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2008 Preview: Montreal Alouettes

If Montreal’s season goes anything like its off-season, there’ll be only one word to describe it: awkward.

After a poor 2007, highlighted by his players openly criticizing his performance, Jim Popp was relieved of his coaching duties. Although he retained his GM duties, Popp decided to stay home and pout rather than attend the press conference announcing his replacement, Marc Tresman. But no worries - the new head coach wasn’t there either. Due to a personal issue, the Tresman hiring was formally announced to the media in December but the man himself didn’t actually turn up until about a month later. Awkward.

By all accounts Tresman is a very nice guy, and he did spend over 17 years in the NFL as an assistant coach and offensive co-ordinator. But that would make for a more impressive c.v. if club president Larry Smith hadn’t initially said he would be looking for a coach with proven CFL experience. So Smith was hung out to dry a bit when Tresman announced to the media that he was “excited to learn something new.” Nice to see everyone is on the same page, because otherwise it might get a little awkward too.

As for Popp’s performance as GM, the Als were one of two teams caught having violated the CFL’s salary cap in 2007. The other, Saskatchewan, was only nominally over the limit and received a small fine. Conveniently, it also won the Grey Cup. Montreal, meanwhile, was so far over the cap that it had its first-round pick in the draft taken away. Less conveniently, Popp’s overuse of someone else’s money earned the Als an 8-10 record and a third-place finish in the East, followed by a quick playoff exit. Awkward.

Popp’s offseason wasn’t much better. It wa s rumoured that Tom Canada, Dario Romero and JoJuan Armour all turned down more money from Montreal than they were being offered elsewhere. More recently came word that the Als signed running back Corey Holmes to a contract - only to have him vanish into thin air. This, admittedly, was not so much awkward as just flat-out weird.

Whether the Als have any hope of pulling themselves out of their funk probably depends on which version of Anthony Calvillo will be back this year. If they’re lucky, it’ll be the one who won the CFL Most Outstanding player award in 2004. More likely, though, it’ll be the ancient-looking ’07 model. On the bright side, Marcus Brady’s torching of the CFL’s touch-football tournament during last year’s Grey Cup festivities suggests he may be ready to take it to the next level. If only they can find some more middle-ages contest winners for him to throw to, it could be lightning in a bottle.

To give whoever’s behind centre some help, the team did sign former NFL “stars” Charles Rogers and Peter Warrick at wide receiver, the latter of whom lasted approximately 46 seconds on the roster before his release. While disappointing, this was not nearly so upsetting as the departure of Etienne Boulay for the NFL, which means Montrealers may have to start looking to the Als’ cheerleaders for their dose of cleavage. (It also means certain bloggers may have to start finding some new material.)

All told, it’s hard to see the Als finishing above even Hamilton. And if you don’t believe me, I’ve got irrefutable evidence - a Sportsnet online poll! to prove it. On the question of who will win the ’08 Grey Cup, the results went like this:

Roughriders 24%

Lions 23%

Blue Bombers 15%

Argos 11%

Stamps 10%

Eskimos 10%

Tiger Cats 5%

Allouettes 2%

Missing the playoffs in the year you are hosting the Grey Cup: awkward.

Posted on Monday, June 9, 2008 at 06:00AM by Registered CommenterShoomy in , | Comments1 Comment

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Reader Comments (1)

Charles Rogers? Seriously? Wow. Now pair him with Javon Walker and you got some action!
June 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSamsquamtch

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