Wednesday 31 March 2010

Most Hated Tiger-Cats: #3

#3: Mike O'Shea
The original turncoat. Mike O'Shea is the first player I can remember who left the Black & Gold for the Double Blue. That alone makes him eligible for this list. In fact, that's the only reason he makes this list.

He played for the Cats for 3 years, from 1993 to 1995. He signed with the Argos in 1996 and became public enemy #1 in Steeltown. That in and of itself secures him a place on this list.

What's worse still, is that he was traded back to Hamilton in 2000...and then went back to Toronto when he became a free agent after the season! Not only was O'Shea a turncoat, but he was a double turncoat! I guess that's apropos seeing as he left the Tabbies for the Double Blue Blew.

Mike O'Shea belongs on this list, and up until recently he would have been #1, but he has since been surpassed by two other players. For now he resides at #3.

PREVIOUS: Jesse Lumsden (#4)

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Most Hated Tiger-Cats: #4

#4: Jesse Lumsden
A Hamilton boy, well Burlington actually. A skilled Running Back. Star player for McMaster. Everything was shaping up for Jesse Lumsden to go down as one of the greatest and most beloved Tiger-Cats of all time.

In 4 years with the Tabbies, Lumsden played in 7, 5, 10 and 9 games in each season. You can't be a franchise player playing in just 43% (31 of 72) of the team's games. The guy just couldn't stay healthy.

The worst part? He was highly productive in his limited playing time. In 10 games in 2007, he had 743 yards on only 98 carries. In 9 games in 2008, he had 584 yards on only 87 carries. It's clear that Jesse Lumsden has the skills to play football at a high level in the CFL.

It also didn't help that the guy seemed like a bit of a jerk. I always felt that he had this feeling of superiority to him that, to be honest, rubbed me entirely the wrong way. Even when he was rushing for TDs, I still didn't like him. Maybe it's my UofT roots that make it hard for me to like a McMaster alum, but I don't hate Ray Mariuz, so it can't be that.

There is just something about Jesse Lumsden that I don't like. For that reason, and for his injury problems, he lands at #4 on my list.

PREVIOUS: Brock Ralph (#5)

Monday 29 March 2010

Belli Suspended

Argo Defensive Lineman Adriano Belli has been suspended for the first game of the 2010 CFL Regular Season.

Adriano Belli is one of the biggest A-holes in the CFL, and it surprises me none that he would get a suspension for showing a "pattern of inappropriate behaviour." He apparently went into the Alouettes' dressing room before the Argos' November 7th game against Montreal.

This is beyond inappropriate. I can't believe all he is getting is one game. This guy has made the CFL look bad time and time again. He's a complete fool and an absolute disgrace to the league. He comes off as this lovable, goofy character off the field, with his whole Kissing Bandit routine, but the guy is a shameless self-promoter who does more harm than good.

The CFL doesn't need clowns like this ruining the image of the league. The best thing the Tiger-Cats ever did was tell this piece of human waste to take a hike. Now if only the Argos, and the rest of the league, would do the same.

Most Hated Tiger-Cats: #5

#5: Brock Ralph
Brock Ralph had all the tools to be a great WR for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, with one major exception: the guy couldn't catch. The clichéd phrase "couldn't catch a cold" can be used to describe Ralph. In two full seasons with the Tabbies all Ralph could muster was a measly 91 catches for 1178 yards and 6 TDs.

What the hell kind of production is that? This guy was supposed to be a #1 WR and all he could average was 45 catches for 589 yards and 3 TDs per season? What a waste.

Ralph only comes in at #5 because, well, it's hard to truly hate a guy who is this bad. Just look at the picture I posted. He's dropping the ball! When you Google "Brock Ralph" you get an image all Ti-Cat fans should be familiar with.

Brock Ralph's tenure in Hamilton was an unmitigated disaster, mostly due to his inability to provide anything to a team that sorely needed a spark. I was never a fan, and I continue to not be a fan. When the Bombers come to town – the team that unfortunately employs Ralph now – I take great pleasure in watching Ralph drop pass after pass. Brock Ralph, my #5 Most Hated Tiger-Cat of All Time.

PREVIOUS: My Most Hated Tiger-Cats of All Time (Introduction, Criteria and Honourable Mentions)

Sunday 28 March 2010

Simpson to Saskatchewan

It was announced on Friday that Linebacker Barrin Simpson has signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Simpson played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2009.

It doesn't really surprise me that Simpson would sign with the Riders. The Riders are always looking to upgrade their team, and Simpson is an upgrade at LB. What does surprise me is that he didn't go to another team, his former team, the BC Lions. The Leos just lost JoJuan Armour to retirement and are in the market for a veteran Linebacker. Simpson had previously played in BC prior to going to Winnipeg, and it seemed that a return to the left coast would have made the most sense.

While Simpson is getting up there in age, he is still a very serviceable LB and could help a very young, very talented Saskatchewan team by providing some veteran leadership. Saskatchewan has probably dealt with the most talent turnover of any of the teams, especially when it comes to losing key players on defense. Back in the winter both of the Riders' starting DEs from last year's Grey Cup game, John Chick and Stevie Baggs, signed NFL contracts – Chick with the Indianapolis Colts and Baggs with the Arizona Cardinals. While Simpson won't fill the void created at Defensive End, he will fill the leadership void left by Baggs's and Chick's departures.

My Most Hated Tiger-Cats of All Time

With the popularity of my "Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime" series, I figured I could go in the opposite direction and give everyone the list of my "Most Hated Tiger-Cats of All Time." I will restrict this list to 5 players. These aren't merely the worst players to play for the Tiger-Cats, but they make the list because of what the did during and after their tenure here. It's not just about bad play, but about various other, unquantifiable factors that every Ti-Cat fan will understand. When these players' names get mentioned, scorn and anger are usually etched on the faces of the people of Tigertown.

I understand that this list can seem a bit crass, but these are the players that I love to boo and love to hate. Some might say that I am only upset because these players went on to greater things elsewhere, but mostly it's because I just hate these players. Turncoats and busts populate this list.

Starting tomorrow, March 29, 2010, I will unveil one player per day for the entire week, culminating with me naming my Most Hated Tiger-Cat of All Time. I hope everyone enjoys this list as much, or more so, than my Greatest Tiger-Cats lists.

Before I get started with the list, and much like with my Greatest Player list, I'll start off with some honourable mentions.

Bo Smith
Bo Smith is only an honourable mention because I hated him for only one season. Attending every Tiger-Cat game last season allowed me to see Bo Smith in person, and boy did he suck. He had to be one of the worst DBs I have ever seen. Big TDs were always scored on Bo Smith. His "coverage" was terrible at best, and atrocious at worst. He made some plays, but for the most part he was the weak link of the secondary.

Casey Printers
Even though I wrote an entire article defending Printers, every self-respecting Ti-Cat fan hates Casey a little. I won't go into details, since I already did in my previous article, but I don't hate Printers the way that others do. I only slightly dislike him, and that's why he is an honourable mention.

Saturday 27 March 2010

Lazy Saturday

With nothing else to do this morning, I decided to kill some time by looking around the CFL website to watch some videos. I stumbled upon their weekly game recaps from 2009, so I decided to relive the 2009 Hamilton Tiger-Cats season. I sat there for over an hour watching the season unfold again.

In re-watching these highlights I was reminded of what a great season we had last year and how much fun this team was to watch. It being the first time that I ever attended every home game (as well as two road games), 2009 will always be special to me. Lots of things happened in 2009 that I never thought possible, and it provided the catalyst for me to finally become a season ticket holder. They say that you never forget your first, and 2009 was a first for me. That season will always hold a special place in my heart.

Another side effect of watching these videos is that I am now more pumped than ever for the 2010 season to begin. If my math is correct it is 97 days until the Tabbies kick off the season in Winnipeg against the Bombers on July 2nd.

We still have the 2010 CFL Draft, training camp and the pre-season – where I will be torturing myself by going to both the home game against Winnipeg and the away game in Toronto – until we finally see the season kick off. I guess these videos will have to hold me over until July 2nd.

Sometimes you never know what you'll stumble upon on a lazy Saturday in March.

Friday 26 March 2010

The Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime: #1

Here it is, the moment you've all been waiting for. The #1 Greatest Tiger-Cat of My Lifetime. But before I unveil the #1 player, let's recap the list:

#10: Paul Osbaldiston
#9: Mike Morreale
#8: Tony Champion
#7: Rob Hitchcock
#6: Grover Covington
#5: Rocky DiPietro
#4: Darren Flutie
#3: Joe Montford
#2: Earl Winfield

Those were the other Top 10 players, all of whom are very deserving members of this list. But there can only be one #1. And now, without further ado, the #1 Greatest Tiger-Cat of my lifetime is.....

#1: Danny McManus
Did you expect someone else? In all honesty, who else could it have been? Without a doubt, Danny McManus is the greatest player to play for the Tiger-Cats during my lifetime. McManus spent 8 seasons in Hamilton, amassing accomplishments that any player would be proud to boast about. Without a doubt 1999 was McManus's best season. That year he was a CFL All Star for the only time in his career, the CFL's Most Outstanding Player, and he led the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to their most recent Grey Cup Championship, a game in which he won the Most Valuable Player award after throwing for 347 yards and 2 TDs in a 32-21 victory over the Calgary Stampeders.

After McManus's time in Hamilton came to an end he held the franchise mark for career passing yards, pass attempts, completions and touchdowns. McManus retired from the CFL following the 2006 season, and his career accomplishments rank up there with the all-time greats. He ranks 3rd all-time in passing yards, pass attempts and pass completions, all behind Damon Allen and Anthony Calvillo.

The intangibles at what separate McManus from every other Tiger-Cat in my lifetime. As soon as McManus put on that Black & Gold #14 jersey, fans knew we were about to witness something special. In his first season in Tigertown he guided the Cats to a Grey Cup appearance. In his second year, the Cats won the title. For most of the rest of his tenure he kept the Tabbies competitive. During the later years the team began to fall apart, and a lot of the blame went to McManus. He always got the benefit of the doubt from me. He was the reason we won as many games as we did between 1998-2005, and he is, without a doubt in my mind, the single Greatest Tiger-Cat of My Lifetime.

I've had my say; now it's time for you to have yours. Feel free to sound off in the comment section about the list. Do you agree with it? Disagree? What would you change? Feel free to name your #1 player or your Top 3 or Top 5 or Top 10. I open up the floor now, to you, my faithful readers. Let the debate begin.

PREVIOUS: Earl Winfield (#2)

Thursday 25 March 2010

Addition By Addition

Just thought everyone would like to know that I've recently added Hamilton Spectator writer Drew Edwards's blog "The Scratching Post" to my list of links. It's a really good read. Edwards covers football for the Spec, he offers great insight in his posts, and most of his writing centres around the Tiger-Cats. I urge everyone to check him out.

Barker Staying in Steeltown

The Tiger-Cats announced today that they have signed Safety Dylan Barker to a contract extension that will keep him in Hamilton through the 2012 season.

This is great news. Barker is a fantastic Special Teams player, and is undoubtedly the future for the Ti-Cats at the Safety position. Getting Barker locked up for the long haul provides the Tabbies with some stability at a position which has been somewhat lackluster. With all due respect to Sandy Beveridge, he gets beat too much, and he is clearly not the answer at Safety. Perhaps we could see Barker and Beveridge switch roles. Beveridge is still an asset, but I think Barker is the player that the Cats should move forward with.

Last season, Barker tied the CFL record for Special Team tackles with 37 and was the team's nominee for Most Outstanding Special Teams Player. Barker was inserted into the starting lineup for the final three regular-season games and the East Division Semi-Final and played very well. It would seem that Barker and Beveridge will be in a tight battle for the starting Safety spot in training camp.

The future looks bright for Barker and for the Tiger-Cats. Every move the team has made so far this off-season looks to be the right one. I think we Ti-Cat fans might have to start a new saying: "In Obie We Trust."

The Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime: #2

#2: Earl Winfield
The greatest WR in the history of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, bar none. Some might argue for Darren Flutie, others for Rocky DiPietro, but for my money no one was better than Earl Winfield. While I was growing up, Earl Winfield was the be all and end all as far as I was concerned. He wasn't the first Ti-Cat I cheered, but he was the one I cheered hardest.

His nickname was "The Pearl" because he was a rare gem of a player. During his 11-year career with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Winfield was a 2-time CFL All Star, and upon his retirement in 1997, he had eclipsed 10,000-yards receiving. The only thing missing from Winfield résumé, and the one thing he doesn't have that all 9 other players on this list do have, is a championship ring. Winfield came to Hamilton in 1987, one year after the Cats won the Grey Cup, and he left in 1997, two years before they would win one again. Winfield did play in the greatest game in CFL history, the 43-40 Grey Cup loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but his name etched on the Grey Cup was not to be.

Winfield never won, nor was nominated for, any CFL awards, but his impact on the Tiger-Cats was immense. He was the lone bright spot during many years of ineptitude following the loss to the Riders in 1989. Winfield was the main reason I kept watching the Tiger-Cats. For that he will always have a special place in my heart. That special place is what makes me rank him ahead of every player to ever don the Black & Gold, except one. Earl "The Pearl" Winfield comes in at #2 on my list of the Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime.

PREVIOUS: Joe Montford (#3)

Wednesday 24 March 2010

This Is Our Game

There are a lot of great things about the Canadian Football League, a lot of things that differentiate the CFL from its giant neighbour to the South, the NFL. One of those things is Canadian talent. I'm not here to argue that the talent that comes from Canada is better than that of the United States. That would be a fool's errand. There are hundreds of colleges and universities churning out thousands of athletes a year in the U.S. The American football player is better developed to play professional football than his Canadian counterpart, but that doesn't mean Canadians don't have their place in pro football. The best place for them is the CFL.

There has been talk recently of reducing the number of starting players that are Canadian. Currently, the rule states that teams must start 7 non-imports and have a total of 20 on the roster. The number of total Canadians would remain the same, but now the talk is that the league would like to reduce the number of starting Canadians from 7 to 4.

Reducing the number of Canadians in any capacity is a terrible idea. It is the homegrown players that most fans identify with. Dave Stala in Hamilton, Kevin Eiben in Toronto and Paris Jackson in BC: all players who perform at a high level, all Canadians. To lose or restrict Canadian players would change the very nature of what makes the Canadian Football League special, and alter one of the main differences between the CFL and the NFL.

Many people, myself included, contend that the CFL is not just a sports league, but a fundamental part of Canadian culture. Part of that reasoning comes from having Canadian-born and -trained players competing and thriving. Like I said before, these are the players that fans tend to identify with most. When a player plays in his hometown (as many players have done) he becomes more than just a player; he becomes an extension of that community. He also has the ability to connect with the fan base in a way that an American-born player just cannot do. Look at this video of Dave Stala after he scored a TD in Hamilton last season:

That group of guys that he runs into and celebrates with were guys he went to high school with. That type of interaction wouldn't be the same if, say, Prechae Rodriguez had scored that TD. There is something special about being a Canadian playing in the CFL.

Where would some of the great players be if it weren't for the guarantees that the CFL provides? Would players like Ben Cahoon in Montreal or Andy Fantuz in Saskatchewan or Doug Brown in Winnipeg have been able to even get the opportunity to become stars had it not been for the rules that demand they start?

I hear the argument of some, saying that if the players were so good, they'd make it on their skill and not need the assistance of the Import Ratio Rule. That argument doesn't fly with me. If given the opportunity a coach would go with an admittedly more well-prepared American-born player. The fact that there hasn't been a long-term starting QB for a CFL team in decades shows this to be the case. It's not like the CIS (or its predecessor the CIAU) didn't produce some great QBs; it's just that their American counterparts had been better trained. Most guys who play QB in the U.S have been doing so since they were children of 10 or 11 years of age. You cannot replicate that type of experience.

Altering the Import Ratio Rule would be doing a great disservice not just to current players, but to future generations as well. Growing up I wanted to be a football player, and while it would've been a dream to play in the NFL, I always said to myself that regardless of money I would love to play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (I also said that no amount of money would ever get me to play for the Argonauts). It was guys like Rocky DiPietro and Paul Osbaldiston and Mike Morreale and Rob Hitchcock that made me believe that playing for the Tiger-Cats was a possibility. Yes, I loved Danny McManus and Earl Winfield and Joe Montford, but I most identified with the Canadian-born players. Losing that connection would be taking away something that makes the CFL unique.

If anything, the league should be looking in the opposite direction. The CFL should be trying to find a way to increase – not decrease – the number of Canadians. The talent level in Canada is at an all-time high, and looking to reduce the number of starting Canadians seems counterproductive. With the CFL currently at one of its highest points in terms of popularity, it would be foolish to change what people are tuning in to see in larger and larger numbers. It seems like the old adage "don't make change for change's sake."

Reducing the number, even slightly, starts the CFL on a path that no fan wants to see it go down. If the numbers are reduced, why not just get all pretense over with, change the league name to NFL North or NFL2 and be done with it? The reason that won't happen is because we, the fans, won't let it happen. While many of us love the NFL, we also love the CFL. We love the CFL for different reasons. One of those reasons is the abundance of Canadian-born players. I, for one, do not want to see that go away. I want to see the CFL strengthened, hopefully on the backs of the many talented Canadians who play this great game. Like the title says, this is our game, and I don't want to see Canadians forced out of it.

RELATED POST: Canadian QBs in the CFL

The Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime: #3

#3: Joe Montford
What can a guy say about Joe Montford that hasn't already been said? Without a doubt the greatest defensive player in the history of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and quite possibly the most intimidating player in the history of the CFL.

Montford was one of the best pass rushers, and he took what Grover Covington did, and revolutionized it. Montford recorded 26 sacks in 1999, which was the second most in a single season by a player. He was a 5-time CFL All Star, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year (1998, 2000, 2001) – only Calvin Tiggle's win in 1999 stopped Montford from winning four consecutive awards – and a member of the 1999 Grey Cup Championship team. Montford was also voted one of the 50 Greatest Players (#40) in 2006. Montford is a shoe-in for the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

Montford was one of the most feared pass rushers during his tenure with the Ti-Cats. He was the catalyst for the championship-caliber defenses the Cats produced in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Montford was the leader on defense, and without his play, the Cats might never have ascended to the heights they did during his run of excellence. All of that, combined with his veracity and ferociousness, made him one of the best players to ever play in Hamilton; because of that, and all his accomplishments, he garners the #3 spot on my list.

PREVIOUS: Darren Flutie (#4)

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Knowlton, Floyd, Johnson: Simply the Best

With the recent news that the Tiger-Cats have re-signed Markeith Knowlton, I figured now was as good a time as any to provide a little insight into the Linebacking corps of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Linebackers are considered the heart and soul of every defense, and this is especially true in Hamilton. Without top-notch LBs to anchor a defense, you don't have a defense. The three men that start for the Ti-Cats comprise the best group of LBs in the CFL.

Yes, you read that right. Markeith Knowlton (#25), Otis Floyd (#35) and Jamall Johnson (#28) are the best linebacking group in the entire Canadian Football League.

In 2009, these players exceeded even the most ardent fan's wildest expectations. Knowlton had 95 tackles, one sack, four fumble recoveries, four interceptions, two blocked kicks and two defensive touchdowns and was named a CFL All Star. Johnson led the Cats in tackles with 109, while also recording two sacks and being named a CFL All Star. Floyd finished the season with only 67 tackles, five sacks and one interception, but he was the leader of the group, due mostly to his experience. He was the spokesman for the team, especially the defense; Floyd became the public face of a much improved unit.

All three players will return in 2010, hopefully to anchor an even more impressive defensive unit. Knowlton and Johnson look to bolster their All Star credentials, while Floyd looks to improve on his solid play and continue to be the vocal and emotional leader of the Tiger-Cats defense.

Each team has its strengths and its weaknesses, but few teams have a bigger strength than the Cats have at Linebacker. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have the best Linebacking group in the CFL.

The Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime: #4

#4: Darren Flutie
Darren Flutie was one of the greatest WRs in the history of the CFL, let alone in the history of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Flutie's accomplishments are numerous. He was a 3-time All Star (though only once for the Tiger-Cats, in 1999), he was a member of the 1999 Grey Cup Championship team, and upon his retirement, he was the CFL's all-time leader in receptions (a record that has since been eclipsed by Terry Vaughn). Darren Flutie was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 2007 and was voted as one of the 50 Greatest Players in CFL History (#50) in 2006.

Flutie's arrival in Steeltown in 1998 marked a turn for the franchise. Following a dismal 1997, a season which saw the Cats finish a horrendous 2-16, change was inevitable. It was a triumvirate of former Eskimos that brought the Tiger-Cats back to the top of the CFL. Those former Eskimos were Head Coach Ron Lancaster, QB Danny McManus and WR Darren Flutie. With those three at the helm, the Tiger-Cats saw an immediate improvement. In 1998 they reached the Grey Cup, losing to Calgary, and in 1999 they returned the favour by beating the Stamps. Darren Flutie was instrumental in those appearances.

Based mostly on those first two seasonz, where he helped to restore the roar, Flutie finds a place in the Top 10. I know some will say that his ranking is too low, but he comes in at #4 on my list.

PREVIOUS: Rocky DiPietro (#5)

Monday 22 March 2010

Robertson Off to BC

And the news just keeps rolling in.

The BC Lions announced earlier today that they have signed former Argo Running Back Jamal Robertson to a contract.

This is a big loss for the Argos. The lone bright spot in their otherwise horrendous 2009 season was Robertson, who became the first Argo RB to rush for over 1,000 yards since Michael Jenkins in 2001.

Robertson's exit creates a huge hole in the Argos offense. Look at their roster: they have four QBs who have never started a CFL game (three of which have never played in any CFL game, period), and now they have next to nobody to run the football for them. The only RBs they have with any CFL experience are Jeff Johnson and Bryan Crawford, neither of whom can be relied on to be the bell-cow back. The Argo offense is just putrid. In fact, outside of Jeremaine Copeland, the Argos really don't have a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball. But even then, what good is a WR when you have no one to throw him the football? Looks like it could be another long season in Argo Land.

Tiger-Cats Lock Up Knowlton

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced today that they have signed Linebacker Markeith Knowlton to a contract extension that will keep him in Black & Gold until 2012.

This is great, great news. Knowlton has been one of the best LBs that the Cats have had for a long while. Last season he was named a CFL All Star, and he was a major reason why the Cats played as well as they did in 2009.

Knowlton teams up with another 2009 CFL All Star, Jamall Johnson, and Otis Floyd to form one of the best Linebacking groups in the CFL.

I can't stress enough how great this signing is. Knowlton was being looked at by NFL teams this past off-season, and locking him up now avoids the risk of him leaving for the NFL until after the 2012 season. Not only that, but Knowlton is one of the best Linebackers in the CFL, and having him continue to don the Black & Gold and attack opposing QBs for the next few seasons will be a great site to behold.

The Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime: #5

#5: Rocky DiPietro

Rocky DiPietro was the first Hamilton Tiger-Cat player I remember rooting for. What I mean is that out of all the players that I have cheered hardest for, Rocky DiPietro was the first.

DiPietro spent his entire 13-year career with the Tiger-Cats, and he was one of the greatest players to ever don the Black & Gold jersey. He was a 2-time Most Outstanding Canadian (1982, 1989), a two-time CFL All Star and member of the 1986 Grey Cup Championship team. He was also inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1997. DiPietro's accomplishments speak for themselves.

Like most players who dominated for the Cats and became a beloved member of the team, DiPietro played with tenacity and heart, as well as having that same blue-collar work ethic that endears players to the Ivor Wynne faithful.

While I don't have any personal memories of Rocky DiPietro like I do of other players, he is one of the CFL's all-time greats and was the player I first identified with when I began watching Tiger-Cats football as a kid. For those reasons, Rocky DiPietro lands at #5 on my list.

PREVIOUS: Grover Covington (#6)

Sunday 21 March 2010

Stubler Back in the CFL

Looks like Rich Stubler is headed back to the CFL. The former long-time Defensive Coordinator, and one-time Head Coach, of the Toronto Argonauts will be joining the BC Lions as Defensive Line Coach, according to Sportsnet.

The last we saw of Stubler he was being fired as Head Coach of the Toronto Argonauts in 2008. At the time he was 4-6, and the Argos were in 2nd place in the East Division. He was replaced by Don Matthews, who ended up going 0-8 the rest of the season. The Argos would miss the playoffs with a 4-14 record the year after they hosted the East Division Final.

The Argos replaced Matthews with Bart Andrus, who went a horrendous 3-15 in 2009, which was his one and only season in Toronto. The Argos hired Jim Barker this off-season to replace Andrus.

Even though Stubler coached the Boatmen, I always thought he was a great Defensive Coordinator. The move to BC will likely lead to him being a Defensive Coordinator again in 2011. Maybe he'll move back to Ontario to join the Ti-Cats. It's likely that the current Defensive Coordinator, Greg Marshall, will get a head coaching position in the near future, so if the Cats were to lose Marshall, I couldn't think of a better man to replace him than Rich Stubler. It would just add to the list of recent Argo mistakes that helped the Cats (Exhibit A: Bruce, Arland).

To sum it up, the Argos were in a playoff spot when Stubler was unnecessarily fired, and they have amassed a record of 3-23 since then. It's these decisions that turned a Grey Cup contender in 2007 into the worst team in the CFL the past two seasons.

This Is Our League

What to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon in March? I'm sitting here just craving the start of the 2010 CFL season, so I decided to go on YouTube to look for videos on the Tiger-Cats. In my search I came across one video about the CFL that is just too awesome for words. If this video doesn't give you chills, goosebumps and damn near bring you to tears, do not call yourself a fan of the CFL.

This is our league, and our league is great.

Must Be the Slow Time of the Year

Where is all the news? It has been slow going the past couple of days. Aside from the Argos signing Cleo Lemon, not much has occurred that is newsworthy. Hopefully there will be some action next week.

To hold you all off until there is something of note to discuss, enjoy this great video that the Tiger-Cats debuted during the Labour Day Classic this past September. If you don't get excited by this video then you are definitely not from Hamilton.

Saturday 20 March 2010

Canadian QBs in the CFL

With the recent news that the Argos have signed Queen's QB Danny Brannagan, I thought now might be a good time to discuss the lack of Canadian players occupying the Quarterback position in the CFL. Of course by "lack", I mean none. Aside from Brannagan, there isn't a single Canadian on a CFL roster at the Quarterback position.

Prior to Brannagan, the last Canadian I can recall even getting an opportunity was Tommy Denison, also from Queen's, when he was signed by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2003. The last Canadian to start at Quarterback was Giulio Caravatta, who played for the BC Lions in 1996. Larry Jusdanis was the last Canadian to start at QB for the Tiger-Cats, in 1995. But these players weren't considered long-term solutions at the QB position for either team. They were spot starters, who only filled in because of injuries.

There is really only one name that comes to mind when you think of Canadian QBs: Russ Jackson. Jackson, born in Hamilton, played 12 years for the Ottawa Rough Riders, from 1958-1969. Jackson's list of accomplishments is staggering:
  • Four Most Outstanding Canadian awards (1959, 1963, 1966, 1969)
  • Three Most Outstanding Player awards (1963, 1966, 1969)
  • Three Grey Cups (1960, 1968, 1969)
  • One Grey Cup MVP (1969)
  • One Lou Marsh Award (1969)
  • Three CFL All Star selections (1966, 1968, 1969)
  • Inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (1973)
  • Named the 8th Greatest Player in CFL History (2006)
There will never be another Russ Jackson. That doesn't mean there can't be another great Canadian QB. But for that to occur, changes need to be made.

The way that I would alter the rules is to allow each team to carry a Canadian at the QB position without that player's salary counting against the cap, as well as exempting the player from other roster requirements. This would be a way to develop Canadian QBs in a professional system without hindering the teams.

There is already talk of allowing a training-camp exemption to allow the teams to carry a Canadian QB into training camp without him counting against the roster limits. The league has yet to announce anything, but with the Argos signing Brannagan and the Ti-Cats adding Erik Glavic to their negotiation list, it looks like the wheels are in motion.

However, I don't believe this rule goes far enough. Teams need to be allowed the exemption during the season as well. If we are ever going to see someone come close to Russ Jackson, this rule needs to be expanded in the way I have recommended.

Hopefully one day we will see a Canadian consistently taking snaps and leading a team to a Grey Cup. We have Canadians starting at every other position; it's long overdue that we saw a Canadian starting, and starring, at QB for a CFL franchise.

Friday 19 March 2010

The Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime: #6

#6: Grover Covington
What can I say about Grover Covington that hasn't already been said? He was the CFL's Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 1988, a 4-time All Star, a member of the 1986 Grey Cup Championship team, and he was voted as one of the Top 50 Greatest Players in CFL History (#28) in 2006. He was also inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 2000.

It's not just the accolades that make Grover Covington an all-time great. Covington was the prototype for the modern pass rusher. He was a pin-the-ears-back-and-get-the-QB type of player. He was one of the most dominant defensive players of the 1980s. He is still the record holder for most sacks in a career with 157 over an 11-year career. He tallied 25 sacks during his dominant 1988 season. He was also named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player for the 1986 Grey Cup.

Covington has gone down as one of the greatest players in the history of the league, and because of that, Grover Covington lands at #6 on my list of greatest Tiger-Cats of the past 30 years.

PREVIOUS: Rob Hitchcock (#7)

Thursday 18 March 2010

The Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime: #7

#7: Rob Hitchcock

Rob Hitchcock epitomized everything it meant to be a Hamilton Tiger-Cat. Just like Mike Morreale, Rob Hitchcock was a Hamilton-born star for the Tiger-Cats. One of the toughest players to ever wear the Black & Gold, Hitchcock epitomized the hard-nosed, blue-collar style that Hamiltonians love. During his time in Hamilton, Hitchcock was a three-time All Star and a standout member of the 1999 Grey Cup Championship team.

Hitchcock's presence cannot be measured in award wins or nominations. He was the heart and soul of the franchise, a Hamilton boy who played the game the way the people in Hamilton love. Even when he left the team and played 3 games for the Eskimos, he was given a hero's welcome upon his return.

Other players have come through Hamilton and accomplished more, but it was Hitchcock's passion for the game, and passion for the city, that lands him at the #7 spot on my list.

PREVIOUS: Tony Champion (#8)

Wednesday 17 March 2010

The Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime: #8

#8: Tony Champion

Point blank, Tony Champion made the greatest catch I have ever seen a player for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats make, and that is the sole reason that he made my list. Champion will forever be remembered for his catch in the 77th Grey Cup against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Cats would go on to lose that game 43-40 at the SkyDome in Toronto, but Champion's is catch the stuff of legend. Champion contorted himself into a human pretzel to make the grab. Would it make it even more special if I told you he made the catch with broken ribs? While I'd love to show you a video of Champion's catch, the only one I could find was a terrible video of someone taping the catch with a camcorder off the TV. If a better video ever surfaces I will post it immediately.

As I said, that catch alone is the reason he made my list, but that was hardly Champion's only contribution to the Tiger-Cats during a fabulous 8-year career. Champion was a two-time All Star, and he was the runner-up for the CFL's Most Outstanding Player award in 1989. He owns the team record for receiving TDs in a season with 15 (which he set in 1989), and he was a member of the 1986 Grey Cup championship team.

All added up, it is unquestionable that Tony Champion deserves a spot in the Top 10. On this list he comes in at #8.

PREVIOUS: Mike Morreale (#9)

Tuesday 16 March 2010

The Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime: #9

#9: Mike Morreale
How can a Ti-Cat fan not love Mike Morreale? Born and raised in Hamilton, Morreale played high school football at Cardinal Newman in downtown Hamilton, played university football at Hamilton's only university, McMaster, and starred at WR for the Tiger-Cats for almost a decade. Hell, he was even part of Hamilton's "First Couple" when he married Canadian Olympian, and Hamilton native, Joanne Malar. Yes, he did spend some time playing for that other team down the QEW, but Morreale was a Hamilton boy who bled Black & Gold.

His accomplishments are many. He was named the CFL's Most Outstanding Canadian in 1998 and the Most Valuable Canadian in the 87th Grey Cup in 1999, which was the last time that the Tiger-Cats hoisted the Cup. Morreale had 3 catches for 51 yards in helping the Tabbies beat the Calgary Stampeders 32-21 at BC Place in Vancouver for the team's 15th championship. Morreale also won the Tim Pate Memorial Award in 2000, which recognizes outstanding play on the field and outstanding service in the community.

Mike Morreale was never a truly dominant player, but he exemplified the heart and grit that define many of the great Tiger-Cats and that, along with his accomplishments, merit him a spot on this list at #9.

PREVIOUS: Paul Osbaldiston (#10)

Cats Add DB Dennis

The Tiger-Cats announced a trade today with the BC Lions. The Cats acquired DB Jerome Dennis in exchange for LB Dennis Haley.

Acquiring Dennis adds another DB to an already stacked group. The team added Shivers and Poole earlier in free agency, and by adding another DB, the team has solidified one of their weaknesses from last season.

I don't know much about Jerome Dennis. The article states that he is a fairly productive Special Teams player, which is something the Cats can use.

This isn't a trade that has yielded a star player, but it shows that Tiger-Cats GM Bob O'Billovich is doing everything he can to improve the team, and In Obie I Trust, so welcome to Tigertown, Jerome.

Monday 15 March 2010

The Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime: #10

#10: Paul Osbaldiston

Yes, a kicker. I know how people feel about kickers being "real" players, but when it comes to Paul Osbaldiston, those feelings are unwarranted. He is by far the most decorated Kicker in Ti-Cats history, and a true legend for the Black & Gold.

Very few players ever suited up for the Tabbies that had the same passion as the man affectionately referred to as "Ozzy." Osbaldiston's accomplishments are many. He was a 3-time CFL All Star, a member of both the 1986 and 1999 Grey Cup Championship teams – being named the Most Valuable Canadian in the 1986 game – as well as the holder of almost every significant Ti-Cat kicking record.

Osbaldiston also ranks near the top in many of the CFL's career kicking records. He stands third all-time in FGs made with 669, second all-time in singles with 257, and third all-time in points with 2,939 over an 18-year career.

Ozzy provided me with one of my greatest memories involving the Tiger-Cats. It was 1998, the Tiger-Cats were hosting the East Division Final against the Montreal Alouettes, and with no time left, and the Cats trailing 20-18, Osbaldiston lined up for a 54-yard FG to win the game. As the clock hit 0:00, Ozzy booted the winner right down the pipe to send the Tabbies to their first Grey Cup appearance since 1989. The stadium was pure pandemonium. I high-fived and hugged everyone around me. It was a great moment.

Ozzy's accomplishments speak for themselves, but adding in my own personal story is what lets him, somewhat fittingly, kick off the list of the Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime, coming in at #10.

PREVIOUS: The Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime (Criteria, Introduction and Honourable Mentions)

Sunday 14 March 2010

E-Camp and the 2010 CFL Draft

This past weekend 56 players descended upon Toronto for the annual CFL Evaluation Camp (known as E-Camp). The E-Camp is similar to the NFL's Scouting Combine, where players who are draft eligible perform various tests for scouts in the run-up to the draft. The 2010 CFL Draft takes place on May 2nd.

I must admit that since I am not an avid follower of CIS Football, I am not overly familiar with the draft-eligible players, and because of that I will defer to the experts. Duane Ford has been covering the E-Camp all weekend and has written various articles, all of which can be found on the CFL page of TSN's website.

Despite the fact that I am not familiar with the players I can comment and give opinions on the process.

There is one thing I really like about the CFL E-Camp Draft, and that's that it is entirely Canadian. Only players who are designated as "Non-Imports" are camp and draft eligible. This means that no American players can attend the camp or be drafted. I like this, as it allows CIS players an exclusive audience with teams' management to showcase their skills.

There is one major aspect that I don't like: I'm not a big fan of judging football players based on what they do while wearing shorts in a climate-controlled environment. The E-Camp took place at Varsity Stadium at the University of Toronto, which during the winter months is covered with a giant bubble. Football is played in the elements, with pads on, not in 22º weather, with shorts on. The best way to evaluate players is by seeing what they do on the gridiron.

While the E-Camp has its positive and negative aspects, I still like it simply because it's more football to talk about. It also means that the draft is right around the corner, which means that training camp isn't far off, which means before I know it, I'll be sitting at Ivor Wynne watching the Cats kick off the 2010 season.

Friday 12 March 2010

The Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime

Everyone has their favourite players from their favourite teams. Ask me my favourite Knicks and I'll tell you Patrick Ewing and Larry Johnson. With the 49ers it's Jerry Rice, Steve Young and Joe Montana. With the Maple Leafs, it's Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark and Ed Belfour. I guess having admitted I'm a Ti-Cat/Knick/Niner/Leaf fan, I've just outed myself as a masochist. In any event, my favourite Tiger-Cats of all-time can't be shrunk down to a list of two or three players. So many guys have come through town and donned the Black & Gold that I think the only way to properly get them all in is with the tried and true "Top 10" list.

Let me lay out some ground rules that made me decide who to place in the Top 10. First, they must have played during my lifetime. To make it a nice round number, this list will only encompass the past 30 years (1980-2010) of Hamilton Tiger-Cats football. Angelo Mosca, Bernie Faloney and the like will not be on the list. Not to take anything away from any of them, but since I never had the opportunity to watch them, I don't feel as if I can accurately judge them.

Second, I will only take their time in Hamilton into consideration. Where they played before or after means nothing to me. What they helped the Tabbies achieve is the only part of their careers I will use to measure them. That's why you won't see guys like Matt Dunnigan, Damon Allen or Dieter Brock on this list. Their time in Hamilton was too short for them to be considered.

Third, I am only choosing players. As much as I'd love to put former coaches Ron Lancaster, Ralph Sazio or Al Bruno on the list, I don't think it would be fair to judge players with coaches and coaches with players. Let it be known that I have nothing but the utmost respect for those three former Head Coaches.

Finally, I did not consider anyone who is currently on the team. Not that some of these players might not one day make the list (Dave Stala is quickly ascending the ranks) but no one who is currently a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats has accomplished anything with the team. I believe it would be unfair to judge the current players' accomplishments with that of players who have retired.

I will unveil one player each day for 10 consecutive weekdays beginning on Monday, March 15, 2010. Each player will be revealed at 12PM EST. I will begin with #10 and work my way up to #1.

However, before we kick things off with the Top 10, I figured I could give some space to a few Honourable Mentions (which will be listed in alphabetical order):

Archie Amerson
A CFLPA All Star in 2002, Archie Amerson was Mr. Everything when he played for the Tabbies in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He could run, catch and return, and he did all of them greatly. He was also a key member of the 1999 Grey Cup Championship team. While he would later sign with Toronto, Amerson still received a hero's welcome when he returned to the Cats. Leaving Amerson off wasn't easy, but since he was never a dominant player I feel justified in not having him in my Top 10.

Less Browne
A member of the 1986 Grey Cup Championship, and twice named All-Eastern and All-Canadian during his time in Steeltown, Less Browne is one of the all-time great Canadians to play for the Ti-Cats. Browne played 5 stellar seasons at DB for the Tabbies during his Hall of Fame career. Omitting Less Brown from the list was one of the toughest decisions to make, but when it came right down to it, he was never an All Star with the Tabbies, and he won more championships with other teams than he did with Hamilton. Less Browne was a great player, but he does not make my list.

Mike Kerrigan
A 2-time CFL All Star and the 1986 Grey Cup MVP, Mike Kerrigan was one of the best QBs in Tiger-Cats history. He led the team to the 1986 Grey Cup and came within a whisker of winning another one in 1989, losing it in what many consider the greatest Grey Cup game of all-time. No one loved Mike Kerrigan more than I did growing up, but he was never a truly dominant QB, so his omission is justifiable.

Ben Zambiasi
An 8-time All Star and the CFL's Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 1979, Ben Zambiasi was a key component of the Tiger-Cat teams in the 1980s. Zambiasi was voted into the Tiger-Cats Wall of Honour in 2002 and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2004. He was a key member of the 1986 Grey Cup Championship team. All the accolades make him a perfect candidate for the list, but he falls just short, mostly due to my age. I know that seems rather unfair for a guy who was an 8-time All Star, but I was very young when Zambiasi played, and I don't recall many of the things he did. His greatest season was before I was born, so while I feel uneasy about leaving him off, I decided to do so anyway.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Cats Round Out Coaching Staff

The Tiger-Cats announced today that they have added two new coaches to round out the 2010 staff. Steve Buratto will be the team's new Offensive Line Coach, and Tim Kearse will be the new Receivers Coach. Every other coach from last season has been retained by the team.

O-Line coaches and Receiver coaches are hardly big-time news, but when one of them is a former Grey Cup-winning Head Coach, people will pay attention. Steve Buratto won the Grey Cup with the BC Lions as Head Coach in 2000. He has bounced around the league some, being employed most recently by the Argos as Offensive Coordinator in 2008 and Special Teams and Running Backs coach in 2009. Uh-oh. The Argos have had one of the worst offenses in the CFL the past few seasons, so hopefully that was an aberration. It's not like Buratto will be calling plays or anything, so we shouldn't have to worry about the Cats replicating the punchless Argos offense of the past couple of seasons. The one upside the Argos did have last season was their running game, as RB Jamal Robertson eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. Robertson was probably the lone bright spot for the Argos last season.

I don't know much about Tim Kearse except for what I read in the press release the team put out. The Cats already have one the best, if not the best, WR corps in the CFL, so if Kearse's credentials are accurate, then we could be headed for even better things from the Wide Receivers and Slotbacks in 2010.

No More Natural Grass

The last stadium in the CFL to have natural grass is moving to field turf for 2010. The city of Edmonton announced yesterday that the grass at Commonwealth Stadium will be replaced with field turf some time in May.

Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton

The move makes sense, but there is something iconic about seeing those old-time photos with players all muddy and grass-stained, and now that look will be lost on the next generation of fans. Being dirty and grimy just seems natural to football. As with everything, evolution occurs. In this fast-paced world, change happens almost instantly. Sometimes it's nice to see traditions kept. Too bad grass fields in the CFL have now gone the way of the triple-option.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Cates Back in Green

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that they have brought back Running Back Wes Cates.

This is an interesting signing. I'm not surprised the Riders would bring Cates back. He's a versatile runner, with great hands out of the backfield. While he was the only starting RB in the CFL last season not to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards, he did miss a few games due to injury.

Cates's signing becomes interesting because it leaves the Argos without a top RB. Last season, Jamal Robertson carried the load and became the first RB to rush for over 1,000 for the Argos since Michael Jenkins did it in 2001. Robertson is now a free agent, and the Argos have expressed no interest in retaining his services. The belief was that the Argos would make a run at Cates, but now that he's back in the fold in Rider Nation, that won't be happening. That leaves Robertson as the only viable starting-caliber RB left on the market, unless the Argos trade for someone.

Looks like it will be another long season for the team down the QEW.

What Could Have Been, Pt. 3: The Playoffs

This is the final installment of "What Could Have Been." Today we finally delve into the playoffs. For the first time in 5 years the Tabbies played a playoff game, and for the first time in 8 years they hosted one. The Lions came to town, having done so because of the CFL crossover rule that states if the last-place team in one division has a better record than the third-place team in the other division, the last-place team will cross over to the other division for the playoffs. I like the rule because it sets up (a) that the best 6 teams make the playoffs and (b) the possibility that one day we could have a Hamilton-Toronto Grey Cup.

Anyway, onto the culmination of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 2009 Revised Season.

East Division Semi-Final vs. BC
Original Outcome: LOST 34-27 (OT)

The playoffs are here. Going into this game the Cats were on a roll. They had won three straight to make the playoffs, and were playing a BC team that was hardly a juggernaut. In the revised season I have the Cats steamrolling into the post-season on a 4-game winning streak. The Lions played with heart, and played like they wanted this game. The Ti-Cats played like they were just happy to be there.

One player who didn't play like that was WR Dave Stala. Maybe his years in Montreal showed him that just getting there wasn't enough. Stala played, I believe, his best game in Black & Gold that day. His first TD of the game was one of the prettiest catches I have ever seen a Ti-Cat player make.

As far as I am concerned that catch ranks up there with Tony Champion's catch in the 1989 Grey Cup. If any of you knew how highly I rank Champion's catch against the Riders, you'd realize just how awesome I think Stala's catch was.

But he wasn't done yet. With 0:22 left in the 4th Quarter, Stala did it again.

This score pulled the Cats to within a two-point convert of tying the game and sending it to overtime. On the two-point attempt, Kevin Glenn found a wide open Marquay McDaniel to tie the score at 27-27.

Listen to and look at that crowd. I was there; it was pandemonium. One of the coolest experiences of my life. Alas it was not to be. BC would score first in OT and win the game when Kevin Glenn's pass fell incomplete.

To change this outcome would change everything I experienced in 2009. As much as I'd like to continue to play "What If" and send the Tabbies to Montreal for the East Division Final, I cannot. They say you must lose before you can win. I believe that this loss to BC will keep the Tiger-Cats hungry and poised for even greater things in 2010. This one stays the exact same.

Revised Outcome: LOSE 34-27 (OT)

So that is it. The entire 2009 season as I believe it should have played out. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed putting it together. Now that 2009 is behind us, we can all look forward to what I believe will be an even better 2010.

PREVIOUS: What Could Have Been, Pt. 2


A lot of moves over the past few days in the CFL revolving around the Quarterback position that could have a significant impact in 2010 and beyond. Aside from Casey Printers re-upping with the Lions, four transactions at the most important position in football have occurred in the last two days.

First, the Montreal Alouettes announced the signing former Toronto Argonaut pivot Cody Pickett. Pickett was released by the Argos earlier in the off-season in a purge of the entire Quarterback position. Pickett landing in Montreal could be good for him. With Anthony Calvillo nearing the end of his illustrious career, Pickett could be in line to be the next starting QB for the Alouettes.

Second, the BC Lions announced that they have released former starting QB Buck Pierce. This comes as no surprise since the Leos extended Casey Printers's contract earlier this week. Where Pierce lands is anyone's guess. Winnipeg seems like as good a spot as any. All the Bombers really have at QB is Steven Jyles, so Pierce would add experience and a little competition to the QB race in the 'Peg.

Finally, the Argos have made two QB moves. The Argos completed a trade with the Saskatchewan Roughriders for QB Dalton Bell. I have no idea who this is. I have never heard this name before. I don't know why the Argos traded for him, or think so highly of him. Big-time head scratcher with this one.

The other Argo move should come as no surprise. The Argos announced today that they have signed former NFL QB Gibran Hamdan. Another curious move by the Boatmen. NFL QBs are not known to produce all that well in the CFL, so we'll have to wait to see how this plays out. I think this move lessens, but doesn't end, the possibility of one of the BC QBs ending up in the Big Smoke. Pierce has been released and is free to sign with anyone, and Jackson is still on the Lions roster, so a trade could happen there.

The arms race is heating up again in the CFL.

UPDATE: Saskatchewan has gotten in on the act again. The Riders just announced that they have signed Darian Durant to a contract extension. This was inevitable. Durant solidified himself this year as one of the best QBs in the CFL, and the Riders would have been fools to let him get away. Locking him up now is not only smart, but necessary.

Wow, busy, busy couple of days for the signal callers of the Canadian Football League.

Sunday 7 March 2010

The Lion Signs Tonight

Casey Printers has signed a contract extension for two years, plus an option, to remain with the BC Lions. This signing all but spells the end for Buck Pierce and Jarious Jackson in BC. Expect one of them to land with the Argos before long. Word has it that Jackson will probably be the one, as insiders say the team has no interest in Pierce due to his injury history.

Printers belongs in BC. He won the MOP award in 2004... and was then inexplicably benched for the Grey Cup two nights later in favour of Dave Dickenson. The Lions lost to the Argos 27-19. Printers then went down to the NFL to play for the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2005 season. He never got off the bench in his time in KC, and when he was cut just before Labour Day in 2007, a bidding war commenced. The Ti-Cats emerged "victorious" in that war.

Printers then went on to spend one and a half very lackluster seasons in Tigertown. I already spent a whole post defending Printers and his stay in Hamilton, so I don't have much more to add. I don't think Charlie Taaffe, then Head Coach of the Tiger-Cats, utilized Printers properly. He never tailored the offense to Printers's skills, and the team didn't surround him with the best talent with which to succeed. When Marcel Bellefeuille took over as Head Coach it was already too late. What was best for the teams, and for Printers, was for each to go their separate way.

Printers remained unsigned until late last season when the Lions signed him when they lost more Quarterbacks to injury than the Als did games. Printers played well in limited action and led the Lions to the playoffs. The Leos beat the Ti-Cats in the East Division Semi-Final 34-27, but lost to the Alouettes in the East Division Final 58-18.

With Printers signed, that now puts to rest one rumour – Casey going to Toronto – but it ratchets up another one – the Lions trading someone to Toronto. It'll be interesting to see how this one plays out now that Printers is the unquestioned starter in BC.

Ivor Wynne, I Will Always Love Thee

I stumbled upon an article detailing a possible stumbling block in the building of the next stadium for the Cats.

While I don't have much to say about a new stadium – it won't be ready until 2015 after all – it did get me thinking about that ol' girl located on Balsam and Beachwood.

Ivor Wynne Stadium, home of the Ti-Cats since 1950; home of many personal memories since 1988

No matter where I've seen a sporting event, nothing – nothing – can replicate the experience of watching a game at Ivor Wynne Stadium. It might not look like much, but the in-game atmosphere is unlike any other in all of professional sports.

It also has many, many memories; a lot of firsts, but three that really stick out in my mind. It was at Ivor Wynne Stadium when, at the age of 6, I attended my first ever pro sports game in 1988, a Ti-Cats game against the BC Lions, with my Dad. All I remember about the game is asking my Dad why everyone hated BC. Kids. Will they ever understand?

Ten years later, Ivor Wynne Stadium produced another first. It was at Ivor Wynne where I attended my first ever pro sports playoff game, the East Division Final, which the Cats won on a last-play FG against Montreal to send the team to the 86th Grey Cup. I even interacted with Eric Carter, who at the time was a Defensive Back for the Cats. Whenever he'd make a big play, he'd cross his arms over his head to make an 'X.' Late in the game my friend and I threw up the 'X', and Carter saw us and threw it back. Pretty cool for a 16-year-old. It didn't hurt that we were sitting 3rd row. Also, when Paul Osbaldiston kicked the winning FG the place went nuts. It was the first time I ever hugged or high-fived a complete stranger.

Finally, there was this past season, which was the first time I ever attended every home game for any team. It was my experience in 2009 that made me take the plunge and buy season tickets for the first time. Oh, wait, there is another first! Ivor Wynne will be the first stadium where I will attend a game as a season ticket holder. Even when I don't realize it, Ivor Wynne produces another great memory.

While I fully understand that as time goes on things must change; progress is inevitable. I will attend games at the new place starting in 2015, and Ivor Wynne will become a thing of the past. But the memories... the memories will always remain. No matter where the new stadium is or what it's called, there will only ever be one Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Like Jason Farr is fond of saying, "It's a great day for football on Faloney Way." It always is, Jason, and it always will be.

What Could Have Been, Pt. 2

Last week I decided to look at the first half of the 2009 Hamilton Tiger-Cats season and try to project how they should have done. With the demand for Part 2 being as huge as anything I have done so far, I will post it earlier than I had anticipated. At first I had decided to do the final 9 games and the playoffs, but after some thinking I've decided to save the playoff topic for a third, and final, post. We can now call this the "What Could Have Been Trilogy." With the demand being so high why not stretch it out to three posts? Without further ado, here is Part 2.

Week 11 @ Toronto
Original Outcome: LOST 25-22 (2OT)
Original Team Record: 5-5

No, no, no, no, no. NO! Absolutely not! No, no, no! This was pathetic. This was beyond pathetic. On no plain of existence should the Ti-Cats have lost this game. Coming off the HUGE win in the Labour Day Classic, the Cats were poised to put the Argos down once and for all. What did the team do? They went out and laid an egg. Arland Bruce was returning to TO for the first time and the Cats were at or above .500 after Labour Day for the first time since 2004. This should have been a cake walk for the Black & Gold. This one changes, BIG TIME.

Revised Outcome: WIN 28-13
Revised Team Record: 7-3

Week 12 vs. Calgary
Original Outcome: WON 24-17
Original Team Record: 6-5

This was another great game featuring a team of equal skill from the West Division. Just like the game against the Esks earlier in the season, this was just a well played contest. I'll remember this game for two reasons. One, this was the first time I was in a crowd that got so loud that the opposing team had to call a timeout. It was such a cool experience. Second, this TD pass from Adam Tafralis to Arland Bruce.

Awesome, just awesome. It was the game-winning TD, and was just a fantastic throw by Tafralis and a great catch by AB3. This one stays the exact same.

Revised Outcome: 24-17
Revised Team Record: 8-3

Week 13 vs. Montreal
Original Outcome: LOST 42-8
Original Team Record: 6-6

Aside from the gimme post-Labour Day game against the Boatmen, this was the most disappointing game of the regular season for the Cats. The buildup was immense; the team had unveiled their "13th Man" initiative, and the hope was that the Cats, who had a 5-1 record at home, would at least play the Als tight. Not to be. Blown out from the word "Go." This one doesn't change one iota.

Revised Outcome: LOSE 42-8
Revised Team Record: 8-4

Week 14 @ Calgary
Original Outcome: LOST 15-14
Original Team Record: 6-7

After coming off the embarrassment a week earlier at home against Montreal, the Cats traveled to Calgary and put the game the week before behind them. This wasn't a great game, but it was a close one. Coaching mistakes and one big mistake by QB Quinton Porter cost the Cats this game. This time out it's different.

Revised Outcome: WIN 17-15
Revised Team Record: 9-4

Week 15 vs. Winnipeg
Original Outcome: LOST 38-28
Original Record: 6-8

This was also a big disappointment, on par with the losses to Montreal and Toronto from earlier. Thanksgiving Monday, the Cats holding a lead on the Bombers in the standings, this was as big a game as Cats fans had seen in quite some time. The score of this game does not indicate how badly the Tabbies were outplayed. Another one that doesn't change.

Revised Outcome: LOSE 38-21
Revised Team Record: 9-5

Week 16 @ Montreal
Original Outcome: LOST 41-38
Original Team Record: 6-9

Turning-point game. Point blank, this was the game that changed the season. Coach Marcel Bellefeuille finally made the change from Porter to Kevin Glenn at Quarterback, and that provided the spark the team needed. While the Cats lost this one, one mistake stays in my mind – Marquay McDaniel fumbling on the seven-yard line late in the 2nd quarter when the Cats had a 15-14 lead and were looking to extend it. The fumble was returned by the Als to the Ti-Cats 10-yard line, and a couple of plays later the Als scored. That was the difference in this game. Another one that gets altered.

Revised Outcome: WIN 45-41
Revised Team Record: 10-5

Week 17 @ Toronto
Original Outcome: WON 26-17
Original Team Record: 7-9

The score does not indicate how bad the Argos looked. If it wasn't for a 95-yard TD by the Argos this one would have been a huge blowout. Not much changes with this one.

Revised Outcome: WIN 26-10
Revised Team Record: 11-5

Week 18 vs. Saskatchewan
Original Outcome: WON 24-6
Original Team Record: 8-9

This was a huge game. The Riders were coming in sporting an offense that couldn't be stopped. The Cats came in needing a win. This wasn't a pretty game, but the defense game up as big as they did in any game in 2009. The Cats created turnovers on consecutive Riders possessions. This game was never in doubt then and still isn't now.

Revised Outcome: WIN 24-6
Revised Team Record: 12-5

Week 19 @ Winnipeg
Original Outcome: WON 39-17
Original Team Record: 9-9

In reality, this game meant everything. It was win or go home for both teams. Revised, this game means nothing, except that it could alter who the Tabbies played in the playoffs. The Bombers were 7-10 going into this game, and a win would have knocked the Lions out of the playoffs. A loss and the Bombers go home and the Lios come to Ivor Wynne. As much as it would be nice to change this game and have a rematch the following week, I think with the way that Bombers QB Michael Bishop played, the Cats could have played with high school players and still come out on top. Even with the backups in for the majority of this game, the outcome remains.

Revised Outcome: WIN 34-20
Revised Team Record: 13-5

In reality, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats finished with a very respectable record of 9-9 and made the playoffs for the first time in a half decade. In my version of history, the Ti-Cats finish 2009 with a 13-5 record, but still finish 2nd in the East division, behind a Montreal team that finishes 15-3 (in the actual season they finished 16-2, but in this revised season they lose 45-41 to Hamilton in Week 16, which creates that third loss). After a great season the Cats hosted the Lions in the 2009 East Division Semi-Final. After a greater revised season The Cats will host the Lions in the 2009 East Division Semi-Final. Will the Tabbies do what they couldn't do and beat Casey Printers and the BC Lions and head to Montreal for a date with the Als in the East Division Final? Or will the outcome remain the same? "What Could Have Been, Pt. 3: The Playoffs" will be coming soon.

PREVIOUS: What Could Have Been, Pt. 1