The Blair Necessities



Riders Sign Four From 2016 Draft




The Saskatchewan Roughriders are pleased to announce the signing of four players from the 2016 CFL Draft class.

Kicker Quinn Van Gylswyk, linebacker Alex Ogbongbemiga, offensive lineman Alex McKay, and receiver Joshua Stanford have all signed with the team.

Van Gylswyk (6’2 – 192) was selected by the Riders in the third round, 26th overall. The 25-year-old Victoria native has spent the last three seasons at the University of British Columbia where he was named a two-time CIS All-Canadian and two-time Canada West All-Star. Last season, Van Gylswyk led Canada West kickers with a 83.3% field goal percentage and a 43.6 yard punting average as the Thunderbirds marched to the Vanier Cup as CIS national champions.

Ogbongbemiga (6’0 – 235) was selected by the Green and White in the fifth round, 36th overall. The 23-year-old Calgary native spent last season with the Calgary Colts of the CJFL, recording 20 defensive tackles and one sack in four conference games. Prior to that, Ogbongbemiga spent three seasons at the University of Calgary where he recorded 26.5 defensive tackles in 17 Canada West contests.

McKay (6’4 – 300) was picked by the Riders in the sixth round, 52nd overall. The 25-year-old Winnipeg native spent the last four years at the University of Manitoba. McKay started all 32 regular season and seven postseason games during his collegiate career with the BIsons. Following last season, he was selected to participate in the 2015 CIS East-West Bowl.

Stanford (6’0 – 190) was selected by the Green and White in the eighth round, 62nd overall. The 21-year-old spent last season with the at the University of Kansas after transferring over from Virginia Tech where he spent three seasons. While at VTU, Stanford established freshman school record with 40 catches and 640 yards.  

First overall selection, Josiah St. John has yet to sign with the team while third round pick Elie Bouka is currently with the Arizona Cardinals after signing a free agent NFL deal in April. The Riders fourth round pick, David Onyemata, recently signed a league required four-year contract with New Orleans after the Saints selected him in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.

The Riders also officially announced offensive lineman Xavier Fulton is returning to the team having signed a new contract. 


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Posted on 26 May 2016 | 4:46 pm

Metro



Thursday's Games


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Posted on 27 May 2016 | 3:59 am

Yahoo Sports Blog



Desperate Warriors beat Thunder to stay alive

Kevin Durant (L) and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder defend against Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors during Game Five of the Western Conference FinalsStephen Curry scored 31 points as the defending champion Golden State Warriors kept their record-setting season alive with a 120-111 win over Oklahoma City in game five of their Western Conference playoff. After a record-setting 73 regular season wins, desperation set in for Golden State on Thursday as they now trail the Thunder 3-2 in the series. The Warriors have a daunting task ahead of them when the teams square off for game six Saturday in Oklahoma City as just nine NBA teams have rallied from being down 3-1 to win a playoff series.



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Posted on 27 May 2016 | 4:10 am

Canada.com



Jose Mourinho leaves defending champion Chelsea for 2nd time after poor start in Premier League

By Rob Harris LONDON — Jose Mourinho’s second spell as Chelsea manager ended Thursday, only seven months after he won his third Premier League title with the club. Although Chelsea is only one point above the relegation zone, the 52-year-old […]

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Posted on 17 December 2015 | 4:05 pm

T.S.N.



Batum, Jefferson lead Hornets past Trail Blazers

Go to TSN.ca for details. #TSN

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Posted on 16 November 2015 | 12:33 am

The Joy of Sox



G46: Red Sox 10, Rockies 3

Rockies - 010 100 010 -  3 10  0
Red Sox - 000 430 03x - 10 13 0
Baseball's most potent offense - 264 total runs, 5.87 runs per game - had another typical night. The hits and runs came in big bunches. Boston has collected 10+ hits in 30 of its 46 games this season. The team's batting average for May is .317, approximately 30-35 points higher than any other team.

After a quiet three innings, the Red Sox offense exploded in the fourth. Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 18 games when he blasted a solo home run over everything in left. That cut Colorado's lead to 2-1. David Ortiz walked and was forced at second by Hanley Ramirez. Jackie Bradley lined a single to left (29 games!). Travis Shaw tied the game with a single and after Bradley was forced at the plate, Blake Swihart tripled in two more runs.

In the fifth, Dustin Pedroia doubled and was replaced by Marco Hernandez (as a precautionary measure due to his hamstring); Hernandez ended up going 2-for-2 for the rest of the game. Bogaerts whiffed and Ortiz was walked intentionally. Ramirez then walked to load the bases. A fielder's choice by Bradley brought in one run and Shaw's double scored two more.

Swihart's second triple of the night scored two runs in the eighth.

Steven Wright's (7-7-3-2-7, 117) knuckleball was acting devilish early in the game. After Wright fanned the first two hitters in the first inning, Ryan Hanigan committed a passed ball on a third strikeout, giving Wright the chance to record four Ks, but the baserunner was thrown out trying to steal.

In the second, Carlos Gonzalez singled. He went to second on a passed ball, third on a wild pitch, and scored on a groundout. He singled again in the fourth, advanced to second on a passed ball, and ended up scoring on a wild pitch. The night's final tally was four passed balls for Hanigan and three wild pitches for Wright. To my eye, all seven could have been passed balls.

Chad Bettis / Steven Wright
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Shaw, 3B
Hanigan, C
Swihart, LF
A few factoids from Elias:
Jackie Bradley [is] the 44th player to get halfway to Joe DiMaggio's record hitting streak since the Yankee Clipper hit safely in 56 games in a row in 1941. Another notable, and under-the-radar streak came to an end for Boston. Besides Bradley, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts also collected hits on Tuesday, although Hanley Ramirez did not. That quartet had hits in each of Boston's previous 12 games at Fenway Park, which was the longest streak of four different players getting hits in their teams' home games in modern major-league history. Previously, the longest streak like that was 11 games, by four Indians players in 1932 (Earl Averill, Ed Morgan, Dick Porter and Joe Vosmik).

David Price improved to 7-1 in 10 games with Boston on Tuesday. The only other left-hander who won seven of his first 10 games for the Red Sox was Jesse Tannehill, who did so in the team's fourth year of existence, 1904. Tannehill was 7-3 through 10 games for Boston, which won the American League that year.

The Cubs are now 30-14, which is the fewest losses they've had at the time of their 30th win since 1918, when they started 30-12.

The Brewers won in Atlanta on Tuesday, 2-1, to drop the Braves to 2-18 at home this season. Atlanta is the third team in major league history to lose at least 18 of its first 20 home decisions in a season, joining the 1906 Red Sox (2-18) and the 1913 Yankees (2-18).

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Posted on 26 May 2016 | 2:49 am

The Blair Necessities



Riders Sign Four From 2016 Draft




The Saskatchewan Roughriders are pleased to announce the signing of four players from the 2016 CFL Draft class.

Kicker Quinn Van Gylswyk, linebacker Alex Ogbongbemiga, offensive lineman Alex McKay, and receiver Joshua Stanford have all signed with the team.

Van Gylswyk (6’2 – 192) was selected by the Riders in the third round, 26th overall. The 25-year-old Victoria native has spent the last three seasons at the University of British Columbia where he was named a two-time CIS All-Canadian and two-time Canada West All-Star. Last season, Van Gylswyk led Canada West kickers with a 83.3% field goal percentage and a 43.6 yard punting average as the Thunderbirds marched to the Vanier Cup as CIS national champions.

Ogbongbemiga (6’0 – 235) was selected by the Green and White in the fifth round, 36th overall. The 23-year-old Calgary native spent last season with the Calgary Colts of the CJFL, recording 20 defensive tackles and one sack in four conference games. Prior to that, Ogbongbemiga spent three seasons at the University of Calgary where he recorded 26.5 defensive tackles in 17 Canada West contests.

McKay (6’4 – 300) was picked by the Riders in the sixth round, 52nd overall. The 25-year-old Winnipeg native spent the last four years at the University of Manitoba. McKay started all 32 regular season and seven postseason games during his collegiate career with the BIsons. Following last season, he was selected to participate in the 2015 CIS East-West Bowl.

Stanford (6’0 – 190) was selected by the Green and White in the eighth round, 62nd overall. The 21-year-old spent last season with the at the University of Kansas after transferring over from Virginia Tech where he spent three seasons. While at VTU, Stanford established freshman school record with 40 catches and 640 yards.  

First overall selection, Josiah St. John has yet to sign with the team while third round pick Elie Bouka is currently with the Arizona Cardinals after signing a free agent NFL deal in April. The Riders fourth round pick, David Onyemata, recently signed a league required four-year contract with New Orleans after the Saints selected him in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.

The Riders also officially announced offensive lineman Xavier Fulton is returning to the team having signed a new contract. 


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Posted on 26 May 2016 | 4:46 pm

Roto Rob



The Wire Troll: Steve Pearce Returns to Spark the Rays

Bour is finally beginning to regain his 2015 power stroke (when he bashed 23 dingers). In May, he has already gone yard five times and cut his strikeout rate in half from the first month. Bour is seeing the ball much better, as evidenced by his ridiculous 46.3 Hard hit percentage over the past three weeks, and this could be heading to a power surge into June. Get him before he's gone for good, but have a backup plan for when the Marlins face southpaws. Bour owns just two hits against lefties this season.

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Posted on 22 May 2016 | 7:17 pm

Rider Prophet



Monday Morning Sentimonies: Offensive Primer

Training Camp is now less than a week away. If I had any kind of budget this is where I would have a gospel choir singing Alleluia. Unfortunately, such choirs apparently don't accept leftover chinese food and Canadian Tire money as payment so you have to settle for me yelling ALLELUIA! Football will soon be back!

To get prepped for Training Camp I will be doing some positional previews looking at the battles to keep an eye on and the newcomers to watch. Today we start with the offense.

Quarterback
Darian Durant will retake his rightful place under centre and hopefully stay there for far longer than he has for the past two seasons. It will certainly be worth watching how he adjusts to a new offensive scheme. Though if you look at his career, adjusting to a new OC has pretty much been a yearly event for him. The more interesting battle will be for the back-up role. Even if you look back on Durant's last full season in 2013, we still needed our back-up to step in for a game or two. So while I don't expect them to play much, odds are good whoever wins the back-up role will see some time. Right now its a battle between the returning Brett Smith and newcomer BJ Coleman (though I assume 1 or 2 more QBs will be at training camp). Smith was an exciting player last season but he has some flaws in his game that it would take a last call level of drunkenness to completely over look. He will need to show he has progressed as a QB, otherwise I could see Coleman as the guy. He certainly got some mini-camp hype.

Running Back
For me this is one of the more compelling battles to watch. I assume Kendial Lawrence will be the back-up RB/kick returner/Corey Holmes-type utility guy. But there is still a void at the starter spot and the battle is wide open. One could argue that Curtis Steele is the guy to beat but I have said many times that I don't think he can be an every down back.The guys for me to watch are Malcolm Cyrus and Devrin Young.

Fullback
Certain to be the most talked about battle in the coming weeks... said no one ever. Spencer Moore likely keeps his spot (mostly because there is no other competition) and I'm okay with that because I think Moore is a good player in the roles he is asked to fill. I'll include Matt Walter here though he will likely be part fullback part back-up RB.

Offensive Line
Brendon LaBatte will play left guard... that is the only sure thing. There was going to be two sure things, the other being Bruce Campbell lining up at left tackle but his sudden retirement threw us into borderline panic mode. Odds are good that Clark and Best keep their starting spots along the interior but that is not a guarantee with guys like Andrew Jones, Aaron Picton and possibly Josiah St John around. I have even mused that Jarriel King at guard is a possibility (albeit a very unlikely one). The battle for both tackle spots will be the one to watch. Very unlikely that St John will be ready to start in year one so that leaves 6 imports competing for 2 spots (including Xavier Fulton who we will be brining back). I have Thaddeus Coleman and King as the leading candidates but would honestly not rule anyone out. One guy I will be watching is Tre'Von Armstead. He's got a troubled past including allegations of sexual assault and dismissal from Baylor for violating team rules. At 6'7 311 lbs he's got the size (though oddly enough was used as a Tight End at Baylor prior to his dismissal).

Receiver
In terms of Canadian WRs, things look pretty set. We have Bagg, Demski and Chambers with Haidara for depth. Only thing to really watch here is if Chris Jones can turn draft pick Joshua Stanford into someone who once again cares about football. But on the import side of things (I'm crusty and resistant to change so don't expect me to adopt the "international" terminology any time soon), its anything but set. You can pencil John Chiles in among the starters. I would also say that another spot is Naaman Roosevelt's to lose. It will be nice to see him in a training camp where he is not being overtly repressed in favour of over the hill veterans. The retirements of Kelley and Price open some huge opportunities for new recruits. Clarence Denmark likely starts the season among the starters at least until a new recruit unseats him. Given his size (and Jones' not so secret love of tall people), Victor Dean Jr will be a guy to watch. I also expect another couple receivers to join the training camp roster.

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Posted on 23 May 2016 | 3:54 pm

Buzzing the Net Junior Hockey



Knights' Mitch Marner approaching Memorial Cup scoring record

 

So far, Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner is having a Memorial Cup to remember — and soon it could also be a performance worthy of the record books.

Coming into the CHL championship, the London Knights winger was riding a 16-game playoff point streak that has since been stretched to 19 games after he's notched at least a point in all three of London's wins. (He’s scored 57 points in 21 postseason games). On the opening night of the Memorial Cup, Marner scored two goals and three assists for five points in the Knights’ 6-2 rout of the host Red Deer Rebels. That five-point performance was just shy of the Memorial Cup record of six points in one game last done by Mike Mathers, for the Kamloops Blazers, in 1992.

Following that five-point performance, Marner has gone on to record eight more assists in London’s two wins — the team booked a spot in Sunday’s final after going 3-0 in round-robin play — giving him 13 points for the tournament so far.

The record for most points in a Memorial Cup stands at 16, achieved by Jeff Larmer in 1982 and Guy Rouleau in 1986. With one game remaining, Marner could easily match — or exceed — that record given he’s currently scoring at a rate of 4.33 points per game. Marner’s 11 assists thus far could also threaten to topple the 31-year-old record of most assists in a Memorial Cup — 13 — set by Dan Hodgson in 1985.

But beyond his scoring prowess, Marner could become a Triple-Crown winner of individual CHL awards. Already the owner of the Red Tilson Trophy, awarded to the OHL’s most outstanding player, along with the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as the OHL’s playoff MVP, Marner is a front-runner for the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy, given to the Memorial Cup’s most valuable player.

The last player to take home all three trophies was none other than Knights alumnus Corey Perry, which is perhaps fitting seeing as how this current Knights squad has drawn comparisons to the 2004-05 team —largely considered the best in franchise history — that won London’s first Memorial Cup. (This year’s Knights OHL playoff record of 16-2 mirrored that of the ’04-’05 team, who went on to complete a perfect 4-0 Memorial Cup performance.)

In fact, Marner has been so good this tournament, there’s talk of the Toronto Marlies, down 0-3 to the Hershey Bears in third round of the Calder Cup playoffs, recalling him after the Memorial Cup concludes to help boost their offensive output. To make that possible, though, the Marlies would need to win the next two games to stretch the series beyond Sunday, when the Memorial Cup final is scheduled.

In an interview this week with the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran, Marlies GM Kyle Dubas said calling up Marner would be a “a much larger scale discussion.”

“We’ll see where we’re at, but most important where he’s at physically,” Dubas told the Star. “It’s been a lot of hockey this year: the world junior camp, our rookie tournament, NHL exhibition, OHL regular season, world juniors, four rounds of playoffs, Memorial Cup. We’ll see where Mitch is at, have a discussion with staff, and go from there.”

For now, however, Marner has a Memorial Cup final to attend — and perhaps a few records to break.


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Posted on 26 May 2016 | 5:28 pm

Sports on the Web



The Canadian Women are just hosts now as their World Cup is over.

The World Cup is over for the Canadian women in the sports news and sports on the web.  They made a valiant effort on a comeback at B.C. Place but came up just short of their goal on reaching the World Cup semi-finals for the first time.. Nerves were the main enemy of the Canadian […]

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Posted on 30 June 2015 | 4:46 pm

Vancouver Sun



Cam Cole: Under Masters boss Payne's plan, not the same old Augusta National

On TV, it will look like your father's Masters Tournament. But outside the ropes, on chairman Billy Payne's watch, it's not the same old Augusta National.

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Posted on 7 April 2016 | 6:52 pm

Rod Pederson



TOP CFL STORYLINES HEADING INTO 2016

With CFL training camps set to open Sunday, The Canadian Press takes a look at some of the storylines for each team before the 2016 regular season kicks off June 23.

B.C. Lions

What's old is new again for the Lions. Wally Buono, the CFL's all-time leader in coaching wins, returns to the sidelines for the first time since 2011. Buono, also the team's general manager and vice-president of football operations, inked quarterback Jonathon Jennings to a contract extension following a breakout rookie season. Veteran QB Travis Lulay also remains in the fold, but perhaps the most interesting battle in camp will be who the Lions choose to replace running back Andrew Harris after he signed with Winnipeg. Linebacker Solomon Elimimian's health will also be something to watch. The league's most outstanding player two years ago had his 2015 season cut short by a ruptured Achilles tendon as B.C. stumbled to a 7-11 record.

Calgary Stampeders

The Stampeders also have a familiar face taking over head coaching duties. Dave Dickenson will begin his first camp in charge after John Hufnagel, who remains the club's president and GM, stepped aside. A former Stampeders quarterback, Dickenson was Calgary's offensive co-ordinator the last five seasons after two as a position coach. The club finished 14-4 in 2015, but lost to Edmonton in the West Division final. Eric Rogers, last season's leading receiver in the CFL, signed with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers so quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell needs a new No. 1 target.

Edmonton Eskimos

The theme of a new coach continues with the reigning Grey Cup champions. Former Eskimos QB Jason Maas, the offensive co-ordinator in Ottawa last season, was hired after Chris Jones bolted to Saskatchewan. Under the leadership of quarterback and Grey Cup MVP Mike Reilly, the Eskimos finished 14-4 last season and are looking to become the CFL's first repeat winners since Montreal won its second straight title in 2010.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Hamilton made it to last season's East Division final despite losing star quarterback Zach Collaros to a serious knee injury. The Tiger-Cats, who finished 10-8 in 2015, will also have to do without Collaros to begin this season as he continues his recovery. The battle for the starting job in the interim should be the most interesting camp duel with either Jeremiah Masoli or Jeff Mathews likely getting the nod.

Montreal Alouettes

Quarterback will also be the focus for the Alouettes as Montreal looks to rebound from a dismal 6-12 mark. The club has a number of capable QBs on the roster, including veteran Kevin Glenn. Montreal signed Vernon Adams, a former star at the University of Oregon, to a three-year contract after acquiring his rights from the Lions last week. The Alouettes still have Rakeem Cato, who started four of the club's six wins in 2015, as well as Jonathan Crompton, last year's Week 1 starter.

Ottawa Redblacks

The Redblacks shocked the CFL by making it all the way to the Grey Cup in just their second year of existence. Ottawa went from 2-16 in 2014 to 12-6 in 2015 thanks in large part to the resurgence of Henry Burris. The veteran quarterback was named the CFL's most outstanding player after leading the league in passing yardage with a stellar group of receivers. Will he be able to keep it going? The Redblacks signed former Argos pivot Trevor Harris for insurance now and to be the club's quarterback of the future.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Riders finished a CFL-worst 3-15 in a 2015 season that seemed lost as soon quarterback Darian Durant went down in Week 1 with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Durant is back healthy for a club that lured Chris Jones away from Edmonton to put his stamp on the franchise as its head coach, general manager and vice-president of football operations. Another intriguing storyline will be whether or not Saskatchewan comes to terms with former University of Oklahoma offensive lineman Josiah St. John, the first overall pick in the CFL draft.

Toronto Argonauts

The Argonauts are hopeful that quarterback Ricky Ray's shoulder issues are behind him after he missed the first half of last season's 10-8 campaign. Toronto upgraded its offensive line by signing Canadian tackle Josh Bourke from Montreal, but there will be a different look in the receiving corps and return game after Chad Owens left for Hamilton. The biggest news this season is the club's move out of Rogers Centre to BMO Field. The Argonauts play their first pre-season game in their new digs on June 11.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Fans in Winnipeg were bitterly disappointed after the club stumbled to a 5-13 mark in 2015, missing the playoffs in a year when the city hosted the Grey Cup. The Bombers made a splash in the off-season by signing Winnipeg native Andrew Harris from B.C. to lead the team's running attack. Winnipeg also added former Saskatchewan slotback Weston Dressler in free agency. But like all teams, quarterback health will be paramount to the Bombers' success as Drew Willy returns from a broken leg and knee injury that cut last season short.

(Canadian Press)

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Posted on 27 May 2016 | 4:14 am

Yahoo Sports



Bryce Harper crushes giant home run to third deck at Nats park (Yahoo Sports)

Washington Nationals Bryce Harper swings to ground out in the eight inning, as a pinch hitter in a baseball game against the New York Mets, Wednesday, May 25, 2016, in Washington. New York won 2-0. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Prior to Thursday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper was probably pretty frustrated with his recent performance. The 23-year-old came into the contest hitting just .194 during the month of May, and had only clubbed two home runs. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest now ] That frustration likely intensified after Harper struck out swinging during the first inning. Instead of taking out his anger on the water cooler, Harper decided to channel that rage into a future at-bat. In the sixth inning, it came to pass. Harper put all of his hatred into one swing. The only victim was a poor, helpless baseball. On the third pitch of the at-bat, Harper obliterated an 80 mph curveball from Mike Leake. The ball was launched so far that it hit off the facing of the third deck in right field at Nationals Park.  While hitting the ball to the third deck is no easy task, Harper's blast won't threaten for the longest home run of the season. It traveled just 434 feet according to official measurements.  Texas Rangers rookie Nomar Mazara's  491 foot moonshot is safe  ... for now.  We have no reason to doubt the official data, but that seems light. We would have bought at least 480 feet based on how hard that thing was hit. It's not the first time  Harper has driven a ball out to the upper deck, but it's still incredibly impressive every time he does it. That area is usually reserved for big, powerful veterans like Adam Dunn, not a 23-year-old kid. [Elsewhere: One of the Pirates broadcasters explained his verbal feud with Tony La Russa ] Given Harper's ability to go on a tear at the plate, this home run might be just what he needed to break out of his slump. While that would make most players happy, Harper might want to stay angry. He tends to hit the ball a long way when he's angry. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik



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Posted on 27 May 2016 | 1:42 am

Toronto Sports Media



Toronto Sports Media Weekend Update

By TSM   Happy first long weekend of summer! Just some random thoughts as we head off into the killer weather we are supposed to have. I had the chance to take in the Jays game vs. Tampa on Wednesday night at the dome. I […]

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Posted on 21 May 2016 | 2:45 pm

Star Sports



Harper projects optimism for Conservative party in brief speech


VANCOUVER—Stephen Harper’s swan song to the Conservative party he helped found 13 years ago was a thank-you-and-goodnight speech with a call to rally behind the leader who replaces him next year.

In his first public comments since leading the party to defeat in 2015, Harper made no apology for the campaign or governing mistakes that led to the Conservatives’ loss of their grip on power to his third-party rival, Justin Trudeau.

Instead, Harper, 57, took a broad look at the modern Conservative party, casting it as a key player in Canada’s history and an ongoing political force to be reckoned with. He said the Conservatives have money in the bank and a role to play, despite their critics.

Speaking to 2,200 registered delegates plus an estimated 800 party staff, convention volunteers and observers, Harper acknowledged “the election last fall did not yield the results we hoped for.”

Yet he projected an optimism many of his fellow Conservatives don’t feel in the face of high public approval ratings for Trudeau’s leadership.

Harper said that for the first time in more than 100 years, a long-serving Conservative government “even in defeat has emerged strong and united, as the one and only opposition party positioned to take government the next time round.” And, in remarks prepared in advance, he said: “In 2019, perhaps more than we understand even now, our country will need a strong, united Conservative party, ready to govern.”

He didn’t announce his formal departure date, but the race to replace Harper as leader will kick off in earnest now that he has let it be widely known he is leaving politics for good after Parliament breaks for the summer. Among those seriously weighing a bid who would benefit from caucus support is former Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer, sources told the Star.

The former prime minister, who governed from 2006 to late 2015, urged members to take the long view of the period the Conservatives are coming out of, having emerged from the election with nearly 100 seats, including 12 in Quebec. He called the party’s advances in that province something he is “personally proud of.” He urged members to continue to do political outreach to bring new Canadians into the party.

If he was at all chagrined by his bruising election loss, Harper didn’t show it.

He entered the convention hall to an old campaign song, AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” was fêted in a video tribute, and joked he’s come to enjoy “being off centre stage.”

Breaking his silence after seven months, Harper reviewed the record of his government’s decade in power. He said it supported strong families, citizenship and communities, but emphasized the achievements of the past 10 years were not his alone. They required the time, money and efforts of volunteers, caucus, party staffers and national executive, Harper said.

He boasted the Conservative party is still the reigning champion of fundraising, with no corporate or union donations, and no big-ticket donors, but rather the support of tens of thousands of individual donors.

He reminded the party’s rank and file that because of all that, the future for the party is bright, clearly signalling the need to rally behind the next leader, whoever he or she may be.

Indeed, Harper’s speech was geared to portraying the party as stronger than any one leader, though he went to lengths to thank interim leader Rona Ambrose for her work since he stepped aside. He called her one of the most effective opposition leaders the country has seen.

He publicly thanked party officials, staff, his mother, late father, his children, Ben and Rachel, and wife, Laureen, in a heartfelt acknowledgment of his family’s support.

He did not make explicit reference to divisions within the party that some feel still exist along the former Reform/Canadian Alliance and PC legacy party lines. He only referred to the failed fundraising practices of “both legacy parties.” But throughout the speech was an implicit call for unity.

Harper’s speech was short — just 17 minutes long in a 90-minute program — and he was slated to leave Vancouver directly afterward.

Monte Solberg, a former Harper cabinet minister, called the speech “completely appropriate” because Harper “didn’t try to force a vision for the future of the party for people here, but left it up to them to define that future.”

Listening in the audience were three declared candidates to replace him — Michael Chong, Maxime Bernier and Kellie Leitch — none of whom appear to have roused big excitement within their caucus — and others, including Harper’s erstwhile rival and party co-founder, Peter MacKay.

MacKay, the former Progressive Conservative Party leader, was an integral part of Harper’s successive cabinets. He left politics, however, before the 2015 election, and has not explicitly declared his interest in returning to run, although sources have told the Star MacKay is seriously interested in a bid.

John Weissenberger, a longtime Harper friend and party supporter, said Harper’s speech was brief because he “really thinks it’s up to the next generation now to mould the party.” Weissenberger added there was no need to address divisions that don’t exist. “The party is more unified now than it has ever been,” he said.

Former MP Laurie Hawn agreed, saying, “People want us to be divided because it fits their narrative, but it’s just not true.”

Still, it was clear a leadership race, and vigorous debates with the potential to expose fault lines, lie ahead for party members.

At the convention, grassroots riding associations have put forward a range of policy and constitution resolutions that seek to do the following: ease any future leader’s control over the party; give greater say to ridings in the West with bigger membership numbers; insist on a national referendum prior to implementation of any future electoral reform proposal; boost the party’s appeal to younger voters through tax relief; ban unpaid internships longer than eight weeks; and enhance environmental protection policies. Other resolutions seek to modernize the party’s social policies.

A key debate is expected over a proposal to drop the definition of marriage in law as the union of one man and woman. By implication, the resolution would mean the party would recognize the validity of same-sex marriage.

There is a separate resolution that would support, however, the freedom of religious organizations to refuse to perform unions or allow the use of their facilities for events that are incompatible with their faith and beliefs.


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Posted on 27 May 2016 | 3:16 am

Ottawa Citizen Sports



Fury FC scores four in first away win in its history

Ottawa Fury FC collected the first away win in its history Saturday night

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Posted on 20 May 2014 | 6:10 am