The Riders are going to be without one of their on-field leaders for the first few games of 2009. Gene Makowsky suffered what is being called a torn MCL in his right knee when it was rolled up on during Tuesday's 27-19 pre-season loss to the Stampeders.
It means the team is now missing two of the hoggies that ended the season last year as Wayne Smith is done for the year after rupturing his achilles tendon before the season started. The Riders have tremendous depth on the 0-line, but they will be tested.
Make no doubt about it, the loss of Makowsky was the biggest loss of the evening. If you want more on the game and what was being said after, here's the story I wrote for Riderville.com.....
When both teams had their regulars in, I thought the Riders were right there with the defending Grey Cup champs. John Chick, Stevie Baggs, Keith Shologan, Hugh Charles and Darian Durant stood out in my mind. Chick put tremendous pressure on Henry Burris many times and ended any speculation that he might not have his starting job as one of the defensive ends. Baggs had two forced fumbles, a recovered fumble and a sack. Shologan was a force inside making one wonder if he could get the start ahead of Marcus Adams. Charles showed there won't be a tremendous drop-off when Wes Cates isn't in the lineup and Durant ended any talk of a quarterbacking controversy with a fine performance.
So the Riders finish the pre-season with a record of 0-2. For some, I'm sure there is a lot of concern, but I don't think there should be any. This team showed me last night that they will be fine. Are they the best team in the West??? No, I don't think they are. Are they the worst team in the West??? No, they are not. As was the case last year, the team that does the best against their Western opponents will likely finish first in the West and there isn't a lot to differentiate from top to bottom. What should be concerning to the Rider Nation is the season hasn't even started yet and Smith, Makowsky and Wes Cates are already out for the opener. That is not good.
Cuts will be made Thursday and then its time to start getting ready for the first game of 2009 which is a week from Friday against the Lions.
What was the bigger shocker on Tuesday. The fact Mike Babcock will coach the Canadian mens hockey team at the Vancouver Olympics or the fact Brent Sutter is the new coach of the Calgary Flames. Both were not a surprise. As a fan of the Oilers, the fact Sutter is coaching the Flames is a tough pill to swallow. There is a long ways to go before they drop the puck to start next season, but one has to think Calgary is the favourite to win the Northwest Division as it stands right now and be able to take a serious run at Lord Stanley's mug.
Ryne Sandberg is my favourite all-time ball player. The former Cubs 2nd baseman basically stating what many have already said in the wake of the Sammy Sosa testing positive for a performance enhancer story broke last week. Sandberg saying his former teammate does not deserve a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame because of the integrity issues associated with the steroids era. I agree wholeheartedly. It will be interesting over the next few years just what players who did play in the steroid era will get in. I would have to think Ken Griffey Junior won't have a problem getting in and either will Frank Thomas, but after that, I don't know. I still don't think "The Shaker" Lloyd Moseby will get in and I can't see Junior Felix or Ellis Valentine getting enough votes either. Who will get enough votes and what role if any did he have to play in the steroid era will dominate conversations on this topic for a number of years.
Yzerman, Leetch, Hull and Robitaille. Those four players and Lou Lamoriello are making up the class of 2009 for the Hockey Hall of Fame and one has to think this is the most talented group to ever go in together. The argument can be made that this group is better than the 2007 class that saw Mark Messier, Scott Stevens, Al McInnis and Ron Francis get enshrined. How about a 4 on 4 game with those guys when they were all in their prime. That would be a great contest!!
Gee, Brett Favre is coming back. What a surprise!!!! Word is he will be at Vikings training camp. Sorry Brett, you are now officially making a mockery of what has been a great career. I hope for your sake that your game against your old team at Lambeau goes the way you want it to. If you suck in that game, there will be no doubt in anyone's mind about your legacy being tarnished. Actually the way this story has nauseating kept going, I do hope the Packers deliver a good old fashioned schoolyard beating to the Vikings on that night.