What a difference a year makes.
This time last year, the Montreal Alouettes and Winnipeg Blue Bombers were embroiled in a battle for first place in the East. It came down to the last game of the year to determine who would host the Eastern Final. This year, it’s a completely different story.
Saturday’s game is strictly for pride, as the Alouettes sit alone atop the division and Winnipeg was eliminated last week from the playoffs. So why should Alouettes fans give up a portion of their Saturday afternoon to watch this game? I did manage to come up with a few reasons:
1. Final game at Canad Inns Stadium….For real this time.
Anyone who watched last week’s Ti-Cats/Bombers game were peppered with many fond farewells & highlights of years gone by for Ivor Wynne Stadium. All this happened last year for Canad Inns Stadium as the new stadium was to be ready for this season.
But construction delays forced the Bombers back to their old digs for one more year. I don’t know if people will wax nostalgic for Canad Inns like they have been for Ivor Wynne, but this season now marks the end of TWO stadium eras.
2. It’s Mac Tonight
If anyone has earned a day of rest, it is Anthony Calvillo. Remember when everyone thought he was washed up and calling for his retirement? Good times…
This will be the first regular season start for Adrian McPherson since 2010. This will also be his second career start in Winnipeg, as he was given the start in late 2009. I remember that game as it was the only Als game that I have attended in the ‘Peg. The Alouettes had sewn up the Eastern division weeks before and they certainly played like it. Not McPherson’s fault they lost, Winnipeg simply needed the win more.
But this is a contract year for him and with some possible QB jobs opening up, AD just may consider having himself a career game against a Blue Bombers team just looking to get this game over with.
This really will be the weekend where backups audition for the big-time….Matt Nichols came off the bench last week and jump-started the Eskimos offense & earned a start. Mike Reilly did so well for Travis Lulay that people already have him pegged as the future Ottawa team’s next QB. Drew Willy will get the start in Saskatchewan. Let’s not forget that Toronto’s FOURTH-string QB was getting reps yesterday as well. This has all the makings of a reality show competition.
3. Final tune-up.
This will be Montreal’s last game until the 18th. That’s 15 days of rest, rehab and potential rust. So this will be the last real-time chance to work out any kinks or for anyone to test their injuries. Most notable will be S.J. Green, who missed the past few games with a knee injury. He’s got to have another highlight reel catch in him for the blustery cold of Winnipeg.
4. Last game outdoors.
Unless they foolishly decide to open the roof at Rogers Centre for the Grey Cup, this will be the last time the Alouettes play in outdoor weather. As an aside, the crossover rule comes into effect with Toronto knocking Hamilton out of the playoffs. Which means a Western team does have a chance to play the Alouettes in the Eastern Final.
I find it laughable that some folks out west hope their team crosses over to play the Argos, then the Alouettes. If you’re a Western team, do you really think it’ll be easier to face a rested Montreal team with over 50,000 in attendance after having played in Toronto the week previous?
I’m not one for predictions, but I did state earlier in the year that I would not be surprised to see the combatants from the 97th & 98th Grey Cup play for this year’s trophy. And so far, that possibility still exists.
No matter what the results, this intrepid blogger will be in Toronto for the Grey Cup. With it being a mere drive from Montreal, Toronto will certainly see a good number of Alouettes fans to go with the other faithful fans of the league. There’s been a buzz like no other and I’d say by and large, the league is doing all it can to ensure those who attend will remember the event forever, even if their team isn’t contending.
One of the ways the CFL is doing all it can for it’s fans is the Grey Cup train tour. I’ll detail it further next week, as it was in Ottawa last Saturday and I was able to check it out. It was a great event that drew a great crowd and helped stoke the fire of Ottawa’s impending return to the Canadian Football League.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter for live game-day tweets and any last minute news. Enjoy the game as the Alouettes finish the regular season.
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.