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Troubled Eskimos face long road to recovery

Firing the Eskimos general manager hasn't soothed all that burns in Edmonton. With the team gurgling at 1-5 and about to face the toughest portion of its CFL schedule, a new target is catching bile from local football fans and it's not head coach Richie Hall.

Offensive co-ordinator Kevin Strasser is the man turning stomachs for all the wrong reasons. Under his tutelage, the Eskimos are averaging roughly 22 points a game while quarterback Ricky Ray has thrown just six touchdown passes through one-third of the season. Can you say atrocious? The Eskimos faithful can and are.

Strasser may be a fine coach but he already had two strikes against him in Edmonton - he was brought in last year as an offensive adviser by ousted GM Danny Maciocia; then Strasser replaced the popular Rick Worman, who was dumped midway through last season when the team still had a winning record.

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Of course, firing Strasser is easy, it's finding the right replacement that's challenging. Noel Thorpe is the Eskimos' assistant head coach and perhaps could handle the co-ordinating duties with help from fellow assistants Jason Tucker (receivers), Jeff Bleamer (offensive line) and Terry Eisler (running backs). But that comes with no guarantee.

Ironically, the lack of quality coaching candidates available at this point in the season is a major reason why Hall remains at his post. He's not just the head man, he's the defensive co-ordinator. Moving him out means the Eskimos staff would be down by two, and that's a cut too deep.

Oh, and let's not forget that receiver Fred Stamps had his injured shoulder examined Sunday and is expected to be sidelined for an indefinite period of time. And that the team's next four games are against the Calgary Stampeders (Sunday) and Saskatchewan Roughriders, followed by two more games against Calgary.

Meanwhile, the Eskimos' search for a new GM keeps producing some familiar names, such as Warren Moon, who told TSN he has no current interest in the job, and former fullback Neil Lumsden, whose son Jesse was released by the Eskimos in May. The inside buzz is Edmonton won't name its man until the season ends - and the true rebuilding of the Eskimos begins.

What's with Edmonton? If the football team's troubles weren't bad enough, we bring you the story of Edmonton Capitals' manager Brent Bowers, who resigned Saturday and was fined $5,000 after being suspended for the balance of the season by the Golden Baseball League. Bowers allegedly hurled anti-gay barbs at openly gay umpire Billy Van Raaphorst. The GBL suspended Bowers for two games before launching an investigation. Then it canned him for 2010 after Van Raaphorst's fellow umpires threatened a boycott if the GBL didn't take a harsher stance. For the record: Bowers is a former Toronto Blue Jays draft pick. We're just being thorough, that's all.

Don't try this - ever: The first death has been recorded in the 11-year history of the world sauna championships and right now most of you are saying, "That's terrible. There's a world sauna championship?" There is and it works like this: a bunch of guys sit in the sauna as water is poured onto a stove every 30 seconds. The last man to stay in the hot box is declared the winner and receives no cash, just the title of world champion. Vladimir Ladyzhenskiy stayed long enough to suffer severe burns before collapsing and dying. Organizers have now said they will never again hold another world sauna championship. Next so-called sport to go: extreme food eating.

Missing Canadian NFLer: Missing from the Indianapolis Colts' ranks is a former University of Calgary lineman who spent three seasons with the NFL team, even earning himself a Super Bowl ring. Dan Federkeil has dropped off the face of the football world after suffering three concussions. The Toronto Argonauts drafted Federkeil in the first round in 2006 and wanted him to suit up, as did the Stampeders. Both teams were rebuffed. Instead, Federkeil has decided to return to the U of C to finish his economics degree as a full-time student.

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Done … at 48: Once Chris Chelios confirms his retirement this week, he will join the Detroit Red Wings front office in some sort of mentoring role. But before deciding to pack it in, the venerable defenceman explored the possibility of playing in Russia's Continental Hockey League this season. We're not kidding, nor should you be surprised. If there's a hockey game being played at your neighbourhood rec centre, chances are the rambunctious Chelios would be in it and you would want to hide.


"I was so excited to do it, and then all a sudden I got there and I was like, 'What do I really enjoy about this? Am I doing this just because I told the media I would? Because I told Rugby Canada I would? I left that camp not really knowing for sure if that's what I wanted to do. I needed to step back. I needed to remember what I loved about the sport," Heather Moyse, Vancouver 2010 Olympic gold medal-winning bobsledder, reflecting on training camp a few months ago, during an interview with the Canadian Press. She has since decided to participate in the 2010 Women's Rugby World Cup in England, August 20-September 5, for fourth-ranked Canada. Moyse played spectacularly when the tournament was last played in Edmonton four years ago (left). Moyse, 32, of Summerside, PEI, has committed to one more World Cup bobsleigh season.

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Sports writer

Allan Maki is a national news reporter and sports writer based in Calgary. More

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