Eski-woes extend off the field

BOB STAUFFER

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

Maybe it is just a reflection on a 5-8-1 football team, but apathy is really starting to set in with some Edmonton Eskimo fans.

When callers to radio shows are saying, "You know, I am done with the Eskimos this season, I am giving away my tickets for the final couple of games," alarm bells should be going off in president and CEO Rick LeLacheur's office.

The once proud, so-called flagship franchise of the CFL, is going through tough times right now, some on the field, some off.

The Eskimos have had a real rash of injuries and losing star quarterback Ricky Ray will likely be the final nail in the coffin on the 2007 season.

With the new salary management system in place, LeLacheur appears steadfast in not going over the CFL cap. This has hurt the team on a couple of fronts.

The Eskimos lack depth with quality Canadians, which has been evident by the drop off in special teams.

After not taking the CFL Canadian college draft seriously enough for several years, the Eskimos took a step in the right direction by appointing Dan McKinnon as the director of Canadian scouting a couple of seasons ago. The problem is Canadians take a couple of years to develop, and the Eskimos can no longer buy off their mistakes of the past, by spending on Canadian free agents.

The tightening of the purses has also resulted in fewer imports kicking around, ready to step into the lineup when an import starter goes down.

This has been further compounded by director of player personnel Paul Jones going on a cold streak. Case in point last week - all three healthy Eskimos' quarterbacks were from Jones stomping grounds, the, state of Louisiana. And none of those three appearing ready to play.

Makes you yearn for the days of Matt Dunigan, Damon Allen and Tracy Ham, doesn't it?

The fans aren't getting fooled either as the quality of product on the field is not there.

PP MacT's exposed nerve?

I was stunned that Edmonton Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish got into it with TSN's Ryan Rishaug after the Oilers underwhelming 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.

MacTavish accused Rishaug of always looking for negatives, which is dubious on a couple of fronts. Anyone who has heard Rishaug on Total Sports knows that he is a MacTavish supporter.

As for the night in question, the Oil had just lost their seventh straight game to the Wild, and made Nicklas Backstrom look like Patrick Roy. And, with no answer to Derek Boogard, the Oilers opted to play a classic road no-hitter.

So, was Rishaug supposed to focus on the numerous positives surrounding the game?

It is early in the season, and it will take time for the team to gel with off-season additions but asking a coach for a comment on the power play when a team is 0-for-16 on the season is legitimate and fair.

So next time MacT, just answer the question.

Broad Street Bullies II

If the last couple of weeks are any indication the Broad Street Bullies are back.

Evidently, the Philadelphia Flyers and GM Paul Holmgren have gone back to the future to restore pride in the Flyers organization after last year's disastrous season.

First it was Steve Downie's preseason hit on Dean McAmmond. Now, Jesse Boulerice's attack on Canucks agitator Ryan Kesler. It was ugly and left the NHL no option but to suspend him for 25 games after the Downie precedent was set.

But Holmgren should also receive some sort of sanction for having meatheads like Boulerice, Downie, et al, in his lineup.

Dear Toronto...

This may be difficult for people in the big smoke to understand especially since they change a light bulb, by holding it there and having the rest of Canada revolve around it!

But Toronto needs the NFL a helluva lot more than the NFL needs Toronto!


Videos

Photos