Possibly the only place in the world where futball will take a back seat to football today is at Mosaic Stadium where the Riders will square off against the B.C. Lions at 2:30 p.m. This is the first exhibition game for both squads, so the odds of it being an exciting well-paid game are pretty remote.
Next Sunday (June 20) the Riders will close out the exhibition season with a game in Calgary against the Stampeders, while that same day B.C. will host the Edmonton Eskimos at the new temporary outdoor facility that the Lions will play in during the 2010 season while B.C. Place undergoes major renovations.
For Rider fans grumbling about having to sit through a game where a bunch of untested rookies and ill-prepared veterans stumble around the field, remember that up until the mid-80s or so the CFL exhibition season actually consisted of four games — two at home, and two away. In the West conference, the regular season back then was 16 games, while in the East it was 14 games. And if you think that’s bad, in the NFL of that era, teams played six exhibition games, followed by a 14 game regular season (as opposed to the four exhibition and 16 regular season games that teams play now).
Anyway, for anyone at Mosaic Stadium, or tuning in on SaskTel Max where the game is being broadcast, the key battles to keep an eye on won’t be happening between Riders and Lions, they’ll be happening between teammates. Who will step forward, for instance, and claim the back-up QB job behind starter Darian Durant? Also, who will manage to get a leg up in the race to replace D-lineman John Chick and Stevie Baggs who the Riders lost to the NFL in the off-season. Finally, the Riders have a whole pile of O-lineman in camp. Most are quality players too, so the competition for starting and back-up positions will be fierce.
Even if the game sucks, it should still be worth watching on the tube to hear Heath “Hellcat” Mulligan calling the action. This is Hellcat’s CFL debut, but according to long-time fans of the league, he’s definitely a broadcaster to watch, having already been compared favourably to CFL legends Fred Scambati and Ernie Halfacanofgas.
Musicwise tonight, horror punk veterans The Misfits are at the Distrikt. And at the Exchange, Australian group An Horse is playing. They’ll be backed up by Regina country chaunteuse, and recent prairie dog cover woman, Belle Plaine. To close out, here’s the video for the Misfits’ “Hell Night”. (YouTube)