Blue Bomber Report Record: 3–15–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canadian content critical, says Huf

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CALGARY -- He used the usual platitudes -- instilling a winning attitude, surrounding yourself with good people, getting the most out of the players you have.

But then, as if it hadn't occurred to him until just that very moment, Calgary Stampeders head coach and general manager John Hufnagel offered perhaps the most compelling single reason why his teams have consistently been so successful in the CFL.

"I don't know whether I've ever traded a draft pick. I've swapped draft picks -- but I don't think I've ever given up a draft pick," said Hufnagel.

And the result? Well, the Stampeders under Hufnagel are 69-33-1, they have never missed the playoffs since he took over in 2008 and they have already clinched yet another playoff spot this season with a league-best 10-3 record.

And the Bombers? Well, a team that has had the opposite philosophy on draft picks -- just once since 1997 have the Bombers gone into a CFL draft with a full complement of draft picks -- will miss the playoffs this season for the fourth time in five years.

So that might be part of the picture as to why the Stampeders have had the kind of success under Hufnagel that would make Bombers fans salivate.

But the other part of the picture here is what Hufnagel has done with his draft picks.

Consider: With a second-round pick -- and 16th overall -- the Stampeders last May drafted an offensive lineman in Brett Jones who has started every game this season and who the Stamps coaching staff are touting as a rookie-of-the-year candidate.

And the Bombers? Well, ahead of Jones this year they drafted a defensive lineman in Andy Mulumba who is playing in the NFL and might never see the inside of the Perimeter Highway, and Kris Robertson, a defensive back who shredded his ACL in May.

But here's where it gets interesting for Bombers fans looking for a light at the end of this long tunnel.

Hufnagel went out of his way Friday to give credit for his team's success in finding Canadian talent to assistant general manager John Murphy -- who was the personnel director in Winnipeg in 2009 and whose name has popped up as a potential GM candidate for the Bombers if they decide to give the hook to acting GM Kyle Walters.

"I'm sure his name should be popped up," said Hufnagel. "He does an excellent job of getting players in... I think he's very capable."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 C5

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