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Dirty Bird Blog: 2011-12 Off-Season Thoughts Part 2

Posted By Clifford Pine On Jan 31 2012 @ 4:48 pm In Montreal Alouettes | No Comments

First blog of 2012…..quite a bit’s been going on. And free agency hasn’t even started yet, but moves are being made by the Alouettes as they prepare for the 2012 CFL season. Let’s have a look, along with my thoughts on these moves:

- So us Montreal fans may have had a reason to despise the Indianapolis Colts, as our esteemed general manager Jim Popp & head coach Marc Trestman were being wooed by Colts owner Jim Irsay.

The Colts had a season to forget and as a result cleaned house, dismissing several front office staff & their head coach Jim Caldwell in order to start anew. The Colts will be selecting first overall and after seeing the success in Montreal, no one could blame Irsay for thinking that Popp or Trestman’s success could ultimately translate to the NFL. When all was said & done, the Colts decided to look elsewhere for their next head coach & GM.

But now the seeds have been planted in the National Football League; that maybe instead of only poaching the CFL’s players, that teams stateside looking to turn their fortunes around should take a look at the off-field staff as well.

No question Montreal’s been a winning franchise ever since their return in 1996 and full credit has to go to Jim Popp & his uncanny ability to find those diamonds in the rough. Pair that with Coach Trestman’s strength; his ability to get the most out of his players, including a supposedly washed-up QB on the wrong side of his 30′s.

Had Irsay been able to coerce either or both to come stateside and lead a team that will surely feature a new quarterback with incredible talent, that would have been a major coup.

But fear not, Alouettes fans; both men are staying put. In fact, Trestman has reportedly said to numerous media people that he is actively seeking an extension with the Als. He has to realize that he has a great situation in Montreal; He’s allowed to coach as he sees fit and the minute the season’s done, he is free to return home to be with his family.

Now if the NFL’s Panthers have a meltdown & house-cleaning like the Colts just had then there’d be cause for concern, as both the Popp & Trestman households are currently situated in North Carolina. And as they say, there’s no place like home.


Once he was sure that he wasn’t going to be moving to the Hoosier State, Popp got down to brass tacks and started signing some free agents.  Most notably, he inked Marc-Olivier Brouillette, Etienne Boulay & Eric Deslauriers to 2 year deals, keeping the talented Quebecers close to home.

I’m personally glad as these three gents are staples of Quebec’s evolution of minor football in the province. No question Boulay is THE face of professional football in La Belle Province and don’t be surprised if Brouillette joins him in that upper echelon as time goes by.

Deslauriers was a pleasant surprise, as I assumed like many others that he’d test the free agent waters. Being a WR in Montreal is a tough gig, with names like Jamel Richardson, S.J. Green & Brian Bratton already having a stranglehold on the receiving corps.

Cracking that lineup is extremely difficult, but with his size and great hands, it was in Popp’s best interest to keep Eric in Alouettes colours and away from other teams’ grasp.

I’m holding out hope for Jermaine McElveen & Paul Woldu to come back as well. If anything, McElveen’s signing would sadly spell the end of Anwar Stewart’s time in Montreal. Anwar’s a passionate guy who still plays like a man possessed despite his age, much like Anthony Calvillo.

But that passion may have led him to speak his mind a bit too loudly, which rarely bodes well for anyone in regards to this organization. Loose lips tend to sink ships.

Already the return game has taken a turn towards a new direction as the Alouettes released Tim Maypray. Last season saw a bit of back-and-forth between the team & Maypray, as he was released then returned for the playoffs. Now he’s been released again. With Maypray facing ankle surgery in a couple of weeks, this may have been a move to protect the Alouettes themselves as well.

Like Larry Taylor before him, he’s an explosive force when healthy. And last year, everyone who was assigned to returning kicks faced difficulties with the woes of the Alouettes’ special teams. There’s a number of players ready to step in & replace Tim; I’m hoping that whoever will be handling special teams will create new opportunities for the next breakout star to shine & put points on the board.


From a fan’s point of view, it’s been a roller coaster of an off-season; possible upheaval of major staff, losing co-ordinators and a revamping of Molson Stadium seating. But what’s most disappointing is the lack of off-season activities from the Alouettes.

In Montreal, hockey is king. That’s long been accepted. There’s no way Twitter would blow up if an Alouette was traded in the middle of a game. Mind you, I want to believe Jim Popp would have a lot more class than to pull off such a move. But I digress….

But with the Canadiens’ less-than-stellar play & major off-ice dysfunction, this would have been the ideal time to establish the Alouettes a bit more firmly in the community. The Adopt-a-Alouette program will still reach out to the schools and it’s fantastic, but the Toronto Blue Jays had their Winter Caravan roll through Montreal in order to appeal to the city’s baseball fans. Surely the Als could have done something similar, if only to keep the team’s name on people’s minds.

Hopefully Alouettes president Ray Lalonde has taken the fans’ suggestions he has received to heart & will continue to find ways to provide an outstanding product for the CFL football faithful. He’ll have extra competition as the MLS takes off in Montreal. Fans will have more entertainment options to choose between going to Alouettes  & Impact games.


That’s it for now. Got a few ideas for off-season columns milling about, hoping to be able to put it all together for you. Be sure to check back soon for free agent February and if you’re not already, follow me on Twitter [1] for more news & whatnot.


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