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The Neutral Zone

On Tuesdays at 11 a.m. Eastern, Brock Richardson and his panel of sports experts engage in a lively roundtable discussion about Parasports and professional sports news and newsmakers.

The Neutral Zone

On Tuesdays at 11 a.m. Eastern, Brock Richardson and his panel of sports experts engage in a lively roundtable discussion about Parasports and professional sports news and newsmakers.

November 15, 2022

Announcer:
Are you ready? Let's go. From AMI Central. Now start playing in the neutral zone. Here's a pitch on the way, 36 yards for the win. This ... here comes the big chance, a shot ... is ... is this the tagger ... the neutral zone. Oh my God. This is as good as it gets. Now here's your host, two time Paralympian, Brock Richardson.

Brock:
What's going on my friends? It's time for another edition of The Neutral Zone. I am indeed your host, Brock Richardson, and I'm alongside Claire Buchanan. Claire, how are you?

Claire:
I'm doing fantastic. It's another beautiful day and we get to chat sports together. It's one of my favourite days of the week.

Brock:
Yes, used to be Fridays when we got to do this live, and I never thought I'd say this, but Monday has become my new favourite day of the week, even though we release the episode on Tuesday, which is a close second to my favourite day because you guys get to see the wonderful content we put out for you. And also joining us is Josh Watson. Josh, how are you?

Josh:
I'm doing well, Brock. It's been a bit of a quiet day, but that's kind of nice. We were all in Brantford on Saturday for the Ontario Blind Sports Association Hall of Fame gala, which was a lot of fun. You did a fantastic job, sir. And so it's nice just to have a day to relax a little bit and just focus on talking sports.

Brock:
Yes. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of, the Ontario Blind Sports Gala. It was my first opportunity MC-ing by myself. The first time I did it, I did it alongside Kelly McDonald who was the host of Kelly and Company, weekdays at 2:00 PM Eastern on AMI audio. And yeah, it was just a lot of fun and really enjoyed it. Congratulations to all the inductees and award winners, and I'm thinking we might have a person or two from the night join us down the line, probably into the new year, I would suspect, knowing that I'm the producer and the schedule's looking pretty tight between now and our last episode before Christmas. So with that, we're going to jump into our headlines.

Announcer:
Neutral Zone Headlines.

Claire:
A big congratulation goes out to the Canadian Women's Sitting Volleyball Program. They captured their very first medal at World Championships recently. The men did not reach their quarter-finals.

Brock:
And I want to have a follow-up from last week. We now know that the Brooklyn Nets have picked their head coach, Jacque Vaughn, who was the interim coach when Canadian Steve Nash parted ways with the organization. He had some interesting things to say on his first press conference, "I might not have been their first choice. In fact, I might not have even been my wife's first choice. But hey, my wife and I have been married for 20-plus years, so maybe this'll work out." So Jacque Vaughn with a little bit of tongue and cheek response to the Brooklyn Nets press conference.

Josh:
You got to love a coach with some humour. The senior Women's National Wheelchair basketball team played a four-game series against the Netherlands this past week. In the first game, they defeated the Netherlands 75/73. Game two saw the Netherlands come out on top at a score of 73 to 53. The last two games of the series were not posted on social media at the time that we recorded this episode, but we know from one of the members of the team that they played the under-23 National Netherlands team, and the third game was won by the Netherlands, but score is not known, unfortunately. The fourth and final matchup saw Canada victorious at a score of 53 to 42. When all was said and done, the series was tied two games apiece. Congratulations to both sides on a well-played series.

Claire:
Ontario athletes came out on top at the recent wheelchair tennis nationals where Anne Marie Dolinar struck gold twice, taking home first place, finishes in singles and doubles matches for her first time in her career. Candace Camden also set personal best finishes with a third place in the singles events and matching her best in doubles finishing with second overall. Congratulations to all of the athletes that competed in Montreal at Nationals and looking forward to the next upcoming season.

Brock:
Those are your headlines for this week. It's time to check on our Twitter polls. Last week's question was, "Are you happy with this year's World Series champion, the Houston Astros?" 60% of you said no, 40% of you said yes. This week's question is, who is your pick for this year's Grey Cup, Winnipeg Blue Bombers or Toronto Argonauts? You can cast your boats at our Twitter handles coming at you right now.

Announcer:
And welcome back to The Neutral Zone AMI broadcast booth. And we are set to get this ball game underway. The first pitch brought to you by Brock Richardson's Twitter account, @neutralzonebr. First pitch strike.
And hey gang, why not strike up a Twitter chat with Claire Buchanan for The Neutral Zone. Find her @neutralzonecb. And there's a swing and a chopper out to second base right at Claire. She picks up the ball, throws it over to first base for a routine out. And fans, there is nothing routine about connecting with Cam and Josh from the neutral zone @neutralzonecamj and @jWatson200. Now that's a winning combination. And this organ Interlude is brought to by AMI Audio on Twitter. Get in touch with the neutral zone. Type in @amiaudio.

Brock:
Katie Mitchell, our guest today is the physiotherapist and athletic therapist for both the Women's National Para Ice Hockey team and the Ontario Hockey team. Katie is also in the midst of completing her PhD, which deals with concussions from Wilford Laurier. Katie, thanks so much for joining us from Waterloo, Ontario.

Katie:
Thank you so much for having me Brock. It's great to be on the podcast.

Claire:
We've been really excited to have you on. Can you start off by giving us a little insight on what sparked your interest in getting your PhD in concussions specifically?

Katie:
Well, I can say that when I became a clinician, I had zero intention of doing a PhD, and then fell into the hole of just ask... Well, I've worked in a lot of different sports and say I've worked in para sports since 2013, but I've also been in a lot of upright sports like rugby and hockey as well. And so I've witnessed a lot of scenarios of concussion management and concussion injury and dealt with a lot of different contexts and stories with that and obviously barriers with that. And so if I rewind to the start of ... when I approached my current advisor for even about the research he was doing, it was in 2015. So even then the landscape was completely different seven years ago with how we manage a concussion injury as well. So a lot of the protocols have even evolved since that time, but there was just so many gaps in the management protocol and I had so many questions that I wanted to address. And so it lured me back in after speaking with him and he convinced me to return to do some research at Wilfred Laurier.

Josh:
Now you mentioned that you've been involved in sports for a while. How did you become involved with the Canadian National Women's Program and Team Ontario?

Katie:
Again, that takes me back probably to around like 2013 as a physiotherapy student. I volunteered to be medical for the Ontario Sport Games in Kingston. I went to Queens and so at that time I was matched up with another sport physiotherapist and she happens to also be very much involved in the para hockey world and was working with Ottawa, a club team in Ottawa at the time. And so they had a game in Kingston just randomly and she couldn't make it so she invited me to cover for her. And so that was ... yeah, I think in late 2013. And then from there I think there was just kind of a posting for STO, the Ontario team and I decided they'd cover a camp and just give that a shot. And then I just kept coming back and getting invited back to those camps. And then in 2018, the lead therapist at the time was leaving and he emailed me and offered me the position to take over for him in 2018.
And obviously at the time even ... I think [inaudible 00:08:46] and Claire was around as well. And so I got to know a lot of the women's team players including Christina Pickton and some others who were pioneers in that sport. And so over time I think I just became more well-known in this sport. And actually, the way I got involved with the women's team was just speaking to the coaches at the most recent national championships that this event ... the most recent, the world challenge where Claire got that cheese head from in Green Bay. And so they invited me to help out with that. So it was kind of just the sequence of events, the way the cookie crumbled, but obviously, I've always been drawn back to it and I'm really passionate about working in the sport.

Claire:
I think a good place to start besides your history in concussions and working with athletes is to just go over what a concussion is and what that entails before we go into deeper detail.

Katie:
Yeah, of course. So concussion is essentially a functional brain injury. So it's not something that will turn up on a scan like a CT or an MRI really, like a brain bleed for example with a more traumatic injury. You consider that it's a really rapid deceleration of the head from either direct or indirect blow to the head or the body. You can think of that really sudden deceleration. The brain actually moves independently inside the cranium. So when you stop really abruptly and then have that whiplash mechanism of the head and neck, the brain is of shearing and moving inside it's very fluid, so there's a lot of extra motion there. And you can imagine that all the nerves and things that are all integrated throughout the structure have a shearing effect as well.
And so that affects their function, which really boils down to it, like I said, becoming a functional injury. It's more about the communication between areas of the brain becomes affected from more of a transient of temporary standpoint, but the timeline for that type of recovery or the repair of the structures isn't very clear. We don't really understand when that will occur for each injury. They're very unique injuries. And so really it's all about restoring the communication of ... I think of the transmission in the brain and the communication between different areas for functioning, especially for an athlete at a sport competition level where I call sport mode is a lot more demands than an everyday general activity. So it is very complex but also very interesting and obviously I've committed a lot of time to studying it.

Josh:
Now, this next question is probably then hard to answer based on what you have just told us, but we do understand that each situation is going to be different and there are many different factors to consider. But with a concussion, how much time generally should someone be taking off of sports?

Katie:
Yeah, that is a really tough question and that's part of what I've spent so much time trying to figure out of how to best quantify when we can say that or give of an idea of if you can do this thing, are you prepared to go back to sport or work or general life? And so you are correct. It's a really unique, very contextual, it's a lot of different factors that pertain to each person, but certainly within the protocol now, what we call clinical recovery or recovery of symptoms from a general standpoint in the protocol, for adults it can be two weeks to a month and for most children or youth it would be about a month is an expected recovery. Beyond that becomes more of a persistent or prolonged recovery that I know even with the most recent consensus there likely will be some different recommendations coming out. So we'll have to wait for that to be published though to share that information.

Claire:
So once the contact has been made and the impact of the athletes have been felt, what are some of the symptoms that you are first looking for when seeing or trying to evaluate if a concussion has happened and what next the steps are?

Katie:
Yeah, so that's another great question, and I think I've just been in the game I guess for so long that I can pretty much ... my radar is pretty good. I would say I'm pretty accurate even at just seeing something unfold say on the ice, and just approaching that player when they hit the bench to be have a discussion real quick. Especially with para hockey, just the impacts you just hear them and feel them more because of the equipment as well that I think they're just more obvious perhaps too that if anyone sustains something like that, I'm going to probably just quickly ask some questions.
And so typically those initial questions involve, do you have any dizziness or lightheadedness? Feeling any pressure or even just a focal kind of headache sensation. It tends to feel more like a generalized of pulsing or pressure immediately after. But from a dizziness standpoint it can even be a very brief, "Oh, I just felt it for a quick couple of seconds there after that impact and I just shook it off." And it's like that's probably just that old saying of getting your bell rung isn't really acceptable anymore that we know that those symptoms can return later. So even just a brief incident of that, I tend to examine further and addressing room assessment.

Josh:
Now if we take a look at concussions in para-sport specifically, does an individual's disability play a factor when diagnosing a concussion and also in bringing an athlete back to sport in a safe manner?

Katie:
Yeah, and that's an interesting topic right now after the consensus meeting in Amsterdam, that was the first time they talked about para-sport in its own individual session. And so it really stirred up a lot of conversation about that because particularly there's different ... the way they categorized things now in the recommendations is basing it as on the classification criteria and that helps identify criteria for someone's disability because there can be overlap obviously. Even if it is a specific disability, there could be other things that overlap with something else. So for example, low vision athletes for alpine skiing or for track and field, there's blind athletes and so there's obviously different considerations for them because a lot of the current protocol doesn't apply to people with low vision because a lot of it is ... requires vision to do a lot of the assessments.
And then also for impaired muscle power for example. So that could be someone with spinal cord injury or spina bifida or other types of disabilities that if they can't say perform, one of the common coordination tests would be a finger-to-nose task. And so if someone doesn't have full function of their upper extremity to do that, they can't be assessed that way. And another one would be balance for example. So someone with an amputation, we're not going to be able to perhaps measure their balance the same, or someone who uses a wheelchair.
So definitely right now there is a huge gaping hole in the protocol for accommodation of athletes with disabilities in para-sport and there is a ton of opportunity to change that. So I'm really looking forward to the next four years and what comes out of that. But certainly, we don't have a lot of answers for how that impacts things now. But from my standpoint as a therapist with a team, I've already accommodated that with just really extensive medical forms, making sure I understand even common symptoms that someone feels because of their disability. So perhaps maybe they're taking a medication that causes them to have more frequent headaches or maybe they get dizziness from time to time or maybe different positions make them feel dizzy. So if I'm doing an assessment post concussion, I'm going to consider that person, maybe they even get double vision occasionally, that could be something they've already experienced that may not be a more indicative of a concussion diagnosis for me. So I would consider those things every time.

Claire:
I can definitely tell you that every time I've done a concussion baseline test, I cannot stand on one foot at all. So yes, it's good that we have minds like yours trying to adapt those protocols and kind of baselines for athletes specifically moving forward to now that you've assessed that there's a concussion with an athlete, does the disability that each individual have play a factor in what that treatment plan looks like to recover from the concussion?

Katie:
Definitely one of the main things is energy cost of just mobility and ambulation because one of them, first things then that protocol is rest and active rest. So what does rest mean for someone who uses a wheelchair that is perhaps maybe expensing more energy to get around, or with a prosthetic or assists, different gator assists? So that is the first glaring issue is that we don't know how to necessarily make those recommendations other than anecdotally with how we've just found conclusions and adaptations for each individual. But right now there's no real recommendations other than that.
I was mentioning that recent, this document by the concussion in para-sport research group or consortium group that I've recently joined, they have really highlighted key areas in that. And so that return to sport protocol, again those kinds of classification criteria of if someone has impaired muscle power or like I said, different modes of ambulation or perhaps they have sensory issues that are pre-existing, how do we rehab those things if they're already pre-existing or how do we accommodate those things?
So particularly again with balance control, it's ... my bread and butter is the coordination and balance and sensory integration piece. So we're definitely starting to have conversations about how we can make adapted assessments in interventions. But fortunately, it's not as widely ... the education isn't as widely distributed right now to other clinicians. So a lot of it is kind of learn as you go and then we're taking those experiences and trying to formulate more evidence-informed protocols to move forward.

Brock:
We're joined by Katie Mitchell who is the physiotherapist and athletic therapist for two ice hockey programs. She is also in the midst of her PhD, which is investigating concussion assessment and interventions with athletes to better determine their readiness to return to sport and activity. I'm your host Brooke Richardson alongside Claire Buchanan and Josh Watson.

Josh:
Katie, can you talk to us a little bit about the signs you look for when determining if an individual is potentially ready to return to play after a concussion?

Katie:
Yeah, so as I mentioned obviously with the initial signs and symptoms those will dissipate over time, but we know that the brain is still healing even though symptoms have recovered. So relying purely on just resolution of headache symptoms or dizziness or perhaps even just even neck pain or things like that, we know that the demands of a sport, for example, are going to blow way past just that baseline level. And so what I try to do and a lot of my research has looked at is integrating things like cognition, so adding cognitive challenges, say, we use dual tasking where you're doing basically two things at once, which is very similar to sport demands, but then we'll also mix in some exertion testing too. So we'll bring heart rate up and then reassess cognitive decision-making and to represent the state of which an athlete would be making quick decisions and having us also use vision for things as well.
So that's what we look at as a progressing those variables. So making things more challenging throughout the return to sport. Because really to follow the timeline, it's like symptom resolution and then you start doing some light activity and then you start ... If you think of hockey for example, you would maybe integrate some sports-specific things like stick handling on your own and just lights, get your hands working again, and then you would build into that non-contact practice to a contact practice and getting cleared by a doctor. So basically my idea is to sort follow that progression but to mimic the demands of sport as best we can. And so my clearance tests are pretty tough. They definitely get you up to ... like I said, try to replicate a sports scenario as best they can to ensure that the athlete's actually ready to return to that. And so typically a lot of the patients that I see anyways are usually fully prepared to sweat and push themselves extra hard when they come see me for that kind of clearance.

Claire:
We've recently have been covering this topic because the question of the standard of which concussions and protocols have been to return back to sport and it's ... you want it at a high standard rather than not. So to put it at a high standard to get athletes back into action is better than the other end of it. So you have recently been a part of some big discussions overseas and can you touch on what those discussions were all about and what they are going to move forward in the future for concussions?

Katie:
Yeah, so I touched on it just briefly before with the ... it was the International Consensus on Concussion in Sport in Amsterdam. And this was just, oh it was three weeks ago now. I've lost track of time since returning. But it was a quick but also incredibly informative meeting over a couple of days, entire full days of just discussion around all aspects of concussion in sport. And this meeting is organized with the major governing bodies of sport across the world. So from everything from FIFA to double IHF to Formula One, and again the major ... they're all in attendance for that. So there's an interesting dynamic of having some stakeholders there as well in sport, not just researchers and also even the public were invited. So there was an NFL player, there was sibling of an NHL player who had passed away this...
It was very interesting to hear just the voices in that conference as well, not just academic research. But the discussions are essentially from that standpoint this meeting produces the sort of consensus on concussion in sport, which is published typically every four years, but it's been six years because of the COVID-19 pandemic since 2016 in Berlin when they hosted the last meeting. And so they produce the document that is typically used to assess athletes. So that's the sport concussion assessment tool, which is in its fifth edition, upcoming will be the sixth. So we make adjustments to that based on what the research has shown us and what the evidence is pointing towards. So we try to progress that document to again challenge this the protocol more and make it more evidence-informed, more applicable, more practical and safer for athletes. So that tends to trickle down from not just those major organizing bodies, but to all the grassroots levels of sport and minor sports as well.
And like I said, this was the first time they included para-sport as its own kind of independent session, that was led by the chairs of the concussions para sport committee who are like ... there's Sherry Blat is an MD and Paralympian and she's a major party in that group. She's at Harvard Medical in Boston and she's fantastic advocate. They even brought in some athletes to just basically talk about their experience. There was a para-alpine skier from Great Britain that was there. And so basically what comes out of this meeting is, like I said, the advancement of the protocol and the best recommendations that we all bring our heads together and discuss and debate and then another four years we'll revisit everything again and evaluate and come out with a new protocol.

Josh:
Now, if people are interested in going to or being a part of any workshops or classes that you or anyone else might be a part of, how would they do that?

Katie:
Yeah, so a lot of the education I provide is to other clinicians, currently right now or even student groups, but certainly there is free resources. There is one through the University of Calgary that is a very large concussion course that's freely accessible to anyone who wants to take it. It's called the MOOC, I believe, M-O-O-C. I think they release it through cohorts. So you can always keep an eye on that one for a really great resource. But certainly there are open forum-type conferences that are held, some universities host events. But certainly even just listening to podcasts like this are a great way for me to share that type of awareness and education. But currently until I wrap up my PhD, my capacity is thinned out on how much I can offer at the moment. So I try to take these kinds of opportunities as often as I can to share with the public.

Claire:
Where can people go if they want to learn more about concussions or concussions in sports specifically?

Katie:
Yeah, like I mentioned there is the big ... it's literally called the Massive Open Course on Concussion. I think that's what MOOC stands for, from the UFC. So it's a huge endeavour that they put on. But I also send people towards Parachute Canada is another great resource that people can look up the protocols and different education resources there. And certainly even just through their sport organizations, if they're a member of say minor hockey or something or club hockey, there should be some resource available through that, especially with youth. Since the Rowans law legislation's gone through, it's required. So if there's any question towards that, I would be leaning onto the administration of your sport organization.
But certainly I've done some work in the past with the community organizations to share online courses, especially during the pandemic when we couldn't host in-person webinars or webinars but in-person seminars to just educate parents and athletes in different stakeholders to know what do you do after maybe you suspect you've had a concussion. Because obviously, that's a huge, huge step first, is just the recognition and acknowledgement of it and then figuring out what's the first step that you take with that. So yeah, I have resources even on my website that we can share as well to those links and different publicly available resources too.

Brock:
Awesome. Can you just throw out your website for us?

Katie:
Sure. It is thrivenneurosport.ca.

Brock:
Katie, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. We were looking forward to it and it was lots of great information, we appreciate it.

Katie:
No problem. I really appreciate you having me on. Thanks so much.

Brock:
Anytime. That was Katie Mitchell who was talking to us all about concussions. And again, she works with the Women's National Program and Team Ontario Para Ice Hockey program. If you want to get ahold of us for this interview or any others we do, here's how you can do so.

Announcer:
Hey, if you want to leave a message for the neutral zone, call now 1-866-509-4545. And don't forget to give us permission to use your message on the air. Let's get ready to leave a voicemail.

Brock:
All right, so I'm going to pull back the neutral zone curtain. Here it goes. So I pulled one over on one Marc Aflalo because when we were starting this segment he said, I'm going to give you a bed to start this segment. And my response was, "Should I get out of bed without even skipping a beat?" And he stopped doing ... "A what?" And it took him a second to figure out what it was I meant. So I love when I can do that to people. Catch them off guard once in a while. It usually doesn't happen because people are usually pretty quick-witted including one Marc Aflalo, but this time I pulled one over on him.

Marc:
That's just mean.

Brock:
But we love you Marc. We love you. I just enjoyed pulling one over on you. Let's go back to the interview we just did with Katie Mitchell. And she spent a lot of time with us, which was really, really great because she gave us a lot of information on concussions. And I have to say that one, Claire Buchanan brought this guest to my attention. And we've been talking about to ... and his concussions with football and how that's gone sideways. So we brought this interview on and she did a wonderful job talking to us about concussions. But with that we had a bit of a longer interview than we're normally used to on this program. So I want to get your thoughts on this interview. Did we learn something that we didn't already know about concussions, Josh?

Josh:
Well for me, I did not realize that there were international summits on the subject. So that was very interesting to hear about her trip to Amsterdam and everything that came out of that. And that the protocols are actually updated by an organization every four years. That was very interesting for me.

Claire:
Yeah, it's been really interesting not only to get to know Katie over the years as an athlete, but you said it perfectly Brock, she's just a fountain of information and just obviously passionate about getting the right measures in place to make sure that athletes are safe. She's worked in so many sports, both para and in able-bodied sports. And she just wants to make sure that she's part of the process of making sure that athletes are playing safe and recovering properly.
And I can tell you that when I first met Katie, I was experiencing migraines pretty consistently, at least monthly, sometimes weekly. And it was Katie that helped me even after ... it had been over a year since my last concussion when I first met her and still experiencing symptoms. She was one of a big part in just recovering properly and knowing that concussion symptoms can be lifelong and it's how you manage that and listen to your body. And I think she said very well, very good as well, that as soon as it happens you got to listen to your athletic therapist. And it's good that we have a therapist like her that put their foot down and say, "No, your safety is first and foremost and sorry, you got to get your butt off the ice because you had a big hit." And so it's exciting to see what she is going to be a part of moving forward because she's just getting started, especially with finishing her PhD.

Brock:
Yeah, we've had this interview raring to go for a while. We just had to convene schedules and what works for us and what works for Katie. But when you're over in Amsterdam learning and doing seminars, that's pretty cool. The one-

Josh:
That takes a little precedence over us I think.

Brock:
Yeah, she loves us but I mean trip to the Netherlands, let's be real. The one sort of thing that I took away from it, which she didn't really outline, but I had a concussion as I've mentioned before on the program. And one of the techniques they used on me was they took me out of my wheelchair when I had a concussion and they sat me on the floor and they had somebody on one side of me, so the right side, somebody on the left side and somebody in front just in case I fell forward because I have zero upper body strength. So what they did was, because it was so close to the Paralympic games, they wanted to see if they could help expedite the process of my concussion. And what they did was they tipped me very quickly to one side of my body. So they went right and then straight back up again and then left and then straight back up again. And that was supposed to help expedite the process. And for me, I don't really know if it did expedite the process. I can tell you that it made me feel really, really nauseated at the moment. But it's interesting to hear the different sort of techniques that different people use. And one of the things she said that made me cringe was that you hear the sound as a therapist and you're just kind of like, "We're going to got to go check that one out." And that is just wild that she's so good at her job that she can tell just by the sound whether or not we need to investigate this as an actual concussion. Any final comments from you on this particular topic, Josh?

Josh:
Just that I really appreciated her depth of knowledge and I wish we had been able to get to one of the questions that you had for her that we talked about off-air, which was how do you remove somebody from a game, because that was quite humourous, but we'll have to save that for another visit I think.

Brock:
Yeah, it was a quite humourous answer and maybe when we get her back on the air with us again, we'll ask that question. But she's very feisty and she doesn't put up with nonsense. But she did give us a bit of detail which will go down another day. I want to discuss the CFL and the two semifinal matchups. So BC versus Winnipeg, and Toronto versus Montreal. Let's start with the West final. Josh, what did you take away from this game?

Josh:
From the West Final? I really think that Winnipeg is proving to be the class of the division. They've been to the Grey Cup and won it two years in a row now. I watched that West Final and was really thinking that BC was going to give them a run for their money this year and they just didn't. There was no answer for Brady AloVera. There was no answer for that passing game. Winnipeg just looks really, really strong right now, so it's going to be very, very interesting to see what the Argonauts can put up to stop the Blue Bombers in the Grey Cup this year.

Claire:
Yeah, for a West's final, like you said, Josh, we would've hoped for a closer match-up and the BC Lions putting a little bit more pressure on the Bombers, but hey, we have a final with Toronto in it and we shall see how Toronto does. And it'll be interesting because Winnipeg definitely I think comes in with a little bit of an edge on them just with more recent experience and some ... more of their roster has more experience with recent experience in the Grey Cup. So and now I'm excited to watch it. We have a Toronto team that is looking to go win a championship so it'll be exciting for the city. We don't get those a lot here in Toronto.

Brock:
Yeah, no we don't. That's why we have to live vicariously through Winnipeg because they've proven to be the class of the really. Josh, I do have a concern and I want to know if it's something or if it's nothing. I want to know, Zach Collaros, we saw him at the end of the game, get his ankle taped up, he did come back. But if that Winnipeg team doesn't have Zach Collaros, do you see there actually being a chance for another champion or do you think the depth of Winnipeg can still show through? Your thoughts.

Josh:
I think it all depends on the game because if all Collaros really has to do is make a few passes and hand off to Alovera, then I think he'll be fine on one ankle. If it ends up that it is really hampering him and he's not able to spend ... he is not able to stay upright basically if Toronto's defence can get after him, then I think it could play a factor because I don't recall who they have as a backup in Winnipeg unfortunately. And that tells me that the backup option is probably not very good. But again, even if it is a backup, if all they have to do is hand off to Olivera, then it doesn't really matter who's at your quarterback in my opinion.

Brock:
Fair. Claire?

Claire:
Yeah, that's a good point. I am a big person on defence winning championships so that Toronto defence, if they can put some pressure on their running game and make their quarterbacks throw and have to get them uncomfortable, especially if you think that there's an injury lingering and have to split that percentage of throwing and running the ball and lean it heavily one way because of an injury and especially in a championship game, I think the Toronto Argonauts would obviously be having that in mind and basing a lot of their decision making around putting that pressure on the quarterback and making them run.

Brock:
This is not an injury that you can hide if you are Winnipeg. I mean sometimes coaches can say, Oh my ex-player in this case quarterback has a lower-body injury. As I try to spit that out in English as my tongue got completely caught up, lower-body injury. And in this case there is no hiding what this injury is because literally the TSN cameras went, "Look, it's Zach Collaros getting his ankle [inaudible 00:41:38] up, good luck." And so if you're-

Josh:
They've been taped up on the sideline-

Brock:
Toronto, you are looking at this and you're saying, "Well we know what the injury is and we know we're going to have to make him move." And the way that I think you make him move is you say, "Well, we're going to cover all your downfield scenarios and we're going to make you move on that ankle and see how real wonderful it is for you because in this case, as I said, you can't hide this lower-body injury. And I wanted to say lower body injury one more time just to say that I could get it out there and then I couldn't. So that's my take on this. I think that-

Josh:
Oh boy-

Brock:
... Toronto is in a world of hurt. I do not trust McLeod Bethel-Thompson. I haven't all season. Yes, they are the top class of the east, there's no doubt about that. I'm just not sure that it is really a great top-class of the east because all the other teams have had their struggles. They got back Andrew Harris yesterday, which was great. I think he's the difference maker for Toronto, but I would have to lean towards Winnipeg winning the Grey Cup quite handily to be perfectly honest with you guys. What do you guys say about that Josh?

Josh:
For me, I think Andrew Harris and his backup Bulette are going to be the difference makers, whether it's in the passing game or the running game, whether it's screens or just flat-out runs. Andrew Harris runs like a bull in a China shop. There's very, very little chance of getting him down once he gets going. So if he's able to have a factor in the game like he should then I think the Argonauts have a chance. I do still Winnipeg in this game, I just think they're more well-rounded. But if you have a strong running back or running back tandem in this case as Toronto does, then it makes it a little easier on the quarterback because he doesn't have to be as good necessarily.

Claire:
Yeah. If Toronto can even out the passing percentage and lean on their running game as much as they can ... It's a championship game for one. We saw over the weekend that even in the last seconds of a game, you don't know where it's going to go. The game isn't over until that last whistle blows. So don't take notes from the Bills this week, that's for sure.

Josh:
Oh,

Brock:
Easy now, easy now we're talking about CFL right now, okay? Let's stay off the football-

Claire:
But what I'm trying to-

Brock:
... Right now.

Claire:
Yeah. What I'm-

Josh:
Because [inaudible 00:44:29] talk about is Bills-

Claire:
Trying to say is that you never know what's going to happen in any game, let alone a championship game. So of course we hope that it's a good fight and both the teams come out playing in the best ways that they can. But we just touched on there, there's injuries and stuff to factor in like that. So it'll be interesting to see how each team adapts to that and see who takes advantage of the downfalls.

Brock:
One of my favourite things about the CFL, but it's kind of awkward because it's one of those questions that every coach gets asked in the CFL of how they're going to approach their players in getting, let's say, some intimate time with their significant others. And for me, this is one of the most humourous things that doesn't matter what the coach is, everyone says, the first question, is how are you going to approach the topic of intimacy? And every CFO coach answers it with, "I don't know, we're just going to talk about it and whatever they need to do, they need to do." But it is the strangest thing and it happens every year and I just look forward to watching the coaches squirm. Josh.

Josh:
Squirm. Yes indeed. I had forgotten about that. I thought that was a Super Bowl thing. But yes, you're right, it is a Grey Cup thing and it is a tradition. I think it's the same reporter that asks it every single year. Like you said, whatever a guy has to do to get up for a game, do it. I don't want to know what these players do behind closed doors. It's not my business.

Claire:
Does it really matter? I understand that this is a publicity and it gets everyone going obviously, we're talking about it here, but does it really matter? Where is the science behind these comments and questions because-

Brock:
I don't think there is any.

Claire:
Hey, just like any athlete and any human, everyone's different. I think who's to say that it affects everyone the same way. You know what I mean? So if that's what you got to do, either to hold off from it or not and send your partner away for a weekend or whatever to stay away. But hey, every athlete trains for a championship game differently. So to each their own. It's wild that that's even a question from reporters, but of course, it is.

Brock:
It has become a CFL Grey Cup question and now that we're talking about it, somebody probably won't ask the question this year and then I just look like a fool for bringing it up to you guys. But I'm reasonably certain it has become a standard tradition, if you will. I want to go back on the CFL a little bit. I want to talk a little bit about Nathan Rourke who was injured for the vast majority of the season. He got injured in the first third of the season with that knee injury and didn't return until the last game or two in the regular season and then played in the playoffs. If this is different, and I know we're playing this if game, but if this is different, do you think that Nathan Rourke has the more mobility to take on Zach Collaros and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers or do you think this is a foreground conclusion either way? Josh.

Josh:
I think Nathan Rourke going up against Winnipeg would be a more interesting game potentially, but I don't know, unless there was some kind of crossover scenario, I'm not sure that they actually could go up against one another for a Grey Cup. So it certainly was interesting to see the difference between Nathan when he started this season and Nathan in that game yesterday. He still looked like a great quarterback. He still did a lot of dynamic things but he just didn't look the same as he did before. So it makes me wonder if he tried to come back a little bit early. But it certainly would be an interesting matchup for sure.

Claire:
I don't want to sound like a broken record, but again, this is a championship game, so do you put someone in that might not look Grey Cup ready or do you put your faith in that person to say, "Okay, if you're feeling ready to be back and you've played a couple games and it looks like you are feeling okay," that's a lot different than, "Are you ready to go play a Grey Cup?" So it'll be interesting to see both to see how much playing time goes into it and what it produces.

Brock:
Yeah, and that's the thing is that this year he's obviously not going to get the opportunity because he didn't win against Winnipeg. But it's just that interesting narrative of like, yeah, I agree. They did put him in a bit early. I think that they know exactly what they have in Nathan Rourke and there's almost no doubt that he's going to get a look from an NFL team because of his talent. So the CFL talking about injuries is looking more at this in the sense of, "Well, he's a dynamic player, is he ready? Can he give us 75%?" Because truly that's what I think he gave to the win a win, a big blue bomber game. I think he gave about 75 to 80% compared to the beginning of the year. And that can sometimes be not enough, especially when you're playing against a dynamic team like Winnipeg who's been there, done that, got the Grey Cup and they just know what they're doing and they're going for their third straight overall. So it'll be interesting to see what happens in this year's Grey Cup between Winnipeg and Toronto Argonauts. One question for both of you, and this is me ending the show a bit tongue-in-cheek. Do you think either of you can complete a quarterback sneak at the end of a football game? Yes or no, Josh, go ahead.

Josh:
Well, it depends on if I fit between my lineman, I suppose. I don't know that I would have the guts to try to be honest. It looks like being on the bottom of that pile hurts a lot.

Claire:
Yeah, agreed. I think just I would have an advantage just because of my height. I think I'd be able to just find a smaller hole and get through it. And I've spent most of my life trying to keep my hands on various sports equipment and played basketball. I can handle a basketball and haven't ever played any football, but I feel like I could hold onto a ball for a couple seconds, especially if I'm getting helped pushed through. You got what? A whole line of 300-pound athletes trying to help you get through there so.

Brock:
I agree. And for those of you that are like, what are you talking about? That's because Josh Allen completely screwed up a quarterback sneak when his defence made a wonderful stand on the goal line and then Josh Allen does Josh Allen things and can't hold onto the football and be pushed forward by those same-

Claire:
In the end zone too-

Brock:
... Lineman. Yeah, it was just wild. Just wild. Don't worry. I'm okay out there for you listeners. I'm fine. I'm cheering for the Miami Dolphins nowadays it seems, because I'm just worried about my Buffalo Bills. Anyways, on that note, folks, that is the end of our show for this week. I would like to thank Josh Watson, Claire Buchanan. I'd also like to thank our technical producer who you heard from just ever so slightly today, Marc Aflalo. And our manager of AMI-audio is Andy Frank. Tune in next week because you just never know what happens when you enter the neutral zone. Have a great week, Be safe. Be well.