A lot of people leave town on Labour Day weekend. I was no different as I left the confines of Ottawa to return home to Montreal so I can attend the Alouettes’ practice in the east-end suburb of St. Leonard.
It may surprise a lot of fans that the Alouettes do not practice at their home field of Percival Molson Stadium or even at Olympic Stadium, where football operations is located (The business admin side of things is handled downtown).
Last season the Alouettes were a bit of a traveling road show when it came to holding practice; they dressed at the Big O, piled into a couple of buses and went to a number of fields to practice. This year, they still dress at the Big O and hop on the bus, but they seem to have settled on Parc Hebert in St. Leonard.
Practice is open to the public, so I and a few others took it in. A decent crowd had shown up and were excited to see their team prepare themselves for the game Monday versus the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. I was glad to see how certain future players were doing such as Seth Williams and Bo Bowling. You may remember the first pre-season game where Bowling made a name for himself by playing the same hard-fought style as retired Alouettes legend Ben Cahoon. Well, I am happy to say that he’s still playing that gritty style of football. It really is going to be a matter of time until he gets a chance to play.
Another interesting aspect is how they break up the practice by running drills & plays, then into sprints and calisthenics. My guess is they believe in working the fundamentals before all else. And work they do, constantly switching things, going over plays, getting it all down to a science. And then to close out the practice, they run game simulations to focus on what to expect from the opposing team as well as to give the coaching staff areas to work on and prep for.
After practice, the players then head back onto the bus and return to Olympic Stadium to shower, see the medical staff & trainers if need be then watch game film. Normally before the players get on the bus, they will briefly meet and greet the fans. I was able to chat with a few of the players afterwards and one question they all asked me was, “So how did we look out there?”
Well, I told them and I can tell you all they have never looked more focused. The Alouettes are not the dominant team they were two years ago. Even last year they played with a lot more fire and for the first time since 2007, that Eastern Final game in Montreal is in serious doubt. The days of the Eastern division being sewn up by the Alouettes in late September are a thing of the past. Now every game from here on out is a crucial one, no more gimme games from this group of players.
I think it’s great that the Alouettes post their practice schedule on their web site and allow the public to have a glimpse of their work ethic. It costs nothing to attend and is a great way to experience another aspect of this team. So go out and support the team at practice, I know they’ll appreciate it.
So it looks like Hamilton will be getting a brand-new stadium built on the grounds of Ivor Wynne. Construction is slated to start at the end of the 2012 CFL season and open in time for the 2014 season. So which begs the question, where will the Tiger-Cats call home for 2013?
Locally, they can play at the undersized McMaster football stadium. Or they can head up the 401 and share Rogers Centre with the Argos much like how the New York Giants and Jets share Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey. Or they can become the barnstorming team and set up shop in places like London, ON, Quebec City or even the site of Touchdown Atlantic, Moncton, New Brunswick.
For Hamiltonians, it will be a trying time for following their team. The worst case scenario would be playing their “home” games at all the other CFL stadiums, but doing that eliminates the home town advantage that teams feed off of. It may not be ideal, but Rogers Centre would probably be the best bet. It’s only for one year and it’s a less than an hour drive. Hopefully Ti-Cats fans will make chicken salad out of this little bit of chicken poop.
That’s all for now. I’ll be live-tweeting the game tomorrow, so feel free to check it out. Have a safe and fun-filled Labour Day and if you’re going on the Fan Train or to Hamilton, enjoy every second of this memorable event!
GO ALS GO!!!
About the Author
Written by Clifford Pine
Montreal born & bred, lover of sports. Passionate about the Montreal Alouettes. Also a great cook & not too bad a dancer.