Top Ten Tuesday – Welcome to 2016!

What a week in Saskatoon for grid iron fun. Both the Saskatoon Hilltops and University of Saskatchewan Huskies held their spring camps. Add to that the Saskatchewan Roughriders gearing up for today’s CFL draft and the WHL bantam selection and it has been a busy time. So in no particular order here is my take on the last seven days in ToonTown.

10 – Start with a tip of the cap to the organizers of the Dogs Breakfast. This year’s edition featured the CFL on TSN panel minus-Matt Dunigan, add Kerry Joseph. The panel concept was a definite change from what patrons experienced in the past but one that seemed well received. In the end the recruits were again welcomed to the program in a truly Saskatchewan Huskie tradition. The best description of this year’s event was provided to me from one recruit’s father who said this is like the Roughriders Plaza of Honour only better!

9 – Staying with the Huskies and 2016 is going to be a very interesting season. There are some younger players that are pushing for some playing time and going to make some tough decisions for the coaches. There are also some veteran players that look extremely determined to make a statement in Canada West.

8 – More football and the CFL draft will be held this evening. All eyes, for the moment, are on the Saskatchewan Roughriders who hold the top pick. With no second round selection there is some speculation the Riders will trade down, as there is no consensus first pick, to boost their number of draft picks. With that being said I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Riders keep the pick to add a player that they can plug into their line-up this summer.

7 – One more from the CFL and TSN and the league are certainly pumping the tires of the Argonauts move to BMO Field. I read an interesting article calling the most important for both Toronto F-C and the Boatmen is the groundskeeper who is tasked with keeping the natural grass surface in prime condition for both users. He admitted that there is a quarter-of-an-inch difference in grass height between football and soccer and the need for a specialized paint to help remove markings from both fields. On top of that a back-up field is being grown in Hamilton should things get out of hand. I think this is going to be scary!

6 – To hockey and TSN is certainly pushing their coverage of the World Championship like never before. The premise that Canada is the defending champions and Connor McDavid is wearing red and white, and projected Maple Leaf first-overall pick Auston Matthews is playing for the Americans, etc. are all being put at the top of their sports casts. It makes total sense! This is the only hockey that the Bell properties have this spring and knowing that their competition at Rogers are “taking one for the team,” in terms of revenue and ratings means that TSN can cash in. I’m curious if there will be any long-term ramifications or gains for TSN.

5 – Staying with the world championships and it’s amazing the microscope that Auston Matthews is under. Not only is he facing the best in the world but his every stride is being scrutinized but some in Toronto are already calling for the Leafs to pass on the centre, instead taking Finnish Forward Patrik Laine. I guess it’s status quo for the Phoenix prospect as that has been the case since he was 12.

4 – More hockey and how about the Tampa Bay Lightning and in particular General Manager Steve Yzerman? I’ll be honest I am one of many that have downplayed his role on selecting Team Canada for various international competitions, i.e. The Olympics. However, the job he has done with his Lightning getting them to the Eastern Confrence final has been remarkable. Consider his top prospect “quit,” hockey when he was demoted to the minors. His star centre and Head Coach do not see eye to eye. AND that centre has been out of the line-up for the entire play-offs thus far not to mention on of the team’s top defenceman. The job he has done assembling this squad is top drawer.

3 – Closer to home and I still scratch my head at the Western Hockey League’s off-season timing! Last week prior to the start of the Championship series the league held their bantam draft. While 10 of the 22 teams were able to make deals involving players on their list and roster the two teams still competing for a championship were essentially left out of the process as they cannot massage their line-up in order to accommodate the future. I’ve said it before and I will say it again the league needs to follow the Quebec Major Junior League’s model and hold their draft after the Memorial Cup. Oh yeah and it’s time to ditch the bantam draft and move to a midget draft so that drafted players can step into the line-up immediately.

2 – Staying with the WHL and I think I am not alone in questioning the league allowing player transactions through their post-season. Shawn Mullin, the Voice of The Swift Current Broncos, had the same question after a trade made yesterday. Hopefully, this practice can be curbed.

1 – Lastly, with the Toronto Blue Jays still sputtering at the plate has the time come for them to fish or cut bait with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion? The two pending free-agents don’t seem to be invested in the team as much as they are with themselves. The two need to be leaders and I’m not sure that they are. The next month in T.O. will be very telling for these two and their future with the Jays.