The Past is Behind Them (2013 CFL Preview)


Last year the Canadian Football League would look to the past for inspiration throughout the year. Nobody could blame them either as it marked the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup. The entire season was a celebration of the history of the CFL with the Grey Cup returning to Toronto where it was first handed out and bringing a hall of fame tour throughout Canada. It was a great reflection on what the CFL is all about and the amazing history that the CFL was created from. Now though it is time to move on and not forget the history but instead focus on the future of a league that continues to grow. The CFL has always been considered more of a grassroots professional league with players not earning as much and teams truly being engrained into their communities. The league will never changed this grassroots feel to the CFL as it is what the fans who come out are looking for that ownership, in the case of the Saskatchewan Roughriders quite literally ownership, of a team. Something that they can call their own and something that is uniquely Canadian. Although the league will never try to change this they will not stop from looking to continue their growth as a league. New stadiums are in the works as Investors Group Field will open this year in Winnipeg while Ivor Wynn is being remodeled and Saskatchewan is readying to start a new field in Regina. Meanwhile a familiar face to the CFL is gearing up for their return in 2014 when the Ottawa Redblacks will make their debut as the 9th CFL team. Not only will they continue to grow in these specific areas as they would sign an exclusive deal with TSN to continue broadcasting the league. The new deal will TSN will help to grow the league more than ever as the network is sure to put everything they have into the league to try to make it something more than it is now. The CFL is at an essential point now as their 100th Grey Cup Celebration is over and the first 100 years of the league as we know it are done. Now they will look towards the next 100 years as they try to continue the growth that has gripped the league in recent years. As the league looks to the more distant future the players on the field are looking to a more immediate one. The 101st Grey Cup is only 21 weeks away and for the players that is the ultimate goal. Everyone begins the season undefeated with the same chance of becoming the latest Grey Cup Champion. There will be plenty of teams with new looks and new pieces all looking for the same result. The Saskatchewan Roughriders are looking to play the Grey Cup at home this year and have made a number of changes to achieve that goal. The Toronto Argonauts are back to defend their title from last year although with a very different team. The Calgary Stampeders will be looking to their healthy QB to help them get over the hump after making the Grey Cup last year. The Montreal Alouettes still have Anthony Calvillo which always means they are a team to watch. In Edmonton a new QB is hoping to be the answer for the Eskies as they look to get back to their winning ways. The Ti-Cats are looking to try to make up for a disappointing season last year while playing in a new city. Then there is the BC Lions who look to continue being the Montreal Alouettes of the West as they hope to continue dominating. Then there is the Winnipeg Blue Bombers looking to make their new home a place of winning rather than continuing their losing seasons. These eight teams will once again step on to the field all with a 0-0 record and all with the same chance of reaching one of the oldest trophies in pro sports. As these teams start off the 2012 season doesn’t matter as the past doesn’t matter anymore with only the future in sight as the 2013 season begins.


New Era in Hogtown?



The Toronto Argonauts went seven seasons without a championship which was a bad streak for one of the most successful, in terms of Championships, teams in the CFL. Their biggest issue was always trying to find a replacement for Damon Allen who left after the 2007 season. The Argos could not find a QB that would give them the consistency and the ability under centre that they needed to win another championship. That would all change last offseason when the Argos would go out and get that QB they had been looking for in Ricky Ray. A trade with the Edmonton Eskimos would bring Ricky Ray to the Toronto Argonauts in the year that they would host the Grey Cup. Through initial struggles Ricky Ray would come out as that QB that the Argos had been waiting for and in the offseason he would be rewarded with a contract extension that will make Ray an Argo until 2015. Now the Argos are looking to another season where they are hoping that another year with Ray under centre means even more success. The Argos are trying to be the first team since the 2009-10 Montreal Alouettes to win back to back titles and with a QB that finally brings confidence to the team it is a possibility although there is still a long road to get there.


Pattern Forming for Riders


The last two Grey Cups have seen the host city’s team make an appearance and win the championship. In 2011 it was the BC Lions who would win the Grey Cup at the newly renovated BC Place. They would become the first team since the 1994 BC Lions to win the Grey Cup at home but they would start a pattern. In 2012 it would be the Toronto Argonauts who would become the second team in as many years to win at home. With the 100th Grey Cup going to Toronto the Argonauts would build up the team and would win the championship. Now the Grey Cup will go to Regina as the Saskatchewan Roughriders have a chance to make it three for three. The Riders have clearly shown what they hope to do this year as they have built a team to win the Cup. They are looking to new additions like Geroy Simon and Ricky Foley to help them set a pattern for the CFL. The Riders will have plenty of support as Rider Nation will be solidly behind them and hoping that they can see their team in the finals. It is a strange pattern forming in the CFL and the Riders can only hope that they can continue the trend as they hope to raise the Grey Cup in Regina this November.


The Constant Band Aid


The game of football has collectively begun a crusade against head injuries in the sport with more knowledge of the damage that could be done. The new focus on injuries to players has created a lot of concern over those players who seem to be injury prone. One of the players who seems to garner the most concern is in Winnipeg as Buck Pierce has missed more games than he has played in the last few years. With so much talent Pierce has regularly been the difference for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. With him in the lineup the Bombers are consistently in the game but when he is on the bench the team does not have the same fire. This is a big problem for the Bombers though as he spends more time on the bench than on the field as one of the most injured players in the CFL. The career of Pierce is in serious jeopardy this year as he looks to lead the Bombers to the top once again but will need to stay healthy to do so. If he cannot stay healthy his future will be a big question mark as the Bombers may want to move on to someone they know will play. It is a career turning point for Pierce as the constant band-aid needs to stay on the field if he hopes to continue his life as a Blue Bomber.


Back to the Maritimes


The CFL will expand to 9 teams in 2014 when they welcome the Redblacks in to the league and try to establish a team in the nation’s capital. The league has always said that it wants to create a stable team in Ottawa before it thinks about expanding to another area of the country. For many when they are ready there is a no brainer as to where they need to go for the 10th CFL team. The Atlantic provinces are a goal for the CFL as they are hoping to create a league that stretches from coast to coast. A big part of this speculation and the belief that the CFL wants to be out east is the Touchdown Atlantic Series. In 2010 the CFL would announce that the Edmonton Eskimos and Toronto Argonauts would play the first regular season game in Atlantic Canada. Since that point the CFL has travelled to the East Coast in almost every season except for 2012 when the CFL would concentrate on the 100th Grey Cup. They are back for 2013 though as the Montreal Alouettes take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Moncton. It will be another game in the East Coast and for many is another test for a potential 10th CFL team. As the CFL goes out east they could be continuing to test the waters for another expansion team once the Ottawa Redblacks become established.


Temporary Steel City


The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have been in a very tough battle over the last year as the Toronto 2015 Pan am Games Committee has been giving them some major issues. Hamilton was to host the track and field events at the 2015 Pan Am Games but they needed a new more modern stadium than Ivor Wynne. The Pan-Am committee would try to work with the Tiger-Cats to build a new modern stadium to host the games and the Tabies. There were multiple suggestions to move the stadium closer to downtown and away from the original Ivor Wynne location. The Ti-Cats were not as enthusiastic about the new plans as they would reduce the number of seats and would be in places they didn’t believe were good. Through the battle between the two sides Hamilton would lose the track and field events and instead be given a portion of the soccer tournament at a new stadium. This new stadium would be a new more modern version of Ivor Wynne in the same location as Ivor Wynne. The only issue was that the Ti-Cats would have to find a new home to play the 2013 season and with McMaster university rejected their offer they were forced to move further away. The new home of the Ti-Cats for the 2013 season will be the University of Guelph where home games will not be so close to home for Steeltown.

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