Alberta Sports News

Edmonton Oilers expected to announce assistant coaching staff

Edmonton Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 21:21

Familiarity does breed content, certainly with head coaches and assistants.

It also helps that they’re good at their jobs, of course.

But there’s always a certain symmetry between head coach and assistant hires, which is why Trent Yawney, Glen Gulutzan and Manny Viveiros will likely be announced Friday as Todd McLellan’s three new Wise Men after former assistants Jay Woodcroft, Jim Johnson and Ian Herbers moved on after three seasons.

It’s not known how long the new contracts will be, but McLellan has two years left on his five-year, $15-million deal.

Yawney, who played junior with McLellan in Saskatoon and later was on his San Jose Sharks’ staff for three years, interviewed for the Anaheim head-coaching job in 2016 but lost out to Randy Carlyle when Bruce Boudreau was fired. He stayed on Carlyle’s staff for two years, looking after the defence and penalty kill, until his contract wasn’t renewed and they brought up farm assistant Marty Wilford.

Yawney did a nice job with Cam Fowler and Josh Manson on defence and the Ducks PK was fifth, perhaps skewed a bit because they had great face-off guys.

Gulutzan, who could take over the Oilers forwards here, the same job he had as Willie Desjardins’ right-hand man with the Vancouver Canucks, knocked heads with McLellan during the Battle of Alberta as Calgary’s head man for two years.

Gulutzan had a good relationship with the kids in Vancouver, striking up a friendship with Brock Boeser at development camp, and also related well to Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau in Calgary.

The Swift Current Broncos head coach, Viveiros, is the outlier.

An NHL newbie at 52, but somebody who dazzled in the WHL in Prince Albert against McLellan and Yawney in the early 80s. He racked up 289 points as a small, puck-moving defenceman over a three-year span which saw him get drafted by the Oilers in 1984. He could look after the baffling Oilers power play which went from 11th (22.9 per cent) to 31st (14.8 per cent) this season, something Woodcroft looked after being moving to Bakersfield.

Swift Current Broncos head Coach Manny Viveiros watches an instant replay during a game against the Regina Pats at the Brandt Centre in Regina. Brandon Harder / Postmedia

The two former NHL head coaches (Yawney in Chicago and Gulutzan) will help McLellan bounce things off. They are two guys who know the pressure of being the guy in charge.

“Trent left me in San Jose because he wanted to be a head coach again (Syracuse and Norfolk in AHL),” said McLellan shortly after his Oilers staff was disbanded at season’s end.

And the third Oilers hire Viveiros, who has a house in St. Albert?

He’s been dealing with kids in junior so it shouldn’t be an adjustment to come to the NHL with players in their early 20s.

“Great guy. Players coach,” said Tri-City Americans long-time GM Bob Tory. “He was a highly skilled D-man and highly respected on our Memorial Cup team in Prince Albert in 1985 with coach Terry Simpson. He spent time in Europe refining and has done a good job in Swift.”

Craig MacTavish takes in Memorial Cup

Oilers VP of hockey ops Craig MacTavish watched the round-robin part of the Memorial Cup in Regina and was highly impressed with Acadie-Bathurst draft prospect, right-shot defenceman Noah Dobson and Regina Pats captain Sam Steel, the Sherwood Park centre, who belongs to Anaheim.

On Dobson, whom they would love to take but probably won’t be there when the Oilers pick 10th at the draft; “He’s very good, moves really well, there’s a very good package there.”

On Steel, who leads the Memorial Cup in points; “Dynamic guy who is producing at the most critical times, a huge attribute. He’s got high-speed skill and is trying to be a difference-maker, a good quality.”

On Oiler free-agent signing, Regina Pats winger Cameron Hebig, who’ll play in Bakersfield; “There’s things to fine-tune going to the pro game but he’s productive playing on the line with Steel and (Nick) Henry. He’s got a very valuable aspect; he can put the puck in the net.”

Oilers draft pick, goalie Stuart Skinner, who got Swift Current to the Memorial Cup; “They had two seven-game series and two sixes and that’s 26 games with lots of overtimes. I think the whole team ran out of gas. Stuart was a one-man wrecking machine in the 2-1 loss to Hamilton, keeping his team in it. His hands are improving, he’s catching more pucks, getting his blocker on them more than I’ve seen.”

Oilers free-agent signing, defenceman Joel Persson, staying in Sweden after signing a one-year contract; “I think he wants to flow seamlessly into the NHL so thinks another year over there will help. He’ll mature and get stronger. It worked really well last season with (William) Lagesson when he played over there in Djurgardens.”

This ’n that: Persson may not come over to the prospects camp after the NHL draft because it’s for juniors not pros but he could be at main camp in September for awhile before returning to Vaxjo … Tory on Dobson; “He’s a stud. The Oilers should try and trade up (from 10).”

E-mail: jmatheson@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @NHLbyMatty

Sean Chu sues ex-wife over unpaid $100,000

Calgary Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 21:15

Calgary Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu is taking his ex-wife to court.

Chu, through lawyer and former justice minister Jonathan Denis, filed a statement of claim Wednesday seeking $100,000 plus interest over what he says is an unpaid promissory note.

The statement of claim, a copy of which was obtained by Postmedia on Thursday, says Karen Powell issued the promissory note to Chu on Dec. 11, 2008, “for good and valuable consideration received.”

“As a term of the promissory note the defendant agreed to pay interest at the rate of 4 per cent per annum compounded annually until the sum plus accrued interest is paid, such final payment being made on or before the tenth anniversary of the execution of the promissory note,” it says.

“Despite numerous demands of the plaintiff, the defendant has failed and/or neglected to make any payment under the promissory note as she had agreed.”

As a further condition of the note, Powell agreed to pledge her interest in a Douglas Ridge Circle S.E. home as security for payment, the lawsuit states.

Along with a judgment of $100,000, Chu is seeking interest at 4 per cent compounded annually over the unpaid amount.

When contacted by Postmedia, Denis said the case was a private matrimonial matter.

“This is a private matter between him and his former spouse,” Denis said.

Chu would have been a member of the Calgary Police Service at the time of the alleged agreement with Powell.

A statement of defence disputing the unproven allegations in Chu’s claim has not been filed.

KMartin@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @KMartinCourts

Turner finds the ‘fun’ in season-ending injury

Calgary Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 21:12

When athletes describe the experience of recovering from a serious injury, ‘fun’ is not generally a word they use.

Ask Calgary Stampeders defensive tackle Junior Turner about the process of recovering from a season-ending leg injury he suffered in last year’s Labour Day Replay, though, and ‘fun’ is what he goes with.

“Yeah, I think it was fun,” Turner said this week from Stamps training camp at McMahon Stadium. “Everything in life, you learn from every experience. That’s the way I look at everything, and I thought this time around was a positive experience and I grew as a person.

“So yeah, it was a fun journey.”

Turner was only able to play four games last year before going down in the early-September game against the Edmonton Eskimos, but he was back and ready for Day 1 of training camp this season and is looking like he’ll have a big part to play on a dangerous-looking defensive line.

daustin@postmedia.com

http://www.twitter.com/DannyAustin_9

Harry Ainaly star athlete Ajou Ajou sets provincial high jump record

Edmonton Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 20:43

It was a decision Ajou Ajou knew he needed to make on his own.

He’s had a dream of earning an college athletic scholarship since he was young and wanted to give himself the best chance to do that.

That meant leaving his mom and siblings back home in Brooks to come to Edmonton. But ever since he’s started wearing the colours of the Harry Ainlay Titans, he’s been making a big name for himself.

Ajou was a big part in leading the Titans to a provincial football championship and then followed it up with a provincial basketball championship. Now, he’s trying to become a provincial champion high jumper.

On Thursday at the 2018 high school Edmonton zone championships at Foote Field, Ajou not only smashed the 38-year-old zone record set of 1.94 metres, he also set a new provincial record of 2.02 metres.

Ajou Ajou 1st in high jump and breaking @ASAA record with a jump of 2.02 @metro_athletics pic.twitter.com/O7L1wRP1GM

— Titans Athletics (@titansathletics) May 24, 2018

His high-flying skills had everyone abuzz at Foote Field.

Now, he will try to earn his third provincial title next weekend at the 2018 ASAA provincials in Red Deer.

“Brooks is a small town. I was a big fish in a little pond and I wanted to come here and do my work and show that I can be a big fish in a big pond,” said Ajou, who had a large contingent of his Ainlay football and basketball teammates supporting his record-breaking moment. “When I get a crowd, I know it’s my time to go off and shine and show these people what I’m about.”

Ajou’s decision to leave his mom and siblings back home to pursue bigger athletic opportunities hasn’t been an easy one, but he knows all about hard work and sacrifice. He’s learned those traits through from his mother.

“It was all my decision. I told my mom, I need to make it out of here. I’m not going to get the same opportunities. She’s supported me all the way, and right now, my decision is paying off,” said Ajou. “My mom was the one who taught me the meaning of hard work. She’s taught me everything. I’m doing this for her.

“She’s so happy. She just keeps telling me to not doing anything stupid. Don’t hang out with the wrong people and keep doing your thing. I just keep telling her, I’ve got you mom.”

Being raised by a single mom, Ajou learned the value of hard work early on. For the past 11 years, his mother has worked at JBS meat packing plant to support him and his four siblings.

Ajou takes that same mentality whether he’s on the football field running routes as a wide receiver, on the court shooting a pull up jumper or as a high jumper for Harry Ainlay.

His whole focus is earning an athletic scholarship in the near future.

“I want to earn my scholarship, I want to make it for her. She’s worked so hard to support us and take care of us,” said Ajou. “It’s been hard. I get homesick, but I’m here for a reason, and I know what I need to do.”

Ajou’s getting loads of recognition in football and basketball, two sports he’s played for several years.

He’s only getting started in high jump. His record-breaking performance was the first-time he ever jumped with spikes on.

“I love coaching kids like him. Not just because they’re so naturally gifted, but because he works so hard. He always wants to be better. Every jump he attempts, he wants to do it with the purpose of breaking records,” said Titans head coach Patrick Powell. “Athletically, he’s so gifted, and he has that natural ability, but what you don’t see is how driven he is, and how hard he works. We talk about kids being talented like him, but talent only goes so far, he’s so committed to put the time and the work in.”

Ajou has taken Powell’s coaching techniques and in just a few short weeks has seen his personal best jumps sky rocket.

“He’s such a great coach. I will listen to him because I know I can succeed with his advice,” said Ajou.
“He’s always telling me to visualize before I jump. I never did that before, all I did was go jump.
Now, I visualize everything, I take all my steps, I arch my back, kick out my legs and it helps so much.”

Ajou Ajou grade 10 student at Harry Ainlay School, clears 202 cm and breaks the record competing in high jump during the Edmonton zone Track and Field Finals at Foote Field in Edmonton, May 24, 2018.Ed Kaiser/Postmedia

Ajou will look to officially break the junior boys provincial record at provincial next week, and you have to feel sorry for the rest of Ajou’s competition. He certainly made a massive statement to the rest of the field breaking the provincial record at the zone meet.

“I always want to be the best. I want my name in the record books,” said Ajou. “You better come with it, because I’m coming full throttle.”

Email: hillsyjay@gmail.com

On Twitter: @hillsyjay

Too much depth? Stamps loaded at weak-side linebacker

Calgary Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 20:31

All things considered, having too much depth in a particular position is probably a good problem to have at training camp.

It’s still something that needs to be managed carefully, though.

The Calgary Stampeders have something of an embarrassment of riches at weak-side linebacker this year.

Deron Mayo retired a few weeks ago, but the Stamps are still rolling out a training camp lineup that includes Jameer Thurman and Maleki Harris, both of whom were impressive in stints as the starter in 2017.

Behind them – not by much, necessarily – Wynton McManis, Tyler Stoddard and Keith Reineke have all impressed, while the likes of Riley Jones and Dwayne Norman are listed as middle linebacker options and are also fighting for minutes.

And that’s not even all of the options.

“That’s one of those positions where we’re trying to give everybody equal reps – we don’t even know who the starter’s going to be,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson. “It’s probably too much depth, to be honest. At some point, you’ve got to get the guys you think are the starters a few more reps.

“(Linebackers coach Brent Monson) is doing that. He had a plan going into camp.”

Based on their performances last season, Thurman and Harris are likely deserving of a second look next to 2017 Most Outstanding Defensive Player Alex Singleton at middle linebacker.

That’s not written in stone, though, by any means, and Monson has been balancing the need to make sure his veterans get the reps they need to be ready to go on Week 1 of the CFL’s regular season with the equally-important need of getting a good look at the rookies.

“Obviously, the vets have to get a little bit more just to get back in the swing of things and then just to keep them on point, being ready to go,” Monson said. “I calculate the reps as they go. I’m looking at it at the end of each day – who has what – and then trying to keep them even.”

With Mayo missing all of last season due to the leg injury that eventually ended his career, Harris got the call as the starter for the first six weeks of the season before a wrist injury ended his year. In that time, he collected 21 defensive tackles, two special-teams tackles, one sack and one interception, while also scoring two touchdowns.

Once Harris went out, Thurman took over. By season’s end, he was garnering Most Outstanding Rookie consideration and had 65 defensive tackles, 14 special teams tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

McManis contributed, too, playing in 12 games and adding two defensive tackles, seven special teams tackles and two sacks.

In other words, there are established, proven options at weak-side linebacker. With the rookies looking good, as well, finding a quality starter during training camp may be less challenging than finding enough reps to go around.

“So far, so good as far as injuries go,” Dickenson said. “There’s a lot of depth, probably too much. What happens sometimes when you don’t get a lot of reps in practice is you end up trying a little to hard, meaning that every play you try to make a play instead of just doing the system.”

For the players’ part, this year’s crop of linebackers seem well aware of just how competitive the fight for playing time is going to be.

Harris, though, said they all seemed to be embracing it.

“Everybody’s out here rocking,” Harris said. “It’s tough, but it’s not dog-eat-dog competition. It’s more just that we’re all trying to help each other and do the best we can do and then let the coaches make the decision.

“Your margin for error is smaller because it’s so deep that you’re only getting a certain number of reps because they have to evaluate everyone equally. But that being said, when you do get your chance, even if it’s few and far between, you’ve gotta make the most of it.”

daustin@postmedia.com

http://www.twitter.com/DannyAustin_9

 

JONES: Edmonton Eskimos take advantage of full-contact practice

Edmonton Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 20:00

Thursday was the second of only seven designated days this season for the snot bubbles to fly.

Only seven times during the season — zero during the regular season — the Edmonton Eskimos will put on the pads and attempt to hit the stuffing out of each other.

Predictably, there were a couple of brawls during the session. But no player left the field and came back swinging a shovel as happened a few year back at Clarke Park when Commonwealth Stadium was a bit of a construction site.

“Day 4,” said Maas of the skirmishes. “A some point of the camp, you’re going to have those kinds of things. If we learn from it, that’s the way we want it. Obviously, I don’t want to see fists go flying. You want them to control that. But you are generally going to have in a football camp when it’s hot and you put pads on, guys get overly aggressive. But they have to be smart, too.”

It used to be you’d get quotes two or three days prior to the first pre-season game from players saying they can’t wait to hit players from a different team other than their own. But yesterday, Eskimos were hitting Eskimos and some were quite happy to be doing it in advance of Sunday’s 3 p.m. home preseason game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Commonwealth Stadium.

Football is a tough sport. Physical play and contact are a big part of it, particularly for a team with the stated goal of dominating in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

How do those types of players show their value if they’re playing flag football out there?

Maas doesn’t come right out and say it, but you get the idea he’d like to sneak his team out into a back alley somewhere with pads on and go at it a few times.

But he’ll stick with the rules.

Actually, he says, the rule is no more than 10 times during training camp but when they give you a game seven days after it starts and another five days later, what do you do?

“There aren’t enough days to put 10 days of pads on, particularly when you are playing a game seven days into a season,” he said. “In regular season, there’s none. This will be seven all year. This is what the league wanted. It’s part of the rules now and we’re abiding by them. We’ll have seven padded practices all year.”

So how does he feel about that?

“It doesn’t matter how I feel about that. Pads are there for a purpose and I totally believe we should be able to wear them, if you want my opinion on it. But I still understand the rules and we’ll abide by them.”

I have a problem with it. More and more you see games where it looks like nobody knows how to make a tackle any more. How can you expect them to make a tackle when they never practice it?

And while player safety ought to be a priority, especially with what we now know about concussions, part of player safety is to know how to deliver and take a clean hit.

It’s a tough game. One of the real appeals of the sport from a fan point of view is the gladiator aspect of it.

“At the end of the day we play a very violent sport. It’s a collision sport. You have bumps and bruises. You can’t piss and moan about it, you just abide by the rules,” said Maas.

The head coach says at least you have the two pre-season games and seven days wearing the pads to make evaluations. The real problem comes during the regular season when you bring a player in.

“You bring a new guy up and put him on your roster without him putting on pads. You’re going to have to have watched enough film of him prior to him coming up here to see if he’s good enough to do that.”

Maas thinks with imports coming in and having to get used to being a yard off the ball and some of the other differences involved in Canadian football, that the players would want to be out there banging a bit to work some things out.

“I’m sure they’d all want to put them on and see what that’s like before they get to a game, but they understand that’s the rule now,” said Maas.

“I understand the player safety side of things,” said centre Justin Sorensen. “When I came into the league we wore them every day but they’ve done all these studies and said it’s safer for us. The thing about training camp though is, with the veterans you know if they can hit or not. That’s why training camp is so important for rookies, to see their level of competition, how hard they want to hit and all of that.”

The bottom line is you might want to bring your binoculars Sunday. There’s going to be a real focus on the prospects and the extent they’re able to bring it and make those snot bubbles fly.

E-mail: tjones@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @ByTerryJones

Stamps notes: Truesdell’s road to CFL has lots of twists and turns

Calgary Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 19:53

Even by CFL standards, Nick Truesdell’s journey north of the border has had more stops than most.

The receiver started his college career with the NCAA’s Cincinnati Bearcats before transferring to Grand Rapids Community College, where he tore his ACL in his first and only game with the Raiders.

That was just the start, though.

In 2013, he attended rookie mini-camp with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals and earned a tryout with the Tennessee Titans.

The next year, he played for the Indoor Football League’s Colorado Ice, attended rookie mini-camp with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and then joined the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League.

It keeps going.

For the next couple years, Truesdell bounced between NFL opportunities and jobs in the IFL and AFL, before finally landing at Calgary Stampeders training camp this season.

“It’s definitely been a crazy journey, but it’s all kind of worked out for the best,” Truesdell said. “I started playing Arena in 2014, played a couple years and then got a few looks in the league. Now I’m here, and all of that has helped me out.”

Through the first couple days of training camp, Truesdell has looked like a guy who is fitting in well in the Canadian game.

He brings a size and speed to the field that seems like it could give opposing defensive backs headaches and has made a few pretty catches, too.

“Nick is a different type of guy,” Dickenson said. “He’s 6-foot-6, 235 lb. and runs well. Certainly a guy you have to explore and see how he handles things. We’re moving him inside and outside, because he causes problems for DBs just with that size. Certainly a guy we’re giving a good opportunity.”

It’s far too early in camp to start drawing conclusions about who might be sticking around for the regular season, especially because the general consensus around McMahon Stadium seems to be that this year’s group of rookie receivers is awfully impressive.

By his own admission, Truesdell didn’t know all the intricacies of the Canadian game before pursuing the opportunity with the Stamps. He’s learning, though, and as a receiver who has spent a lot of time playing the indoor game, there’s a lot to like about the short time he’s spent in the CFL so far.

“(Playing in the AFL) definitely helps,” Truesdell said. “In Arena, the field is so much shorter. Here, you’ve got so much space to work … it’s like a dream come true.”

PUTTING IN WORK

Terry Williams seems intent on proving he can return punts and kicks just as well as he can run the ball on offence.

With Roy Finch’s future unclear – and not getting sorted out until July at the earliest – Williams was seen putting extra time in this week practising the return game, which makes sense given that’s a job that seems very open this season.

“He’s done well at the return game,” Dickenson said. “When we first got him here, he was more of a kick returner, but he’s putting punt returns into his resume.

“If he’s a starting tailback, maybe (we won’t use him on returns), but if we can get him on the roster as a returner and a backup and make our team better, that’s what we’ll do.”

Currently, the Stampeders are rotating through a number of options at kick returner during practice drills.

NOT GONE LONG

Both receiver Julan Lynch and DB/special team’s guy Adam Thibault missed Thursday morning’s practice, but neither player appears likely to be missing-in-action for long.

Lynch appears to tweak his hamstring earlier this week, while Dickenson didn’t seem particularly worried about the minor injury that is affecting Thibault.

“He’s probably going to be out another day or two,” Dickenson said. “From what he told me, it’s nothing too serious.”

In other injury news, third-year receiver DaVaris Daniels was back participating in Thursday morning’s practice – which wasn’t high-intensity – while Ciante Evans returned to action Thursday.

EASY TO SEE

Inevitably, a lot of players come into training camp looking like they spent the entire off-season in the gym.

This year, linebacker Jameer Thurman was certainly one of those guys, as he packed on a considerable amount of muscle between the Grey Cup and the start of training camp.

Don’t expect fellow linebacker Alex Singleton to give him too much credit, though.

“I think all he did this off-season is curls,” Singleton said with a smile.

When asked about Singleton’s assessment of his off-season workout plan, Thurman just laughed.

“No, I don’t ever do biceps in the weight room — he sees what I do,” Thurman said before elaborating on his actual off-season workout goals. “I gained a couple pounds in the off-season, tried to work on my strength and my speed. I feel a lot bigger and faster.”

daustin@postmedia.com

http://www.twitter.com/DannyAustin_9

Flames prospect Mangiapane striving for full-time duties as shoulder heals

Calgary Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 19:10

Back home in Bolton, Ont., for the summer, Andrew Mangiapane is often reminded of his big accomplishment.

The 22-year-old forward will bump into friends or former classmates and teammates he hasn’t chatted with since completing his climb, since debuting this winter for the Calgary Flames and logging the first 10 of what he hopes will be hundreds and hundreds of appearances at hockey’s highest level.

“Everyone is saying, ‘Congrats’ and saying, ‘That’s unreal.’ They’re all happy for me,” Mangiapane said. “That’s nice to hear. It’s a good feeling.

“With where I came from, I never really thought I would be playing in the NHL. I’ve come a long way. I’ve come so far. Now, I’m just trying to make the next step and make Calgary full-time.”

Mangiapane’s off-season has been longer than most, with his pinch-me campaign ending prematurely due to surgery on his left shoulder in mid-March, the result of what the speedy left-winger describes as a “freak accident.”

Toiling at that time with the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat, Mangiapane was criss-crossing with centre Colin Smith during a five-on-three power-play when he was tripped up by his teammate’s stick.

As he tumbled to the ice, his shoulder popped out of place.

Mangiapane was able to return the joint to its usual position, and the pain subsided in just a few minutes.

Two games later, it happened again.

Doctors determined that surgery was necessary. With both the Flames and the Heat still in the thick of the playoff race, his season was done.

The good news now is Mangiapane’s recovery is right on track, perhaps even a smidge ahead of schedule.

The Flames forward prospect guesstimates his shoulder strength is nearing about 80%.

The goal is to be back on his blades within a month.

“You see little improvements every day, which is great. But it’s just like, ‘Alright, I want to get back on the ice,’ ” Mangiapane said. “I can’t really do much upper-body (training) yet, but I’m still gaining muscle in my legs and still been building up my leg strength. I’m not just sitting at home doing nothing.

“It sucks about my shoulder, but I’m not letting that affect me or letting that be an excuse. I’m trying to give myself the best possible chance to make the team out of camp. That’s my goal.”

The Flames didn’t get a lot of scoring punch from their support cast this past season, and Mangiapane — the only sixth-round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft who has already debuted at the big-league level — will certainly get an opportunity at camp to prove that he can provide more skill and speed to their forward lineup.

The 5-foot-10, 184-lb. up-and-comer is still shooting for his first big-league point but rarely looked like he was in over his head during his 10 outings at the NHL level this winter.

Mangiapane also racked up 21 goals and 25 assists in 39 skates with the Heat, earning an invite to the AHL All-Star Classic but eventually missing out because he was busy with the big club. (He was the leading point-producer for the Flames farm team despite playing 20-some fewer games than most of his minor-league pals.)

If not for the season-ending surgery, No. 88 likely would have been back at the Saddledome for another audition as injuries piled up in the final few weeks of the schedule.

“I think I still have a lot to show and a lot to prove, but I would say my confidence has grown a lot because of those 10 games,” Mangiapane said. “Obviously, that was my goal — to play in the NHL. Just doing that, I guess, fulfilled some part of my dream. Now, it’s more about making the team and staying there, right? But this season, it was unbelievable. I have a lot more to show, but getting those 10 games and seeing the lifestyle and being with the guys around the room and just the whole NHL experience, it was unbelievable for me.

“You have a few buddies who have played in the NHL, and they tell you all the stories … Living it myself, it was all true. I don’t really know how to explain it — it’s just an unreal feeling being up there.”

ICE CHIPS

According to multiple reports, Glen Gulutzan will be moving up the road to become an assistant coach for the Edmonton Oilers. The 46-year-old Gulutzan was bench boss for the Flames for the past two seasons before being fired April 17 and replaced by Bill Peters.

wgilbertson@postmedia.com

http://www.twitter.com/WesGilbertson

‘We have taken concrete action’: RCMP Crime Reduction Unit shows immense early success

Calgary Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 19:05

A new Mountie-led initiative is already working to make rural Alberta safer.

Six police officers, a crime analyst and a clerk have led the RCMP’s Southern Alberta District Crime Reduction Unit operating out of the Airdrie RCMP detachment.

Announced in March, a $10-million investment from the provincial government helped establish four district teams tasked with tackling crime in rural areas.

Intelligence-driven policing tactics have enabled officers to identify repeat offenders, conduct targeted enforcement and address root causes of criminal behaviour resulting in a plethora of busts.

“We have taken concrete action and our rural crime strategy is already working,” said Justice Minister and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley.

“Our $10-million action plan is making a difference in the lives of rural Albertans. I commend the RCMP for working to get these crime reduction units up and running so quickly across the province. Having teams dedicated to identifying and arresting repeat offenders means we can police more proactively and build stronger cases.”

Operating since Feb. 6, the southern Alberta unit has executed 47 warrants, made 30 arrests, laid 234 charges and recovered 20 stolen vehicles — including a truck and tractor worth more than $225,000.

Across the province, 253 warrants have been served and a total of 1,227 charges have been laid in 263 arrests.

Cst. Keith Gaulton from the Airdrie Rural Crime Reduction Team holds up some of the seized weapons as media was invited to join the Hon. Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, Deputy Commissioner Todd Shean, Commanding Officer of the Alberta RCMP and Rosemary Lindsay, President of the Cochrane Foothills Protective Association – Rural Crime Watch Association for a behind the scenes tour of the Southern Alberta District Crime Reduction Unit at the Southern Alberta District Office in Airdrie on Thursday May 24, 2018. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

“This is an ambitious vision. For it to succeed, we knew we would need the support of all areas that intersect with keeping the people of Alberta safe,” said Alberta RCMP deputy commissioner and commanding officer Todd Shean.

“Although there is still some work ahead, I am pleased to announce that we are already seeing significant results. We have put in place four crime reduction units — one in each of our districts throughout the province consisting of seasoned police officers, criminal analysts and civilian staff. These units have the experience, investigative skills and flexibility to quickly mount operations that lead to arrests.

“To the criminals in Alberta thinking of their next heist, we will find you and we will arrest you.”

Shean added that a newly minted call-back unit — a specialized unit designed to handle non-emergency calls — has already processed 912 calls from Albertans since Feb. 15. If these calls were taken by a police officer it would amount to 2,440 person hours, said Shean.

Southern Alberta has seen year-over-year decreases in various crime trends between 2017 and 2018:

  • 13 per cent decrease in break and enters.
  • 13 per cent decrease in theft over $5,000.
  • 22 per cent decrease in theft under $5,000.
  • Five per cent decrease in motor vehicle theft.
  • Eight per cent decrease in property crime.

Staff Sgt. Dwayne Helgeson, detachment commander for the Turner Valley RCMP, said the southern Alberta unit has directly led to the bust of a major crime house in his jurisdiction.

“We are a small- to medium-size detachment . . . We had a particular drug house in town, one that was causing us problems,” said Helgeson.

“It was beyond our resources to deal with it — we had been trying for several months to almost a year different ways of tackling this problem. Now that the CRU was formed up, that was one of our first calls to them. They readily accepted the challenge to help us with this and within days they were already starting to help us. It evolved over a couple of months with different investigational techniques.”

Helgeson said the bust’s effect on the tight-knit community of 2,000 was huge.

“This one house was quite evident to what was going on there — the whole community knew what was going on there,” he said.

“This was a hinge-point to reducing rural crime.”

Darci O’Donnell, who is assisting the southern Alberta unit as a crime analyst, says the unit is using new techniques to cripple criminal groups by tracking crime trends, but wouldn’t go into specific details.

“Any information that comes to me gets fed up to the team. We have a meeting, target select, and off to the races,” she said.

Ganley said the government will continue to monitor the need for more funding for the units across the province. 

zlaing@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @zjlaing

Reti heads card for Dekata Fight Night at Grey Eagle

Calgary Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 18:33

First, Steve Claggett.

Then, Albert Onolunose.

Devin Reti hopes to follow in the boots of his fellow Calgarians by becoming the next Dekada boxer to score a major championship belt.

His journey continues Saturday night in Dekada Fight Night at Grey Eagle Resort & Casino.

Professional boxing promoters are constantly searching for the next star, often coming up empty-handed, especially in Western Canada where the sport has, until recently, been through a dry spell for decades.

Since October of 2015, Dekada has grown into a platform for local fighters to show what they are made of.

Some have succeeded and some have fallen, but one thing is for sure, Calgary has developed a strong stable of athletes that are starting to take the boxing world by storm, already having brought two major championship belts to the west through Claggett and his IBF North American title win over Yves Ulysse Jr. in Montreal and Onolunose’s huge win over Francis Lafreniere for the NABO North American title.

Since his debut with Dekada on Jan. 27, under the main event of six-time, three-division world champion Zab ‘Super’ Judah, eyes have been on Reti, who stole the show in his contest against Isidro Toala.

“There is something very special about Devin,” said Dekada promoter Michael Short. “And we have decided to put him in tough because we feel there are some major championships for him in the near future and he needs to prove himself.

“He truly has an Oscar De La Hoya-type charm with great speed and ring psychology.”

Devin, with a record of 9-0, faces his toughest opponent to date in Mexico’s Fernando Valencia, who holds an 8-5-0 record with four wins by knockout. He is looking for his double-digit undefeated status, which will start opening big doors for him, becoming another force to be reckoned with in this corner of the continent.

“It’s time that Calgary gets to know Devin Reti,” Short said. “We expect him to be tested thoroughly on May 26, and if he comes out victorious, he will be another strong member of the professional boxing community to represent this city and this side of the country.”

Reti is scheduled to fight on the next four Dekada cards between now and Jan. 19, 2019, giving him many opportunities to grow and prepare for some titles on the way, starting with a proposed Western Canadian Championship match as soon as November of this year, subsequently reaching for national, international and possibly world title contention within his next 10 fights.

Reti is one the greats in Western Canada. Dekada has the newly crowned champions Claggett and Onolunose heading the front.

So the rest of the boxing world should be keeping a close eye on Calgary.

Saturday’s Dekada card will also see one of the top rated females in the world, ‘Country’ Kandi Wyatt (4-0) as she squares off against her toughest opponent to date, Mexico’s Erika Hernandez (6-2-1).

Calgary native Gwyn Lewis (2-0) steps into the ring with his undeafeated record against Saskatoon’s Wayne Smith (1-5-3). What is expected to be a barnburner with two sluggers, Brad Wilson (1-2-1) from Drumheller faces Justin Schmit (1-3), a heavyweight fight expected to keep the fans on their feet.

Another female prospect to join Dekada’s roster on Saturday is Red Deer’s Stephanie Essensa (2-1), who fights Mexico’s Eloisa Martinez (2-8-1).

Dekada is also featuring the exciting return of K1 Style Kickboxing, which will see Calgary’s Peter Arbeau (1-0 versus Lethbridge’s Gerra Gossen (1-2). Calgary’s undefeated Riley Pequin (4-0) squares off against Mac Laursen (8-7) from Mike Miles Muay Thai. Also from Mike Miles Muay Thai, Garrett South (2-0) faces Calgary’s Robert Wicherek in his debut bout.

Tickets are available at http://www.dekada.ca or save a few bucks by getting them at the Grey Eagle box office. Call 1-855-985-5000 for more info.

— Postmedia news services

Gunter: Jagmeet Singh hurts fellow NDPer Rachel Notley

Edmonton Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 17:23

By LORNE GUNTER

Back in the early 1980s, I did volunteer work for Nick Taylor. At the time, he was leader of the Alberta Liberal Party. (That’s right, in a previous life I was a Liberal. Before I grew up.)

Nick was a great guy to work for and to drive around the province with. An oilfield geologist by training, he was strongly opposed to Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program (NEP).

But the federal wing of his own party had created the NEP. They loved it and weren’t about to change it, not even to help Nick get elected provincially. His protestations fell on deaf ears.

And since Nick could do nothing to convince his own national party to amend its hated plan (which sought to steal control of the energy sector and its revenues from Alberta), Alberta voters didn’t see much point in electing Nick.

Taylor later won election to the Alberta Legislature, but only after the Mulroney Tories had been elected and had begun to dismantle the NEP.

I was reminded of Nick, and his lead-footed driving of his Mercedes convertible, on Thursday when federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announced he was now fully opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Singh has made a Nick Taylor out of his fellow New Democrat, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

We shouldn’t be surprised by Singh’s stance.

The federal NDP as a whole have been against every pipeline for years. And ever since he was elected national party leader last fall, Singh has leaned against Trans Mountain.

On the eve of the NDP’s last national convention this past February in Ottawa, Singh said Trans Mountain met none of his three conditions for approval: It didn’t honour the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It failed to meet climate-change goals. And it didn’t (in his mind) create enough local economic opportunities.

So, Singh’s statement on Wednesday that he is now completely opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline is really just a variation on a theme. It’s as if in February he said he was really opposed and now he is really, really opposed.

But if Rachel Notley cannot even get the national leader of her own party to back Trans Mountain, she’s kind of in the position of my old pal Nick. What’s the point of voting for her?

And she can’t get her fellow New Democrat Premier John Horgan to change his mind. And she can’t get her buddy Justin Trudeau to actually do anything concrete to get the pipeline built, no matter how much she’s cozied up to him politically.

So, again, what’s the point?

Her “social license” theory hasn’t worked. Her Climate Leadership Plan, with its carbon tax and coal plant closures has failed to change minds or policy.

When Notley was first elected back in 2015, she made a big deal about blaming the lack of pipelines on the federal Harper Tories and the long-governing provincial Tories. Their confrontational approach, she scoffed, had failed to get us a pipeline.

Justin Trudeau levelled similar accusations in Ottawa.

If only the Tories, federally and provincially, had demonstrated more concern for climate change and tried to woo the “green” bees with environmental honey rather than economic vinegar, Alberta would already have the energy infrastructure it needed, according to Trudeau and Notley.

Well, we’ve now had three years of the Trudeau-Notley approach, and if the Trans Mountain project survives past Kinder Morgan’s deadline next week, it will not be because of some expensive, new, green-friendly strategy by the P.M. or our premier.

It will be because of the oldest tactic in the book: Throwing gobs of taxpayers’ dollars at the problem to make it go away.

47 years a Stampeder: George Hopkins, Equipment Manager

Calgary Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 17:22

Legendary Calgary Stampeders equipment manager George Hopkins has been with the team since he was a boy.

“I was looking for a summer job at 12 years old,” he recalls of his hiring back in 1972. The Stamps’ equipment manager at the time, George Dunn, was looking for ball boys.

“I walked in, introduced myself, and was hired that afternoon.”

Hopkins has worked 799 regular-season games, 43 playoff contests and 11 Grey Cups and was added to the Stampeders Wall of Fame in the builders’ category in 2014.

Letters to the editor for May 25

Edmonton Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 17:06

MIRACLE SEASON

That the Las Vegas Golden Knights season, and playoff success, is being referred to as the proverbial Cinderella story is actually selling the team short. Granted, the team has surpassed way beyond all expectations this year, an obvious understatement, yet is the ultimate definition of underdog. However, what the team is doing to this point is worth more than a silver slipper, whether or not they win a Stanley Cup. And if Vegas does win the Stanley Cup, it will be a Miracle on Ice Part Two, if not number one.

Kelly Kadla

(It’s one heck of a story.)

SAVE OUR STEPS

The mayor has promised a streamlined bus service for Edmonton, eliminating those routes which annoyingly wind around neighborhoods, slowing down busy travelers. “We’ve straightened some routes so they’re not winding through all the neighborhood collector roads.” “People value frequency over walking distance.” As for seniors and other mobility-challenged persons, “there may be other solutions ” (emphasis mine). Seniors and others in the less-mobile crowd are to be left to their own resources. There are 100,000 seniors between the ages of 60 and 75 in Edmonton. More than 12,000 hold annual passes and a minimum of 10,000 have monthly passes. That amounts to at least 25% of the entire senior population. The mayor wants all of these seniors to walk more and help ETS planners to avoid those annoying, confusing winding routes. Yearly about 40 seniors in this age group fall and break their wrists on sidewalks. This will increase substantially under new plans. The mayor denied a request for budget estimates for this major change in plans. He did ensure that children under twelve (pop. about 90,000) who ride with their parents can ride for free, freeing the parents from fumbling around in their pockets for fare change. The cost for this plan? “The impact is a [measly] couple of hundred thousand bucks, which I think we can absorb.”And the savings to eliminate all of those annoying winding bus routes? The mayor won’t say. And what’s the cost of additional broken wrists, at $30,000 a pop?

Philip Jacobs

(Some needs need to be balanced.)

ZERO VISION

Vision zero is a fail. It seems to just be a long term club sucking on the taxpayers teats coming up with fancy slogans and messages. Instead of focusing on just eliminating serious collision( which vision zero has had zero effect so far) the focus should be a reduction in all collisions. I find it funny they say intersections make up for over half of all collisions (that’s around 12,000 collisions) but they have really done nothing to improve intersections. One big improvement in other cities I have seen is simply making most intersection left turns, advance left turns and the busier intersections advance left turns only. Here in Edmonton the city indirectly through poor roadway signal planning, still practically promotes turning left on amber and red lights at some of the busiest roads. What i really don’t understand is the big push for — and billions spent on public transit but at the same time its much easier now to get a licence, its should be harder to get a license not easier. Especially with all the money spent on LRT, subsidizing transit (in Edmonton over $200,000,000 subsidized annually), bike lanes and illegal ride share (Oops! They are actually legal now but the city was okay when it wasn’t). As the options for public and private transportation increases the ability to get a licence should be harder, testing MUST be made tougher. The average driver skill level of drivers in the city is very poor.

Kevin Keller

(Not sure that’s the answer.)

Neil Waugh Outdoors: Right tool for the Job

Edmonton Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 16:20

By NEIL WAUGH

Back in the day when we had an Assistant Superintendent of Fisheries (not Fish) – and believe me folks there’s a subtle but profound difference in those five extra letters – the position was occupied by Marty Paetz.

Marty was off the ranch at Youngstown and went on to be Alberta’s chief fisheries biologist for a long spell in the 60s and 70s.

In 1970, along with his University of Alberta fish doc buddy Joe Nelson, Paetz authored The Fishes of Alberta, which was published by the Alberta Queen’s Printer as part of an innovative and progressive government program to catalogue the province’s floral, avian and fish species.

The four Edmonton-area fishing clubs who developed the Muir Lake quality stocked trout lake project a few years back honoured Paetz with a commemorative sign acknowledging his contributions to not only fish. But also Alberta fisheries.

But what makes Fishes of Alberta more than just another dry scientific accounting of fishy critters, as much as the format would allow, Marty and Joe added angling tips and strategies to their text.

So we are told that northern pike are “an extremely popular game fish.

And “Alberta is generously supplied with them,” they noted.

How “angling success is usually best after spawning season in May and June” where fish can be “readily taken” near weed beds and lily pads in shallow water.

And here’s a gem.

“Considerable attention is now being given to the trophy aspect of northern pike fishing in Alberta,” the book revealed. It specifically identifies Winefred, Seibert and Athabasca as potential “trophy” pike lakes. Mainly, I suspect, because of their remoteness.

Fast forward 48 years and my pike fishing buddy Emmerson and I are on Devil’s Lake west of town celebrating the opening of lake fishing season hereabouts.

We hold no delusions about catching a trophy pike – which Paetz/Nelson considered as 30-plus pounds – on our 8-weight fly rods.

Although for a few brief years following Canadian National Railway’s fortuitous 2005 oil spill into Lake Wabamun – when Alberta Health Services beat the dithering environment department to the punch and imposed a consumption ban turning the popular cottage lake effectively catch-and-release – the size and number of pike possible turned cosmic.

Then AEP decided to dump 6 million walleye fry into Wabamun and the trophy pike fishery that Paetz was promoting was done and dusted once the competing predators grew up.

Devil’s Lake is designated a “default” lake in this year’s new regulatory system, which means three-fish daily over 63 cm.

Because it’s open to angling year round (with the exception of the six-week spring spawning closure where the ice is mostly too treacherous anyway) there are only two chances of a pike reaching “trophy” dimensions. And Slim just left town.

There were other boats out on opening day. But the stiff northwest breeze was clearly against us and we went looking for shelter along the west-end cattail beds.

We found the drop offs on the Lowrance and anchored in 8 feet of water.

Then fished Lefty’s Deceiver flies with weighted heads in all the usual pike colours – red and white, yellow and red, but mostly chartreuse and white – in strip-and-pause retrieves.

We caught a few but to say the action was fast would be an exaggeration.

Until Emmerson figured if you crawled the fly slowly along the bottom and our strike-rate picked up a little.

While the cormorants and goldeneye ducks came and went.

The other anglers began to leave and soon we were the last boat standing.

We had the count up to an uninspiring eight when Emmerson got what felt like a solid hit mid-retrieve.

The weight at the end of his line was impressive but the battle strangely less than dynamic.

Over the gunwale came his prize.

A pair of heavy duty linesman pliers with Emmerson’s Deceiver impaled in the grip – the right tool for the job.

But not exactly the “considerable attention” trophy Marty Paetz had in mind.

 

 

 

 

Hayley Wickenheiser still chasing goals, continues to be an inspiration

Edmonton Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 16:16

In some cases, maybe most cases, honorary diplomas and degrees are given out for no other reason than a person’s accomplishments in athletics or entertainment.

But you might not find a more deserving recipient than Hayley Wickenheiser, who received an honorary diploma from NorQuest College on Thursday.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist is world renown as one of the great female hockey players of all time, but even more impressive is a lifelong commitment to education that continues to this day.

While balancing motherhood and full-time responsibilities to national women’s hockey program, Wickenheiser continually chipped away at her school, eventually earning a Masters Degree in science from the University of Calgary at 37.

She is now setting her sights on becoming a doctor.

“I knew I was going to need something to fall back on after hockey is done because we weren’t making millions of dollars like NHL players are,” said Wickenheiser, now 39. “I think women players have to think a lot more about life after hockey, but that’s a positive thing for your overall mental health and well-being because you are forced to have that pause and think: ‘What is my next life going to look like.’”

It has the potential to be just as impressive and inspiring as her last life. But it’s been a long and grinding road to get here.

“It took me 16 years to get my undergrad degree because I was raising my son, who is graduating from Grade 12 next week,” she said. “It’s funny how time flies. I chipped away at it over the years but I always knew it would be a priority because of how I was raised.”

Wickenheiser says the desire and courage to go back to school was passed down from her mother, Marilyn, who paved the way many years earlier. Seeing her mom return to university after taking time off to have three children was all the inspiration Hayley needed to do it herself.

“I was eight years old my mom went back to school to upgrade,” said Wickenheiser, whose parents are both teachers and always stressed the value of education. “She actually moved away to go to school in Regina and we were living in Shaunavon, which is about a four hour drive. She lived in residence and became a student again in her late 30s.

“I remember vividly when she graduated, watching her walk across the stage. She was probably the oldest student in the class.

“We had been through the separation of her living in dorms and all the stuff she had to endure to help give us a better life. I’ll never forget that moment. Cheering, being so excited.

“So when I graduated with my undergrad at the University of Calgary I made my son come to the ceremony because I wanted him to see it, too, me walking across that stage.

“I went for that reason. I probably wouldn’t have gone if it was just for me, but it was important for me to have him see that.”

Juggling school, hockey and a son was never easy, but the rewards speak for themselves. And in the end it will make for a stunning resume given that the list of mothers in this world who are also doctors and Olympic gold medalists is probably very, very short.

“It just came down to time management,” said Wickenheiser, who wants to work in emergency medicine and was job shadowing in Calgary ERs while still playing for Canada. “Being a student was actually good for my hockey career. I didn’t ruminate on hockey 24 hours a day. School gave me a nice positive distraction.

“I found it pretty manageable, I just had to cut out a lot of other things in my life. It came down to my family, hockey and school. I really enjoyed that. Being a student athlete is the greatest job ever. You don’t get paid for it but it’s a great lifestyle.”

Wickenheiser has been honoured by schools before, but says this one is special because of the NorQuest demographics. She sees a lot of herself in the students there.

“This one is unique in the type of school that it is, the type of students who go there. It caters to students who are upgrading or new Canadians, single moms, that type of thing.

“So when the President, Jodi Abbott, reached out to me it was intriguing to me given that I’ve sort of struggled to do what I’m doing.

“I think for a lot of people at NorQuest, getting a diploma, walking across the stage, it will be unimaginable to have this moment. I empathize with that, I respect that a lot. It takes a lot to go back later in life.”

E-mail: rtychkowski@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @Rob_Tychkowski

Editorial: NDP leader does Alberta no favour

Calgary Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 16:10

Well, that’s Jagmeet Singh off our Christmas card list.

Although, in all honesty and with transparency in mind, he wasn’t getting one anyway.

The federal NDP leader is no friend of Alberta’s after Wednesday throwing his weight, what there is of it politically, behind the B.C. position on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

In short, he now says he is against it because of the Liberal government’s plan to financially back the pipeline, “to benefit private shareholders of a corporation in Texas.”

Yes, Mr. Singh, nobody in Alberta or B.C. would benefit from the pipeline during construction or following completion.

And like the NDP has ever worried about taxpayers.

Previously, the seatless leader of the federal NDP had called for a further environmental review of the pipeline — never mind the thing has already been studied to death and approved.

He appears to have changed his position following a painful personal journey, saying, “This was a very difficult decision for me. It wasn’t something I took lightly but leaders have to make tough decisions.”

Of course, the fact there will soon be a seat opening up in NDP-friendly Burnaby, which also happens to be ground zero for Trans Mountain opposition, had absolutely nothing to do with his decision.

Still, despite thumbing his nose at Alberta, he couldn’t pass up the chance to praise Premier Rachel Notley for her government’s carbon tax, calling it the “best climate change plan in the country.”

So again, social licence fails but the left gratefully accepts the punitive tax on Albertans. Bravo, to all concerned.

He went even further in his praise of Notley, despite some cutting comments of hers towards his take on Trans Mountain.

“If we want to attain our climate goals, we need a premier like Premier Notley,” said Singh.

And taxpaying fools like Albertans, he forgot to add, who will cough up the onerous carbon tax with no benefit from so-called allies of Confederation.

Still, we have to hand it to the premier for giving it back to her federal party brother.

“The private shareholders that he’s describing happen to be part of a company that will contribute, I don’t know, roughly $15 billion to the Canadian economy and will contribute to and support over a quarter million jobs in the country of Canada,” she said on CBC.

Thanks for nothing, Jagmeet.

Media poll picks Mike Reilly, Edmonton Eskimos as early favourites

Edmonton Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 15:05

The Canadian Football League asked and the pigskin prognosticators answered.

According to Thursday’s results from the inaugural CFL media poll, the Grey Cup trophy will remain in the Prairies following the championship final at Commonwealth Stadium on Nov. 25.

Whether it will take up residence in the north or south of the host province, or move to the other side of the Straw Curtain was a debate separated by a single vote. Of the 73 responses, 23 per cent (17 votes) went in favour of the Edmonton Eskimos, with the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders right behind at 22 per cent (16 votes) each.

The Toronto Argonauts, who were fourth on the list at 15 per cent (11 votes), were overwhelmingly favoured to come out of the East Division by a ratio of 3:1, while the Stampeders squeaked out of the West at 32 per cent, one vote ahead of the 22 that went Edmonton’s way.

Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly was chosen to repeat as the league’s most outstanding player at 26 votes (35 per cent), ahead of Stampeders pivot Bo Levi Mitchell and Argos running back James Wilder at 14 votes apiece (19 per cent).

At 38 per cent of the vote, the Roughriders were said to have made the most noise over the off-season with their roster moves, including bringing in quarterback Zach Collaros, whom 61 per cent of voters also said will make the biggest impact, as well as being named comeback player of the year by 48 per cent of voters.

Eskimos receiver Derel Walker was chosen by 46 per cent of voters to lead the league in receiving yards, like former teammates Brandon Zylstra and Adarius Bowman did the past two years, while 51 per cent said Wilder will win the rushing title.

Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris was chosen to win most outstanding Canadian by 40 per cent of voters, while Stampeders linebacker Alex Singleton was selected by 46 per cent to win most outstanding defensive player.

Reigning Grey Cup champion coach Marc Trestman was chosen by a two-thirds majority as the head coach you would want leading your team in 2018, which is the same ratio that expects to see another crossover in the playoffs this year.

HANG ’EM UP

The Eskimos announced the retirement of off-season free-agent acquisition DB Buddy Jackson on Thursday.

It’s the second retirement for the Green & Gold since the eve of pre-camp medicals on May 18, when defensive tackle Da’ Quan Bowers’ sudden announcement came out of left field.

“It caught me off-guard, for sure,” said Eskimos general manager and vice-president of football operations Brock Sunderland. “He didn’t come to mini-camp, which is not mandatory but there were conversations with him all off-season and he was really excited, so when he didn’t show up, your Spidey senses were tingling a little bit. You kind of wondered.”

While Jackson was an off-season depth signing, Bowers was factoring in to play an even more prominent role that last year, his first with the Eskimos, when he ended up tied for third on the team with seven sacks.

“He was very professional, very classy about it, just had some personal reasons,” Sunderland said. “Football is a sport that if you are not all in, it’s probably better you do that. Not in a defiant way, just his heart wasn’t fully in it and we respect that.

“He had some life opportunities that were really good for him. He’s going to have an opportunity, I believe, to go coach at Clemson (his alma mater).”

AS SEEN ON TV

The CFL announced Thursday its entire 2018 will be picked up by ESPN for American audiences, beginning with the Eskimos taking on the Bombers on June 14 at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN 2.

ESPN will also televise all four playoff games as well as the Grey Cup championship in November.

The majority of the schedule, as well as four pre-season games, will appear on its ESPN+ subscription streaming service, as part of a multi-year agreement between the network and the CFL for exclusive rights to broadcast CFL football in the U.S.

In and out: While he has yet to participate in an on-field session of training camp, WR Nate Behar has moved his way onto the sidelines where he has been working out with trainers … CB Arjen Colquhoun, who missed the first tree days of camp, is back practising, while WR Bryant Mitchell has missed the last two days … Newcomer DB Jalen Spencer has been moved to the suspended list.

Email: gmoddejonge@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

B.C. Supreme Court rejects bids to stop Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Calgary Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 13:46

VICTORIA — The City of Vancouver and Squamish Nation have lost legal challenges aimed at quashing an environmental assessment certificate issued by the British Columbia government for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The B.C. Supreme Court issued separate written judgments today in the cases.

The previous B.C. Liberal government issued the certificate in January 2017, about two months after the federal government gave the project the green light.

The city argued the province failed to engage in proper public consultation or take into account relevant environmental considerations in seeking an order to set aside the certificate.

But Justice Christopher Grauer ruled the province’s decision to issue the certificate was reasonable as he dismissed the petition and ordered the city to pay costs to Trans Mountain, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Canada.

He also found the province conducted appropriate and sufficient consultation with the First Nation.

The judge said in the city’s case, the B.C. government took a “very limited position and made no submissions on the merits of the judicial review.”

The province’s NDP government opposes the pipeline. Premier John Horgan said his government reviewed the litigation after it took power last summer and received legal advice that it had a responsibility to defend the integrity of the Crown.

“We found ourselves on the opposite side of Squamish and Vancouver,” he said.

Since the NDP came to power last summer, the provincial government has also joined a legal challenge of the federal approval of the pipeline expansion, which was heard by the Federal Court of Appeal last fall. A decision has not yet been released.

A discarded cigarette is key evidence in Tessier murder trial, says Crown

Calgary Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 13:34

A freshly discarded cigarette butt may be the key to solving the 11-year-old murder of Calgarian Allan Berdahl, a prosecutor said Thursday.

In her closing arguments before a Court of Queen’s Bench jury, Crown lawyer Jillian Pawlow said the cigarette butt puts accused killer Russell Steven Tessier near the scene of the slaying.

But defence counsel Rebecca Snukal said the discarded cigarette at best proves Tessier’s DNA was in the vicinity of the crime at some time.

“The Crown has shown Mr. Tessier’s DNA was half a mile from the body,” Snukal said, in arguing her client should be acquitted of a charge of first-degree murder.

Tessier, 51, is on trial for the execution-style killing of his good friend, Berdahl, 36.

Berdahl’s body was found the morning of March 16, 2007, in a snowy ditch by Range Road 282, north of Hwy. 581 east of Carstairs.

He’d been shot in the head five times, twice from contact, or near contact range.

But Snukal said it made no sense that Tessier, who was close friends with Berdahl, would murder his pal. She said Berdahl was disliked by many people and there was no evidence Tessier “a person that tried to help Mr. Berdahl” was one of them.

Snukal noted several witnesses were asked if the deceased had any enemies.

“The answer to who wanted to cause him harm was usually many people did,” she said.

“Mr. Tessier was not one of them. Mr. Berdahl was not very liked, he burned bridges.”

Prosecutor Jillian Pawlow told jurors there were ample pieces of evidence pointing at Tessier as the killer, from the fact he picked up a .22 calibre handgun from the Shooting Edge two days before the killing to his DNA near the scene.

The discarded cigarette butt was found by the side of RR 282 less than a kilometre south of where Berdahl’s body was found.

Police closed the entrance of Range Rd. 282 while they investigated after the body of Allan Bergdahl was found on March 16, 2007. Dean Bicknell / Postmedia

Pawlow told the three-woman, nine-man jury the butt showed no signs of being impacted by the elements, meaning it was tossed there not long before it was found.

She noted when police asked Tessier whether his DNA might be near the scene, he initially said no, before explaining he could have tossed a cigarette out while driving in the area.

But Tessier said the last time that may have happened was the previous September.

“That cigarette had not been there all winter,” Pawlow said.

Jurors will hear final instructions from Justice Keith Yamauchi before beginning deliberations this afternoon.

KMartin@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @KMartinCourts

Edmonton Eskimos veteran pass-catchers receptive to rookies in training camp

Edmonton Sun - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 12:41

Gone are the days of Adarius Bowman taking young Edmonton Eskimos receivers under his wing.

With the veteran of 11 Canadian Football League seasons shuffling off to Winnipeg after a drop-off season that didn’t come anywhere close to his league-leading numbers from 2016, the duties of mother hen now fall to the rest of the roost.

Not that the new crop of Eskimos receivers are cracked eggs, by any means, but there is plenty to learn from those higher up the pecking order.

But even they had to show up somewhere.

“I’m going to have to say Adarius Bowman kind of took me under his wing,” said Derel Walker, recalling his rookie training camp in 2015 when the FIFA women’s World Cup chased the Eskimos to Spruce Grove. “I had to get more accustomed to how the game is being played. As a rookie, there was a lot of things being thrown at me that I wasn’t familiar with.

“I would say I just felt close to some of the older guys, Kenny Stafford was there and he’s back here now. Bryant Mitchell and I came in as rookies together.”

The biggest thing for first-timers to figure out early is hatching a plan to spend a lot of time with their new playbook.

“I just tried to get a whole bunch of different perspectives from different guys, their learning process toward plays,” Walker said. “Adarius helped a lot with that because he speaks into the mic and records everything and just listens to it through the headphones throughout the day.

“There are just a lot of things that you can do to make yourself more familiar with learning the playbook.”

Miles Shuler takes part in the second day of the Edmonton Eskimos’ training camp at Commonwealth Stadium, in Edmonton Monday May 21, 2018. David Bloom / Postmedia

Common sense dictates veterans shouldn’t help out up-and-comers too much, considering they are next in line for the same jobs. But it’s team first in the Eskimos locker room.

“The extra bodies we have, you just grab them under a wing and if they need help, you’re always out there trying to give them your best help because everybody’s competing,” said wide receiver Vidal Hazelton. “It’s not really a war between me and somebody else, at the end of the day you’ve got to put your skills out there and the coaches are going to make the best decision from there.”

Besides the Xs and Os of football, many of the fresh faces find themselves a long way from home as they adjust to a new city, if not country.

“I’m going on my fourth year now, so I have learned throughout the years how to get myself ready and get going,” Walker said, adding Bowman’s wisdom has been replaced by a committee. “We do it as a group now. I speak with a lot of the receivers and we just pick each other’s brain. Kenny Stafford, Vidal Hazelton, Duke Williams, we check each other and hold each other accountable.

“We’re all going to help each other. We’re out here to better each other.”

Vidal Hazelton takes part in the second day of the Edmonton Eskimos’ training camp at Commonwealth Stadium, in Edmonton Monday May 21, 2018. David Bloom / Postmedia

The best of the bunch is also gone, as Brandon Zylstra springboarded last year’s receiving title into a National Football League contract with his home state Minnesota Vikings over the off-season, which begs the question: Who will become quarterback Mike Reilly’s new favourite target.

“You’ve got to watch and find out, I guess,” Walker said. “The sky’s the limit for our receiving corps, period. We’ve just got to pay attention to find out, I can’t really tell you. I can’t predict the future.

“I know what I have in mind for myself, but I always have big goals, big dreams. We’ve got the Grey Cup here in Edmonton, that’s one thing that’s kept me very motivated to challenge myself this year to get better as a man, as a football player and as a teammate.”

In four out the five seasons Reilly’s been a CFL starter, he’s helped an Eskimos teammate lead the league in receiving yards, including Bowman twice.

But no one in this receiving corps is about to start counting chickens before they hatch.

“We’ve got a really good receiving corps and that’s the thing, nobody really has to be that guy, as long as everybody’s out there just doing their job and catching the football,” Hazelton said. “That’s the beauty of playing with a great quarterback like Mike, you don’t have to worry about anything. The ball’s going to be there on time, you’ve just got to do your job.

“Once you do that, everything’s going to fall into place.”

And if the trend continues and another receiving title happens to drop on one of the Eskimos, all the better.

“Just talking to Mike Reilly this off-season, he’s preaching that he’s waiting for that one guy to kind of step up and take that role,” Hazelton said. “I mean, I’m not going to just step up and raise my hand, but I’m going to lead by example and the things I do on the field and with the way that I work.”

Email: gmoddejonge@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge