You've got to say this for Winnipeg Blue Bombers general manager Kyle Walters -- he's an optimist.
One of the two weekly byes that the Bombers received in the 2014 CFL season schedule that was released Wednesday comes in November during the final week of the regular season and Walters was asked at a news conference Wednesday what he thought of that quirk in the scheduling.
"Our big concern is when we finish first, it's going to be a long layoff between football games," said Walters with a grin. "That's my primary concern. I hope that's something you can ask me about in late October, I guess."
Indeed, a long layoff prior to the West final would be an exceptionally good problem for Winnipeg to have, particularly after missing the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and hitting rock bottom last year with a 3-15 season.
But in the event Winnipeg should somehow completely turn around its fortunes in one year and actually win the West Division in 2014 -- earning a bye to the West final in the process -- the team would genuinely have a make-work project on its hands to keep its players sharp.
There are 22 days between Winnipeg's final regular-season game on Nov. 1 in Calgary and the West final on Nov. 23.
All kidding aside, Walters said he didn't have any particular concerns one way or the other with the schedule the league gave his team.
"We play 18 games and expect to win every one," said Walters. "I'm not going to analyze this or that -- line 'em up and let's play them and let's win. It's not really a concern for me one way or the other for me... We gave our input, the people upstairs did the work and the final product came out. Let's go."
Here are some highlights of Winnipeg's 2014 schedule:
-- The Bombers will play three of their first four games at home to start the 2014 CFL regular season.
-- Winnipeg opens the regular season at home on June 26, followed by another home date July 3 vs. the expansion Ottawa Redblacks. Winnipeg then goes on the road for a game in Montreal before returning home again to face the Edmonton Eskimos on July 17.
-- Winnipeg's first four home games are on Thursday evenings, with one Friday night game, one Sunday afternoon game, and three Saturday games after that.
-- Fans will have a little more time to find their seats at Investors Group Field for weekday games in 2014. With all the assorted traffic issues surrounding the new stadium last season, the Bombers asked the league to change the starting time of weekday home games in 2014 from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
-- The Bombers open the pre-season at home against the Argos on June 9.
-- Winnipeg is back in the West Division in 2014, but their first three games next season will be against East Division opponents. Their last four games are against West Division opponents -- Edmonton, Calgary, B.C. and Calgary in succession.
-- The Bombers get two home games against their bitter rivals from Saskatchewan -- one on Aug. 7 and a second in the Banjo Bowl on Sept. 7.
-- With nine teams once again in the CFL, the Bombers will get two bye weeks in 2014 -- in mid-September and then the final week of the regular season.
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