshing cup of STFU?
  • Sears. Worst customer service in the history of retailing. Seriously. And then, at the end of a pointless conversation with a call centre lackey in some god-forsaken outpost, said lackey actually asks if I'm interested in a Sears Mastercard! You've got to be kidding me.
  • The Overhead Door Store. My garage door has been wonky ever since a power outage on Monday. It's been about 36 hours since I called their service department, and still no return call. That's not acceptable.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Locker Talk lineup for November 16

Here's the (jam-packed!) lineup for this week's show. As per usual, the extravaganza airs tonight at 9 p.m. and Thursday at 6 p.m. on Access channel 7. You should watch.

Locker Talk Guests for November 16/10
Co-Host: Mitchell Blair

1. The Saskatchewan Archives Board has published a special commemorative magazine celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Guest: Nadine Charabin (Saskatchewan Archives Board).

2. The Regina Thunder is already planning for a return trip to the PFC final (and beyond) in 2011. Guests: Erwin Klempner (Head Coach) & Scott MacAulay (Assistant coach).

3. The O’Neill Titans celebrate a provincial 3A high school football championship. Guests: Jason Duczek (Head Coach), Meyan Piok & Brandon Ricketts (Titans players).

4. A post-mortem on the 2010 season for the University of Regina cross country team. Guests: Dale Wig & Iain Fyfe (Cougar runners).

5. The new head coach at the Regina Diving Club returns to her roots, and has big plans for her program. Guest: Laura Lunn (RDC Head Coach).

6. A profile of the University of Regina women’s volleyball team, looking for a return trip to the national championship tournament this year. Guests: Tiffany Herman (Setter) & Roxanne Olynyk (Outside Hitter).

7. The Blair Necessities. Mitch’s weekly sports commentary.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday musings

Some idle thoughts in the aftermath of a thriller at Mosaic Stadium:

  • Give the Riders full credit for their 41-38 overtime victory over the B.C Lions in the CFL west semi-final. The Riders came out like gangbusters in the second half, and held off the Lions for the win.
  • Some media outlets are calling it a double overtime win. Is that right? It was the second of two mini-games, so why would that make it a second overtime session? Wouldn't the second overtime start with the beginning of the third mini-game? Yeah, I know. I need a life.
  • Darian Durant had a terrible first half. But give the guy credit for bringing his A game out of the locker room for the second half.
  • Anyone calling for offensive coordinator Doug Berry to be fired can zip it. The play calling yesterday was outstanding. If Durant was on in the first half, the Riders would have blown out the Lions.
  • It appears Wally Buono has found his franchise quarterback in Travis Lulay. It was a treat to watch him duel with Durant yesterday.
  • What is it about the Riders' inability to defend Hail Mary passes against B.C.? Geroy Simon killed Saskatchewan with one a few years ago. Emmanuel Arceneaux caught one on the final play of regulation yesterday. And Ryan Grice-Mullin had one go through his hands that would have won the game for the Lions a couple of years ago. Scary stuff.
  • So now it's the game everyone wanted to see - a conference final matchup with the Calgary Stampeders.
  • Can the Riders win? Sure. Would it be considered an upset? Yes.
  • We can talk about schemes and other individual matchups all week long, but I really think it comes down to this: If Durant outplays Burris, the Riders will win. If he doesn't, they won't.
  • Congrats to the Campbell Tartans (4A) and O'Neill Titans (3A), who gave Regina high school football bragging rights for the year by winning their respective provincial finals this weekend.
  • Representatives of both teams will be on upcoming episodes of Locker Talk. Yet another solid reason to watch Regina's pre-eminent local sports show!
  • If the Toronto Maple Leafs are hoping Nazem Kadri will turn their season around, they'll be waiting a long, long time. The kid is softer than my midsection.
  • What the hell was with the chants of "Looou" every time Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo made a save on Saturday night? In Toronto? That's messed up.
  • I guess it's time to pull my Chicago Blackhawks hat out of the closet again. Life as a Leafs fan would be pretty depressing if there wasn't a plan B, let me tell you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday thoughts

Hey, rumour has it there's a football game in town this weekend! Here's what I think about that, among other topics:

  • The Riders need to contain two players in particular: Jamal Robertson and Geroy Simon. If those two don't have huge games, the green guys should win.
  • Saskatchewan's offense showed signs of waking from its month-long slumber last week. Hopefully the trend continues on Sunday.
  • Let's all cross our fingers and hope the game doesn't come down to the Riders lining up to kick a last second field goal for the win. I'm sure Warren Kean is a fine person, but...
  • Let's hope Barrin Simpson's ankle injury isn't an issue. The Riders will need all hands on deck to shut down B.C.'s running game.
  • A high of plus 2 for Sunday? We'll take it.
  • I may have picked the wrong year to skip the annual year-end Regina Minor Football volunteer appreciation/awards night. I won the Coach of the Year award!
  • In the event anyone who voted for me reads this blog - thank you! And thank you to the Cougars assistant coaches, players and parents for a fantastic season.
  • Here's the scenario for next year: Reigning atom division coach of the year moves up to pee-wee to take over a team that finished 0-9 the previous year. And...winning ensues? We'll see!
  • Apparently I don't need to make plans to be in Toronto in June for the Stanley Cup victory parade.
  • The Leafs are playing like crap and the Montreal Canadians are atop their division. Yep, that's about as bad as it gets!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Locker Talk lineup for November 9

Here's the lineup for this week's show, airing tonight at 9 p.m. and Thursday at 6 p.m. on Access channel 7:

Locker Talk Guests for November 9/10
Co-Host: Mitchell Blair

1. The Saskatchewan Hockey Association makes plans for outdoor hockey fun in Regina, and picks a site for the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame. Guest: Kelly McClintock (SHA Executive Director).

2. A post-mortem on a successful 2010 season for the Regina Thunder junior football club. Guests: Reid Quest (Thunder quarterback) & Joey Todd (Defensive back).

3. A post-mortem on the 2010 season for the University of Regina women’s soccer team. Guests: Bob Maltman (Head Coach), Catherine Lukan & Molly Glass (Players).

4. A profile of the Regina Speed Skating Club. Guests: Bruce Hope (Club President) & Bill Christ (Coach).

5. A preview of the CFL west semi-final between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and B.C. Lions. Guest: John Lynch (Rider Broadcaster).

6. The Blair Necessities. Mitch’s weekly sports commentary.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Monday musings

Seriously, who needs a psychiatrist's couch when we have the interwebs? Thank you Al Gore for creating them!

  • Okay, so maybe reports of the Saskatchewan Roughriders imminent demise were a bit premature. The Riders looked okay (as opposed to great) in beating Edmonton 31-23 Saturday evening.
  • Congrats to the following Roughrider league leaders in 2010: Andy Fantuz (receiving yards), Darian Durant (passing yards), Wes Cates (touchdowns), Barrin Simpson (tackles) and James Patrick (interceptions). Methinks Brendan Taman will be forking over some cash in performance bonuses this year!
  • How long before the Eskimos are in the market for a new head coach? I predict Eric Tillman will send Richie Hall packing by the time the Grey Cup rolls around.
  • You don't suppose ET is trying to woo Kent Austin back to the CFL, is he? Yeah, good luck with that.
  • Speaking of coaches whose current employment is on life long before Wade Phillips is gassed by the Dallas Cowboys? (EDIT: not long! Phillips was fired today)
  • The Cowboys looked awful against the Packers last night. As a fan of the Green Bay gang, that did not sadden me.
  • You have to think Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers will get another shot at a head coaching gig soon. He's done a masterful job with an injury-riddled group this year.
  • Packers linebacker Clay Matthews may be the second consecutive Green Bay player to win defensive player of the year in the NFL. Maybe he'll be able to afford a haircut with the accompanying contract bonus?
  • Seriously Clay, cut the hair. You look ridiculous. Take A.J. Hawk with you.
  • At the mid-way point of the NFL season, who are the favourites to meet in the Super Bowl? I'm going with Baltimore from the AFC (only because I hate the Steelers so very, very much) and the Giants in the NFC.
  • Both Saskatchewan teams came up short in the CIS Canada West football semi-finals. The Rams spotted the U of C a huge lead, while the Huskies blew a huge lead against Alberta.
  • It looks like it's going to be a loooong season for the J-man's basketball team. Oh well, there's still plenty of time for them to turn it around, I suppose.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Thursday Cheers and Jeers

It was a fast, and largely uneventful, past seven days. Let's see what we can come up with though:

  • Darian Durant. The Riders' quarterback is a public relations dream come true. He buys a house in Regina. He says all the right things. Now he just needs to start making better decisions with the football and life will be grand.
  • Regina Thunder. Thumbs up to the Thunder for advancing to the PFC final for the first time in team history. Hopefully next year the boys will take the next step in the process.
  • Mark's Mini-Tune. They're the small engine specialists on Hill Avenue. They found me a replacement vacuum bag for my leaf blower for about half of what an online supplier wanted me to pay.


  • U of R Men's basketball team. The boys didn't show up for a scheduled interview Tuesday night, and there's been no word from them since. Not cool.
  • Randy Moss. Not only have two teams grown tired of his act already this season, but his lack of production is killing me in fantasy football!
  • Saskatchewan Roughriders' special teams (or lack thereof). This one's pretty self-explanatory. And repetitive.

Okay, your turn!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Locker Talk lineup for November 2

Here's what is happening on this week's show, to be broadcast in technicolour tonight at 9 p.m. and Thursday at 6 p.m. on Access channel 7.

Locker Talk Guests for November 2/10
Co-Host: Mitchell Blair

1. The LeBoldus Golden Suns capture another city 3A girls soccer championship. Dynasty ensues. Guests: Ben Leung (Head Coach), Adrianna McCullough & Celia Michaud (Players).

2. The Mustangs capture the Regina Minor Football pee wee division title. Guests: Darren Finkeldey (Head Coach) & Kai Finkeldey (Mustangs Player).

3. Our Man Carlo. Locker Talk sports movie reviewer Carlo Palazzo reviews another cinematic classic. This time: BASEketball

4. An update on the U of R women’s hockey team. Guests: Laura Olsen & Triston Riemer (Players).

5. The Blair Necessities. Mitch’s weekly sports commentary.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Monday musings

Let's start the week with a clean slate, so to speak:

  • The Saskatchewan Roughriders have now lost four in a row, with one game remaining in the regular season. Will the Riders rest some starters this week against Edmonton? I'm guessing not.
  • Many Rider fans have progressed from anger and disappointment to making jokes about the recent follies of their football heros. This is not a good sign.
  • Seriously, when your fan base is laughing at you, things are not going well.
  • Will the Riders turn things around in time to salvage the 2010 season? Crazier things have happened, although none come to mind immediately.
  • Some members of the Vancouver media refer to the Riders' (and formerly the Lions') fumble-prone kick returner as Ryan Grease-Mullins. Now that's a handle that fits.
  • The Rams, Thunder, Pats and Leafs all lost this weekend as well. Thank goodness for the Green Bay Packers, or I'd be thoroughly depressed!
  • Brett Favre is becoming the punch line in a very sad joke. Seriously Brett, it's time to walk away.
  • However, the thought of watching the Minnesota Vikings continue to stumble and bumble their way through the season doesn't exactly sadden me.
  • Hey Jerry Jones! Do you still think your Cowboys are going to play in their own Super Bowl this season?
  • Did you get many kids for Hallowe'en this year? 20 trick-or-treaters came calling at the Paczko estate this year. That's about half as many as last year. Anyone want some leftover candy?