Another 10 Thoughts On A Tuesday Morning

It’s another early-week look at my musings from the world of sports.

10 – The Saskatoon Blades appear to be poised to announce the future of their hockey operations staff today. For whatever reason the new Blades ownership cooled their heels over the weekend and decided not to make their announcement on Friday afternoon, as was anticipated. There is lots of speculation from a minor to a major shake-up, I will allow you to speculate what you think will/should happen.

9 – Staying with the WHL and how many people were cheering for overtime in game one of the Prince Albert Raiders/Edmonton Oil King series? If you missed it due to arena availability the WHL amended its’ overtime format to include a shootout after one overtime session on Saturday afternoon, in order to follow NHL protocol of having an ice surface free for 3 hours prior to a game. Fortunately the point became moot when the home-town Oil Kings scored a 5-3 regulation win at Rexal Place. That having been said doesn’t the entire situation wreak of inequality? What if the game was to be held in Prince Albert, Regina, Brandon, Medicine Hat, etc. basically, anywhere but the third biggest market in the WHL? My bet is that the game is moved to a different day OR moved out of the city entirely, i.e. Brandon playing in Dauphin later this month. Something to ponder and consider is that the league would put its’ integrity on the line in order to accommodate one franchise out of 22.

8 – At the other end of the spectrum was the 2014 Potash Corp University Cup presented by Co-op. It was a great event that chairman Grant Cook and the rest of the organizers should be proud of. While the flawed tournament format still needs to be reconsidered by the CIS, there was nothing flawed about the events execution. The only improvement would be for the home team to win, but putting 41,000+ into the seats at Credit Union Centre in 4 days is a great achievement.

7 – Now the question is will those positive feelings be parlayed into a new hockey facility for the University. The U of S is in the midst of a big attempt to trim their budget and the timing may be off. However, others will argue that the timing has never been better! With the run to the national final championship game for the men’s Huskies and the ladies team winning Canada West for the first time there is definitely a very positive vibe surrounding the programs. Couple that with Minor Hockey’s desperate need for ice in the city and the partnership would seem very natural to get the facility built. Heck with the outstanding atmosphere created over the tournament it would be a shame to see that momentum halted.

6 – Speaking of atmosphere, one of the most fun games in a long time at Credit Union Centre (Memorial Cup included) may have been the 9-thousand-plus fans that squeezed into C-U-C on Friday night. Where did they go come the weekend and why isn’t that atmosphere there game in and game out? Firstly I will admit that discounted student tickets were given away for the Friday evening contest. The same offer was not extended on Saturday and Sunday but ticket price may not be the only factor. Speaking with some fans from Alberta they echoed what many in Saskatoon may be thinking but not necessarily saying about C-U-C which may be affecting event attendance. Among the concerns; Parking (Tough to get in and out of the facility), unfortunately there is not a lot that can be done but strides have been made to ease the situation. Maneuvering through the concourse, yes especially when events fill the area with various display booths etc. it can be and is frustrating. In stadium concessions, personally I have no problem with what is offered at C-U-C as I am there for the popcorn, a beer and that’s about it. However, those I spoke with were in disbelief that there was not a Tim Horton’s or a chain restaurant of some sort or even a dining area inside the facility. It was pointed out to me that the quick turn-around between the Alberta/McGill overtime game on Saturday and the Huskie/Windsor game that night left some clamouring for nourishment. It was also mentioned that if there were such amenities it may alleviate traffic congestion as many would arrive early to eat and stay late to socialize. I don’t know about you but some interesting points to ponder.

6 – One more from the University Cup and if there is one player that I feel especially bad for following Saskatchewan’s loss to Alberta on Sunday was Derek Hulak. The young man that I have had the privilege of being around for the last 7 or 8 years put the team on his back and did everything that he could to deliver the championship-starved Saskatoon fan base a trophy.  Even more impressive than his performance on the ice is his dedication to the program, his team mates and the city of Saskatoon. When a star player is tweeting encouraging fans to come out to the event you know that he gets it! Hulak is now looking towards a pro career and I can’t help but to wish him the very best.

5 – And one more from Credit Union Centre and is it just me or might there be a jinx in the building itself? Yes I am a superstitions person and the unlucky streak for the building was pointed out to me on the weekend. For example, two Memorial Cup tournaments 0 titles, numerous Briers 0 Saskatchewan Championships, the last World Juniors and Canada fell to the Americans in the final, and then come full circle to the University Cup championship and the event has been staged at Saskatchewan Place has hosted the tournament 5 times with 0 titles for the U of S.

4 – Back to the WHL and I scratch my heads over the actions of the Regina Pats this past week. First in the lead up to their opening play-off game with Brandon the league closed their practice to the media. (A violation of the league’s media policy) I know that a number of Pats are nursing injuries but if you can’t have confidence in your own media to not report “off-the record” material you have a serious problem with your working relationship. Additionally, I have heard the Pats speak openly about how they feel slighted by the media’s attention to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Queen City. The play-offs are the time for the team to shine in the public’s eye but for whatever reason the Pats elected to close out the best promotional tool that they have at their disposal.

3 – Part two of the Regina Pats This Week…. And in addition to shutting out the media from practice the team took it a step further not releasing their line-up and starters until moments before face-off on Saturday. This to me is another shot at the media. Having broadcast more than 400 games in the WHL, having a team’s line-up available to me 60 minutes prior to puck drop is an invaluable tool to allow me to continue my preparation for the game and ensure that I produce a quality product on the air and make adjustments to any story lines that may arise from line-up changes. This practice is generally accepted if not seemingly encouraged in the Prairie Football Conference but the perceived deception of the “other team” is truly trumped by the media’s inability to promote your product through story telling which ultimately connects fans with their team. All I can do is shake my head!

2 – To the pebbled ice and it’s going to be a long summer for Rachel Homan’s Canadian foursome. Leading after five she imploded in the final five at the World Women’s Championship game in New Brunswick on Sunday. Some experts are saying that the loss came at a good time for the young foursome from the Ottawa region. Homan’s crew breezed through the Scotties with an undefeated record and some adversity will only make them better according to some observers. Time will obviously tell.

1 – And speaking of a changing of the times in Alberta. Reports on the weekend indicate that Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert will be leaving their familiar Kevin Martin team to join up with Alberta rival Kevin Koe. What makes this especially interesting is that Koe is the reigning Canadian champion and is getting set to head to China for the World Championship, so it doesn’t seem like a good time to rock the boat. Additionally, by virtue of a new format Koe is the only team that will be guaranteed a spot in the Brier next year. So where does that leave his current team mates? This has disaster written all over it considering the team is set to compete next week. Not to mention, the question will have to be asked who will get to wear the Team Canada jersey at next year’s Brier if more than half of the Koe team is gone?

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