True North Upgrades MTS Centre

When Mark Chipman finished his MTS Centre for the Manitoba Moose, he was proud of the fact he had one of the best buildings in the American Hockey League. It was no Bradley Centre in Milwaukee, but compared to most AHL rinks,it was one of the best.

Then, in 2011, the NHL arrived and Chipman and his True North Sports and Entertainment operation did as much as they could as fast as they could to start bringing a 15,000-seat “boutique” arena up to NHL standards.

MTSCentre 900 True North Upgrades MTS Centre

MTS Centre at Night

On the up side, there really aren’t many “bad” seats in the MTS Centre. On the down side, it’s not even in the same league as the Xcel Energy Centre in St. Paul, the Staples Centre in L.A. or the the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa when it comes to amenities.

But as of Monday, it’s getting better. On Monday True North Sports unveiled  several new MTS Centre renovations in advance of the 2014-15 Winnipeg Jets pre-season which starts tonight against the Minnesota Wild. As part of the “True North 2020,” project $6 million dollars was invested into the MTS Centre this past off-season.

The MTS Centre has added two new restaurant/lounge options, The Tower & Heroes, and expanded the capacity of the Observation Deck Bar & Buffet. Let’s look at the Dining Options at MTS Centre now:

ExchangeRestaurantLargeWeb True North Upgrades MTS CentreTHE EXCHANGE

LOCATION
Ice Level: Portage & Donald

ACCESS
90 minutes prior to puck drop

MENU
Upscale, casual dining
A la carte menu
Full-Bar Service

RESERVATIONS
Online www.mtscentre.ca
Or by phone 204-926-5666

ObservationDeck1 True North Upgrades MTS Centre

The Observation Deck

THE OBSERVATION DECK

LOCATION
300 Level Atrium

ACCESS
90 minutes prior to puck drop

MENU
Full-Bar Service
Buffet ONLY
Pre-Game Access Only

RESERVATIONS
Online www.mtscentre.ca
Or by phone 204-926-5680

THE TOWER

LOCATION
NEW 300 Level SW balcony

ACCESS
90 minutes prior to puck drop

MENU
Full-Bar Service
Dynamic Dining
Prime Rib Carving Station

RESERVATIONS
N/A

HEROES

LOCATION
NEW 300 Level SE balcony

ACCESS
90 minutes prior to puck drop

MENU
Full-Bar Service
Dynamic Dining
Carving Station

RESERVATIONS
N/A

The Tower & Heroes are accessible via 300 Level South Doors (Gate 6) and Gate 2 and 3 elevators.

955 MTS Center Home of the Winnipeg Jets True North Upgrades MTS Centre

The place keeps getting better.

For my daughter-in-law, Kyla, this might be the biggest news (after all, if MTS Centre doesn’t improve its beer menu, there isn’t all that much new for the YUPs to enjoy): “Along with the new and improved food and beverage offerings, MTS Centre has also increased washroom capacity in the 300 level concourse by 65 per cent (Men’s Fixtures: 36 to 75; Women’s Fixtures: 44 to 57). That’s big news.

A newly expanded balcony overlooking the signature Portage Avenue atrium will be unveiled, featuring Local 204, a popular Manitoba-Grown concessions which now has a second location in the upper concourse. Suite Holders in the Scotiabank Premium Suites will also notice a newly renovated Suite Bar & Lounge open during all Jets home games.

Jets fans should note that the main concourse, Scotiabank Premium Suites and upper concourse will now be open 60 minutes prior to puck drop while the Portage Avenue Atrium, as well as the above restaurants, are now open 90 minutes prior to puck drop for all home games during the 2014-15 season.

(With files from True North Sports & Entertainment)



No. 9 Bisons Grind Out 20-10 Win Over UBC

In the end, the University of Manitoba Bisons were just better than the UBC Thunderbirds.

Saturday afternoon at Investors Group Field, the No. 9 ranked Bisons scored only one touchdown, but a pair of safeties, three Ryan Jones field goals and a tremendous defensive effort gave the Bisons a 20-10 Homecoming win over the visitors from Vancouver.

JM Bisons UBC Sept20 Lalama 3 No. 9 Bisons Grind Out 20 10 Win Over UBC

D.J. Lalama on the tackle (Photo by Jeff Miller)

With an announced crowd of 1,826 looking on at IGF, the Bisons built an early 12-0 lead and then simply beat up the Thunderbirds as defensive coordinator Stan Pierre’s troops shut out the visitors in the second half.

“For our program, there are critical wins throughout the year,” said Bisons head coach Brian Dobie. “At the university level there is something special about a Homecoming win. This win is dedicated to our University — the students who have been here in the past, are here now and will be here in the future.

“I really felt that all three sections of our team did a great job. Our receivers had eight drops and that’s an aberration. We have an outstanding group of receivers. But despite that, I never thought we were in danger of losing that game. I’m proud of our guys because of how they represented our team and our university.”

The Bisons scored first when UBC conceded a safety at the four-minute mark. Kienan LaFrance, the Sturgeon Heights graduate who is tied for the lead in touchdowns in Canada West, scored his fifth TD of the season on a sensational 22-yard run and the Bisons had a 9-0 lead after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Manitoba built a 12-0 lead on a 35-yard field goal by Ryan Jones, but UBC battled back with the final 10 points of the half. Terrell Davis scored on a four-yard run and then Quinn van Gylswyk booted a 38-yard field goal to make it 12-10 at the half.

JM Bisons UBC Sept20 Mau 26 No. 9 Bisons Grind Out 20 10 Win Over UBC

Linebacker James Mau makes the tackle (Photo by Jeff Miller)

However, in the second half, the Bisons defense played its best 30 minute stretch of the season as it completely shut down the Thunderbirds and helped the U of M improve to 2-1 in the young Canada West season. In fact, it was Tyler Fong’s interception with 2:24 to play that sealed the deal for the Bisons.

The Bisons got two second half field goals from Jones – kicks of 40 and 19 yards – plus another conceded safety by the Thunderbirds to record the 10-point home victory. However, it was the performance of the defense that made the difference on a cool, rainy afternoon at IGF.

D.J. Lalama led the way with seven solo tackles and four assists; Cam Teschuk, who had a couple of crushing hits, had seven tackles and a forced fumble; safety Jayden McKoy had five tackles; and LB James Mau had three solo tackles, three assists and a sack. Freshman Evan Foster had 1.5 sacks, Evan Gill had a sack and David Onyemata had half a sack. Fong’s interception was returned 13 yards.

“You can see this defense growing and getting better,” said Dobie. “Defense is back at Manitoba. Look at the play Tyler Fong made. It was a huge athletic play. We were athletic and fast, but we played responsibly within the system. That was a great defensive effort.”

On offence, Bisons quarterback Jordan Yantz had a rough afternoon, but eight drops will do that. As a result, Yantz finished the game with just 12 completions on 29 attempts for 149 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. However, his running game saved the day. LaFrance carried 21 times for 94 yards and a TD while Nic Demski carried four times for 45 yards, caught four passes for 65 yards, returned one kickoff for 22 yards and returned six punts for 92 yards – 234 all purpose yards.

The Bisons play again next Saturday against the Dinos at the University of Calgary’s McMahon Stadium. It will be the biggest test of the season for the No. 9-ranked Bisons.

JM Bisons UBC Sept20 LaFrance 1 No. 9 Bisons Grind Out 20 10 Win Over UBC

Tailback Kienan LaFrance (27) was outstanding. (Photo by Jeff Miller)

“They’re (Calgary) ranked No. 2 in the country,” said Dobie, “and the best team in our conference. They believe no one can beat them. They deserve respect, but we’ve always given them too much respect. We’re running our systems well and we have good athletes. As long as we are confident and aggressive, we’ll compete.”

The next Bisons home game is Oct. 17 against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.

NOTEBOOK: Former Bisons tailback Anthony Coombs of the Toronto Argonauts was at Saturday’s game. Coombs had his injured shoulder in a sling. “I’ve had the operation and I feel good,” Coombs said. “I’m just working toward going back to camp next year.” Coombs was injured right after he got the starting job as an Argos slotback.



CFL Picks Week 13: Best Thing for Bombers is a Bye

With quarterback Drew Willy nursing a sore shoulder, the 6-6 Winnipeg Blue Bombers get the bye this week. It’s the best thing that could possibly happen.

Especially when one considers that next week, in Week 14, the Bombers have a date with the 3-7 Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Investors Group Field. The Bombers are 5-1 against the East this season and 1-5 against the West, so a victory next week is imperative if Winnipeg intends to stay in the playoff hunt in the West.

Drew Willy CFL Picks Week 13: Best Thing for Bombers is a Bye

Drew Willy (Photo by Jeff Miller)

After all, this week, the CFL gives us four games with high-flying Western teams against struggling Eastern teams and there is a legitimate chance that the East will look like this by Sunday night: 1. Hamilton 3-8; 2. Toronto 3-9; 3. Montreal 3-9; and 4. Ottawa 1-10.

At least, that’s what the boys think. Dr. Football and The Coach are almost in complete agreement this week. Their only difference is the Edmonton at Hamilton game. The Doc figures the Ti-Cats will win at home while the Coach has sworn off Eastern teams for Lent. Next year’s Lent.

Anyway, the Boys were decent last week. The Coach went 3-1 while the Doc went with his beloved Bombers and finished 2-2.

This week, the Doc writes our brilliant dissertations while Coach just whines about how bad the East is.

Let’s take a close look at Week 13 in the CFL:

Ricky Ray3 1024x683 CFL Picks Week 13: Best Thing for Bombers is a Bye

Ricky Ray

Toronto (3-8) vs. B.C. (7-4) Line – B.C. by 6

Toronto didn’t even go home after last week’s collapse in Calgary, and nobody even noticed. Kevin Glenn got it together last week against Winnipeg, and he now knows the team is his for the rest of the season, which should provide a spark. The Coach says: Chad Owens is back for Toronto. Does that matter? The Argos have lost three straight. The Lions are trying to win their third straight. The Lions should be fine at home.

Dr. Football: Take the Lions to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Lions to win and cover.

Zach Collaros Hamilton1 CFL Picks Week 13: Best Thing for Bombers is a Bye

Zach Collaros

Edmonton (8-3) vs. Hamilton (3-7) Line – Hamilton by 2 ½

The Ti-Cats are now 2-0 in their new home and Zack Collaros will be out for revenge after what happened to him the last time these two teams met. The Eskimos looked horrible in their home and home series against Calgary, and the win last week was, well, a win over Montreal. The Coach says: The West is 25-4 against the East this season. After B.C. wins it will be 26-4. After Edmonton wins it will be 27-4…

Dr. Football: Take the Ti-Cats to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Eskimos in an upset.

sp 940 tate drew 8col CFL Picks Week 13: Best Thing for Bombers is a Bye

Drew Tate

Calgary (10-1) vs. Montreal (3-8) Line – Calgary by 7

This will be like watching Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay. You wonder if the Stamps can score 70 points…it might happen. The Coach says: … and after Calgary wins it will be 28-4…

Dr. Football: Take the Stampeders to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Stampeders to win and cover.

Henry Burris Ottawa CFL Picks Week 13: Best Thing for Bombers is a Bye

Henry Burris (Photo by Jeff Miller)

Ottawa (1-9) vs. Saskatchewan (8-3) Line – Saskatchewan by 11 ½

Saskatchewan looked dreadful last week, but a date at home against Ottawa should cure what was ailing them in Hamilton. The Roughriders, with Tino Sunseri at quarterback, will probably start slowly, but they’ll get the win against a terrible RedBlacks team. The Coach says: …and after Saskatchewan wins it will be 29-4.

Dr. Football: Take the Roughriders to win but not cover.

The Coach: Take the Roughriders to win but not cover.



NFL Picks Week 3: No A.P. No Hope For the Vikings

By The Coach and Dr. Football

Let’s catch up on what’s going on in the National Football League.

1. Arizona Cardinals backup running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested on Wednesday for domestic violence, a result two incidents involving a 27-year-old woman and a child. According to Tyler Baldwin of WPEC CBS-12 News, the charges are aggravated assault and preventing someone from calling 911. There isn’t a lot of fuss about Dwyer because he’s a backup and won’t destroy anyone’s fantasy team. He has a mere 51 yards and a TD on 16 carries in two games this season. He signed with Arizona during this past off-season to no fanfare after spending four anonymous seasons in Pittsburgh.

Adrian+Peterson+Minnesota+Vikings+v+Washington+EnaJALU IaHl NFL Picks Week 3: No A.P. No Hope For the Vikings

Adrian Peterson

2. The Fantasy Loons are going crazy about the Minnesota Vikings decision to put Adrian Peterson on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission List, which is a fancy way of saying he’s suspended indefinitely. Because Peterson’s absence will really hurt a lot of fantasy teams, he’s getting all sorts of support from people who didn’t see the pictures. Anyway, the courts will take care of this one and then all will be well… I guess.

3. Ray Rice has made his appeals. He still won’t play this week.

4. Commissioner Roger Goodell, who makes $44 million a year, has gone into hiding. Nice work if you can get it.

5. Meanwhile, as Jon Stewart put it, “You know things are bad when you have to appoint your own Special Victims Unit.”

Which brings us to Thursday Night Football and Week 3 in the NFL. Adrian Peterson won’t play which means the Minnesota Vikings offence is in trouble. Although, I must admit, when head coach Mike Zimmer said his defense has been “better at this point than I expected it would be,” I was, on first blush, surprised.

20140117  Zimmer presser e1410008548162 NFL Picks Week 3: No A.P. No Hope For the Vikings

Mike Zimmer

Then, with a little thought, it became clear that he’s probably right. The D was great against St. Louis – a team that’s better than people think – and despite the 30-7 loss to New England last week, it wasn’t really the fault of the defense. After all, a blocked field goal was returned for a touchdown and then a Devin McCourty interception – one of four INTs against career-backup Matt Cassel – was returned to the Vikings one-yard line. So really, the Vikings defense only allowed 16 points to the Patriots. That ain’t bad.

Still, with no Adrian and no offense, the Vikings will have a hell of a time in New Orleans this week.

Last week Dr. Football was 7-9 (18-14) straight up and 3-13 (10-22) against the spread. The Coach went 6-10 (16-16) straight up and 5-11 (11-21) against the spread.

This week, the Doc writes our not-so-brilliant reasons for selecting these dawgs while The Coach eats jerky and complains.

Thursday Night

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-1) 
Line: Falcons by 6.

Atlanta is not the place a road team gets its first win of the season. Tampa Bay has fallen quickly from “playoff contender” to “laugh out loud”. Matt Ryan has a big night for the Falcons. The Coach says: Matty Ice is really cold. He leads the NFL in passing yards (679) and hasn’t won yet. He needs a home game against the Bucs. So do the Falcons, who have the worst team defense in the league.

Dr. Football: Take the Falcons to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Falcons to win and cover.

Sunday Afternoon

Philip Rivers NFL Picks Week 3: No A.P. No Hope For the Vikings

Philip Rivers

San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Buffalo Bills (2-0) 
Line: Bills by 2.5.

The Bills continue to surprise starting off 2-0, while the biggest surprise in my mind was how the Chargers looked last week against the Seahawks. I usually don’t like the West Coast teams in the Eastern Time zone, but if you can beat Seattle, you should be able to beat Buffalo. The Coach says: Gotta hand it to the Chargers, they were great against Seattle last week. Trouble is, the Bills might be real.

Dr. Football: Take the Chargers in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Bills to win and cover.

Dallas Cowboys (1-1) at St. Louis Rams (1-1) 
Line: Cowboys by 1.

Even against a terrible Rams defense, the Cowboys will still struggle to score points, but luckily they have the Rams this week. The Coach says: In a battle of coaches, Jeff Fisher will out-think Jason Garrett and then Tony Romo will find a way to lose.

Dr. Football: Take the Cowboys to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Rams to win.

Washington Redskins (1-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) 
Line: Eagles by 6.5.

The Eagles have a short week to plan for a big divisional match up against Kirk Cousins and the Redskins offense, which will pose a challenge, as he still is an unknown. They’ll get it done in front of their fans, but it will be close. The Coach says: The Eagles lead the NFL in total offense and the Washingtons lead the NFL in total defense so, like, take the home side.

Dr. Football: Take the Eagles to win but not cover.

The Coach: Take the Eagles to win and cover.

Houston Texans (2-0) at New York Giants (0-2) 
Line: Texans by 2.

Wisdom says that a second consecutive road game is tough for any team, but there is something definitely wrong with the Giants this year and the Texans will capitalize. The Coach says: Poor Eli. To think, he’s won two Super Bowls.

Dr. Football: Take the Texans to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Texans to win and cover.

Drew+Brees+New+Orleans+Saints+v+Jacksonville+hxPJD1GoFIyl NFL Picks Week 3: No A.P. No Hope For the Vikings

Drew Brees

Minnesota Vikings (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-2) 
Line: Saints by 10.5.

Mike Zimmer (or any coach for that matter) will not be able to have his team’s full attention this week for obvious reasons. The Saints can’t possibly go 0-3. Expect a major blow out at the Superdome. The Coach says: The Saints were 8-0 at home last year and have two straight losses on the road this year. Plus, see above

Dr. Football: Take the Saints to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Saints to win and cover.

Tennessee Titans (1-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) 
Line: Bengals by 6.5.

The Bengals have looked good so far on both sides of the ball while the Titans did manage to beat the Cowboys last week, but Jake Locker was 18/34. That won’t cut it in Cincinnati. The Coach says: I like the Titans for one week. Then they got pasted at home by Dallas. Bengals by a bunch.

Dr. Football: Take the Bengals to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Bengals to win and cover.

Baltimore Ravens (1-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-1) 
Line: Ravens by 1.5.

The Ravens were able to focus on football and not the sideshow last Thursday in a big win over the Steelers, and now are well rested and playing an over achieving Cleveland squad. The Browns did “eek” out a win last week, but they are no match for the Ravens. The Coach says: The Browns lost in the dying seconds at Pittsburgh, beat a good New Orleans team at hone on a last-second field goal. Hey, why not?

Dr. Football: Take the Ravens to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Browns.

Matthew Stafford NFL Picks Week 3: No A.P. No Hope For the Vikings

Matthew Stafford

Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Detroit Lions (1-1) 
Line: Lions by 2.5.

The Lions return home after an embarrassing loss in Carolina and are a much better team at home. The Packers managed to find their offense after a slow start last week, and should carry that momentum into Detroit. Expect a shootout, and Aaron Rogers has better weapons. The Coach says: The Lions are a terrible road team that tends to play well at home. Still not sure about the Packers.

Dr. Football: Take the Packers in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Lions to win and cover

Indianapolis Colts (0-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) 
Line: Colts by 6.5.

Chad Henne vs. Andrew Luck? It will get worse for Jaguar fans. The Coach says: The Colts needed this one and Blake Bortles gets another step closer to becoming the Jaguars’ starting quarterback.

Dr. Football: Take the Colts to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Colts to win and cover.

Oakland Raiders (0-2) at New England Patriots (1-1) 
Line: Patriots by 14.

The Patriots stuck it to the Vikings last week and now return to New England for their home opener. And it’s been established that the Raiders don’t travel well. Blow out alert. The Coach says: Not even fair.

Dr. Football: Take the Patriots to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Patriots to win and cover.

130817 650 366 NFL Picks Week 3: No A.P. No Hope For the Vikings

Colin Kaepernick.

San Francisco 49ers (1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (2-0) 
Line: 49ers by 2 ½

One might think that the 49ers laid an egg last week due to some “opening night jitters” and Levi stadium, but I think that there’s more to it, The Cardinals played tough in both games against the 49ers last season, and I think they’ll have their number. The Coach says: OK, so the Bears lost at home to Buffalo and beat San Francisco on the road. I can’t explain that.

Dr. Football: Take the Cardinals in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Cardinals. 

Denver Broncos (2-0) at Seattle Seahawks (1-1) 
Line: Seahawks by 5.

I usually love these Super Bowl rematch type of games, but I’m afraid of what this will turn into because of these facts; the Seahawks don’t like to lose and they lost last week, the Seahawks are WAY more fierce at home, and the 49ers looked terrible last week against the Bears. Different dates, same result. The Coach says: I’m taking the home side and crossing my fingers.

Dr. Football: Take the Seahawks to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Seahawks to win and cover.

Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) at Miami Dolphins (1-1) 
Line: Dolphins by 4.

Me thinks I was a little too optimistic in my thoughts about how the Chiefs would do this season, although last week they did get beat by a very good Denver team. The Dolphins handled the Patriots at home, and they should easily handle the Chiefs. The Coach says: This will not be a very good football game. Unless, of course, you like semi-pro town ball.

Dr. Football: Take the Dolphins to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Dolphins to win and cover.

Sunday Night

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) at Carolina Panthers (2-0) 
Line: Panthers by 3.

The Steelers have had plenty of rest after getting blown out by the Ravens so the “second consecutive road game” stigma shouldn’t apply to them here. The Panthers surprised me with an easy looking win over the Lions, but they won’t have it easy this week. Big Ben regroups. The Coach says: Can Newton looked solid in his return last week and Carolina is at home.

Dr. Football: Take the Steelers in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Panthers to win and cover.

Monday Night

Jay+Cutler+Chicago+Bears+v+New+Orleans+Saints+ty8YNsD4CDal NFL Picks Week 3: No A.P. No Hope For the Vikings

Jay Cutler.

Chicago Bears (1-1) at New York Jets (1-1) 
Line: Jets by 2.5.

The Bears play their second road game in as many weeks and have to travel across the country to do it. The Jets did have flashes of brilliance last week in Green Bay, and should take this one at home. The Coach says: I haven’t been right about the Bears yet. Why would I start this week? Meanwhile, the Jets lost last week because they’re the Jets and they did a typically stupid Jetsy thing with a timeout and lost.

Dr. Football: Take the Jets to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Bears to win.



Course Reversed: Adrian Peterson Won’t Play for Awhile

Adrian Peterson isn’t going to play football for awhile. After a couple of days of mild insanity, the owners of the Minnesota Vikings came to their senses and put Peterson on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list until his legal problems are settled.

Here is the letter that Vikings owners, Mark and Zygi Wilf, sent to their season ticket holders:

AP Adrian Peterson ml 140915 4x3 992 Course Reversed: Adrian Peterson Won’t Play for Awhile

Adrian Peterson

Dear…

We know it is important to reach out to you directly to communicate the thoughts that went into last evening’s decision to place Adrian Peterson on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list. This move will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved. We firmly believe that this is the best course of action for the organization and for Adrian.

We made a mistake, and we needed to get this right. We understand, appreciate and thank you for the input that we have received from you as our most important stakeholders. We embrace our role – and the responsibilities that go with it – as a leader in this great community that we share with you.

It is also important that we are clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we wanted to be sure we get this right. We were trying to make a balanced decision on Monday, and after further reflection we concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian. At the same time, we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community. Adrian emphasized his desire to avoid further distraction to his teammates and coaches while focusing on his current situation; this resolution accomplishes these objectives as well.

We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process, but we firmly believe this is the right decision. We hope that you can respect the process that we have gone through to reach this final decision.

Thank you for your support during this process.

Mark Wilf, Zygi Wilf

The whole thing makes me sad. I was an Adrian Peterson fan. He was a remarkable football player and in those moments when I interviewed him, he was cordial and friendly. He has played seven outstanding seasons with the Vikings and some people were beginning to believe he was among the greatest backs in NFL history.

But then we found out that he beat the crap out of a four-year-old. A four-year-old?! The prosecution says he stuffed leaves down the child’s mouth and then whipped him with a switch.

If you’ve seen the pictures that were released as police evidence, A.P. really hurt the poor kid. The football star has been charged by a grand jury with reckless or negligent injury to a child, which carries penalties of up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine. His initial court appearance in Conroe, Texas, near Houston, was scheduled for Oct. 8.

Still, until Wednesday at 1 a.m., the Vikings were going to have Peterson play this coming Sunday afternoon against the New Orleans Saints. “OK, we messed up, but this time I think we got it right.”

When they made the reinstatement announcement on Monday, this whole sordid affair started to get testy. Sponsors began dropping out or, at least, threatening to pull their dough. Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken weighed in, both appalled at the team’s decision to put Peterson back in the lineup. For the Wilf’s, money talks and when sponsors and government officials – some of whom are going to pay for their new stadium — criticize their decision, it suddenly becomes time to re-group.

GTY adrian peterson jt 140914 16x9 992 Course Reversed: Adrian Peterson Won’t Play for Awhile

He’s not going to play for awhile.

Yeah, I know, the Wilfs said at their news conference on Wednesday that the corporate threats to pull sponsorship from the club had nothing to do with their decision, but I don’t believe that. Do you? If Peterson had been reinstated on Monday and nobody had said a word, do you think he’d play on Sunday? I do.

The Wilfs and the rest of the Vikings organization was pressured into taking Peterson out of the lineup and removing him from having any contact with the team. Yes, he will be paid, but he can’t even pop by the offices for a coffee.

Peterson has publicly apologized for using the switch to discipline his son, but he said he was “correcting the boy the same way I had been corrected as a child.” Then, there were reports late Monday about a second child abuse allegation last year involving another of Peterson’s children and well, it was time to re-group.

Everyone has the right to discipline his or her own children in any way they see fit, but in Peterson’s case, the grand jury believed that the football player’s actions crossed a line. It went from discipline to abuse.

At some point, the courts will decide Peterson’s legal fate. In the meantime, the court of public opinion has already weighed in on his immediate future as a professional football player.

 



Willy Week-to-Week As Bombers Head to Bye Week

On Monday, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers issued a news release that stated QB Drew Willy’s injured shoulder will be re-evaluated next week, meaning, of course, that his immediate future is unknown. Not that it matters this week.

The release stated: “Winnipeg Blue Bombersquarterback Drew Willy suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder Saturday night in Vancouver. He will be re-evaluated at the beginning of next week, and the injury is week to week. Currently his status for the club’s next game (Saturday, Sept. 27 vs. Hamilton at Investors Group Field) is questionable.”

crop 20507431427 Willy Week to Week As Bombers Head to Bye Week

Drew Willy

With 16 seconds left in the first half, Willy was sacked by the Lions Alex Bazzie and Khreem Smith. Willy rolled awkwardly on his shoulder and was removed from the game. The Bombers trailed 15-3 at the time of the injury and eventually lost 26-9. Backup Brian Brohm finished the game.

After the game, Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea told rightsholder, CJOB radio, that the injury to his 27-year-old, No. 1 quarterback probably wasn’t serious. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt that Winnipeg is heading into its bye week and doesn’t play again until it plays host to Hamilton on Sept. 27.

When Willy went down on Saturday night, he joined three other quarterbacks who have been seriously injured in the past two weeks: Saskatchewan’s Darian Durant, B.C.’s Travis Lulay and Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell. While those injuries didn’t hurt Calgary and B.C., the injury to Durant devastated the defending Grey Cup champions. Saskatchewan got buried 28-3 by lowly Hamilton with Tino Snseri at quarterback on Sunday.

Like Saskatchewan, the Bombers don’t have a tested backup. Either Brian Brohm or Robert Marve would be Coach O’Shea’s only alternatives for an absent Willy. As of right now, of the five teams in the West, only Edmonton will be playing its next game with its No. 1 starter, Mike Reilly.

However, many observers have been amazed that Willy has been as durable as he’s been in Winnipeg. The team’s offensive line has been porous all season and Willy has taken some hellacious hits.

JM Bombers Sept7 Willy 49 Willy Week to Week As Bombers Head to Bye Week

Drew Willy (Photo by Jeff MIller)

Meanwhile, even though the 6-6 Bombers are in last place in the CFL West Willy has been the player who has kept them in the heat of the playoff hunt for much of the season. He leads the league in passing with 2,977 yards and has produced three of Winnipeg’s six victories with last-minute drives.

With Willy at the helm, the Bombers went 5-1 to open the season, but are 1-5 in their last six. Five of their six victories have come against Eastern opponents. The West is 25-4 against the East this season.



Vikings Reinstate Peterson

Guess the Minnesota Vikings had no desire to face the New Orleans Saints without their best player.

The Vikings announced on Monday that All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson has been invited to return to practices and meetings this week and “is expected to play this coming Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.”

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Adrian Peterson

Peterson was deactivated for the Vikings’ Week 2 game against New England at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday after he was indicted by a Texas grand jury on charges of “reckless or negligent injury to a child.”

Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf issued the following statement on Monday:

“Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue.

“On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation, and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved. To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child.

“At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action. This is a difficult path to navigate, and our focus is on doing the right thing. Currently we believe we are at a juncture where the most appropriate next step is to allow the judicial process to move forward. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and support Adrian’s fulfillment of his legal responsibilities throughout this process.”

ESPN reported that at a news conference on Saturday afternoon, Montgomery County, Tex., first assistant district attorney Phil Grant said Peterson was “charged with one count of injury to a child and could be sentenced to as many as two years in state prison as well as a $10,000 fine.” Grant added that “probation is an option for defendants with no prior criminal record.”

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The statement

Peterson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, issued a written statement on Friday admitting that his client’s behaviour, “involves using a switch to spank his son.” According to a report by Sports Radio 610 in Houston, “Peterson removed the leaves of a tree branch to strike his 4-year-old son.”

In Texas, ADA Grant added, “parents are entitled to discipline their children as they see fit, except when that discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable.” In Peterson’s case, Grant said, the grand jury found Peterson’s discipline exceeded a reasonable standard.

Again, Peterson has been invited to rejoin the team and is expected to play this coming Sunday.



Without AP, Vikings Crushed by Patriots

Load up the excuses and say whatever makes you feel better, the reality was quite simple: Without Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings offence was limited.

And with a limited offence on Sunday afternoon, Matt Cassel hit the turf at TCF Bank Stadium with a thud.

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No Adrian Peterson. What a sad, repugnant mess.

Cassel completed 19-of-36 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown. But he also fired up four interceptions and that was the Vikings undoing. The New England Patriots made the best of those four INTs and drilled a deer-caught-in-the-headlights Vikings team 30-7.

Still in shock over losing their star runningback – and the man who starts and ends their offence – to an ugly charge of “causing injury to a child age 14 or younger,” (allegedly by spanking one of his sons with a wooden switch, or tree branch, on or around May 18), the Vikings looked completely out of it. The team that beat the St. Louis Rams 34-6 in Week 1, was absent in Week 2.

Cordarelle Patterson? After running for 102 yards on three carries in Week 1, he didn’t run the football at all on Sunday and caught four passes for 56 yards.

Greg Jennings? One catch for four yards.

Kyle Rudolph? Five catches for 53 yards and three embarrassing drops.

Matt Asiata? Who?

Without Peterson, the Vikings ran the football for 54 yards on 19 carries. Doing that, you will never win.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer barely knew how to react to the blowout in his televised post game news conference, because he still didn’t know how to react to the fact that his best football player allegedly beat a four-year-old child with switches and belts.

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Mike Zimmer.

“First of all, I’d like to say that I’ll address the Adrian situation at another time,” he said. Nobody listened.

“No, it didn’t affect the team,” Zimmer said. Nobody believed him.

“We’re just trying to get through the weekend right now. I don’t really want to talk about this. You guys can keep asking and I’ll give the same answer every time.” Nobody listened.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

To his credit, Cassel took responsibility for the Vikings loss.

“I’m not going to make excuses and say that just because Adrian Peterson wasn’t playing (Sunday) is the reason why we faltered,” Cassel told a gaggle of reporters. “I take full responsibility. I have to take better care of the ball.”

It’s good that the quarterback takes responsibility, but with absolutely no ground game, Cassel was hamstrung. When the defense knows you’re going to pass, they can defend the pass differently. And while the crowd of 52,350 started chanting, “Teddy, Teddy, Teddy,” Zimmer knew that putting a kid like Bridgewater into a situation like that would do more harm than good.

“Obviously, it was a disappointing performance,” Cassel admitted. “I can’t turn over the ball against a good team.”

During a radio interview on Monday morning, Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said it best: “Too many turnovers, too many mistakes. We probably would have been in the game had we not had all those turnovers. We made too many mistakes. Who knows? Maybe if our defense creates a few turnovers, it’s a totally different ballgame.”

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Matt Cassel

Again, good for taking responsibility, but when the offence does nothing it taxes the defense. Too many three-and-outs will devastate a defense and on Sunday, the Vikings had way too many three-and-outs.

“Any time you have four turnovers and a blocked field goal for a touchdown, you’re going to get beat,” Zimmer said during his post-game interview. “Like I told the team, I was disappointed in the way that we didn’t have any sense of urgency offensively for the whole game other than maybe the first drive.”

The people who run the Vikings had better start thinking about finding a new runningback. It’s unlikely we’ll see AP for awhile — if ever. The Baltimore Ravens lost Ray Rice because his assault on Janay Palmer was loathsome. The Minnesota Vikings have lost Adrian Peterson because child abuse is worse.

On so many levels, this whole repugnant mess is just sad.



Bombers Lose Willy. Bigger Loss Than The Game in B.C.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were blasted 26-9 by the B.C. Lions at the Stadium at B.C. Place on Saturday night.

However, with 16 seconds left to play in the first half, the Bombers lost No. 1 quarterback Drew Willy to a shoulder injury. The Bombers wouldn’t say anything about the injury, but it became increasingly obvious as Saturday night’s game went on, the loss of Willy was far more devastating to the local football side than the loss of one road game.

Willy road Bombers Lose Willy. Bigger Loss Than The Game in B.C.

Not a great night for Willy or the Bombers.

Even with Willy, the Bombers were struggling. They’ve now lost five of their last six games, have fallen to 6-6 and are last in the West.

However, with Willy at the helm, a team that won a grand total of three games last season, had already won six this season and had a legitimate chance in many of the games they’ve lost. However, after Willy went down on Saturday, the Bombers played like a team that had no chance at all.

To be fair, you have to give a lot of credit to the opposition. B.C. has now won five of their last six and in the last four games have not turned over the football once. In the first half, quarterback Kevin Glenn, the former Bombers QB, went 14-for-15 for 193 yards and a touchdown and then finished 20-for-27 for 261 yards, two touchdowns and, of course, no interceptions.

Many CFL people tend not to think Kevin Glenn is a great quarterback, but after 14 years in the league, I would hazard to guess he’d have done more for the Ottawa RedBlacks than Henry Burris has done this season. In fact, in the last four years no CFL QB has won more games as a starter than Glenn.

Meanwhile, Oak Park graduate Andrew Harris carried 13 times for 101 yards and caught five passes for 39 yards and a touchdown. Harris once said he’d like to finish his career in Winnipeg. Too bad he wasn’t playing in blue and gold now.

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Winnipeg product Andrew Harris.

On the other side, before Willy was injured, the Bombers didn’t have much in the tank. Winnipeg trailed 15-3 when their No. 1 QB went down and even though the visitors made it 15-9 at one point, the Bombers defense was run right into the turf late in the game.

Winnipeg beat B.C. 23-6 back on July 25. On this Saturday night, however, the Lions returned the favour. Willy finished the game 10-for-15 for 88 yards, no TDs and no INTs. His relief pitcher, Brian Brohm, finished six-for-13 for 33 yards, no TDs and no INTs. The Bombers had only 198 yards of total offense. Willy, with two carries for 28 yards, was the team’s leading rusher.

All nine Bombers points came on field goals by kicker Lirim Hajrullahu, although you might not have known it. TSN colour commentator Matt Dunigan did not pronounce Hajrullahu’s name correctly once. Not once. My favorite attempt was Hoo-ee-ru-loo.

Oh well, if you happen to be wearing a Bombers uniform right now, it’s probably best to be as anonymous as humanly possible. The 2014 Bombers are beginning to look like the 2013 Bombers again. Granted, even if they lose out, they’re still 6-12 and that’s much, much better than last year, but it’s certainly not what head coach Mike O’Shea had in mind when he started the season 5-1.

There is not a team in the CFL, other than perhaps the RedBlacks, who needs a bye this week as badly as the Bombers. Well, Ottawa is in the midst of its bye while the Bombers don’t do battle again until they play host to Hamilton on Sept. 27.

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Nic Grigsby: not much offence. (Photo by Jeff Miller)

Let’s hope some time away from the game does this Bombers crew some good. Let’s also hope that the two-week break means Drew Willy will be ready for the Ti-Cats. Because without him, the Bombers look like they’re barely ready for the Bisons.



If You Drink the Kool-Aid, It’s All About Goaltending

On the verge of their 2014-15 training camp, the Winnipeg Jets are expected to finish last in the Central Division. Almost every so-called expert in North America agrees that Winnipeg and Nashville will battle for seventh in the Central.

That’s not at all surprising. After this summer’s “free agent signing frenzy” (TSN’s words, not mine), most of the other teams in the division signed players that would, on paper at least, make them better: Derek Roy, Mike Ribeiro, Anton Volchenkov, Olli Jokinen and James Neal in Nashville (a team that improved dramatically); Brad Stuart, Jesse Winchester, Zach Redmond, Jarome Iginla, Bruno Gervais and Daniel Briere in Colorado; Brett Sutter, Jordan Schroeder, Justin Falk and Thomas Vanek in Minnesota; Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, Anders Lindback and Jussi Rynnas in Dallas; Brad Richards, Cody Bass, Kyle Cumiskey, Michael Leighton, Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Scott Darling in Chicago; and Paul Stastny, Carl Gunnarson, Nate Prosser, Peter Mueller, Chris Butler and John McCarthy in St. Louis.

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Michael Hutchinson (Photo by Jeff Miller)

In Winnipeg, Mathieu Perreault and T.J. Galiardi are new, while Michael Hutchinson, who finished the 2013-14 season in Winnipeg, will replace Al Montoya as the backup goalie.

The Hockey News wrote: “The Jets have puttered along between 80 and 87 points for five straight seasons and the mediocrity will continue. They lost 20 of 29 games against the Central last season, and every team in the division except them made major improvements.”

That’s mean.

But let’s drink the Kool-Aid. Let’s admit we understand and agree with general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff’s approach to building a playoff-calibre hockey team.

We agree that Cheveldayoff believes he has a solid core group – Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd, Evander Kane, Mark Scheifele, Michael Frolik, Dustin Byfuglien Bryan Little, Mathieu Perreault, Tobias Enstrom, Jacob Trouba, Zach Bogosian, Mark Stuart, Grant Clitsome, Keaton Ellerby and Ondrej Pavelec – that will eventually reach the post-season together.

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Evander Kane (Photo by Jeff Miller)

Now, that we’ve consumed a couple of gallons of Jets Kool-Aid, we’ll go with the argument that this team is generally young – Kane, Scheifele, Trouba, Bogosian etc. – and therefore will get exponentially better as the seasons go by. As the Chevy disciples will tell you: “No need to build from the outside, these guys will get better and eventually they will take us to the Promised Land.”

OK, sure, why not? Fact is, in 2013-14, the Winnipeg Jets were 37-35-10, 11th in the West and last in the Central Division. However, counting all overtime and shootout games, the Jets were 21-26 in one-goal games (13-10 in overtime and shootout games). One might argue if the goaltending had been just a bit better, the Jets might have made the playoffs. They needed seven more points. Four extra wins. With 26 one-goal losses, that isn’t asking all that much.

Especially when you consider how lousy the Jets goaltending was last season (sure, we could blame the defense for a lot of it, but… no let’s blame the goalie).

Pavelec, the team’s regular starting goaltender, was 45th in a 30-team league in save percentage at .901 and 45th in goals against average at 3.01. For a guy who is considered the No. 1 goalie going forward, a guy making $3.75 million this season, his numbers were horrible last season.

To his credit, it’s not like he didn’t know it.

“I wasn’t happy last year with the way I played,” he told a gaggle of reporters at the MTS Iceplex earlier this week. “It’s not a secret. I want to be better to help the team to get the two points. That’s my goal. I’m not going to say anything about what happened in December and January. I just want to focus for next game and try to help the team win.”

Pavelec by Jeff Miller If You Drink the Kool Aid, Its All About Goaltending

Once again, this guy has to be better. (Photo by Jeff Miller)

Once again, to his credit, he dropped a load of weight and got into what he says, is the best shape of his career. He obviously wants to be better.

“I’d like to be better in anything,” he said. “I mean, even in some games that didn’t go the way I wanted… I just want to be there for my team every night. It doesn’t help when you play well for two games then don’t the next two. I want to be better for every game and help the team. Last year, we changed the coach and it wasn’t easy for me or the team. This year is a new start and a new change.”

Paul Maurice, with a full season as head coach, will make the Jets a little better. Jacob Trouba (only 65 games in 2013-14), Mark Scheifele (63 games), Evander Kane (63 games) and Zach Bogosian (55 games) should be healthier (and in Kane’s case, smarter). Mathieu Perreault should fill a hole on the third line.

However, if the goaltending isn’t significantly better, it’s going to be another long, difficult season.