Retaining key cogs top priority for Blue

TED WYMAN, QMI agency

, Last Updated: 11:40 PM ET

Jonathan Hefney re-signing is not going to turn the Bombers from a 4-14 team to an instant playoff contender.

But it’s certainly better than the alternative.

The Bombers absolutely could not afford to let Hefney go to another CFL team. This is a team that has limited assets in recent seasons and Hefney was absolutely one of them.

Had he bolted for the B.C. Lions or the Calgary Stampeders, it would have raised the question if players even want to play in Winnipeg any more.

The Bombers had a sad-sack record last year but I think we all know they were better than it indicated.

Things looked promising on defence with the likes of Hefney, Jovon Johnson, Clint Kent, Alex Suber, Deon Beasley and Marcellus Bowman. They still have defensive linemen Doug Brown and Dorian Smith as well.

That nucleus gives them something to build on even though they lost dynamic defensive lineman Phil Hunt to the NFL.

If Bombers GM Joe Mack really wants to make a statement, he’ll go and get Kevin Huntley from the Toronto Argonauts (he was 50-50 on re-signing Tuesday night) to try to replace Hunt. If not Huntley, Mack needs to go and get someone who can make a difference.

The bottom line is the status quo is not going to be good enough for a 4-14 team.

They are not likely to have a worse record next year, but if they don’t improve significantly Mack’s going to bear a good share of the blame.

BIG WINNER: Winnipeg’s Mark Balacko has earned the distinction of collecting the largest payout on a single PRO-LINE ticket ever awarded in Western Canada.

Balacko won $231,253.80 on Feb. 1, the day he wagered on six games and predicted the outcomes correctly.

“It was the greatest thing that every happened to me.” Balacko said. “The best day of my life.”

Balacko. who purchased his ticket at Fred’s Newsstand in St. Boniface, predicted four NHL games would end in ties and also bet on a couple of basketball games. The odds are long on such a wager, which is why he got the lottery-like award.

Balacko plans to spend some of his winnings right away, eyeing trips to Florida and maybe to next year’s Super Bowl.

“I am going to invest some of it and I’d also like to take a trip to Argentina. And a Lexus would be nice.”

Nice work, Mark.

BRONZED: Good day for Manitoba at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax. Tanis Milne of Winnipeg and Caroline Sims of Minnedosa took home the bronze medal in the female team air rifle competition.

Manitoba now has two bronze medals to show for its efforts on the week.

SWIMSUIT SEASON: The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition hit newsstands Tuesday and there’s a distinct Canadian flavour.

Several pictures of athlete-models were taken in Banff, much to the delight of the Banff Lake Louise Tourism board.

The front cover features Russian model Irina Shayk, who also happens to be the girlfriend of soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.

See, it actually does have something to do with sports.

ted.wyman@sunmedia.ca


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