Host of CFL names movin’ out in January
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
January was a busy month for the CFL: a sure-fire hall-of-famer retired, a Grey Cup Final quarterback was released, and an offensive coordinator was finally shown the door. Who says the offseason has to be boring?
Starting close to home, there were two huge stories from the BC Lions. In a move that’s sure to be unpopular with the fans, veteran Korey Banks was traded to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for non-import receiver Kito Poblah. General manager Wally Buono said of the trade that, “At the end of it, Korey was a great player for us but we’re at a point in our evolution where we want a different kind of player playing that (nickelback) position and obviously we weren’t ready to make a commitment to Korey for 2014. A trade was something we both agreed on.” Buono has stated that the club wants to get bigger and more physical at nickelback. Since Banks has never been one to shy from contact, one has to feel that his age and salary played into the trade a great deal more than his lack of that “bigger” physical stature. Banks leaves the Leos after an impressive eight seasons and two championships and will help to bolster the secondary of a woeful Winnipeg team that just suffered a 3-15 season.
The other move from BC is one that every Lions fan with any sense has been pushing for for years. Offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine is no longer with the club. Cue celebrations in the street. With Chapdelaine and his predictable play-calling gone, there’s a good chance BC will have one of the league’s most prolific offences next year. It’s still a mystery to many how a team that featured Travis Lulay, Andrew Harris, Nick Moore, and a multitude of other talented names could be stymied on a regular basis last season—Chapdelaine was just that bad. And it wasn’t just last year either. A great deal of the Leos’ success in 2012 was due to Lulay finding other ways to get things done; he won games and put up stats in spite of Chapdelaine, not because of him. Head coach Mike Benevides’ comments about the release were a great deal more complimentary than they had to be: “We understand where we are, both he personally and us as an organization. You kind of understand it’s time to move on. The other thing that’s critical, too, is timeline in our business. This affords him the opportunity to look at other opportunities that are out there.”
Heading out east, CFL legend Anthony Calvillo has called it a career. And what a career it was. He retires as the all-time leading passer in professional football and the holder of the CFL record for most touchdowns thrown. The famed Alouette also made eight Grey Cup appearances and picked up three championship rings with Montreal. His announcement comes as little surprise though after his season was ended in August following a hit by Ricky Foley. The contact caused his second concussion, and, at 41 years of age, the pivot decided he really didn’t need to take anymore punishment. Montreal will miss him, but the rest of the league sure won’t.
In other moves, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats changed up their quarterbacking situation, signing ex-Argo Zach Collaros and releasing Henry Burris. Burris definitely still has some football left in him, but the opportunity to get younger and sign a rising star at the position proved to be too tempting to resist. Also of note was the release of Weston Dressler by the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The gritty slotback has already landed an NFL deal—rumoured to be the Kansas City Chiefs. Standout BC receiver Nick Moore, brother of the New Orleans Saints’ Lance Moore, is also looking to score a contract south of the border. And with CFL free agency right around the corner and names such as Shea Emry, Jamall Johnson, Jovon Johnson, Kory Sheets, and Keron Williams set to hit the market, the off-season isn’t done with being interesting just yet.