Discussion in 'Saskatchewan Rush Forum' started by Vin, Sep 14, 2017.
I haven't been around these parts in a long time. Anyway, I am not crazy that the Rock aren't coming in this season. I had hoped that the Rush would rectify that by playing their home preseason game against them, but instead on November 18th (less than a month away!) they will be playing the Georgia Swarm. It will be interesting to see how people take to Evan Kirk, Aaron Bold was beloved in Saskatchewan. For any CFL fan though, you know how we have a love/hate relationship with our QB our relationship with our goalie is the same, leaving Sasktel Centre after losses, I always heard people comment on how bad Bold looked tonight, after wins, it was always how great Bold looked tonight.
It does seem like the Rush have taken a lot of the ticket sales and sponsorship sales away from the WHL's Saskatoon Blades. I went to the Blades game against Vancouver and there was 2,500 people in attendance. Yes it was a Wednesday night, but 3,000+ is the norm for midweek Blades games and 4,500+ for weekend games. The biggest thing I noticed was that there were giant white spots on the boards. What I mean is that the sponsorship money has gone so far to the Rush, that the Blades cannot fill the boards with ads. A few others were ripped, leading me to believe that the Blades put up old ads just so it didn't look so bad. I was on the hard camera side (all WHL games are streamed online), so I suspect the boards in front of me were filled. I had heard last season that the Blades "donated" ads on the boards to long time sponsors. What I mean is that businesses were not interested in supporting the Blades and had thrown their money behind the Rush, so the Blades said would you be willing to take a free spot and some, not all, said sure. It tells you something when the Blades can't even give away ads. It doesn't help their cause that they have been a rotten team, with a former manager of a car dealership as GM (seriously the owner appointed his son as GM and as best I can tell this is his first hockey job), so that doesn't help the public perception. In an effort to try and win back long time fans, they changed their jerseys back to a retro look, however unlike most retro looks, this one is terrible. Their retro uniforms are a garish bright yellow and blue, with a logo officially known as the Pac Man logo because it resembles Pac Man. Their uniforms last year featured a modern logo (that I have noticed many lower level teams across the country had adapted for themselves), with a few shades of blue and black. I enjoy hockey and will probably go to a few more Blades games this winter, but I don't follow the team as I did as a kid. In fact, I feel more attachment to the Junior A Lloydminster Bobcats than I do to the Blades.
Anyway, tonight was an illustration of how much the Rush have taken over Saskatoon. The Blades want nothing to do with the Rush, they hide the banners during games. Jimmy Quinlan's retired number is the only one that is visible and that is only because they placed it over the bench where it is very difficult to get to to roll it up. This summer there was a report Bruce Urban had offered to buy the Blades from the Priestner family as he wanted synergy between the brands. From what I had heard, he offered them a nice profit on the price they paid a few years ago to buy it from the long time ownership. They refused it. I heard Urban had made an offer of working together after they rebuked his purchase. He reportedly offered to make it a condition of sale that the Rush rinkboard ad sales be accompanied by a purchase of Blades rinkboard ads at a lower price. He also wanted to work out some ticket offers for Rush season ticket holders for the Blades. Throw in a free Blades ticket with each Rush season ticket or something like that, in the hopes that fans would get hooked on going to Blades games. The Priestners said no thanks and tonight proved they should have done so. I do suspect that a little of this has to do with business rivalry between the two groups' primary businesses. Both are Edmonton based, Bruce Urban owns Western RV Sales, with a number of locations across Western Canada, the Priestner family owns Go Auto Sales, with a number of locations across Western Canada (oddly enough neither has a dealership in Saskatoon). So it would be a bit like Coke buying Dr. Pepper from Pepsi (in Canada Dr. Pepper is bottled by Pepsi), but both deals seemed like can't lose from the Blades' side.
On the Rush side, they have managed to convince Saskatoon Coop (a larger retailer that has gas stations, grocery stores and home centres) to buy the Rush a new turf in exchange for Rush games being officially played at Saskatoon Coop Field at Sasktel Centre. I believe he struck a similar deal in Edmonton to get the carpet they currently play on. I seem to recall it was Crystal Glass Field at Rexall Place (they may have even dropped the Rexall Place part). Apparently, the new carpet will cost $400,000. I have no idea whether that means the carpet will be incredibly fancy or what, but it is definitely a good move. My own selfish side hopes that the new carpet is erasable, as I would love to see an indoor football team in Saskatoon (though those leagues are slowly dwindling away, which is good for the NLL as it opens up potential ownership groups and arenas).
The Rush also went out and hired Mia Gordon to be their official reporter and create exclusive team content for them. She has recently moved to Sportsnet 650 radio in Vancouver, so she will likely be flown out for Rush game weekends and has already filed a few reports on the Rush's social media pages. I gather this means her work with the league will be cut back or be heavily Saskatoon based. Whether or not long time fans of the league will like this, the NLL is going to turn into the CFL. What I mean by this is where league news is dominated by Saskatchewan, with a diminished focus on the other teams. Our unofficial mascot/super fan the Rush Hulk (who I have no idea what he does for a living, aside from dressing up in a super elaborate and expensive Incredible Hulk outfit) is organizing another bus trip to Calgary for the game January 27th. From what I understand he has four buses lined up from the charter company for the trip and they will add more if interest exceeds that number. Last year they ran two buses to the season ender at the Dome. I have also heard chatter from Rush fans looking at going to the game at the ACC and to a degree at the LEC too. At least within Canada, I suspect as each season goes, the Rush fanbase will become a bit more like the Riders fanbase. Not only do we pack them in in Saskatchewan, we travel well and pack games in other cities too. The Eskimos and Stampeders ask the CFL to try and schedule a home game against the Riders on long weekends in the summer, as fans will travel.
That is my rambling news from Rushland. Oh forgot the best news I heard all off season, the Rush are working with their merch suppliers to get 4XL in all their designs! I am a big guy and have been hounding them for 4XL merch since the day they arrived in Saskatoon. I have two identical generic logo t-shirts and two jerseys, but I would love more stuff. I have about 5 hats and don't need any more hats. So big guy merch is key, would love a bunnyhug (hoodie for all of you from outside Saskatchewan and yes we do call them bunnyhugs) and maybe a heavier jacket. I've been spoiled by the Riders since they automatically have everything in 4XL for the hoggies and simply sell it to the fans too. I can't wait to walk into the two different Rush merchandise locations (yes they actually have two storefronts selling Rush merchandise in the Saskatoon area, though one doubles as their office) and find stuff that actually fits me.
They have done a great job of promoting the team all summer too. They have a Rush monster truck that they have been taking to every small town parade in Saskatchewan. The Crush Dancers have been at every event (I sure hope those ladies are paid well) imaginable around the province. They even have a 51' Semi Trailer that they have started driving around Saskatchewan. The latest pictures of it I saw, were sitting at the Saskatchewan Legislature Building in Regina (the pictures didn't show it, but they were posted the same day as a Rider home game, coincidence? I think not.). I was at the store/office picking up my preseason game tickets and overheard a ticket rep telling someone on the phone that all lower bowl tickets for that game are sold out as are the first few rows of the upper level. I believe that means there will at least be 8,000 in the building for the game on November 18 and that is before the public can even buy them. They don't go on sale for non-season ticket holders until November 1.
Lacrosse fever has reached such a fevered pitch that there was a proposal put toward City Council to build a three floor lacrosse arena, not a hockey rink that they can play lacrosse on in the summer, but a dedicated three floor lacrosse arena. It was deemed a high priority by City Council to build too. As well, there is a new pro field lacrosse league that is supposed to spring up next summer called the Canadian Professional Lacrosse League and they have made Saskatoon one of their priority cities. I am not sure whether field lacrosse will go over well, but based on the Facebook posts the majority of people following the league are Saskatoon based. I am cautious about the league and I would not be a season ticket holder that first season based on what I know about the guy who is starting it. But if it gets going, I will definitely attend all of Saskatoon's games. It was mentioned that the founder met with a group in Saskatoon who were interested in owning a team, so my suspicion is that Bruce Urban is that interested party. If it is like pretty much every other pro team that has been in Saskatoon (aside from the Rush and that is simply a capacity issue), we will lead the CPLL in attendance too. I do fear if Bruce is running the team, he may end up running the whole league depending who else is involved just that he strikes me as someone who doesn't want his venture to fail. So he might prop up the rest of the league to make sure it survives the whole season.
(Who knew that there was a 10,000 character limit on posts here? I certainly didn't.)
I am interested to see what the response is toward Aaron Bold at the home opener though. A portion of the fanbase seems to think that you boo anyone who left. Zack Greer was booed in his return last season. While I do think booing an opponent when they score is essential, booing a guy simply because he asked to be traded is a bit much. Bold didn't ask, from what I heard management wanted him to take a pay cut and he said no, so they franchised him and then traded him. A little different than Greer because it was widely reported the deal was requested by him. So people were definitely thinking he was a traitor etc. etc. A large portion of the fanbase I believe, thinks this is the CFL, if not the NHL. What I mean is that they believe that these players' primary job is to play professional sports. The Riders live during the season in Regina and only play football (well the vast majority anyway, I know of a few due to the demands of their offseason jobs, have to put in their fulltime hours and be a Rider), so a lot of the fanbase assumes the same about the Rush other than they don't live here. So it means fans don't get it when Greer or Adam Jones are traded due to work or family reasons.
The job issue is one area where the Rush have faltered. I know the Mammoth have a person that attempts to secure jobs in Denver for as many players as are interested. I have no idea the numbers who do live in Denver, but I have heard that a good number do during the season. Thus, instead of flying in for the home games, many have no travel aside from driving to the Pepsi Center. With the sponsorships the Rush have, it should be fairly easy, depending the dayjobs of many of the players, to find them employment here. There is usually one or two players that live here in Saskatoon. I know Ryan Dilks did the first year and I forget who did last year. I do think Aaron Bold is going to find it difficult next season in New England. I know he runs a fitness centre (I am not sure whether it is a high end sports training centre or a gym exactly) and lives in Edmonton. So it means he will have to fly across the country for each Black Wolves game and it will likely take him longer to fly to those games than it would for him to drive to Saskatoon. I am almost certain that if Edmonton gets a team for 2019 and he hasn't retired yet (as he is one of the older players on the Rush), he will be the starter in Edmonton.
Yeah, I wasn't crazy about not having a visit from the Rock either. There's certain players I just like watching play, even if they're on the opposing team, and I'd put Jones and Schreiber on that list.
As far as the preseason game goes, one thing that will be interesting attendance-wise is if the Riders can make a good playoff run. And if they end up not crossing over, then there would potentially be the West Final in Calgary on the following Sunday, and many people might travel for that. That would hurt sales for the pre-season game.
It's obvious the Blades are jealous of the Rush's success and want nothing to do with them. The Rush have done promotions with the Prince Albert Raiders in the past, had members of the Regina Pats as featured guests at the games, etc. It's not a stretch to assume the same offers have been made to the Blades. It also appears that the Blades may be screwing around with the Rush by using their leverage in the arena deal they have with Sasktel Centre. Why is the schedule so backloaded with home games in March and April? Because the Blades have a deal with Sasktel Centre which gives them first choice of dates. They tried to take as many Saturdays as they could up to the end of their schedule. Perhaps that's better for business for them as well, but one could speculate it's a tactic to hurt the Rush considering all of the rumoured bad blood stories between the two organizations. Apparently it's a 10 year deal for the Blades for that priority, but from what I've read in the media about it, it may be a 5 year deal with an opportunity for either side to back out after 5 years, and if not, then is extended another 5 years. If that is actually the case, I sincerely hope the Sasktel Centre backs out of it if they have the chance. The Rush are paying their bills to a much greater extent than the Blades are, and they and their fans should be made a priority if the opportunity comes up to do so.
Don't quote me on this, but something is ringing a bell with me that he's a firefighter. Awesome that he does what he does though for the fans and the team. He shows up to quite a few city events and charity events in full costume. I've never met him but seems like a pretty good guy.
Would be awesome if we got that facility, but likely they'd have to share time with indoor soccer and ball hockey. That's the difficulty right now with box lacrosse in the city. It only lasts about 6-8 weeks from late April to mid June because facilities are too booked up with other sports the rest of the year.
It would be interesting to see field lacrosse here, but I'm skeptical of how successful it would be for a number of reasons. Number one, the talent pool wouldn't be as good as what fans are used to as most of the NLL players would likely still play box in BC or Ontario over this league. Also, field lacrosse doesn't carry the party atmosphere like a Rush game does, so getting people to carry over from one to the other might be difficult. The Rush rely on the college crowd quite a bit to get those sellouts, and most of that crowd is gone for the summer working. Also, it overlaps with Rider season, and obviously that would be a priority over lacrosse for the majority of people I would guess.
I think the Rush have to be very careful about marketing that game as "the return of Aaron Bold to Sasktel Centre" as he might not even play. Doug Jamieson had quite a summer season this year, didn't lose a single game all the way to the Minto. I think he's the reason they were confident in trading Kirk away, and there's a good chance he'll be their #1 guy over Bold. Come expansion draft next year, I bet they protect Jamieson and Bold possibly goes to San Diego in that draft (unless they go after Scigliano or Del Bianco, whoever Calgary doesn't protect). There's a chance Bold might be a Jones/Greer type player this year, being put on the Hold Out list repeatedly for games he can't make it to because of the travel. If people think Saskatoon is hard to get to, try Uncasville, CT. From Edmonton, it would be about 8 hours of flying (by the time you factor in connections, clearing customs, etc) plus another 2 hours on the road from Boston to Uncasville. Unless there's some way of getting there by way of Providence or Hartford, but I would guess that flights to those locations would be much less frequent than Boston from where you have to connect from (likely either Toronto or Minneapolis).
I think you are wrong about the Greer thing though. He wasn't booed because of the trade. I don't think many people in that building would even know about the rumour (if that is even true to begin with). But when he was awarded his championship ring for the 2016 season, even though he was now with the Mammoth, the sold out crowd gave him a standing ovation. Any "booing" that he got wasn't directed at him personally, just the opposing team in general.
I don't think Dilks lived in Saskatoon at all, but I could be incorrect. If my memory serves me correctly, he lives in Edmonton, so it's relatively easy to get him in for promo events as it's a quick flight or relatively quick drive. The player who lived in the community in year one was Nik Bilic, and from what I heard, in year two Mike Messenger lived here during the season. It would be nice to see more guys in the community, unfortunately the circumstances as of now make that not possible.
The one thing I am worried about though with the fan base is the upcoming expansion draft. Obviously I have no idea what Keenan is going to do, and who he is going to protect. I have a list of who I speculate would be protected, and if I'm anywhere close to correct, there might be some pissed off fans come next year. Judging by some of the comments on the Rush's Facebook page, some people are taking their fandom too personally or want to question everything that Keenan is doing without understanding the limitations of the CBA and also the limitations of the players who have commitments outside of the game.
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