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JONES: Edmonton Elks blow it up, fire CEO, general manager and head coach – Edmonton Sun

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Of course, I’m going to totally and wholeheartedly agree with what the Nervous Nine did Monday. I wrote, a month ago, that it was exactly what they should do

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The execution was excellent. And it was in triplicate.

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President & CEO Chris Presson. Fired.

General manager Brock Sunderland. Canned.

Head coach Jaimie Elizondo. Gonzo Elizondo.

It was the best performance of the season at Commonwealth Stadium, where the Edmonton Elks became the first in EE history to lose every home game.

Of course, I’m going to totally and wholeheartedly agree with what the Nervous Nine did Monday. I wrote, a month ago, that it was exactly what they should do.

This was the top of that column:

“Match. Gasoline. Boom. Blow it up. Top to bottom.

“In the entire history of EE football, it’s never been this bad before — even if you go back to 1963 and that Sad Sack two-win squad.

“The time has come to declare Edmonton to now officially having become the Late Great flagship franchise of the Canadian Football League. And it is time for the Nervous Nine board of directors of the community-owned club headed by Ian Murray and including: Tom Richards, Lindsay Dodd, Brent Hesje, Craig Corbett, Kara Flynn, Mike Bacchus, Kevin Parkes and Darryl Boessenkool to adopt a scorched-earth policy.”

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Well, they scorched it, all right. They blew it up real good.

Murray didn’t just do the right things, he said the right things. There was an honesty involving so much more than the pathetic performance of the team on the field but the real problem — so many disconnect decisions made that didn’t have to happen.

“We got to the point of unprecedented irritation with the fan base,” was how Murray phrased it at one point.

“Let’s be clear. We’ll be giving the new CEO and the new GM marching orders to be sure that they are fully connected in the community going forward. Community engagement issues are important,” Murray said in beginning to answer several very direct questions I asked following his opening statement.

“We had a lot of customer complaints and a lot of negative stuff that the board is very concerned about.”

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Edmonton Elks board chair Ian Murray, left, and interim chief operating officer Allan Watt speak at a press conference on the firing of president and CEO Chris Presson, general manager and vice-president of football operations Brock Sunderland and head coach Jaime Elizondo on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in Edmonton.
Edmonton Elks board chair Ian Murray, left, and interim chief operating officer Allan Watt speak at a press conference on the firing of president and CEO Chris Presson, general manager and vice-president of football operations Brock Sunderland and head coach Jaime Elizondo on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in Edmonton. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia

Murray, in response to one of my questions, said he thinks it is important to understand this isn’t a 2021 season thing alone.

“A lot of this disengagement is a decade or so old. It’s been a gradual issue. We’re not in the schools like we were in the old days. We’re not engaging with the multicultural community, our demographics are brutal — they’re disproportionately old, male and white, which isn’t representative of our community. The problem isn’t recent in it’s structural nature. In the near term, we just did a bunch of stuff that antagonized our core fans.

“We have a short-term problem to get our existing fans back. They are really upset with us. And we have a longer-term problem to grow the fan base so that it is more representative of the community.”

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In his opening statement, Murray said he wanted to speak to the fans.

“We had several challenges, including poor performance on the field, the COVID outbreak on the team and other issues related to the introduction of the COVID mandate and the electronic ticketing. And we did have customer-service difficulties.

“Starting essentially immediately, the club will be beginning a proactive customer engagement program with the fans and our stakeholders. We want to learn about their experiences and build on their views on and off the field,” he said of surveys, focus groups and town-hall meetings, as well as other outreaches and approaches.

“We want to hear all of the complaints and we want to hear suggestions. This includes suggestions to improve our game day experience.”

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The idea is to provide the incoming CEO with a complete picture of the problems he’ll have to cure.

“We know we have to get our existing fans re-energized and at the same time grow our fan base and improve our demographics. To this end, we’ll engage in more community-outreach programs, including schools.”

Presson was an American who had no way to relate to the community-owned concept and the history of special connections between the fans and organization.

The local headhunter firm has agreed to donate their services to find an individual to be the new CEO and you can bet they’ll be looking for someone who will have a connection to the community that absolutely ‘gets it’.

The new president and CEO, who won’t likely be announced until late January, while Allan Watt acts as the interim, won’t be hiring the new GM. That will be done on the recommendations of consultant Wally Buono, an absolutely inspired choice.

“We are pleased that Wally has set aside his traditional competitive feelings against Edmonton to help us with this important task. I can tell with talking to Wally already that we will find the general manager we need to lead this team back to excellence,” Murray said of the retired coach and GM legend.

After a season that ended with total apathy, the Elks are going to be suddenly of interest again.

E-mail: tjones@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @byterryjones

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Connor McDavid's Edmonton mansion gets misconduct for lack of colour – Toronto Sun

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McDavid and Lauren Kyle opened the doors of their uber-modern mansion to Architectural Digest

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Oilers superstar Connor McDavid and his gal pal’s design choices for their Edmonton mansion have been slammed into the boards.

McDavid and Lauren Kyle opened the doors of their uber-modern mansion to design bible Architectural Digest.

But the star was hit with a two-minute minor for bad taste — and lack of colour.

One wag tweeted: “After seeing Connor McDavid’s house I no longer wish to be rich. If it means living in a monochromatic home with no personality, how the hell am I supposed to eat pizza rolls in that house?”

Another added: “Fantastic, it’s McDavid House Tour time again, when we continue to ask the question: what did colours do to offend these two?”

But the Edmonton sniper seems proud of his posh abode that features a basketball court and a snazzy wine cellar. However, he spends a lot of his spare time rollerblading.

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“We live in Edmonton, Alberta, which for people (who) don’t know, that is a very cold place,” the 24-year-old told the magazine.

Kyle added: “Connor being the captain, we knew we were going to have to host a lot. This house feels like it’s definitely an entertainer’s home.”

Richmond Hill native McDavid agreed: “I think our house has kind of become the designated team party house.”

The couple had boffo bucks when they began their home search after he signed a monstrous, eight-year contract with the Oilers in 2017.

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And the pair seem at home in the minimalist manse — haters aside.

“I like that everything’s hidden,” Kyle says. “Even our bar, we have this brass door that slides over (it). We really wanted everything to stay clean, but then have a little bit of intrigue. Like, What’s behind?”

Still, that didn’t stop catcalls from the cheap seats, with at least one wag likening it to a serial killer’s abode.

“McDavid’s house is cool in like a hedge-fund billionaire who is secretly a serial killer kind of way,” one Twitter user commented.

bhunter@postmedia.com

@HunterTOSun

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Raptors' Birch out Friday vs. Pacers, Anunoby questionable – Sportsnet.ca

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Toronto Raptors centre Khem Birch remains out for Friday’s game against the Indiana Pacers while forward OG Anunoby is listed as questionable, according to Sportsnet’s Blake Murphy.

Murphy reported Wednesday that Birch is dealing with a lingering wear-and-tear knee issue with swelling having gone up and down over a course of weeks. The Montreal native missed a week with the same injury earlier this month. The 29-year-old is averaging 6.9 points and 5.7 rebounds over 22.9 minutes per game this season.

Anunoby, 24, hasn’t played since Nov. 15 because of an injured left hip pointer. He’s averaging a career-high 20.1 points through 15 games so far this season.

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Jacobs rink in good shape heading into last day of round robin at curling trials – SooToday

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Brad Jacobs is in a strong position heading into the final day of round robin action at the 2021 Tim Hortons Curling Trials in Saskatoon this week.

The Jacobs rink sits at 5-1 thanks to a 7-2 win in eight ends over Calgary’s Kevin Koe on Thursday afternoon at SaskTel Place.

Team Jacobs, which includes third Marc Kennedy, second E.J. Harnden, and lead Ryan Harnden, sits in second in the nine-team men’s event with a pair of games remaining in the round robin.

After blanking the opening end, Jacobs got on the scoreboard in the second with a pair after a hit and stick with his final shot.

Jacobs then limited Koe to one in the third end.

Koe proceeded to force Jacobs to a single on a draw in the fourth end before stealing one in the fifth to go up 4-1.

Koe cut into the lead with a single in the sixth, making a tough shot on his last shot of the end to make if 4-2.

In the seventh end, Jacobs removed a Koe rock from the house and scored three to extend the lead to 7-2.

In the eighth end, Koe looked to plan an in-off to score two, but gave up a steal of one in the end.

After dropping a 7-6 decision to Brad Gushue of St. John’s, Nfld. on Tuesday, the Jacobs rink has won two straight.

In interviews with Curling Canada, both Jacobs and Kennedy said struggling at a Grand Slam of Curling event prior to the Trials was a good thing for the team.

“I think the event that we played in before the Trials, at Chestermere (Alberta), where we got our butts handed to us, sometimes those are the best things for a team,” Jacobs said. “We’ve always been a pretty resilient group and we’ve proven that. We took what we learned from that event, and from others in the past and brought it all together so far this week.” 

“We were playing pretty good, but we were getting quite a few misses from other teams and at Chestermere it was teams playing really well against us,” Kennedy also said. “We knew we need to pick up our game, we need to prepare hard and we have to realize this is not going to come easy. It really put the focus on those 10 days in between to make sure we prepared as well as we could.” 

Jacobs will play a pair of games on Friday, facing Mike McEwen in the morning draw at 10 a.m. Sault time before playing Tanner Horgan in the evening draw at 8 p.m.

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