He's Iron Guts Kelly

TED WYMAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

There was once a character on an episode of M.A.S.H. called Iron Guts Kelly.

Somehow that name seems apropos for someone who recently returned to the Winnipeg sports scene.

Love him or hate him, you have to admit, Winnipeg Blue Bombers new head coach Mike Kelly has intestinal fortitude.

Right or wrong, Kelly has put his own emphatic stamp on this team, has made bold decisions and has stuck to his convictions.

He's also created a few seasons worth of controversy before he has even coached his first game.

From the release of Kevin Glenn to the trade of Zeke Moreno and the anointing of untested newcomer Stefan LeFors as the likely starting quarterback, Kelly has managed to keep the Bombers firmly entrenched in the public consciousness this entire off-season.

I can't remember any time when more people had an opinion about a coach who hasn't even stepped on the field yet.

Many people are questioning his decisions, while others see a team that needed to be blown up and are happy Kelly is leaning on the detonator.

Either way, the start of Kelly's tenure in Winnipeg has been bumpy -- albeit highly entertaining -- and all the publicity he has generated is going to make this a pressure-packed first season.

Somehow it seems unlikely he'll get the usual honeymoon period afforded to new coaches -- at least in the minds of the fans who are already judging him at this remarkably early stage.

But you get the feeling he can handle a bit of pressure.

Given how much of it he has created for himself, perhaps he even thrives on it.

Good old Iron Guts.

ROCK STAR: Manitoba skip Jeff Stoughton found out he had a fan on Thursday at the Brier when he was approached by one Shannon Smadella, who just happens to hold the title of Miss Canada. The lovely young lady explained that she is a huge curling fan and one of her main goals at the Brier was to meet Stoughton, a rock star, er, curler she has always admired. Seems she grew up in Cranberry Portage and spent a lot of time watching Stoughton curl. She managed to meet her curling idol (and his family) and get a picture (the one attached to this column) as a souvenir. We would suspect it's one Jeff didn't mind posing for either.

FIGHTING WORDS: A good friend of mine will call me a bleeding heart but it seems the NHL made a progressive but not radical move by proposing a rule change to curb staged fights. Fighting is part of hockey when players get caught up in the heat of the moment while battling in the corners or in front of the net. It's not necessary to have players dropping the gloves off the faceoff to display their pugilistic prowess and put on a show of toughness for their teammates. And let's not forget, the addition of a 10 minute misconduct will only curb those types of "show fights," not end them. So Georges Laraque and Riley Cote get 15 minutes instead of five. Is that really going to hurt a team so much? We think not.

PETER PUCK: Fans who grew up in Winnipeg hating the Edmonton Oilers and fans from a "City of Champions" that lost its most prized possession when Wayne Gretzky was traded away for cash, probably share the same sentiment about Peter Pocklington: It couldn't happen to a better guy ... Here's hoping when the Buffalo Bills play their home game in Toronto this year, they let Terrell Owens call all the timeouts. Those would be T.O.'s, T.O.s in T.O. ... Heard Henrik Stenson had to strip to make a shot during the CA Championship this week and my first thought was: Did his drive not make it past the ladies tee? ... Is the World Baseball Classic over yet? No? Someone wake me up when it is.

ted.wyman@sunmedia.ca


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