Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton

Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.

He packed his bags and headed to Ottawa, where he spent the next four years studying journalism at Carleton University. There, he discovered his love for all things media – and late night shawarma – though he prides himself on never writing a single article for the school’s newspaper.

Jeff got his first gig at CBC Ottawa during his fourth year at school, earning a national award for a radio documentary on his very first assignment. He eventually graduated and chose to leave a career in broadcasting for the city, girl and industry he loves (not necessarily in that order).

That summer Jeff joined the Winnipeg Free Press as winner of the Vince Leah sports internship, during which he covered all sports from golf to the Manitoba Marathon, to Goldeyes and the Bombers. He was in good hands right away, spending his first full week alongside legendary sportswriter Ed Tait, who had the daunting task of working the breaking news shift. It didn’t take long for Jeff to realize he’d like to make the Free Press his permanent home one day.

After his internship was up Jeff moved over to CBC Manitoba, where he spent the next three years doing a number of jobs including senior writer for the Winnipeg Jets. He’s currently halfway through his goal of covering a game in each of the 30 NHL rinks, with his favourite stops so far being Madison Square Garden in New York and the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Jeff would finally get his wish, joining the Winnipeg Free Press sports team, this time in a permanent role as a multimedia producer. He now spends his days researching and writing about local sports and building new and exciting projects online.

When he’s not on the clock, you can find Jeff googling the latest software, watching Netflix or at a garage sale on the weekends, where he’s become obsessed with picking and refinishing wood furniture, most notably the two oak library desks in his office.

Recent articles of Jeff Hamilton

Attempting field goal was right decision

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Attempting field goal was right decision

Jeff Hamilton 7 minute read Friday, Aug. 12, 2022

There was a moment late Thursday, just after the Winnipeg Blue Bombers took their first lead on the Montreal Alouettes with a 19-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown run by Brady Oliveira, when I began to write about yet another Blue and Gold victory.

The first sentence — as comical as it now sounds — was a warning to the other eight CFL teams that to be the first to beat the Bombers in 2022 would require a healthy lead in the fourth quarter. After all, the Bombers had been juggernauts in the final 15 minutes this season, outscoring opponents 80-38 in the fourth quarter through the first nine games.

Not long after, the Alouettes forced quarterback Zach Collaros to fumble on the Bombers 38-yard line and promptly moved the ball down the field for a game-tying touchdown. What unfolded after that was bizarre — a pair of failed field-goal attempts by Winnipeg kicker Marc Liegghio, resulting in a 20-17 overtime win for the visitors in front of more than 31,000 fans at IG Field.

The Bombers now sit at 9-1 and remain atop the West Division standings as they head out for their first bye week of the season. For the Alouettes (3-6), now second in the lowly East, the victory should provide a significant boost in what’s been an otherwise disappointing season so far.

Friday, Aug. 12, 2022

John Woods / The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker Marc Liegghio reacts as he watches his field goal attempt go wide during Thursday’s overtime loss to the Montreal Alouettes.

Bombers’ perfect run ends with OT loss to Als

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Bombers’ perfect run ends with OT loss to Als

Jeff Hamilton 8 minute read Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers bid for a perfect season is officially over. And it couldn’t have been halted in more dramatic fashion.

Trailing 20-17, in overtime, Bombers kicker Marc Liegghio had a chance to tie the game with a 37-yard field goal. The snap was clean, but the kick wasn’t, the ball clanging off the upright and out to seal a victory for the Montreal Alouettes in front of 31,053 at IG Field.

It was Liegghio’s chance for redemption after he shanked a 32-yard field-goal attempt with no time remaining that would have secured a Bombers win. Montreal’s David Cote had put the pressure on after connecting on a 43-yard field goal on Montreal’s only series in overtime.

Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ quarterback Zach Collaros is tackled by Montreal Alouettes’ Mike Moore during the first half of their game on Thursday.

Big Blue pursue perfection

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Big Blue pursue perfection

Taylor Allen and Jeff Hamilton 7 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers return home for the first time in a month following games on the road the last three weeks.

It was a successful run away from IG Field, as the Bombers won all three games to improve to a perfect 9-0 on the season, and now find themselves on the brink of history. After victories in Edmonton and then Calgary, Winnipeg wrapped up its run on the road with a 35-20 win over the Montreal Alouettes at Molson Stadium last Thursday.

The Alouettes are back on the docket this week, arriving in Winnipeg for the back half of a home-and-home series and the final hurdle before the Bombers earn their first bye week of the season. Montreal has struggled this year, its loss to Winnipeg its second straight defeat and fourth in its previous five games.

While the Bombers managed to tuck away a 15-point victory, it wasn’t exactly a cakewalk. The Alouettes have hit desperation mode, and at 2-6 are desperate for wins to keep pace in the lowly East Division.

Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros fires a pass as they face the Montreal Alouettes during first quarter CFL football action in Montreal on Thursday, August 4, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Lions’ freshman Canadian QB set pair of league marks in blowout win over Elks

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Lions’ freshman Canadian QB set pair of league marks in blowout win over Elks

Jeff Hamilton 7 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

In what’s been a thrilling 2022 CFL season, filled with exciting games and tight finishes, Week 9 didn’t exactly live up to the hype.

That’s not to say there wasn’t much entertainment — on the contrary, as new records were set, dominating clubs added to their success and, as always, plenty of highly skilled plays — it just didn’t pack the usual punch we’ve been used to this year.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers (9-0) remain perfect, breaking open a tied game in the fourth quarter to beat the 2-6 Montreal Alouettes 35-20 at Molson Stadium. The Calgary Stampeders (5-2) and Ottawa Redblacks (1-7) did their best to put us to sleep, with the Stampeders earning a 17-3 triumph at home in what proved to be a tough game to watch.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2-6) did what they’ve done all season, built up a healthy lead only to fall on their faces, resulting in a 34-20 loss to the Toronto Argonauts (4-3) at BMO Field. Finally, the B.C. Lions (6-1) once again showed no mercy to the Edmonton Elks (2-6), scoring early and often en route to a convincing 46-14 victory at BC Place.

Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke runs for a touchdown during the second half against the Edmonton Elks in Vancouver, on Saturday.

Wolitarsky’s contributions go beyond catches and touchdowns

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Wolitarsky’s contributions go beyond catches and touchdowns

Jeff Hamilton 6 minute read Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022

On a team that prides itself on selflessness, there’s likely no better example on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers than receiver Drew Wolitarsky.

Wolitarsky has the ever-valuable Canadian passport (his mother is from Montreal), but he encompasses the coolness of someone who grew up in sunny California, while also having an appreciation for colder climates following years playing for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. He’s a passionate guy who cares about his craft, has a deep love for his family and sings to soothe his soul and those of others, too.

To be clear, this isn’t his dating profile. In fact, he’s living happily in Winnipeg with his partner, Savannah, helping raise a three-year-old girl, Leni June.

Instead, it’s just part of the understanding that while other receivers in the locker room have taken much of the spotlight this season, Wolitarsky couldn’t be happier for his teammates. At the same time, he’s put forth a strong season himself, albeit quietly, now in his fifth year in the CFL, all of with the Bombers.

Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022

John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS files

Drew Wolitarsky is respected for his selfless play.

Blue Bombers running back has worked hard to rebound from early-season struggles

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Blue Bombers running back has worked hard to rebound from early-season struggles

Jeff Hamilton 6 minute read Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022

Brady Oliveira will be the first to admit the run game struggled early on in the season. Being the one who touches the ball the most, he owns a sizeable piece of it.

Oliveira, playing in his first season as the feature running back for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, also knew he was part of the solution. By remaining committed to his craft, including extra workout sessions outside of his mandated work hours, he’s starting to see the kind of results he envisioned when taking over full-time duties in the backfield.

“Obviously, at the beginning of the season it was rough out there,” Oliveira told the Free Press following the Bombers closed practice at IG Field Tuesday. “You see us now getting into a rhythm with things. I would definitely say just sticking with it and knowing that all those guys up front believe in me, and all my teammates in the locker room, the coaches, they believed in me and know what I can do. It was also getting some chunk runs in there and making some plays to build my confidence up and now that I’m consistently making those plays it’s just building on that confidence.”

Oliveira has never been shy about his abilities, ever since he arrived in Winnipeg as a rookie at the beginning of the 2019 season. He had just wrapped up a stellar collegiate career at the University of North Dakota, where he finished as the program’s 7th all-time leading rusher (2,822 yards), while earning All-Big-Sky Conference honours in 2016 and 2017 and being a finalist for the Jon Cornish Trophy in 2019, which is awarded to the most outstanding Canadian playing NCAA football.

Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022

Paul Chiasson / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Blue Bombers running back Brady Oliveira fends off Montreal Alouettes linebacker Micah Awe during fourth quarter CFL football action in Montreal last Thursday.

Bombers win a total team effort

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Bombers win a total team effort

Jeff Hamilton 7 minute read Friday, Aug. 5, 2022

MONTREAL – Another week, another win for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who rallied late in Thursday’s game to down the Montreal Alouettes 35-20 at Molson Stadium.

The Bombers, who improved to a perfect 9-0 with the victory, found the end zone three times over the final 15 minutes. The offensive outburst broke open a 14-14 tie through three quarters, with the win now creating a bit more wiggle room for the Blue and Gold at the top of the West Division.

The loss dropped the Alouettes to 2-6, putting them in danger of falling out of a tie for second place in the lowly East. Montreal is now 1-3 under general manager and interim head coach Danny Maciocia, the same record at the time of Khari Jones’s firing early last month.

Montreal will get a chance to redeem itself next week, when the Alouettes travel to Winnipeg for a Week 10 matchup at IG Field Thursday night. Winnipeg’s task of winning consecutive games will be a tall one; of the five previous home-and-home series between these two clubs, only once has a team earned the sweep, with the Alouettes claiming that feat back in 2003.

Friday, Aug. 5, 2022

Janarion Grant celebrates his fourth-quarter touchdown against the Montreal Alouettes with Tyrell Ford on Thursday. (Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press)

Bombers rally late to beat Alouettes 35-20

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Bombers rally late to beat Alouettes 35-20

Jeff Hamilton 6 minute read Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022

MONTREAL – It won’t go down as a classic, but make no mistake, what the Winnipeg Blue Bombers achieved Thursday night in Montreal is nothing short of impressive.

Running on fumes after eight straight weeks of action, playing their third straight road game and second over the span of six days, the Bombers walked into Molson Stadium a banged up and tired group. They would leave a resilient one, rallying late to earn a convincing 35-20 win over the Alouettes.

“That’s as tough a situation as our guys have been in, and full marks to Montreal – they took the ball away early and often and our guys just kept grinding and digging,” Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said after the game. “Then the defence started taking the ball away a little bit and making plays. That’s a really good one.”

The win improved the Bombers to 9-0, keeping their perfect record intact at the midway mark of the season. What’s more, six of those wins have come on the road, with Winnipeg still waiting for its Week 11 bye.

Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022

Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Brady Oliveira catches a pass in front of Montreal Alouettes linebacker Tyrice Beverette during the second quarter. (Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press)

Bombers have target on their back

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Bombers have target on their back

Jeff Hamilton 7 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

MONTREAL — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers near the midway mark of the CFL season with nary a blemish on their record. At 8-0, Winnipeg remains the class of the league, a reputation only further bolstered following back-to-back Grey Cup titles.

While the Bombers success has followed them from week to week, the target on their back is only getting bigger. To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, and though Winnipeg is certainly a tough out, they often inspire and demand the best from the opponent.

Beating the only unbeaten team left is a tall task, and one the Montreal Alouettes will get two consecutive cracks at, with a home-and-home series against the Bombers beginning at Molson Stadium Thursday night. Montreal needs wins to separate themselves from the pack in the lowly East Division, while a victory for Winnipeg can add some more wiggle room atop a competitive group in the West.

“Trevor Harris is a very good quarterback, obviously, he gets rid of the ball quickly,” Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said at the Bombers media availability Wednesday. “Their defence flies around. Running game, even without (William) Stanback, they seem to be able to run the ball a little bit. They got a good roster that play hard — like every team we play.”

Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

The return of Jackson Jeffcoat to the Winnipg Blue Bombers lineup can only mean trouble for the Montreal Alouettes offence.

Bombers pose greatest test for Als

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Bombers pose greatest test for Als

Jeff Hamilton 6 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes have lost more than twice as many games as they’ve won as they near the midway mark of their 2022 regular-season schedule.

Despite being 2-5 on the year, the Alouettes find themselves not only still fighting for a playoff berth, but they are also actually occupying one, tied for second place with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. While they’re only two points shy of the Toronto Argonauts (3-3) for top spot in the East Division, they’re also at risk of being caught by the Ottawa Redblacks, who earned their first victory of the season with a win over the Argos to improve to 1-6.

“We control our own destiny. That’s not a thing you think you’d be able to say at 2-5,” Alouettes quarterback Trevor Harris said Wednesday from Olympic Stadium. “The fact we have that opportunity gives hope. It’s about still keeping our eyes on the process. If we focus on a goal, it’s going to take our eyes off what we’re doing throughout the game and trying to do.”

While games haven’t exactly been easy this year, the challenge staring Montreal in the face right now is its greatest yet. The Alouettes begin a home-and-home series against the unbeaten Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who are a sparkling 8-0, beginning Thursday night at Molson Stadium.

Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

PETER POWER / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Trevor Harris says the fact the Als control their own destiny is a reason for optimism.

Bombers the class of the CFL

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Bombers the class of the CFL

Jeff Hamilton 9 minute read Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022

MONTREAL — It’s been almost two weeks since the last CFL Rundown column ran in these pages, the result of a long overdue vacation that I spent mostly in Ottawa for a Hamilton family reunion. While I was struggling to get a word in edge wise, the CFL was business as usual, including a Week 8 schedule that saw a bit of everything over the four-game slate.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats edged the Montreal Alouettes at home, 24-17, to put the two clubs in a tie for second place in a weak East Division, at 2-5. The B.C. Lions (5-1) moved into sole possession of second spot in the West with a convincing 32-17 win at Mosaic Stadium over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who dropped to 4-4.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers remain the class of the CFL, improving to a perfect 8-0 with a 35-28 road victory against the Calgary Stampeders (4-2). To wrap up the weekend, the Ottawa Redblacks (1-6) earned their first win of the 2022 campaign, with a 23-13 triumph over the Toronto Argonauts at BMO Field.

Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros only seems to get better when the cards are stacked against him. (Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press files)

Defence to thank for keeping Bombers unbeaten

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Defence to thank for keeping Bombers unbeaten

Jeff Hamilton 7 minute read Monday, Jul. 25, 2022

I’ve witnessed plenty of weird over my years covering the CFL and Friday’s game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Edmonton Elks is certainly up there in the list of bizarre moments.

The result was familiar. The Bombers won again, 24-10, improving to a perfect 7-0, their best start to a season since opening the 1960 campaign with 10 straight victories. They’re also a perfect 4-0 on the road in 2022.

It was also nothing new to see the Bombers defence dictate a game, as they did again at Commonwealth Stadium, limiting the Elks to just three field goals and a conceded point. The offence, led by quarterback Zach Collaros, is where it got interesting, a performance unlike anything we’ve seen from the Bombers attack this season, even if it was still good enough to win.

Monday, Jul. 25, 2022

JASON FRANSON / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Dalton Schoen, seen celebrating with Geoff Gray, was the recipient of one of Zach Collaros' passes that resulted in a touchdown for the team.

Bombers stay perfect with 24-10 win over Elks

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Bombers stay perfect with 24-10 win over Elks

Jeff Hamilton 8 minute read Friday, Jul. 22, 2022

EDMONTON — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers put forth an imperfect effort against the Edmonton Elks, getting dominated in nearly every aspect of the game except for where it counts.

Indeed, the Bombers were outmatched in several areas — number of plays (69-39), first downs (23-12), and time of possession (37:14 to 22:46), to name a few — but found a way to win on the scoreboard, earning a 24-10 victory over the Elks Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium. The Bombers remain perfect on the season, improving to 7-0 on the year, maintaining their place in top spot in the West Division.

“We did enough to win,” Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said after the game.

“I thought the defence was pretty darn good again. They played a lot of snaps but holding them to 10 points is pretty good. We scored on offence, had a really nice long drive when we needed it in the fourth. It gave the defence a bit of a rest, ended with a touchdown. Overall, very, very pleased. Very pleased.”

Friday, Jul. 22, 2022

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Blue Bombers’ Jake Thomas sacks Edmonton Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius during the first half Friday.

Lawler says leaving Blue Bombers a business decision

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Lawler says leaving Blue Bombers a business decision

Jeff Hamilton 6 minute read Thursday, Jul. 21, 2022

EDMONTON — Kenny Lawler thoroughly enjoyed being a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. It’s where he matured as a pro football player and, while in Winnipeg for parts of three seasons, he won two Grey Cups and led the CFL in receiving yards his final year.

Over the winter, as the Bombers were putting together the roster for a chance at a rare three-peat, Lawler didn’t get the love he felt he deserved. When Winnipeg refused to pay top dollar for his services, it only made sense to start looking elsewhere for a new football home.

“I felt like the time that I am in my career, with my age and my youth, that I have to maximize as much as I can,” Lawler said following the Elks’ walk-through practice Thursday at Commonwealth Stadium, where Edmonton will welcome Winnipeg for its Week 7 matchup Friday night.

“There was a small offer on the table. They had to do what they had to do for their business to grow and keep doing what they do. I had to do what I had to do.”

Thursday, Jul. 21, 2022

Peter Power / THE CANADIAN PRESS files
Edmonton Elks wide receiver Kenny Lawler won two Grey Cups and matured as a person during his tenure with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Expect bounce back from Big Blue

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Expect bounce back from Big Blue

Jeff Hamilton 7 minute read Thursday, Jul. 21, 2022

EDMONTON — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers continue their run through the West Division with a matchup against the Edmonton Elks at Commonwealth Stadium Friday night.

Both clubs are looking to build off narrow victories last week, with the Elks (2-4) rebounding from a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit on the road to stun the Montreal Alouettes 32-31. The Bombers outlasted the Calgary Stampeders at home, scoring late and then shutting down a dangerous looking final drive by the Stamps to secure a 26-19 victory and remain a perfect 6-0.

It’s the first of two regular-season clashes between the Bombers and Elks this year, with the second match set for Week 18 in Winnipeg. Here are five storylines to keep an eye on in Friday’s game.

1) The Bombers have once again been bit by the injury bug and will be without two more key players this week. After being limited in practice, receiver Greg Ellingson and defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat have been ruled out of action, each dealing with a hip issue.

Thursday, Jul. 21, 2022

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES
Friday’s contest against the Edmonton Elks should provide Bombers receiver Rasheed Bailey with a chance to remind people how talented he is.

CFL reaches new level of excitement

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CFL reaches new level of excitement

Jeff Hamilton 8 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022

WINNIPEG — If the CFL has taught us anything over its long history, it’s that a lot can be packed into a single weekend. It’s been an eventful first six weeks of the 2022 season, a campaign already filled with high-scoring affairs and tight games.

Last week took things to a new level. Perhaps there’s some recency bias at play here, but I can’t remember a more exciting weekend of three-down football. Just consider in the four games played, all were decided by a single score and went down to the final minutes, with two of those games won by two points or fewer.

The Montreal Alouettes (1-4) hit a new low, falling to the Edmonton Elks (2-4), 32-31, despite holding a 31-18 fourth-quarter lead. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers kept their record unblemished, improving to a perfect 6-0 with a 26-19 victory over the Calgary Stampeders (4-1), who suffered their first loss.

Wynton McManis returned a Cody Fajardo interception 50 yards for a touchdown in the final minutes to seal a 30-24 victory for the Toronto Argonauts (2-2) over the Saskatchewan Roughriders (4-2) in the annual Touchdown Atlantic game in Wolfville, N.S. Finally, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1-4) earned their first triumph of the season, edging the struggling Ottawa Redblacks, 25-23, to keep their East Division rival winless through five weeks, at 0-5.

Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers kept their record unblemished, improving to a perfect 6-0 with a 26-19 victory over the Calgary Stampeders on Friday.

On- and off-field success means Big Blue back in black

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On- and off-field success means Big Blue back in black

Jeff Hamilton 6 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022

A year after getting sacked for millions in losses, the Winnipeg Football Club is back in the black following a successful 2021 season both on and off the field.

The club released its annual financial report Wednesday, announcing a $2.1-million operating profit for the fiscal year, a significant increase from the $9.7 million in losses from 2020 when the CFL was forced to shut down its entire season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The numbers are very positive, and our team and our organization, everyone involved, worked extremely hard to get to the success we did on and off the field,” football club president and CEO Wade Miller told the Free Press in a phone interview.

“A lot of credit belongs to a lot of people for making it the year that it was.”

Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Winnipeg Football Club preseident and CEO Wade Miller credited everyone in the organization for the Bombers' financial success.

Hello, this is Carlton, your scoreman

Jeff Hamilton 6 minute read Preview

Hello, this is Carlton, your scoreman

Jeff Hamilton 6 minute read Sunday, Jul. 17, 2022

It truly is special when a game lives up to its hype, and Friday’s affair between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Calgary Stampeders didn’t disappoint.

It was the Battle of the Unbeaten, with the Bombers and Stampeders entering the game with unblemished records. At a combined 9-0, it was the second-most dominant collective record ever to collide in the CFL, with only a 1961 matchup between Hamilton (4-0) and Edmonton (7-0) besting this night.

It would be the Bombers who proved victorious, earning a 26-19 win that included some major fireworks in the final moments. Winnipeg improved to 6-0, the first season they have started 6-0 since 1960, keeping them in sole possession of first place in the West Division.

The Stampeders dropped to 4-1. Calgary has lost five straight games at IG Field, a stadium where Winnipeg has won 12 straight.

Sunday, Jul. 17, 2022

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
It’s going to be difficult to sit Carlton Agudosi after Friday’s performance. Above, the Winnipeg Blue Bomber celebrates his second-half touchdown Friday at IG Field.

Battle of the Unbeaten lives up to its billing — and then some

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Battle of the Unbeaten lives up to its billing — and then some

Jeff Hamilton 7 minute read Friday, Jul. 15, 2022

The Battle of the Unbeaten certainly lived up to its name. And then some.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Calgary Stampeders met for their Week 6 matchup at IG Field Friday night with a combined record of 9-0, with the Blue and Gold a perfect 5-0 and the Stampeders at a sparkling 4-0. And what unfolded was a classic, as they often are between these two West Division rivals.

Once the dust settled, it would be the reigning back-to-back Grey Cup champion Bombers that ended up in the winner's circle, surviving a frantic final minute that required a lengthy review from the CFL's command centre to earn a 26-19 victory. The Bombers improved to 6-0 for the first time since 1960, and now have a four-point lead on the Stampeders, who dropped to 4-1, for top spot in the West Division.

In the last eight meetings between these two teams, all have been decided in the final three minutes, with six of those decided by a touchdown or less. The Stampeders have lost five straight at IG Field.

Friday, Jul. 15, 2022

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros reads the Calgary Stampeders defence prior to the snap at IG field in Winnipeg Friday.

Marino gets no mercy

Jeff Hamilton 7 minute read Preview

Marino gets no mercy

Jeff Hamilton 7 minute read Thursday, Jul. 14, 2022

Despite a lighter slate, with three games instead of the usual four, Week 5 in the CFL packed a heavy punch.

The Blue Bombers reminded the rest of the league that the Grey Cup goes through Winnipeg, improving to a perfect 5-0 with a convincing 43-22 win over the B.C. Lions.

The Calgary Stampeders (4-0) also remain undefeated, delivering a beatdown, 49-6, to the Edmonton Elks (1-4) in the rematch of the Battle of Alberta. Finally, an impressive victory for the Saskatchewan Roughriders (4-1) over the Ottawa Redblacks (0-4), 28-13, was marred by a disgusting play and ensuing antics by Roughriders defensive lineman Garrett Marino.

Buckle up. We’re going to spend a lot of time talking about Marino and the Roughriders in the latest edition of CFL Rundown.

Thursday, Jul. 14, 2022

Roughriders defensive lineman Garrett Marino.

Undefeated Bombers, Stamps set to clash

Taylor Allen and Jeff Hamilton 6 minute read Preview

Undefeated Bombers, Stamps set to clash

Taylor Allen and Jeff Hamilton 6 minute read Thursday, Jul. 14, 2022

It’s the Battle of the Unbeaten Friday night, with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers hosting the Calgary Stampeders at IG Field.

The clubs are a combined 9-0 heading into the Week 6 matchup, with the Bombers boasting a perfect 5-0 mark and the Stampeders not far behind with four straight wins. Both have been model franchises in the league for some time, with top-level coaching and talent at their disposal.

“I believe pro athletes or high-end athletes like to play the best competition they can play,” Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said after the team’s walkthrough Thursday. “That’s what makes guys get to this level.”

The meeting of teams with a combined record of 9-0 is surpassed by just one game in CFL history, when Hamilton and Edmonton, 11-0 at the time, met back in mid-September, 1961.

Thursday, Jul. 14, 2022

DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES
B.C. Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke, right, is sacked by Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Willie Jefferson during the first half of CFL football game in Vancouver.
B.C. Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke, right, is sacked by Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Willie Jefferson during the first half of CFL football game in Vancouver, on Saturday, July 9, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Jets add backup goaltender, forward on budget-minded deals

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Jets add backup goaltender, forward on budget-minded deals

Jeff Hamilton 6 minute read Thursday, Jul. 14, 2022

As other teams across the NHL threw money around on Day 1 of free agency — to the tune of US$806 million over 109 signings by late Wednesday — Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff barely dipped his hand into the piggy bank.

With plenty of work to do to fill holes in his lineup, including a handful of important restricted free agents still in need of contracts for the upcoming season, Cheveldayoff was limited to two pieces of business.

First, he addressed a need for a backup goaltender behind Connor Hellebuyck, inking David Rittich to a one-year deal worth US$900,000. Next, the Jets GM signed Swedish forward Kevin Stenlund to a one-year, two-way contract worth a league-minimum $750,000.

It marked quite the shift from the buzz a year ago, when the Jets seemingly went “all-in” by trading for a pair of defencemen in Nate Schmidt (Vancouver) and Brenden Dillon (Washington), in what was dubbed “The Summer of Chevy.” That season didn’t go nearly as planned, with the Jets falling well short of expectations, missing out on the playoffs and finishing sixth in the Central Division.

Thursday, Jul. 14, 2022

THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES/Liam Richards
The Winnipeg Jets signed former Calgary Flames and, most recently, Nashville Predators goaltender David Rittich as a free agent Wednesday.

McCrae steps up in air, ground attack with Demski injured

Jeff Hamilton 5 minute read Preview

McCrae steps up in air, ground attack with Demski injured

Jeff Hamilton 5 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2022

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have had their eye on running back Greg McCrae ever since he arrived for training camp in May.

Considered to be among the most promising newcomers, it wasn’t until an injury to receiver Nic Demski in Week 3 that the 24-year-old Miami native would get his opportunity to crack the lineup.

“When the guys identified him and brought him in, they do a great job of letting us know as coaches. So, (assistant GMs) Ted (Goveia) and Danny (McManus) will let us know where they think he fits, positionally, and then the coaches take that and they move pieces around and they validate what they see and what they believe,” Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said after a workout Tuesday. “When he came in, they saw him as a guy that could play a dual role, running from the slot and also, possibly, from the backfield and returning. All sorts of things. He is very versatile and that’s proved out, for sure.”

When Demski suffered an injured ankle and was assigned to the six-game injured list, it seemed a difficult task trying to replace arguably the most versatile piece of the Bombers offence. Demski, a Canadian, is predominantly a receiver but is often utilized as a running back on designed plays.

Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Greg McCrae hangs onto a pass as Demerio Houston defends during practice. McCrae cracked the Bombers starting lineup after an injury to receiver Nic Demski.

‘Dirty’ low hit ‘embarrassing’ for CFL, Collaros says

Jeff Hamilton 6 minute read Preview

‘Dirty’ low hit ‘embarrassing’ for CFL, Collaros says

Jeff Hamilton 6 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 12, 2022

Zach Collaros didn’t mince words when asked to put his opinion behind a questionable hit over the weekend that left one player suspended for weeks and the other sidelined for possibly the rest of the CFL season.

Late into Friday’s game between Saskatchewan and Ottawa, Roughriders defensive lineman Garrett Marino delivered a dangerously low hit against Redblacks quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, wrapping him up just below the knees. Masoli was injured on the play and as he winced in pain on the turf at Mosaic Stadium, Marino celebrated the hit, yelling expletives and raising his arm in the air while being escorted from the game.

“I love Jeremiah. As a teammate of mine for quite a while, and somebody I have a great deal of respect for, not only as a player but as a person, as a father, as a husband, I’ve learned a lot from him from my time being around him,” Collaros said after a workout Tuesday. “So, for something as dirty as what happened and for him to miss games, I think it was ridiculous and embarrassing for the league. I’m not happy about it, obviously.”

Tuesday, Jul. 12, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
“I love Jeremiah. As a teammate of mine for quite a while, and somebody I have a great deal of respect for, not only as a player but as a person, as a father, as a husband, I’ve learned a lot from him from my time being around him,” Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros said.