This is just not a good time to be sports fan.
- Football is still 2 months away
- The NHL playoffs haven’t started yet
- Baseball just started up again (not that anyone cares) meaning the countdown is on until the Blue Jays are officially eliminated form postseason contention sometime next month (roughly 6,412 games into the regular season)
- If you’re like most people, the NCAA tournament hasn’t mattered for weeks now since the Final Four you picked were all eliminated by the 2nd round.
- And even though we are doing well, Men’s World Curling Championships are barely worth watching since it's just Kevin Martin and co. utterly embarrassing the amateur curlers the rest of the world has sent. I’m waiting for Johnny Mo to start wearing a blindfold just to try and make things somewhat challenging for himself.
All this leaves me trying to turn the 2 or 3 tiny snippets of CFL news into a post that’s worth reading. As you’ll see, I only moderately succeeded in this venture. But you've made it this far so you might as well hang in there now.
The big Rider news was of course the signing of rookie Jonathan St. Pierre. We drafted St. Pierre last year in the 2nd round with a pick we acquired from Edmonton in the Jyles/Perry trade. He was considered to be one of the top college prospects at centre this year. However, odds were slim of him being selected in the NFL draft so he opted to sign with the Riders rather than try and catch on as a free agent in the NFL.
A big part of that decision likely had to do with the contract the Riders offered. It is a 3 years plus an option deal that is reportedly one of the biggest contracts ever offered to a Canadian rookie. The contract is structured so that St-Pierre gets a $10,000 signing bonus and a $48,000 salary this year. The salary will increase each season and by the final year of the deal he will be making around $70,000. While it’s more money upfront than normal, if he develops into the next Jeremy O’Day as the coaches are hoping, $70K could end up being a steal of a deal 2-3 years down the road.
In other CFL news, the plan to build a new stadium in Winnipeg has been made official. The new 30,000 person stadium is slated to open in 2011. As per the deal, David Aspers becomes the new team owner and will also acquire the old Canadinns Stadium site in return for investing $100 million into the new stadium. While this is great news for the Blue Bombers and the CFL as a whole, one thing doesn’t sit right with me… the price tag. The stadium is apparently going to cost only $140 million. That’s surprising given that we’ve been told a new stadium here would run in the $250 – 350 million range. What are they building this thing out of? Lego? Recycled concrete? Shredded Chinese newspaper and expired glue? Then again, I guess you can cut some corners in construction when your structure only has to be strong enough to support the weight of 37 fans. Unless the residents of Saskatchewan have been blatantly lied to, I see this project having only 2 possible endings… 1 – it will end up being way over budget due to “rising construction costs” or 2 – a catastrophic structural collapse killing all of the aforementioned 37 Bomber fans (not that that would be a huge loss to society).
Of course this news has re-ignited debate over a new stadium for Saskatchewan. While I do think we will eventually get one, Manitoba had one big advantage over us when it came to making a new stadium a reality… a big private investor. Given that we currently lack one of those, our best bet is to follow the model Springfield used when they opened Duff Beer Krusty Burger Buzz Cola Costington's Department Store Kwik-E-Mart Stupid Flanders Park and amass a bunch a smaller private investors. The Saskatchewan equivalent could be the Wisers Whiskey Milkyway Empire Hotel Hillbilly Vac Shack Rider Prophet Media Source Adult Video Stupid Michael Bishop Stadium.
CFL Ins and Outs
In: OL Todd Londot, OL Dan Oliphant (free agent signing)
Anyone else get a chuckle out of an O-lineman whose name sounds a lot like elephant?
In: DB Jerald Brown
Brown is another “superstar” of the AFL who ventured north looking for a pay cheque when the AFL went on hiatus… expect him to accomplish nothing up here and return to the AFL next season when they start back up to resume his “superstar” career.
Out: RB Rodney Kinlaw (cut)
At first I thought the hiring of Mike Kelley would be a great move by the Bombers, then he willingly acquired James Johnson and I started having my doubts. Then he claimed that he would not cut Kevin Glenn rather than pay his bonus and my doubt increased. Then he started replacing his all-star linemen with the Riders back-ups and my skepticism was pretty much cemented. Now he releases Kinlaw who he just signed back in February. His work thus far reminds me a lot of his previous boss Danny Maciocia… and we all know how well that one is going for the Eskimos.
In: Baron Miles (contract extension)
Miles was rumoured to be on the chopping block back in January so I’m guessing this extension constitutes a pay cut, despite the fact that he has been one of the top safeties over the past few seasons. Wally Buono is about as willing to spend big on aging veterans as the Riders are.
In: DE Fernand Kashama (free agent signing)
His brother already plays for the Stamps… in other news I put next to zero effort in writing something interesting about this move.
In: Anthony Malbrough (trade with Winnipeg)
Out: RB Damien Anderson (cut)
Edmonton’s secondary wasn’t that good to begin with and this offseason they’ve added Scott Gordon and Anthony Malbrough… that’s atrocious. This will be the ultimate test for Richie Hall’s coaching abilities… though I guess to be fair the Gordon/James Johnson combo Hall previously had to deal with was no better.