Monday, March 20, 2017

Something To "Mitch" About

ITS REAL NOW -  The Regina Pats have concluded the best regular season they have ever had.  I think many people knew when this team left the ice after a tough Game 7 loss at the hands of the Red Deer Rebels in last year's playoffs that they would be back and be a powerhouse, but did we think a 52 win season?

The energy at the Brandt Centre is off the chart as was evidenced at Friday's home finale against the Brandon Wheat Kings.  Regina hockey fans are feeling a level of excitement they haven't been at in years. Dare I say it, it hasn't been like this since I graduated in 1984 when Regina played Kamloops in what was a heartbreaking final.

If the energy is off the chart now, what is it going to be like next Friday night when the doors open at 6 and people start filing in for Game 1 against the Calgary Hitmen.  I am sure there will be a nervous sense of anticipation as it is any playoff year, but the Pats are heavily favoured and for good reason.  I don't think the target on their back gets any bigger, but they will have pressure on their shoulders.

While the fortunes of this team have increased tenfold since Anthony Marquart and his Queen City Sports and Entertainment Group took over, the reason for this renaissance in Regina junior hockey can be traced back to one person.

Image result for john paddock

Would this team be where they are at right now if it wasn't for John Paddock?  I say the answer is no! I will be the first to admit I didn't know what was going on when the Pats were about to begin training camp in August of 2014 and they had just hired the former coach of the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators who had just been released by the Philadelphia Flyers organization. I don't think he knew the names of the players when he came in much less the staff he would be working with. Yes, I think it took him a while to get acclamated, but he came in with a plan and so far it has worked.  Rob Vanstone's article in the Leader-Post Saturday accurately depicts what Paddock has done and is doing to turn the fortunes of this team around. 

Does it relate to Adam Brooks being presented with the Ed Chynoweth Cup in a couple of months time? A lot of hockey has to be played between now and then, but if all works out, don't be surprised.  That being said Moose Jaw, Medicine Hat, Swift Current and whoever comes out of the West will be no pushover so Regina will have to be at the top of their game. If Friday was any indication, they are!


 On Sunday afternoon, I got a tour of Mosaic Stadium.  I had been on one after the keys were handed over to the city and I was there when the Rams played the Huskies in the first ever event at the new digs.  On both of those occasions, work was being done on the place. That work has been done!  Amazing doesn't even start to describe it.   The picture above is of the reception area to the team offices. More can be found if you keep going down.

On the night the Riders played their last game at Mosaic Stadium 1.0, I was with the Rams in Winnipeg in what was my first visit to Investors Group Field.  This place has that place beat and then some and IGF is a tremendous stadium as well.   On the night Canada officially turns 150 years old, a new chapter in Saskatchewan Roughrider football will begin when play starts at the Riders new home.  What the 33-thousand in attendance will experience on that night and what those who have had to deal with less than ideal conditions over the past number of years will have at their disposal now is jaw-dropping.

Player meeting rooms 

The offensive linemen's room where legends are remembered. It's like this in every room!

This guy isn't forgotten----nor should he be

Same with this guy!

 The staircase which leads from the players entrance to the dressing/meeting room facilities

The entrance to the Riders dressing room

The Riders dressing room----just a bit better from what they had!

There are so many things about this place I just love and can't get over. I think the biggest is the fact the team is honouring its greatest players. Imagine some wet behind the ears rookie coming into Saskatchewan and seeing the names on the wall and what they have accomplished while representing the /=S=/.  Hopefully, they will aspire to the point that they too want their name up on that wall one day whether it be as one of the all-time greats or a Grey Cup champion. 

 What Craig Reynolds and his group have done over the past number of years to give you and themselves a shiny new toy is a credit to himself, the organization and Rider Nation. Without all 3, Saskatchewan football fans wouldn't have what they are about to get.

  I don't know if the team is giving to give public tours of the facility before the season starts so you can see this stuff with your own two eyes, but impressive doesn't even begin to describe it.  This team went to several pro and college stadiums and got many ideas to mix in with the ones they had to give you what you are seeing.  They have turned over every stone they could to give what might be one of the best facilities in football including the NCAA and NFL. It isn't like what Jerry Jones has for the Cowboys in Dallas, but that complex could basically house a college and a high school team and football in Texas is life.

  Make no doubt about it, a state of the art facility doesn't guarantee wins and a lot of work needs to be done by the players and the coaches in year 2 of the Chris Jones era.  If what we saw Sundaycould translate into on-field performance, just book the parade now!

ITS TIME FOR CFL WEEK -  The tour comes just hours before the CFL sets up shop in the Queen City in the first (and hopefully not the last CFL week).  The access to CFL'ers will never be greater from players to coaches to GM's.  It should be a fun few days as we see the established stars and the up and coming ones doing their thing at the combine. Enjoy!

ISN'T IT IRONIC!!! - The US national womens hockey team continues its protest against USA Hockey. They say they want many things like what the Canadian team has which includes TV coverage. USA Hockey says Hockey Canada's contract includes TV coverage for many games.  This is true. It comes despite the fact not many show up at games.  UBC complained this week that Sportsnet which is showing the mens hockey semi-finals and finals while doing a great job with basketball last weekend decided to forgo bringing the women's national final to the network citing many things including lack of marketing and crowds.  

I can't argue that, but SNET should be doing all or as many University championships as they can. For what its worth, I didn't see arguments coming from volleyball over the fact SNET didn't do their championships this weekend.  It also brings up the argument as to why CBC simply isn't doing these and that is a valid point. CBC could do a lot better with weekend sports programming and University sports, no matter the one, could fill that void.

THE NEW HAWKS? - I had to laugh on Saturday when the Hockey Night in Canada guys were talking about Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner being the new Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane saying the Leafs are built like the Hawks when they started their championship run---one that could continue this year.  The reason I laughed is because a Leafs fan told me the same thing about 48 hours previous.  No doubt Matthews and Marner are going to lead Toronto to the playoffs if not this year then next, but the difference is still vast.

The Leafs only have one marquee defenceman--Morgan Rielly.  Chicago has Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.  Chicago had grit guys like Versteeg, Byfuglien, Brouwer and Ladd.  Toronto doesn't have that. Not yet!

VOTE ITUNA -  Saskatchewan has never had a winner in the Kraft Hockeyville contest.  To my knowledge, they haven't even had a town be a finalist.  That has changed with Ituna being named as the Western rep for the final ballot.  You have until 10 o'clock Monday night to vote.  Do so right here.  Cmon Saskatchewan!

MARCH MADNESS -  Madness indeed.  My bracket was looking great after the round of 64. I went 29-3. That being said, I only have 11 of the 16 remaining teams and Duke was one of my final four with them getting all the way to the final before being ousted by North Carolina. At least the Tarheels are still there, and so is Michigan!! By the way, ESPN had 18 million brackets filled out and only 18 have all 16 remaining teams left.

?????? -   Who thought this was a good idea?  Who? WHO???

I don't want to know where this slide starts!

That's all I got.  Enjoy CFL Week everyone!  Between it and Pats playoff action, Evraz Place will be the place to be. See ya there!


Anonymous said...

The fun starts for the Pats now. No bottom feeders like PA to hammer on anymore. Still not sold on Regina's goaltending. The 3 and 4 lines will need to start contributing because the top 6 will not be seeing the space they have had. I am guessing BC will be ready to rock this weekend. I'll be there!

Terry C

Anonymous said...

From the pics I have seen from you and others, that dressing room is great, but its too big. Can you get everyone together to deliver the message that needs to be given? Are other rooms this spacious? Perhaps they went a little overboard in that area.

Anonymous said...

You don't know if there are public tours? There should be before training camp starts! If there isn't, someone is making a huge mistake over there. Fans deserve to see this up close just the way you guys are.

Anonymous said...

The problems that most teams face against the Pats is they don't have much more than "one" good line, let alone two. The defence on most teams does not even come close to staking up. Brown has been one of the top goalies in the league in the last month and a half. The coaching would appear to be top drawer. medicine Hat will win the Central but neither their goaltending or defence can match the Pats. The Pats will likely win the Eastern Conference. It's the Western Conference that will be the biggest concern.

Anonymous said...

First anon the fun starts now for everyone in the playoffs, not just the Pats. No bottom feeders for anyone to play anymore, again not just the Pats. These comments about the Pats getting all there wins against bottom feeders is ridiculous, every team in their division played the weaker teams the same amount of times as well as the good teams but their win total was not close to the Pats. The Pats deserve credit for a hell of a season and this comment from you and others about them beating weaker teams is ridiculous. Yes they have beat the weaker teams because they should but they also beat a lot of good teams along the way.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to tell me the need for a barber chair! That's ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

Talk about night and day!

Anonymous said...

Talent starts at the top.

I am guessing Paddock could have gotten the Pats to the playoffs with Eberle and Tubert.