Dave’s Dis N Dat: Who’s The Boss? Troubles In Junior Hockey? AND How To Rebuild?

Well 2015 certainly started with a bang in ToonTown. Here’s a look back at the week that was:
Hello My Name Is… Yes that is definitely what is happening in the Saskatoon Blades dressing room this weekend.

The Blades this week moved two players to Junior A, traded four players and acquired five new players in their place. When the Voice of the Saskatoon Blades Les Lazaruk tweeted, “Traveling with @bladeshockey today for 1st time since they last played Saturday…4 trades and roster shuffles ago. #whosonthebusthatIknow,” he definitely had a point. It will be interesting to see how these pieces come together as a group and perform as the team has gone into a full-blown rebuild.

Making Your Mark… The Saskatoon Blades hired General Manager and Head Coach Bob Woods away from the Anahiem Ducks on June 2nd and he has wasted no time putting his stamp on the team. In seven months on the job Woods’ has engineered 18 trades involving 24 players and 20 draft picks as of last night.
Inside the numbers…. If you were to look deeper into those numbers the Blades have acquired 13 players and 11 draft picks. Meantime, the Bridge City Bunch have dealt away 11 players and 9 draft picks not including the players that they returned to Junior A, yesterday.

Big City Rebuilds… With the deals made this week with the Saskatoon Blades and the Regina Pats, Saskatchewan’s big citys, appear to have both committed to rebuilds albeit in differing manners. The Blades appear to be content to build through the draft with two picks in the first round of each of the next three Bantam drafts. Meanwhile, the Pats are basing their rebound around 16-year-old Sam Steel basing their trades around the youngster in hoping to be a contender within two years. Two different approaches time will only tell which one is more successful.

No moving… One of the stand-outs from the Canadian World Junior team was definitely Max Domi. Domi I thought was outstanding when he was here with London at the Memorial Cup in 2013. His stock only rose at the World Juniors but it doesn’t look as though the re-building London Knights will move forward as he is said to have a no-trade clause and appears to be unwilling to waive it.

Can’t Waive But Won’t Go… For the first time that I can recall the Western Hockey League voided a trade on Wednesday. The trade was voided when, then Kamloops defenceman, Josh Connolly refused to report to the Swift Current Broncos. Now keep in mind every situation is different, however, it appears from the outside looking in that more and more players are picking where they want to play. I get it your 16, 17, or maybe even 18 years old and being away from home for the first time is tough and smoothing that transition with familiar surroundings is a great idea. Unfortunately it is slippery slope if players are refusing to report to the smaller teams. Not sure that much can be done but it seems to becoming a bigger problem.

Who’s In Charge??? The one story line I didn’t touch on from the World Junior Championship on tournament is the matter of who the boss is when it comes to the tournament. If you ask Hockey Canada they will tell you that it is the International Ice Hockey Federation. However, with the millions of dollars that is generated for the IIHF when the tournament is held in our country there is little doubt that Hockey Canada has a big influence. Now when it comes to the broadcast at the games who is in charge? Case in point, TSN would dearly have loved to have the Canada-US preliminary round finale late on New Year’s Eve. Meantime, Hockey Canada wanted the game played early in order to allow them to get to Toronto earlier for the medal round. In the end, Hockey Canada got their way and the game was moved.

Who’s In Charge II?? How much control does Hockey Canada have? Consider that the CFL schedule revolves around TSN’s availability. I cannot think of any other group that would have that much pull over The Sports Network.

Junior Precedent? The return of Leon Draisaitl to the Western Hockey League from the Edmonton Oilers may be a scary precedent. The Oilers return the German centreman to the Raiders earlier this week with the stipulation that he be dealt by the Raiders to a contender and maybe even instructing the Raiders to send him to Kelowna. Don’t get me wrong the transaction in the end I think is a fair one but what had happened if the Rockets knowing that they were the only team in contention for his right’s that they decided to low-ball the offer? Then there may be a problem. Should the NHL be able to dictate when and where a prospects rights go?

On the grid iron… The Winnipeg Blue Bombers got a late Christmas gift this week. The team that desperately needs an upgrade along the offensive line landed Dominic Picard after he was released by the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Where’s Kent? That’s what media in Steeltown are asking after their General Manager and Head Coach, Kent Austin was overlooked as a candidate for the CFL’s coach of the year. Instead, Chris Jones, Tom Higgins and John Huffnagel will vy for the award at the CFL meetings next month.

Change at the top… Today is the last day on the job for Comissioner Mark Cohon. There is little doubt that the legacy he will leave is the return of the league to Ottawa as well as new stadiums in Hamilton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, a major renovation in B.C. and the start of construction of a new stadium for Saskatchewan. Yes more than half of the league will have new modern facilities. The lone mess that he leaves behind is in Toronto with an owner that wants out and has stripped down the franchise to bare bones for sale. It will be interesting to see how the situation evolves heading into a new campaign and leadership at the top.

Who will be large and in charge? For CFL fans that is the big question, who will succeed Cohon? To be truthful I am not sure that the league even knows. One person that I can guarantee that it won’t be is outgoing Rider President and CEO Jim Hopson. When asked if he would consider the opportunity he flatly rejected the notion quipping that if he wanted to stay working he would be crazy to leave the Riders. Don’t kid yourself, though, there are a number of CFL executives that have gone on record saying that they would love Mr. Hopson to tackle the position.

And that’s it for today!

Enjoy the weekend!

DT