Wave of change hits CFL in 2014
A new team, new stadiums and new rivalries are just some of the things that await football fans, with the 2014 CFL season promising more changes than any in recent years.
The season just finished may have had a storybook ending for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who won their fourth Grey Cup on home turf, but it was a challenge for many other teams in the CFL.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers lived up to their name, bombing big time in their spiffy new stadium as they went 3-15. Even Investors Group Field showed cracks, very literally, and less than a year after it opened, renovations are taking place to the open-air press box so the city can at some point soon host a Grey Cup.
Despite some recordsetting performances from quarterback Ricky Ray, the Toronto Argonauts stumbled on their path to earn a return trip to the Grey Cup.
And the Montreal Alouettes got a peek at life without veteran quarterback Anthony Calvillo and it wasn’t pretty.
But tomorrow is another day and here are a few things expected when the 2014 season gets underway:
Welcome black: The Ottawa RedBlacks will return the CFL to the nation’s capital. The CFL has been an eight-team league since the Ottawa Renegades suspended operations before the 2006 season.
Do I hear 10? The CFL is staying Canadian this time, but it doesn’t want to stop at nine teams. The league is looking for a 10th host city, perhaps Moncton or Halifax.
Go west young Blue: The return of Ottawa to the CFL allows the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to move back to their historic base in the CFL West Division.
New stadiums: Besides the RedBlacks’ remodelled stadium at Lansdowne, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats plan to christen Tim Hortons Field in 2014, after spending a vagabond construction season as tenants of the University of Guelph. The Saskatchewan Roughriders are expecting their new $278-million digs to be football-ready by 2017.
New coaches: The league will see some firsttime new head coaches in 2014. Edmonton and Winnipeg both have new coaches in 2014 after finishing seventh and eighth in league standings in 2013. Former Argonauts defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones landed his first CFL head coaching job in Edmonton in late November and the Bombers then tabbed Argos special-teams co-ordinator Mike O’Shea for his first top spot. The Ottawa RedBlacks picked Calgary defensive co-ordinator Rick Campbell to lead their debut in the league.