Bombers can't punt problems with kicking game

Bombers' coach Mike Kelly. (Brian Donogh/Winnipeg Sun/SUN MEDIA)

Bombers' coach Mike Kelly. (Brian Donogh/Winnipeg Sun/SUN MEDIA)

TED WYMAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

So Burke Dales is not going to be a Winnipeg Blue Bomber and the team is once again staring into a void where the likes of Jon Ryan and Bob Cameron used to stand.

This storyline about the Blue and Gold punting position is getting a bit old, don't you think?

The Bombers hoped against hope they could pry Dales out of Calgary this off-season to finally fill the gaping hole that has been growing since Ryan took his golden leg to the NFL a few years back.

They were unsuccessful, continuing a long strong of dashed hopes.

Among those who have tried to take the job and run with it are Troy Westwood, Rob Pikula, Westwood again, Duncan Toe'Mahony (twice), Pat Fleming, Brian Claybourn, Sam Paulescu (remember him?) and finally Alexis Serna.

One of the ones who did it reasonably well was Westwood and he was unceremoniously dumped. His days with the Bombers appear to be over, even though he is a Canadian punter who wants to play.

Paulescu, an import, didn't make a huge impression in Winnipeg and was released, but he's probably all right with that since he is now the punter for the Dallas Cowboys.

Serna caught on fairly well and did a good job of placement punting as last season wore on, but his place-kicking suffered miserably and as a whole, the Bombers kicking game was a disaster.

Don't even get started talking about O'Mahony, whose history with the Bombers is weirder than a Coen Brothers screenplay.

And it's shaping up to be yet another horror show, with no experienced punter under contract and, even worse, no one with a Canadian passport expected to contend for the job.

Bombers coach Mike Kelly said so himself this week -- there are simply no qualified Canadian punters available to fill a position that is usually reserved for a non-import.

So, as it stands, the Bombers will head into the season with the incumbent Serna and Kenneth Byrd, an import who was signed yesterday, to compete for the dual role of place-kicker and punter (there's no way they are going to burn two import spots).

Byrd has a nice resume and was a two-time semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, which is given annually to the top kicker in the NCAA. Sounds great, but let's remember Serna actually won that award.

We're sure Kelly will bring in several other kickers to compete for the job, and who knows, maybe he'll find a gem.

Or maybe the Bombers will go through another season of unrest and uncertainty at the kicking positions.

Ah, who needs a kicker anyway?

TWIST IN THE TALE: A friend called Tuesday morning to tell me to wake up, the World Baseball Classic was over. Seems he noticed my column a couple weeks back when I asked for somebody to do just that -- wake me up when the yawner of the baseball tournament was over. Here's the funny thing, I was still asleep when he called because I had been up late watching the final of the World Baseball Classic. It was a hell of a game between Japan and Korea. Even went into extra innings. To be honest, I couldn't tear myself away. Who knew?

ONLY IN CANADA, EH? Nobody expected the world women's curling championship to be a big sell in South Korea, but it would be nice if it could outsell, say, a golden gals qualifying bonspiel in Libau.

The grand total of tickets sold for the world women's championship in Gangneung, South Korea stands at 34.

That is not a misprint.

And yes, that is for the entire week.

And that's with a day pass priced at $14 Canadian.

There have been a hundred or so fans in the stands for the world tournament, where Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones if representing Canada.

All giveaways.

Clearly, women's curling is only popular in Canada and remains little more than a curiosity in the rest of the world.

With only 34 paying customers for an entire week, perhaps curiosity is too strong a word.

ted.wyman@sunmedia.ca


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