|Meeting Arland Bruce for the first time|
I smiled back. Of course I knew who the Cats just got. The rumours were everywhere, but now it was official:
Arland Bruce was a Hamilton Tiger-Cat.
For the next two years, we watched as Bruce razzled and dazzled. Bruce made catch after catch, some of the spectacular variety. There was the touchdown from Adam Tafralis against Calgary in 2009; there was the single-game record 16 catches against Saskatchewan in 2010; there were the touchdowns scored against his former club, the Toronto Argonauts. The list goes on. All in all, it was a wonderful two years.
All that ended on Tuesday afternoon when, after 169 catches, 2,450 yards and 17 touchdowns in the Black & Gold, Arland Bruce was traded to the BC Lions.
Whatever Bruce goes on to do with the Lions will not take away what he did for the Cats, and what he did goes beyond the stats I just posted. Bruce coming to Hamilton signified to myself, and I believe many Hamilton fans, that the Tiger-Cats were ready to win, that this wasn't the same team that couldn't buy itself a win. The Tiger-Cats were about to become about winning.
While ultimately the team failed to win the Grey Cup in Bruce's two years in Hamilton, they did make the playoffs and host two playoff games in that time. The Tiger-Cats had not hosted a playoff game since 2001 prior to Bruce's arrival. This was a step in the right direction, and Bruce was a big part of it.
The early part of the 2011 season was difficult for Bruce. He didn't look like the same player. Some said age was the cause; others said injuries. In the end, the Tiger-Cats found a way to win without him in the lineup.
So now Bruce is off to help BC right their ship in the same way he came to Hamilton to help them right theirs.
But as one final goodbye to a player that I was proud to call a Tiger-Cat, I would just like to say thank you. Thank you, Arland Bruce. Your time here helped turn around a moribund franchise, and you were a main part of that. Good luck in British Columbia.
I'd like everyone to join in one last time and say: