A Festivus Top 10 Tuesday:

Merry Christmas,

What a year 2014 has been! Things are going to get a little light here over the holidays but don’t miss the top 10 Sports stories of the year.

Meantime, from the week that was here are my top 10 sporting thoughts in no particular order. Sorry no airing of grievances today.

10 – Welcome back? The Saskatoon Hilltops announced that Head Coach Tom Sargeant will return for an 18th season on the Saskatoon sidelines. His success is undisputable and his reputation around the football world is impeccable. When the time comes to fill his shoes at the helm of the Hilltops it is not going to be easy but for now the franchise is in good hands with Sarge in Charge for another season.

9 – Staying With The Program! One of the interesting comments made at yesterday’s news conference was retaining players for the full five years of eligibility with the Hilltops. One of the envies, expressed to me by more than one CJFL executive, of the Toppers is their ability to keep players for their full five years of junior eligibility. Let’s face it first year and second year Toppers very seldom will find playing time but their commitment to the program and hunger for that playing time is something that the organization has built a foundation around. Truly a next man up scenario!

8 – He said it! One more interesting note from the Hilltop news conference was Sarge’s comment that the Hilltops are the most successful football franchise in the country with a second going to Laval. Hard to argue the numbers on that one it was just an eye opener!

7 – J-Rich is back. The Saskatchewan Roughriders raised a few eyebrows yesterday with the signing of free-agent receiver Jamal Richardson. What he brings is size, reliable hands, confidence and another threat over the middle for Darian Durant and Jacques Chapdelaine’s offence, not to mention an ability to block. Numbers aside this sounds a lot like what Geroy Simon brought to the Championship Roughriders of 2013.

6 – No guarantees. All that being said it wouldn’t surprise me to never seen Richardson play a game for the Green and White. The team went through growing pains with Brett Swain, Ryan Smith and Chaz Schillens at slotback last year and I think that there was enough growth with the younger players to warrant them maintaining their spots on the roster. The begs the question would you play Richardson at wide receiver say in the spot of Taj Smith. Smith’s production was way down before a season ending collar bone break.

5 – How Times Have Changed! The signing of Richardson is the latest in a string of marquee players that now want to come to Saskatchewan. Let’s face it, it hasn’t always been that way. More to the point players are now campaigning through social media to come to the Riders, case in point check out Jerome Messam’s twitter feed.

4 – Politics in sport? I absolutely cannot stand when parents, players, team officials etc talk about politics in sport. I had an opportunity to speak with an executive with a sports body and he said, “politics in sports is just a way of justifying when something doesn’t go your way.” I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment but the naming of Curtis Lazar as captain for Team Canada’s World Junior entry has more to do with bargaining than politics. Lazar was, of course, made available for the tournament by the Ottawa Senators. Naming Lazar team captain makes him the front-person for this year’s team. Therfore the nation and perhaps more importantly are going to digest a lot of Lazar over the holidays. That promotion can’t be bought and in a market that is a budget team rather than a cap team extra exposure for their talent is huge. So, Hockey Canada more likely has said if you scratch our back we’ll scratch yours. Long story short no politics, just a recruiting tool. Sorry Josh Morrissey proponents. (Although he would have been a great choice as C, or an A)

3 – We the North? So have you bought into the hype surrounding the Toronto Raptors. I’ll be honesty show me the final three minutes of a game in less than 30 minutes and I will be all over it.

2 – Speaking of time. I love the way the NFL handles replays, here’s hoping the CFL can figure it out. When a play is under review the TV cuts to commercial to allow time for the command centre to review the play and come to a determination. Then they co-ordinate with the official on the field to make the ruling when they return from commercial. What a novel idea! Use the delay to play commercials and come back for the action. Come on TSN and CFL!

1 – Lastly, a thought for Neil Doef. The youngster was significantly injured in the World Junior A Hockey Challenge in Kindersley. Here’s hoping to a full recovery for the young man who from all indications was every bit as good a person off the ice as he was on it.

That will do for this week. From my family to yours Merry Christmas! Happy New Year and we will talk again soon!


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