Ti­cats fac­ing old friends

SPORTS TI­CATS GAMEDAY

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - DREW ED­WARDS

REGINA — The trib­ute is tucked into a dis­creet cor­ner of Tim Hor­tons Field, a montage of goofy pho­tos from his col­lege days, his nine sea­sons in Hamil­ton, his many com­mu­nity ap­pear­ances.

He may be a Saskatchewan Roughrider now, but Peter Dyakowski is still a sub­tle pres­ence with the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats.

“I think he’s the ul­ti­mate locker-room guy: He’s never too se­ri­ous, keeps ev­ery­body loose and he’s interesting to have around,” says quar­ter­back Zach Col­laros. “He was a good team­mate.”

The 33-year-old of­fen­sive line­man was re­leased this win­ter af­ter his reign as the long­est-tenured Ti­cat came to a sudden and in­glo­ri­ous end. With younger, more af­ford­able play­ers in de­vel­op­ment, the Kent Austin regime de­cided Dyakowski was ex­pend­able, the lat­est in string of long­time Ti­cats — Mar­wan Hage, Ja­mall John­son, Bakari Grant, Dave Stala — to be shown the door or al­lowed to de­part with lit­tle fan­fare.

Dyakowski quickly caught on with the archri­val Toronto Arg­onauts, sign­ing with them just hours af­ter his re­lease from Hamil­ton. Then, as train­ing camps were set to open, he was dealt to the Roughrid­ers.

On Satur­day, his old team will face his new one when the Ti­cats travel to Regina to play the Rid­ers in the sec­ond reg­u­lar sea­son game at new Mo­saic sta­dium. Dyakowski will make his third straight start at right guard, af­ter years on the left in Hamil­ton.

“It’s the first time I’ve played right guard since 2007, but I have a good trick,” he says, rais­ing one hand and then the other. “This is right, this is left.”

He ad­mits it’s been a tran­si­tion for his wife and young daugh­ter join­ing him in Regina while rel­a­tives look af­ter his Hamil­ton home. His role on the team is dif­fer­ent, too.

“I’m step­ping into a new or­ga­ni­za­tion where there are al­ready a num­ber of guys who are es­tab­lished.

“But ev­ery­one had wel­comed me and they ap­pre­ci­ate a guy with ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said. “They ac­cu­mu­lated wisdom trans­fers over, some­times. They’ve en­joyed the ran­dom tid­bits.”

Ah yes, the tid­bits. Dyakowski was known in Hamil­ton as much for a big brain and es­o­teric sense of hu­mour, as he was his foot­ball acu­men. He was crowned Canada’s Smartest Per­son af­ter win­ning a CBC Tele­vi­sion show in 2012 and ap­peared on the game show Jeop­ardy! two years later.

Col­laros tells a quin­tes­sen­tial Dyakowski story.

“We had a se­ries of plays and the kill word was ‘Lin­coln.’ So I’d be shout­ing ‘Lin­coln, Lin­coln’ to get guys or­ga­nized,” Col­laros said. “One time, Pete turns around and says ‘Try the Arch­duke Franz Fer­di­nand for the call.’ I think three peo­ple got the joke, but I couldn’t stop laugh­ing.”

Nei­ther team is tak­ing a par­tic­u­larly light­hearted ap­proach to this game, how­ever. The Ti­cats are com­ing off a bye week, af­ter get­ting shel­lacked by the Arg­onauts in their sea­son opener, while the Rid­ers are 0-2 and have had an­other tu­mul­tuous week.

Dyakowski said he’s look­ing for­ward to play­ing against his old team­mates and was care­ful to steer clear of con­tro­versy when asked about his re­lease from Hamil­ton. He is, af­ter all, far too smart for that.

“I’m very happy where I am. It’s go­ing great so far, I couldn’t ask for a bet­ter place to be,” he said. “Why com­plain? You can’t go through life sec­ond-guess­ing things.”

The na­ture of his de­par­ture — and his im­me­di­ate sign­ing with the Ar­gos — pre­vented Dyakowski from be­ing cel­e­brated for his con­tri­bu­tions to the team, both on the field and off. Hope­fully, that will change in time.

At the bot­tom of the Dyakowski trib­ute there’s a quo­ta­tion from the man, a fa­mil­iar re­frain from his time with the club: “It’s al­ways a great day to be a Ti­cat.” He won’t be one on Sun­day; but he will be one for­ever.

DREW ED­WARDS, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

For­mer Ti­cats Bakari Grant, left, and Peter Dyakowski are in Regina, where a new $278-mil­lion sta­dium was just opened on time and on bud­get.

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