First it was Barrin Simpson, cut adrift last December. Then Jonathan Hefney and Derrick Doggett bolted for the NFL in the early new year.
Defensive lineman/long-snapping specialist Patrick MacDonald was signed by the Seattle Seahawks.
And then the hammer came down on the Walls – with Lenny cut (signed signed by the Edmonton Eskimos) and Gavin traded to the Montreal Alouettes with Fred ‘We Hardly Knew Ye’ Perry also dumped.
And now the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have sent linebacker Siddeeq Shabbazz packing.
Question now is, who is left to play defence for these guys in 2010?
We had a long chat with Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice last week – that story runs in Saturday’s Free Press – and in discussing the hand he’s been dealt this year one of the points the new boss pointed out was this: for all the gushing about the team’s defence last year, they did finish last in one key statistical category -- most points allowed (506) – that is partly prompting this change.
Yes, yes, we know they were on the field for an eternity because of a completely inept offence. But the Bombers, like a lot of CFL teams, desperately want to get younger and cheaper on defence and the changes they’ve authored – not the exits to the NFL of talented young players like Hefney and Doggett – have affected players in the 30-years-old range. Gavin Walls turned 30 in January, Lenny Walls is 30, Shabazz is 29, Simpson is 32 and Perry is 35.
Change is inevitable in any pro league, especially the CFL. The concern is always whether the young players pegged to replace the vets can actually get the job done.
- Ed Tait