Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Alouettes eager to end two-year Cup drought

Aging Calvillo holds key to Montreal's season

  • Print

 

MONTREAL -- It has been two years since the Montreal Alouettes have been to the Grey Cup game.

That wouldn't be unusual for most Canadian Football League teams, but it hasn't happened to the Alouettes since 2000.

And general manager Jim Popp doesn't want three in a row.

"We won our division last year, we didn't win our playoff game, but we've been right there," Popp said. "We all felt we should have been in five straight Grey Cups."

The Alouettes were first in the East Division at 11-7 last season but were beaten at home in the division final by the eventual Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts.

'We won our division last year, we didn't win our playoff game, but we've been right there. We all felt we should have been in five straight Grey Cups'

-- Als GM Jim Popp

But it wasn't that defeat that sparked a big change in Montreal.

Rather, it was coach Marc Trestman finally landing his dream job as an NFL head coach with the Chicago Bears.

Trestman's departure after five years brought in former U.S. college coach Dan Hawkins. Like his predecessor, Hawkins enters the CFL with no experience with the 12-man game.

The difference is that this time he will be well-supported with a staff of 11 co-ordinators and assistants.

Among them is former Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry, who was hired as Hawkins' senior adviser and who could likely step into the top job if needed.

The offence is almost unchanged from a year ago, except for the addition of 35-year-old receiver Arland Bruce III to replace the departed Brian Bratton.

It all hinges on the health of quarterback Anthony Calvillo, the league's all-time passing leader who turns 41 on Aug. 23.

Calvillo is hardly slowing down. He wasn't fast to begin with. And last season he topped, 5,000 yards passing for the seventh time, completing 333 for 5,082 yards, 31 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

He is coming off surgery to his non-throwing shoulder but looked sharp in the pre-season.

Calvillo has his offensive line intact and his solid array of tall receivers in S.J. Green, Jamel Richardson and Brandon London. Adding Bruce was a bonus.

There were changes in the defensive backfield with the signing of veteran cornerbacks Byron Parker and Geoff Tisdale. Dwight Anderson and Seth Williams are gone.

The biggest change may be moving bruising tackler Kyries Hebert from safety to outside linebacker.

Canadian Shea Emry remains at middle linebacker with Chip Cox also back, and with the versatile Marc-Olivier Brouillette slotting in wherever he's needed.

Popp wants stability on defence after going through a succession of defensive co-ordinators in recent years. Each one changed the system so that new players were needed to fit the co-ordinator's style. Jeff Reinebold is out, and the new co-ordinator is Noel Thorpe.

"With coaches, co-ordinators and philosophies, that there hasn't been the consistency we had on offence," said Popp. "You're trying to find a coach that maybe fits the personnel better.

"That was thought out much better this time around. Reinebold is a very good coach, it just didn't work. We were very good some weeks and others we weren't. But that's our league. The best co-ordinators have had 500-yard games against them. But you want consistency, not a roller coaster."

Popp hopes better special teams and defence will bring the Alouettes back to the Grey Cup game, where they've been eight times in 13 years, winning in 2002, 2009 and 2010.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 26, 2013 C5

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

RMTC preview of Good People

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Water lilys are reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)
  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What Western Conference teams will emerge from the first round of the NHL playoffs?

View Results

Ads by Google