CALGARY - While few fathomed the B.C. Lions could turn their season around in such remarkable fashion, there was one CFL visionary who saw it coming.
His name: Dave Dickenson.
Five weeks into the season, the Calgary Stampeders offensive coordinator was asked privately which team he saw as the CFL’s best at that point.
His answer: The Lions. Yes, the only team in the league without a win in its first five outings.
Four months later, the Lions capped off a 12-1 run by winning the Grey Cup in Vancouver Sunday.
And they did it on the arm of Travis Lulay, who Dickenson pegged years earlier as a future star.
As a two-time Grey Cup-winning quarterback, Dickenson’s ability to read teams and situations made him one of the most accurate passers in league history.
That same ability has served him well as a young coach and prognosticator.
Perhaps another calling would be sports wagering, as few would have guessed a turnaround of any sort in B.C. could have included a west division title and a Grey Cup.
Now for more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world wondering what Joe Kapp and Angelo Mosca are going to do for an encore.
AROUND THE HORN
One of the items on the NHL Board of Governors’ agenda next week is a proposal to start an executive MBA program at the University of Calgary for hockey administration to groom future hockey executives. Call it Hockey U. Spearheaded by agent Ritch Winter, the concept has GM Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs on board along with the support of Hockey Canada and the Players’ Association. The hope is that all teams and the league will back it as well by using the first-of-it’s-kind program to develop “first-round executives” much like teams do on the ice. When told of the program Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said he liked the idea so much he’d be interested in taking the two-year correspondence program, which will be designed for people who already have jobs inside or outside the hockey world. As the league tries hard to expand globally, compete with other major sports league and effectively use new media it will take bright minds for the NHL to continue growing its brand, making Hockey U a brilliant option … Brendan Shanahan shrugged off the idea that Sidney Crosby’s goal-crease elbow to the face of Nick Foligno Friday night would be considered for supplementary discipline. Crosby got a two-minute penalty on the play and Shanahan said that was enough as it was a scrap/scrum in which both players engaged. He said if that was a major transgression in the eyes of the league “there’d be 100 suspensions already.”
One of the feel-good stories of the season belongs to former Flames sparkplug Eric Nystrom whose career appeared in jeopardy when sent to the minors by Minnesota earlier this season. Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk acquired the 28-year-old mucker from the Wild to keep his team at the salary cap floor and has been rewarded with seven goals so far by ol’ Ny. Nieuwendyk said Saturday he made the move only after calling around and hearing from one former Flame how much Nystrom was liked and missed in Calgary … Nieuwendyk said it was “like a three-year cloud had been lifted” from the organization last week when Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi rescued the team from bankruptcy. With more than $12 million in salary cap room to play with, Nieuwendyk said he has been given the green light to spend more money on a team that has emerged as a surprise early contender. “If there was something that makes sense, we’d certainly look at it,” the recently-inducted Hall of Famer said. Of course, such talk will lead many to connect the dots and suggest Jarome Iginla would be an ideal candidate, especially since Iginla co-owns the Kamloops Blazers with Gaglardi. It’s a romantic notion given Iginla became a Flame in exchange for Nieuwendyk, but it’s unlikely Dallas would be one of the destinations Iginla would approve of. And that’s not just because of his hatred for Steve Ott … Relax, Vancouver. We said Grey Cup is a riot, not that there’d be one.