Thursday, August 11, 2016

Chaos by the Creek returns to Regina . . . Victoria and Vancouver combine to bid on 2019 WJC

Grant me a few minutes for some editorial comment on some sporting news from Thursday. If you aren’t aware, I spent 17 years (1983-2000) at the Regina Leader-Post, the last 12 as sports editor.
Back in the day, the late Bob Hughes, the longtime sports editor of the Regina Leader-Post, would write about the Saskatchewan Roughriders using the placeline CHAOS-BY-THE-CREEK.
As the Roughriders stumbled and bumbled their way from one season to the next, not far from Wascana Creek, Hughes would write often about what he referred to as the Reign of Error and the
Perhaps the Saskatchewan Roughriders could purchase the
Regina Leader-Post building and turn it into a dormitory.

(Photo by Terry Massey)
Loyal Disorder of Rider Priders.
In those days, the Roughriders, a community-owned CFL team, were operated mostly by volunteers. As an organization, nobody seemed to know what they had there or, if they did, they didn’t know how to harness it.
In those days, they held telethons to save the team. Players, coaches, board members . . . they all appeared on camera and basically begged for alms to keep the team from sinking under the weight of its debt.
It wasn’t until 1989 when, under head coach John Gregory, the Roughriders won the Grey Cup — the team’s first since 1966 — that the province of Saskatchewan was covered in joy.
It was after that Grey Cup triumph that the Roughriders’ brand really took off — the Green Bay Packers of the CFL, they were called — until it became something that many NHL teams envied.
All of that came undone this week. There is no joy in Mudville now, only embarrassment. You can bet that Rider Nation is feeling green as members wonder why they keeping forking over the green if it is going to be spent in such a fashion.
Obviously, things are out of control in Regina where the Roughriders were fined $60,000 by the CFL and lost in excess of $26,000 from their 2016 salary cap for assorted roster violations (aka cheating).
According to the CFL, the Roughriders “were in violation of policies which prohibit practising with ineligible players, players participating in practice who are on the six-game injured list and having free agents practise with players who are under contract. Each of these actions constitute a violation of CFL bylaws.”
Justin Dunk of reported that the team was paying the extra players and had them staying in two Regina houses.
The Roughriders, you understand, didn’t get caught in some accidental mess. No. The amount of planning that will have had to go into this scheme would have been huge. A lot of thought will have been put into this program of cheating by the creek.
(Keep in mind that the Roughriders were fined $15,000 last week for violating the national/international ratio during a 40-27 loss to the visiting B.C. Lions on July 16.)
Also yesterday, Chris Jones, who is the general manager, head coach and vice-president of football operations, refused to take personnel department-related questions at a media briefing. Jones, who has complete control over the football operation, apparently will address these issues today (Friday).
Oh, it also was revealed Thursday that the team, which, remember, is community-owned, has started requiring fans to sign in if they hope to watch practice. It seems that team officials — please try not to laugh — feel someone “leaked” information to the Ottawa Redblacks prior to a July 22 game in Regina. Yes, the Roughriders, who are 1-5, won that game for their only victory this season. No jokes please. But next thing you know the Roughriders will be charging fans to watch practice.
Still, with a glorious, new taxpayer-funded stadium — one with which not all Saskatchewan citizens are enamoured — preparing for its opening, one might be excused for thinking the once-Jolly Green Giants might be at least a little concerned with public relations.
As it is, the CFL’s flagship franchise has turned into a national embarrassment in the seven months of Jones’ reign.
The likes of Al Ford, Phil Kershaw, Gregory, Dave Ridgway, Glen Suitor, Ray Elgaard, Bobby Jurasin, Dick Rendek, Don Narcisse, Roger Aldag, Bob Poley, Eddie Lowe, Tom Shepherd and so many others, along with the members of Rider Nation, deserve so much better.
(Check out this Hughes column right here, from Aug. 18, 1984.)
F Lauris Dārziņš (Kelowna, 2004-06) has signed a one-year extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). Last season, he had 10 goals and 18 assists in 59 games.
The Victoria Times Colonist reportsd on Thursday that “Victoria and Vancouver are putting together a joint bid for the 2019 world junior hockey championship.” . . . Hockey Canada has established an Aug. 31 deadline for bids, with a host city to be announced on Dec. 1. The 2019 WJC is to open on Dec. 26, 2018. . . . Edmonton, with a brand new arena, is expected to bid, while the Ontario cities of London and Windsor may combine on a joint bid. . . . According to the Times Colonist, “The B.C. bid would see preliminary pool games played at Victoria’s Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre and at Vancouver venues, with the semifinals and final in Vancouver, likely at Pacific Coliseum or Rogers Arena.” . . . This combined bid likely means neither the Vancouver Giants nor the Victoria Royals will make a bid on the 2018 Memorial Cup. To date, the Regina Pats are the only WHL team to have said they will bid to play host the tournament that will celebrate the Memorial Cup’s 100th anniversary. . . . The Times Colonist story is right here.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes have scheduled their annual general meeting of shareholders for Sept. 19. A year ago, the franchise was in disarray, with Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, having
recommended that shareholders sell the franchise, and the shareholders, in turn, voting not to do that. After a successful 2015-16, the Hurricanes are expected to announce a profit at the annual meeting. One would assume that general manager Peter Anholt, who guided the franchise to and then through last season, will be granted at least one standing ovation. . . . At the AGM, the shareholders will bid farewell to board members Rick Braden, Dave Olson and Blair Sanderson. . . . And, hey, if you have ever wanted to own a piece of a major junior team, here’s a note from the Hurricanes: “If you’re not a shareholder, but would like to become one, individual shares are available for purchase for $100 at the Hurricanes office located at the ENMAX Centre. Shares purchased prior to Aug. 29 will be put forth for approval at the next board of directors meeting on that date.”
F Casey Pierro-Zabotel, a former WHL scoring champion, has signed a one-year deal with the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles. Pierro-Zabotel, 27, helped the Allen Americans to the ECHL title last season, picking up 47 points in 58 regular-season games and adding 16 more in 24 playoff games. . . . He led the WHL in assists (79) and points (115) in 2008-09.
The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs fired general manager Darrell Young on Thursday. In a news release, president Trevor Georgie, who has taken over as GM on an interim basis, said only that “we have decided to part ways with Darrell Young and wish him well in his future endeavours.” . . . Danny Flynn is the Sea Dogs’ head coach; he is a former GM of the Moncton Wildcats. . . . Young had been the Saint John GM since March 1, 2014.

The BCHL has confirmed that the Cowichan Valley Capitals have a new majority owner. Ray Zhang, who is from Beijing, has taken over the franchise in a deal that concluded last week. . . . “This transaction is the first time someone from China has purchased an overseas hockey franchise,” Zhang said in a BCHL news release.“It will open a door for hockey families in China to learn about Canadian hockey first hand. This link to Canadian hockey will prove valuable to encourage all of our young hockey players in China.” . . . Zhang and his family will be moving to Duncan. A source has told Taking Note that there almost certainly will be a Zhang on the Capitals’ roster this season.
As you may be aware, Vin Scully is into his final season as a play-by-play voice for baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers. To settle in for an evening of listening to him is to spend time in sporting heaven. The other day he enlightened his viewing audience with a story about how he came to know of the bombing of Pearl Harbour. This, friends, is Vin Scully at his best and it’s right here.
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Coaching Game
The senior Lacombe Generals have brought in a pair of former WHLers as their coaches. Curtis Austring, 33, will be the head coach, with Ken Richardson as the assistant. . . . Austring, from Stewart Valley, Sask., played four seasons in the WHL (Kamloops, Regina, Medicine Hat, 1999-2003). Austring played four seasons at the U of Saskatchewan and has spent the past eight seasons playing for the Generals. . . . Richardson, 43, is from Peace River, Alta. He played with Regina and Red Deer (1991-94). . . The Generals are preparing for their first season in Lacombe, after relocating from Bentley. They are the reigning Allan Cup champions.

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