Sunday, 29 May 2011

DeAngelis Signs With Montreal

In a pretty big surprise, word out of Montreal is that recently released Ti-Cat Kicker Sandro DeAngelis has signed with the Alouettes.

The reason this move is so surprising is because Montreal just drafted a Kicker in the CFL Draft (Brody McKnight) and traded a 2012 first-round pick for Lions Kicker Sean Whyte. While McKnight won't be coming to Montreal until 2012 at the earliest, it was assumed that Whyte would be the Kicker for the two-time defending Grey Cup champions in 2011.

This whole thing begs the question of why they signed DeAngelis? You don't deal away a first-round pick unless you are extremely sure of what you are getting in return. Signing DeAngelis tells me that Montreal will be having a fierce competition in camp. DeAngelis didn't sign with the Als to be camp fodder. I would think he fully expects to be Montreal's Kicker in 2011 and beyond.

This is also another salvo in the back and forth that has been going on between Montreal and Hamilton for most of the off-season, which began with Avon Cobourne leaving Montreal to sign with Hamilton. Since then, the two teams have taken turns going at one another in various ways. Perhaps the CFL was right in scheduling the Als for Labour Day. Montreal-Hamilton could become the marquee rivalry in the CFL in 2011.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Training Camp Schedule, Guest Coaches, Black and Gold Day All Announced

The Ti-Cats have just released their Training Camp schedule, the date and location of the 2011 Black & Gold Day and the names of the guest coaches that will be at Training Camp.

Rookies and Quarterbacks will report to McMaster (where Training Camp will once again be held) on June 1st, while the rest of the team will report on June 4th.

Black & Gold Day will be held at Corpus Christi High School in Burlington from 2:00PM to 6:00PM on Saturday, June 11th, one week before Hamilton's first preseason game against the Argos in Toronto. I attended last year's Black & Gold Day, and aside from bad weather (it rained and drizzled most of the afternoon), it was a fun event.

Finally, the Ti-Cats have announced their guest coaches for Training Camp, and one name pops out: Leon Lett. Yes, that Leon Lett. The Cats have also invited Nelson Martin and Steve Pasterchick.

Less than a week until Training Camp begins. Is everyone as excited for the start of the season as I am?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Ray Mariuz and Jason Maas Retire

More retirements from the CFL today as Ti-Cat Linebacker Ray Mariuz and Eskimo Quarterback Jason Maas both hang up their cleats.

Mariuz walks away after eight seasons, five with the Cats and three with the Argos. Mariuz came to Hamilton following the 2005 season, signing with the Cats in February of 2006. Mariuz made most of his impact on Special Teams, where he spent the past four season as the Cats' Special Teams Captain. Mariuz's departure might pave the way for 2011 draft pick Jadon Wagner.

Maas is a much reviled figure in Hamilton. He was the first of the post-Danny McManus QBs to be labeled a saviour and flame out. Maas spent the majority of his 11-year career with the Edmonton Eskimos.

Congratulations to both players on their careers, and good luck to each of them in whatever they do in the future.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Ti-Cats Conference Call

Prior to the start of Training Camp, the eight CFL teams have conference calls with local and national reporters to discuss the upcoming season.

Today was Hamilton's turn, with President Scott Mitchell, General Manager Bob O'Billovich and Head Coach Marcel Bellefeuille fielding questions for a slew of reporters.

The three men covered a lot of topics, and if you so choose, you can read a full transcript or you can listen to the audio of the conference call.

Here are some of the more salient points made:
  • The team recorded their "second straight year of record revenue" while selling over one million dollars in merchandise for the first time in franchise history.
  • The October 7th game against Winnipeg has been dubbed "Your Team, Your Rules" where fans (like me) will get a chance to vote on a number of things that occur at the game, the most stunning of which is that fans will get to choose what the first offensive play of the game will be.
  • The new stadium came up, and it is official that the Cats will play at Ivor Wynne Stadium in 2012 and be back at a new Ivor Wynne (or whatever it is called) for the 2014 season. That means that 2013 will be played elsewhere.
  • Obie believes that the Cats will be a "major challenge to the Alouettes" this year.
  • It sounds like Marcus Thigpen's role will expand, with him possibly seeing time at Receiver.
  • The Secondary is clearly still a work in progress, with Bellefeuille saying that it is possible that there could be two or three new players patrolling the back end of the Defense.
The fact that the team is seeing an increase in revenue is a good thing for the long-term viability of the club. As much as we fans do not have a real stake in the financial side of things, it is always good to see that the team is doing well in that area.

The "Your Team, Your Rules" thing has the potential to be a really cool venture. I'll be curious to see what the fans pick. October 7th should be one interesting night.

Rumours ran rampant about the stadium, so it's nice to get a little clarification on everything. We don't know everything, but we do know that 2012 will be the final season at old Ivor Wynne.

It's nice to hear Obie say that they are going to go after Montreal. The Als are the class of the league – not just for being the two-time defending champs, but for being the measuring stick for every team over the past 15 years – and it's time the Cats took aim at them.

I'll be extremely curious to see what role Marcus Thigpen plays in the Offense in 2011. He has the ability to be a difference maker for the Cats, and if he is used more effectively, Thigpen could be that weapon that takes the Cats from good to great.

I'm really curious to see what the Secondary will look like. Everyone and their Grandmother knew that the Secondary was the biggest weak spot for the Cats last year, so it'll be interesting to see what changes are made to address the deficiencies in that unit.

The Cats have now done their league-mandated conference call, and it's off to Training Camp, which begins, in earnest, on June 1st when rookies and Quarterbacks report. Veterans report on June 4th.

It's almost here folks; the 2011 CFL season is just around the corner.

Sandro Given the Boot

In a not-so-surprising move, the Tiger-Cats announced today that they have released veteran Kicker Sandro DeAngelis.

After coming in with much fanfare in 2010, DeAngelis failed to live up to the hype. He was brought in to replace Nick Setta and performed no better in 2010 than Setta did in 2009. In fact, you might say DeAngelis was worse, because Setta could punt, thus saving a roster spot, whereas DeAngelis could not, which necessitated adding a Punter. First, it was Justin Palardy, who was completely miscast as a Punter and whose gaffes cost the Cats some wins (most notably an early-season encounter with the Roughriders in Saskatchewan). Next came Eric Wilbur, who was fantastic, but was American, which took away an American at a more needed position. DeAngelis's struggles contributed greatly to the Ti-Cats' failure to improve on their 2009 season. The apex of his struggles was the missed 17-yard field goal in the East Division Semi-Final against the Argonauts at Ivor Wynne Stadium. The Cats would lose that game by three, 16-13. Had DeAngelis made that field goal, who knows how that game turns out.

The move itself is not surprising; DeAngelis was expected to be a difference maker and was not. The timing of the move is curious, however. With a little over a week to go before Training Camp, it is surprising that the Tabbies wouldn't allow DeAngelis to come to camp to compete for the job. I know the reasons are that DeAngelis doesn't punt and the finite number of roster spots for Training Camp. But he claims to have worked with Ti-Cat legend Paul Osbaldiston over the winter to get better at punting, and a guy like Wilbur could have been released to give DeAngelis a chance to win his job back.

I would think that DeAngelis's release paves the way for Justin Medlock, who was acquired back in March, to be the Ti-Cats' Kicker in 2011. With Wilbur still in the fold, it's not a lock that Medlock will be the Kicker for the Cats, but it is doubtful that the team would trade for him if they didn't plan on using him. I would be surprised if Medlock isn't the Kicker when the Cats take the field at Ivor Wynne for their season opener against Winnipeg on Canada Day.

I'm also sure that DeAngelis will catch on somewhere. Where that is remains a mystery, but I wish him the best of luck wherever he lands.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Jesse Lumsden Retires

Jesse Lumsden announced his retirement from the CFL today. He has decided to concentrate on his bobsleigh career instead.

Much like with Adriano Belli, the best thing for me to say about Lumsden is nothing at all. I was not a fan of his in the least, but also like Adriano Belli, I will refrain from bashing the guy on his way out the door.

That said, even an unabashed Lumsden supporter would say that his career will be defined by one word: injuries.

Lumsden seemed to have all the skills necessary to be a rare specimen in the CFL, a Canadian playing a predominantly American position. Lumsden had a combination of power and speed that would make many current Running Backs jealous. I vividly recall watching Lumsden do some amazing things on the football field. I will fondly remember that summer night in Toronto in 2008 when he ripped off a couple of long runs that helped the Cats crush the Argos at the Rogers Centre SkyDome. As much as I didn't like Lumsden, I would never deny his talent.

But injuries were always a factor. Lumsden never played a full season in the CFL, and his last two years (one with Edmonton, one with Calgary) ended because of injury. In his lone year in Edmonton, Lumsden was injured in the first half of his first game. Many thought that was the end, or at least they thought it should be the end.

But he came back again last year, signing with Calgary late in the season. But once again, injuries forced him from the field, this time for good. In his third game back, Lumsden suffered a knee injury that ended his season and, now, his career.

But it was Hamilton that Lumsden spent most of his time. A first-round draft pick by the Ti-Cats in 2005, Lumsden played four seasons with Hamilton, his first two following failed attempts to make the NFL, and his second two ending early because of injuries. Lumsden was seen as somewhat of a saviour for the Ti-Cats because he was a local product, having been raised in Burlington and having attended McMaster University. A lot was expected of Lumsden, but he never lived up to the hype because his body simply wouldn't let him.

Injuries, not the lure of bobsleigh, ended Jesse Lumsden's career. Had he been able to stay healthy, he likely would have enjoyed a massively successful CFL career. Instead, football fans from coast to coast will always wonder one thing:

What if?

Monday, 16 May 2011

Tafralis to the UFL

When he was cut back in April, it was expected that Adam Tafralis would find employment with another team... but it was believed that that team would be in the CFL.

Instead, Tafralis has signed with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL.

I wish Tafralis the best of luck in the UFL. Despite what my critics might think, I do like Tafralis and think he has talent. Hopefully, he'll be better able to showcase that talent in the UFL.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Why Mini-Camp Mattered

At the end of April, the Ti-Cats hosted a three-day mini-camp for veteran players. The camps was attended by 53 players, making it the most well-attended session of any of the eight CFL teams.

These Off-season Voluntary Workouts (OVW) were agreed to in last year's collective bargaining agreement by the league and the players. I don't know which side pushed for these, but whoever was responsible did the league a great service.

One of the things many commentators say about the CFL is that the first couple of weeks of the regular season are more like an extended preseason. Training camp opens at the beginning of June, and the season starts at the beginning of July, with two preseason games sandwiched in between. That does not leave a lot of time for teams to evaluate players. So the first two or three weeks are often seen as an extension of the preseason, with the exception that the outcomes matter.

Hamilton last year got out of the gate rather slowly, posting a 1-4 record during the first month of the season. Those early-season struggles led to the team's unimpressive 9-9 mark.

So what does this have to do with OVWs in 2011?

The three days that the players got to spend with one another were used to learn the playbook and build familiarity. This could lead to a sharper start to the season. If the Cats are able to avoid the pratfalls that defined the early part of 2010 and get off to a faster start, it could lead to continued success over the course of the season. These mini-camps could help the Cats be a step ahead of the competition come June, which could lead to an advantage in July, which could roll into August and beyond.

If the Tiger-Cats get off to a better start in 2011 than they did in 2010, we might have to thank the implementation of Off-season Voluntary Workouts.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Popp-ing Off at the Mouth May Awaken a Sleeping Tiger

It happens a lot in sports. Person goes on the radio, shoots their mouth off; fallout ensues.

Usually the culprit is a player, but in this instance it is a General Manager, and one of the most successful General Managers in CFL history.

Jim Popp, General Manager of the Montreal Alouettes, decided to go on the radio and take a few shots at the Ti-Cats.

He called out former Alouette Running Back Avon Cobourne (who signed with Hamilton in February) as well as the entire Ti-Cat organization for signing Cobourne, questioning why they'd do so.

Popp said that when members of the Ti-Cats' staff previously worked for Montreal – Marcel Bellefeuille, Tim Kearse and Brad Miller all worked for the Alouettes in 2007 – they "didn't want [Cobourne] playing in the backfield." He then implied that the move to get Cobourne was orchestrated by Tiger-Cat President Scott Mitchell and probably did not have the support of the team's coaching staff.

That has been refuted by the Spectator's Drew Edwards, who stated that he believes that if Bellefeuille "didn't want Cobourne, [Cobourne] wouldn't be [in Hamilton]."

Popp also claimed that Cobourne has "knee and ankle problems." While I'm sure Cobourne has some wear and tear on him (every player does at his age), he's looked fine to me that last few years in Montreal.

What Popp said isn't as important as why Popp said it. And that question still remains: Why did Jim Popp go on the radio and bash another team, let alone the Tiger-Cats? Yes, he was asked a question, but how many times have coaches and GMs ducked questions so as not to spark a controversy?

My take on the matter is that Popp can see the end of the Als' dynasty coming. Brian Chiu left last year; Ben Cahoon left this year; Anthony Calvillo has one or two years left in him; Marc Trestman will get an NFL opportunity sooner rather than later. The Als may be on their last legs, and Popp might see the Cats as their biggest threat.

That is not meant to discount either Toronto or Winnipeg. The Argos improved significantly under Jim Barker last year and got to the East Division Final. With their acquisition of Steven Jyles, they might be able to improve on their 9-9 record of a year ago. Winnipeg was the worst team in the CFL, finishing with a 4-14 record, but they lost a record 10 games by a touchdown or less. Lady Luck is unlikely to treat the Bombers so harshly two seasons in a row.

These comments aimed at Hamilton sound like those of a man who is starting to get scared. They come off like the GM of one of the best-run franchises in North-American sports is worried that his team is nearing the end of its very impressive run.

In taking shots at the Ti-Cats, Popp may have awoken a sleeping tiger.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Tidbits from Around the League (All With Ties to the Ti-Cats)

A busy couple of days in the CFL. Let's start with the most recent (and pompous) news, shall we?

Adriano Belli has literally set sail. Belli retired today with an elaborate send off at the Toronto Harbourfront. I have made my hatred for Adriano Belli well known, so it would be phony of me to say anything nice about him now. What I will do, however, is not say anything bad about him. He's retired, and that's all that matters.

The Calgary Stampeders announced today that they have released Non-Import Defensive Tackle Mike Labinjo. In what was easily the biggest prognosticating blunder of 2010, I predicted that Mike Labinjo would be the West nominee for Most Outstanding Defensive Player at the beginning of the season (scroll down, you'll find it). Boy was I wrong. I do wonder if the Cats will have any interest in him, since they showed interest in Adriano Belli. Canadian Defensive Tackles are worth their weight in gold, so I wouldn't be surprised if the Cats kicked the tires on Labinjo. If he can keep his mind focused on the game, he could be a big addition for the Tabbies. For some reason, I feel like he's headed to Toronto. Don't ask me why, but it's just a gut feeling I have.

A couple of stories out of Winnipeg that have Tiger-Cat connections are the retirement of Ryan Donnelly (who played six years with the Cats) and the release of Brock Ralph (and, to a lesser extent, Chris Davis and Andre Sadeghian). I'm sure Ralph will get looked at by another team. Canadian Receivers always do. Perhaps he could be headed back to Edmonton? I don't know, but I wouldn't expect him to be out of work for long. He will be in someone's training camp, I would think.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Morning-After Thoughts (2011 CFL Draft)

Bringing it back. For the first time in 2011 I'm bringing you Morning-After Thoughts. For those of you that were reading me last year, you know what this is. For any new people out there, this is where I give some rapid-fire opinions on that week's goings-on. Last year I hadn't thought up the idea in time for the draft, so this year I bring you the inaugural Morning-After Thoughts for the 2011 CFL Draft:
  1. Four Receivers in four picks (selections three through six), three trades in the span of five picks, and two absolutely surprising picks made the lack of intrigue about the first-overall pick immaterial. The first round of the draft was exciting.
  2. As exciting as the first round was, the rapidness of the third through sixth rounds was stunning. Before TSN's live stream could get online, the entire third round and some of the fourth round was already over!
  3. Anthony Parker, in my opinion, was the top prospect in the draft. The Stamps got a very good player who has the ability to be a great player.
  4. I also have to give the Stamps a big thumbs-up for drafting University of Ottawa Quarterback Brad Sinopoli. Not only did they take him in the fourth round, they also drafted him to be a Quarterback. Awesome news. It's unlikely that Sinopoli will ever start for the Stamps (barring injuries) but the experience will get him ready to start for another CFL team at some point in his career.
  5. The Hugh O'Neill pick seemed odd at the time, but then word got out that the Lions had traded Sean Whyte to Montreal. The Lions got Montreal's first-round pick in the 2012 CFL Draft in exchange for Whyte. A first-round pick for a Kicker!? Wally works his magic yet again.
  6. I said it already, but it was great to see a University of Toronto product get drafted. I know Hugh Lopez will make all of us UofT students and alums proud. I might not cheer for Edmonton, but I will cheer for Lopez.
  7. Montreal took a huge gamble on both Philip Blake and Vaughn Martin. However, it is a gamble that a team that has won the last two Grey Cups can afford to take. These are boom or bust picks.
  8. It seems as if the Danny Watkins syndrome scared teams from selecting players like Philip Blake. No one wants to see their high draft choice go to the NFL, especially in the first round. Blake is said to have anywhere from first- to fourth-round potential, so it might be a very long time before he sees the field for the Alouettes.
  9. All told, 34 players that were drafted came from the CIS and 13 came from the NCAA.
  10. Grading drafts the day after is silly; we have no idea how these prospects will turn out. That said, I did like the draft the Stamps had. They came away with Defensive-Line depth, grabbed a fairly good Running Back in Matt Walter, and got the best player in the draft in Anthony Parker. Plus, they are giving Brad Sinopoli a chance. All in all, I like what the Stamps did on draft day.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Tiger-Cat Draft Thoughts

Much like last year I sat patiently waiting for the Tiger-Cats to make their first selection with the anticipation growing inside me as their pick neared. The Cats were choosing at number five, and when the Blue Bombers took Jade Etienne, I was near euphoria. One of the areas I thought that Cats needed to address was Receiver, and two top prospects – Nathan Coehoorn of Calgary and Marco Iannuzzi of Havard – were both still there for the taking; the Cats had their pick of the litter (pardon the pun).

So what did the Ti-Cats do? They traded the pick!

The trade was fine – it netted the Tabbies two picks in round two – but I had once again been blocked from seeing them make a selection on TSN. You see, last year the Cats had only one pick in the first two rounds (the only two shown on TSN), and they traded that (coincidentally, also to Edmonton), so I didn't get to see the Cats make a selection at all last year.

This year, TSN streamed the final four rounds on, so I did get to see them make picks. But it was a bit disheartening not to see them make that first-round pick.

But I digress.

The picks the Cats did make, I like.


Adding a Receiver would have been exciting, but the Cats did need to focus on getting some depth along the Offensive and Defensive Lines.

With their first four picks, they did just that.

The Cats nabbed Offensive Lineman Moe Petrus and Defensive Lineman Maurcie Forbes in the second round, while adding Defensive Lineman Marc-Antoine Fortin and Offensive Lineman Pascal Baillargeon in the third round. You need Canadian bodies along both lines, and the Cats made a major splash by adding these four men. I am really excited about Maurice Forbes. The TSN panel, which included draft expert Duane Forde, gave the Ti-Cats glowing reviews for drafting Forbes. Coupled with the drafting of Eddie Steele in 2010 and the returning Matt Kirk, the Cats have some great Canadian building blocks along the Defensive Line.

The Cats then added Linebacker Patrick Jean-Mary and Tight End Tyrell Francisco in the fifth round. Both are great depth additions, with Francisco being especially intriguing.

Hamilton's final pick might have been their best. Going into Sunday's draft, many gave BYU Linebacker Jadon Wagner a late-first or early-second round grade. But rounds one through five came and went with no one calling his name. The Cats stopped his slide with their final pick, 44th overall. Wagner is not headed back to BYU in the fall and will be in camp in June. A player like that hardly goes unnoticed and never lasts that long. The Cats may have acquired the biggest steal in this year's draft.

With the 2011 Draft now in the rear-view mirror, it means the season is right around the corner. Camps begin in three weeks (yes, THREE WEEKS!), and the season starts in seven weeks. Don't look now, people, but the season is almost here!

2011 CFL Draft (Round Six)

The Picks
1) Saskatchewan - Kyle Exume, RB, Bishop's
2) Winnipeg - Liam Mahoney, WR, Concordia
3) BC - Chris Hodgson, DL, St. Mary's
4) Toronto - Michael Knill, OL, Wilfrid Laurier
5) Hamilton - Jadon Wagner, LB, BYU
6) Calgary - Jared Manchelenko, TE, Concordia
7) Edmonton - Youssy Pierre, WR, Montreal
8) Montreal - Blaine Ruttan, DB, Carson-Newman

My Thoughts
Jadon Wagner lasted until the last round, and that means great things for the Cats. Wagner, who was considered a borderline first-round prospect, is not returning to BYU, so he will be in camp this summer. This could be a huge get for the Tabbies.

The last round was also the landing spot for bench-press champion Michael Knill. At E-Camp, Knill bench pressed a whopping 47 reps. To say he's strong would be an understatement. Could be a beastly get for the Argos.

And with that, the 2011 CFL Draft is over. After having a chance to digest everything I will have some more thorough thoughts either tonight or tomorrow. I will also have more to say about the picks the Tiger-Cats made (and didn't make).

I hope everyone enjoyed the draft. I know I did.

2011 CFL Draft (Round Five)

The Picks
1) Winnipeg - Carl Volny, RB, Central Michigan
2) Hamilton - Patrick Jean-Mary, LB, Howard
3) Calgary - Matt Walter, RB, Calgary
4) Toronto - Gregory Alexandre, DL, Montreal
5) Hamilton - Tyrell Francisco, TE, Weber State
6) BC - Yannick Sage, OL, Sherbrooke
7) Toronto - Julian Feoli-Gudino, WR, Laval
8) Montreal - Vaughn Martin, DL, Western

My Thoughts
A Running Back run (pardon the pun) happened with two RBs chosen in the first three picks in Carl Volny and Matt Walter, who are heading to Winnipeg and Calgary respectively.

The Cats had two picks and took two future picks with Patrick Jean-Mary and Tyrell Francisco. With Francisco being a Tight End, it would seem like Steve Schmidt will not be brought back.

The Als took Vaughn Martin who was selected two years ago by the San Diego Chargers in the NFL Draft. Coupled with the Philip Blake pick, the Als take another chance on a player that might never come to the CFL.

2011 CFL Draft (Round Four)

The Picks
1) Winnipeg - Paul Swiston, OL, Calgary
2) Montreal - Renaldo Sagesse, DL, Michigan
3) Calgary - Akwasi Antwi, DL, Mount Allison
4) Saskatchewan - Alexander Krausnick-Groh, OL, Calgary
5) Toronto - Jedd Gardner, WR, Guelph
6) Calgary - Brad Sinopoli, QB, Ottawa
7) Saskatchewan - Christopher Milo, K, Laval
8) Montreal - Reed Alexander, OL, Calgary

My Thoughts
The news of the fourth round is the drafting of Brad Sinopoli by Calgary. Sinopoli will not be switching positions and will get a shot to be a Quarterback for the Stamps. With Henry Burris and Drew Tate already on the roster, Sinopoli will be the third QB for the Stamps. He may never play for Calgary, but getting drafted, especially in the fourth round, is great for the future of Canadian QBs in the CFL.

Saskatchewan picks Christopher Milo, which is likely insurance should Luca Congi be unavailable at the start of the year as he rehabs an injury.

2011 CFL Draft (Round Three)

The Picks
1) Winnipeg - Brendan Dunn, DL, Western
2) Toronto - Djems Kouame, WR, Montreal
3) BC - Michael Carter, DB, Maryland
4) Hamilton - Marc-Antoine Fortin, DL, Laval
5) Hamilton - Pascal Baillargeon, OL, Laval
6) Toronto - Alexander Robinson, DL, Western
7) Montreal - Philip Blake, OL, Baylor

My Thoughts
The Cats nab a couple of Rouge et Or products for both the Offensive and Defensive Lines. I felt going in that those would be the two areas that the team would focus on, so it's not surprising they used their picks there.

The other notable selection was the Alouettes taking Baylor Offensive Lineman Philip Blake. He was seen as the number-one overall prospect, but the Danny Watkins effect scared teams off from taking him too high. He has NFL potential (and could go in the first round of next year's NFL Draft), so teams were hesitant to take Blake too high. The Als could get the steal of the draft if Blake ever makes his way to Montreal.

2011 CFL Draft (Round Two)

The Picks
1) Calgary - Junior Turner, DL, Bishop's
2) Hamilton - Moe Petrus, OL, UConn
3) BC - Hugh O'Neill, K/P, Alberta
4) Saskatchewan - Craig Butler, DB, Western
5) Hamilton - Maurice Forbes, DL, Concordia
6) Edmonton - Hugh Lopez, DB, Toronto
7) Saskatchewan - Matt O'Donnell, OL, Queen's
8) Montreal - Anthony Barrette, OL, Concordia

My Thoughts
The Stamps start off round two by taking the first Defensive Lineman of the 2011 Draft in Bishop's Junior Turner. Turner is the cousin of Steven Turner, whom the Argos selected in last year's draft (but who missed the season with an injury). D-Line depth is always valued very highly, so it was surprising to see it take so long to see the first D-Lineman go off the board.

The Cats make a "futures pick," grabbing Moe Petrus with their first pick of the 2011 CFL Draft. Very risky pick because he has NFL ability and one year of NCAA eligibility left. Could be huge if he plays; could be a waste if he doesn't. The Cats take big gamble.

The Lions take Kicker Hugh O'Neill. That's a lot of Kickers with Paul McCallum and Sean Whyte, and rumour has it that the Leos have dealt Whyte to Montreal.

The Riders make their first pick of the 2011 CFL Draft and select Craig Butler. Don't know much about him, but Duane Forde says he could be an impact player. That's good enough for me.

The Tabbies select again in the second round and take Maurice Forbes. Since the Cats lost Jermaine Reid, they needed Canadian depth on the D-Line. Eddie Steele was picked last year, so the Cats are doing their best to replenish their Canadian talent along the D-Line.

The Stamps traded their pick to the Eskimos for Defensive Lineman Brian Bulcke. Eric Tillman doing what he always does: load up on Canadian talent, and Edmonton needed their cupboard restocked and grabbed University of Toronto's Hugh Lopez. I go to UofT, so this was cool to see. The Blues have been pretty bad for most of my time there, but it looks like the program is about to turn the corner. Awesome to see!

Saskatchewan uses its second second-round pick on Matt O'Donnell from Queen's. Dude is huge at 6'7" and over 300 lbs. Could be a monster for the Riders.

The Als make the final pick in the second round and use it on Anthony Barrette. He apparently worked with Marwan Hage in preparation for the draft. The Als don't need impact players, but they add more depth to their O-Line.

2011 CFL Draft (Round One)

The Picks
1) Winnipeg - Henoc Muamba, LB, St. Francis Xavier
2) Edmonton - Scott Mitchell, OL, Rice
3) Calgary - Anthony Parker, WR, Calgary
4) Winnipeg - Jade Etienne, WR, Saskatchewan
5) Edmonton - Nathan Coehoorn, WR, Calgary
6) BC - Marco Iannuzzi, WR, Harvard
7) Toronto - Tyler Holmes, OL, Tulsa
8) Montreal -Brody McKnight, K/P, Montana

My Thoughts
We've known for a few days that Henoc Muamba was likely the top pick for the Blue Bombers. Muamba can be a ratio buster (a non-import starting at an import-heavy position) and could be a difference maker for the Bombers.

The Eskies went with Scott Mitchell, eschewing conventional wisdom that they need a Receiver. O-Line depth is always high on teams' radars at draft time. Mitchell will be used to keep Ricky Ray upright and healthy, something the Eskimos failed at last season.

The Stamps moved up to draft Anthony Parker. Great move, and I agree with Duane Forde and think Parker could end up being the best player from this draft when all is said and done. Smart move by the Stamps to go get him. I was hoping he'd land in Hamilton, but I didn't expect it to happen.

The Bombers pass on Nathan Coehoorn and Marco Iannuzzi and select a different Receiver: Jade Etienne from Saskatchewan. Stunning. NFL fans will understand when I say that this situation feels very similar to what occurred during the 2009 NFL Draft when the Oakland Raiders took Darius Heyward-Bey over Michael Crabtree.

The Cats' first pick came at number five and... they traded it to the Eskimos for the 10th and 13th picks (both in round two). The Eskimos took the number five selection and grabbed Nathan Coehoorn from Calgary. The Esks let Kamau Peterson go, and Coehoorn could fill his role. The Esks also grabbed Chris Bauman in free agency, so they are stockpiling Canadians at the Receiver position.

The Lions made it four Receivers in a row by taking Marco Iannuzzi from Harvard. Rumour had it that the Lions had Iannuzzi at or near the top of their draft list, so in trading down and getting picks, BC has to be ecstatic. However, Wally Buono and the BC front office should send a basket of baked goods to Winnipeg thanking them for taking Etienne instead of Coehoorn or Iannuzzi.

Saskatchewan dealt their pick to Toronto, and the Argos selected Tyler Holmes. The Argos add O-Line depth, which is always good, but he has one year left of NCAA eligibility, and the fear of Danny Watkins (who was picked by BC last year and went in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft) clearly didn't scare off the Argonauts.

The defending two-time Grey Cup champions finish off the first round by taking a Kicker in Montana's Brody McKnight. Many, like Duane Forde, thought Hugh O'Neill was the top Kicker in the draft, so the Als passing on him seems odd. The Als needed a Kicker-Punter, but McKnight has a year of eligibility left in the NCAA, so he won't help this year. Seems like a weird pick, at least to me.

Draft Day

As a sports fan one of my favourite events is the draft. I just love drafts. I don't know why, but I do, and the CFL Draft is no exception.

I love the increased coverage that the draft gets from TSN. Today we will see the first two rounds on TSN and TSN HD, with the third to sixth rounds being streamed live on the TSN website ( Last year only the first two rounds were broadcast, and there was no streaming of the last four rounds. Hopefully we get to the point where all six rounds are on TSN and TSN HD.

In case anyone is interested, the Tiger-Cats will be holding a live draft chat on their website ( Following the draft, Tiger-Cat Assistant General Manager Joe Womack will answer some questions. This could be fun for draftniks of all stripes.

I will once again be providing round-by-round updates like I did last year. I will do my best to have the updates posted soon after the round ends. I will provide my opinions as usual, obviously focusing most heavily on the Tiger-Cats.

So sit back, grab a beverage and some snacks, and do like me and enjoy the 2011 CFL Draft. The fun begins at 12:30PM EST on TSN and TSN HD.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Portrait of a City

As much as I am a Tiger-Cat fan, I am also a Hamiltonian. Most of the time I am proud of that fact. Being from Hamilton made me who I am, and if not for being raised in Hamilton, I would not be a Tiger-Cat fan. I owe a lot to Hamilton.

I know I am probably way late on this, but a video surfaced online about a month ago titled "Portrait of a City" about the great city of Hamilton in the 1940s. I had the video sent to me by two different people, and I finally got around to watching it today. One word sums up my feelings on the video: fantastic! The history dork in me loves it, and there is even a little something for the Tiger-Cat fan in me.

There is a scene where athletes are at Civic Stadium, now known as our beloved Ivor Wynne Stadium, taking part in some Track & Field events. (The scene starts at the 12:42 mark.) It is pretty weird to see what the place looked like in the 1940s.

There is also a brief clip of the Tiger-Cats playing at Civic Stadium. (It begins at the 13:13 mark.) It's not a very long clip, and I can't tell who they are playing (Ottawa, perhaps? Calgary?), but it was cool nonetheless.

This is a video that every Hamiltonian should see, so please feel free to pass this video along. It was posted online by Brian Potstra who says that a friend of friend saved this from being tossed out at City Hall. Can you imagine? Losing this would have been horrible! Now we can all enjoy it thanks to that person who kept it from being thrown in the garbage.

Here is the video. It runs a little over 20 minutes. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

Portrait of a City

Friday, 6 May 2011

Draft Time

The 2011 CFL Draft is this coming Sunday. Rounds one and two will air live on TSN starting at 12:30PM, with streaming the final four rounds.

The Tiger-Cats have the 5th, 20th, 21st, 33rd, 36th and 44th selections.

So what should the Cats look to do with those picks? As always, depth on the Offensive and Defensive Lines and finding a young Receiver should be priorities.

While my evaluations are hardly scientific, I do like University of Calgary Receiver Anthony Parker and would be quite happy to see him land in Hamilton. Unlike the last high-round Receiver pick the Tiger-Cats made, Parker will not have the same expectations heaped on him. Hamilton is not in the same position they were in 2007, and Parker could be brought along slowly and developed in the way that Chris Bauman wasn't allowed to.

Another interesting draft tidbit is this list of the last 10 number-one overall picks. Of those 10 picks, the Tiger-Cats had four, including three in a row from 2007 to 2009. To say that the previous decade was unkind to the Tabbies would be an understatement.

I hope everyone enjoys the draft this weekend, and like last year, I will have my thoughts on the first two rounds and on the Tiger-Cats' draft as a whole.