Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A Look at The Potential Alouettes Draft Plans at the Secondary Position

Could the Montreal Alouettes have any interest in this year’s class of draft eligible defensive backs?

With the exceptions of selecting Matthieu Proulx, and Etienne Boulay with high picks
in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Historically, the team has used lower round choices on this position group.

In-fact, they haven’t selected a defensive back since the 2008 draft when Paul Woldu was taken in the fifth round.

Entering the 2011 season, it was thought by many experts that the team possessed the
most talented secondary in the league.

However, in the first game of the season against the B.C. Lions; Jerald Brown went down with a lower body injury. Shortly thereafter, Boulay, and Mark Estelle joined Brown on the injured reserve list. It seemed that the secondary never recoverd from the decimation of injuries.

The team could potentially look at replacing non-import, Paul Woldu who signed with his hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Here are some players to keep an eye out.

Courtney Stephen, DB, Northern Illinois University: As illustrated in an old post, Stephen is a rare Canadian success story for the road he has taken to get to DeKalb, Illinois.

Initially he started out at Laurier University, where he was named to the second team All-Canadian as a sophomore. He simply had a nose for the football as he pilfered seven interceptions during his time in Canada.

After two years in Waterloo, Ontario he decided to transfer to NIU to test his skills against better competition.

So far his stay with the Huskies has been solid, in 2011 he was an important contributor to their special teams, and he is projected to have a bigger role in 2012.

As I mentioned before, Stephen possesses a “honey badger” (in reference to LSU star player, Tyrann Mathieu) mentality that he isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty to make a play for the team.

If available at the selections the Alouettes have, Stephen is a perfect replacement for Woldu. According to the official team rosters, they’re both listed at six feet, with Stephen weighing in at 195lbs compared to 170 pounds for Woldu.

Given his versatility, Stephen could be a backup to Boulay, and potentially play other positions in the secondary if called upon. The scenario is if he goes back for his last year at NIU it will give him another year to prep for the next level.

Even though Stephen will not be testing at E-Camp, his ability to play and excel in two different styles of football will be taken noticed by a lot of scouts.

Keep An Eye

Bryce McCall of the Saskatchewan Huskies, all season long he’s been perennially ranked in the top-10 on the CFL’s draft list. But buyers beware, because he might not be worthy of first round selection.

McCall will most assuredly get drafted, but he could be a better value pick as middle to late round selection given how deep this draft is at other positions. At 6’0, 200 pounds he has a great size to play safety and special teams.

Another player who could have a solid camp is Harrison Maloney of Bishop’s. For those who have followed the previous E-Camps, have seen former Gaiter stars such as Shawn Gore, Jamall Lee, and Steven Turner all excelled at this event.

Maloney could follow the long list of Gaiters who could have a fantastic weekend of testing, and interviewing.

With his size, he could make a lot of teams intrigued by his on-field ability.

The Alouettes didn’t sign any non-import defensive backs. But they could delve into the pool to look for Woldu’s replacement.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning on The Midnight Snack from midnight-2am, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on TSN 990.

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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

NHL Trade Deadline Pool Results

STANDINGS (1 point for each correct yes/no on trade outcomes, 2nd point for guessing the right team)

Moe: 8 points

Matthew: 6 points

Sean Coleman: 4 points

Stefano: 4 points

A Look at The Potential Alouettes Draft Plans at the Receiver Position

During the CFL draft period of 2003 to 2006, the Montreal Alouettes had selected seven receivers out of 32 total selections.

Ever since then in their last five drafts, management has chosen one receiver out of 35 overall selections, with Terence Firr from Manitoba University being the lucky recipient.

This year’s group of pass catchers who will be participating in the CFL E-Camp is arguably the most talented position amongst the groups.

Right away, there could be upwards of three receivers who could go in the first round in Laurier’s, Shamawd Chambers, and the Sherbrooke duo of Ismael Bamba, and Simon Charbonneau-Campeau.

Could the Alouettes have any interest in selecting a non-import for their very deep and talented receiving corps?

Even though the team mutually parted ways with Danny Deseriveaux, the Alouettes could go down this avenue to select a Canadian player to fill the open spot.

The Alouettes have a very small chance of getting Chambers, or Charbonneau-Campeau. But they could have an opportunity at Bamba.

Ismael Bamba, WR, Sherbrooke: Entering E-Camp, Bamba will be looked at very closely. He could wow the scouts with how he performs in the 40-yard run, and during the one on one drills.

In a Vert et Or offense full of talent including Charbonneau-Campeau, Bamba finished with 40 receptions, 543 yards, and four touchdowns.

Bamba’s biggest strength is his speed. During the 2011 CIS season, he shifted momentum in-favour of the Vert et Or with key punt returns, and receptions for touchdowns.

The only issue with Bamba, does he work hard on each play when his number isn’t called? It seemed that when he wasn’t the primary target, it showed in his route running.

Bamba has the tangibles needed to succeed at the next level, but could it be as a returner where the position is normally occupied by an import player. Or will he have a decent chance of being a wide receiver?

The Alouettes were in attendance for a few Sherbrooke games given the deep amount of prospects they have.

With Deseriveaux no longer on the team, Bamba fits the bill of a non-import status that the team requires. Furthermore, the Alouettes, are lacking playmakers in their punt return situation, and Bamba could be a ratio changer if he does have an opportunity.

Keep an eye

Keep Queen’s Golden Gaels receiver, Giovanni Aprile as a potential target. If the aforementioned three players end up going early in the draft, Aprile would be a sought out commodity.

It would not be surprising if he is selected in the first 20 picks. But if he drops due to the big three being taken earlier, Aprile could be a solid value pick.

Aprile really caught my attention during the OUA season with the Golden Gaels. In what was considered to be a very young Queen’s team, Aprile continued to shine as he finished seventh overall in CIS receiving with 31 receptions, 594 yards, and four touchdowns.

In-fact he did finish above Bamba, and Chambers in receiving yards.

He has great size, at 6’2, 208 pounds. His biggest strength is his yards after catch, as he averaged 19.2 yards per reception which ranked third overall in the nation. Moreover, he has the knack to make a lot of difficult catches in traffic.

Arguably Aprile’s biggest strength, he would be able to play immediately on special teams. He averaged 36.5 yards per kick return; moreover, he would be a solid contributor on all special team units.

He will need to shine in the one on one drill’s on Sunday, have a great 40-yard sprint, and impress very well during the interview sessions.

Historically, the Alouettes haven’t had an issue at the receiver position as it seems they have allocated their non-import draft picks towards other positions. As a result, it has given them flexibility to have more imports receivers.

This year could their tune change in selecting a receiver for the first time in four years, we will find out.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning from midnight-2am on The Midnight Snack, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on TSN 990.

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Monday, 27 February 2012

Collection of late February Montreal sports rants

Holy crap. I just looked at the last time I actually blogged on here and realized I needed to get my butt in gear. No offense to the frequently posting Moe Khan, but the people need to hear from me. Okay, maybe that's a little overblown. Still, it's time. I've been away and now I'm back, so here we go:

Habs at the deadline

Now, some may disagree with me on this, but I thought Pierre Gauthier could have gotten more for Andrei Kostitsyn. The player I non-affectionately refer to as Meathead has some skills. He has a shot. He can skate. He can throw a check. Granted, it's rare you see him do all of those things on the same night. But even still, you had to believe there was a team out there that would have paid a first rounder for Kostitsyn and maybe a third rounder, no? Ah Pierre Gauthier, at least you're consistent.

And what about Yannick Weber? He remains on this team when everyone knows he isn't in the plans for the future. Montreal needs a bigger, tougher blueline. With guys like Subban and the emerging Nathan Beaulieu, you have to figure a player of Weber's ilk is simply redundant. So Mr. Gauthier, why not move him at the deadline? Weber does have a great shot and some power play goals this season. Surely, someone would have paid something for him, no? You watch. Weber won't make the team next season if Andrei Markov is healthy and Montreal will end up dumping him for a sixth rounder.

Oh, and I see Louis Leblanc was demoted. Good move. But only if he gets top line minutes in Hamilton. Build this guy's confidence heading into training camp. And for the love of Pete, make this man a sandwich. He needs to gain a few pounds before the fall.

Gary Carter tribute

I heard Rodger Brulotte on Mitch Melnick's TSN 990 program on Monday, waxing poetic about his ties to the Gary Carter family and how he's leading the committee to have the city of Montreal honor the hall-of-famer. Whatever is decided, I just want it to be on a grand scale. I want the tribute to be inspiring, memorable and very, very visible. Gary helped to put Montreal and the Expos on the map as a North American sports town. So, before people in the southern states forget we even had a baseball team here, I hope something wonderful is put together in public to pay homage to the Kid.

Alouettes are a crapshoot

Am I the only one that has no idea what to expect from the Alouettes this coming season? Who the heck knows what kind of team they'll have on the field. I mean, they have a coach that many say is one foot out the door to greener pastures, a GM who decided not to bring back many veterans and key pieces, and an aging quarterback who is getting less and less mobile. Throw in a bunch of concussed players returning, and you have a real unpredictable group of players assembling for training camp this spring. And what about attendance? Anyone else wondering how many empty seats we'll see on the hill this summer, too?

We're back on air late Tuesday night on TSN 990 radio, after another Habs postgame show. If you're up, tune in, it should be fun.

Follow Matthew Ross on Twitter @TSNmatthew

A Look at The Potential Alouettes Draft Plans on the Defensive Line

As the Montreal Alouettes management prepare their draft information for the CFL E-Camp. There is a good sense of what they could be targeting in this year’s selection process.

In recent history, general manager, Jim Popp has used the majority of his choices on offensive linemen. But given that it is not an urgent need; the Alouettes has cultivated many offensive linemen into full time starters or contributors on the roster.

One position they could address is replenishing the lack of non-imports on their defensive line. Management has high hopes for defensive end Chima Ihekwoaba being apart of the rotation. But the team isn’t deep in Canadian talent on their defensive line.

This year’s draft is full of big, fast, and smart defensive linemen.

Here are some players they could have on their radar.

Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, DL, Laval University: As mentioned in a previous column, it would make sense from a marketing perspective. Gascon-Nadon would represent another local player being churned out by the football mad province of Quebec.

But the team isn’t drafting based on where they’re from. But rather on what talent they could bring to the football club. He has had a successful CIS career winning a choke full of awards.

Contrary to the reports of any lower body issues, what was informed to me Gascon-Nadon is completely healthy and focused for this weekend in Toronto.

Could he play in the potential 3-4 defense that is starting to become reality for the Alouettes?

Gascon-Nadon is listed at 6’3, 250 pounds, depending on which coach you converse with. He could be considered as lean size to play defensive end in this alignment. If he was selected by the Alouettes, could it be as an edge rusher coming from the linebacker position?

Already there is a surplus of players in the second level of the defense, and could he feel comfortable playing with his hand off the ground?

We will find out in Toronto during the Sunday session of the one on one battle’s on the last day of E-Camp. But Gascon-Nadon is very high on a lot of team’s draft lists.

Jabar Westerman, DL, Eastern Michigan: He comes from a family full of football players as his brother Jamaal plays for the NFL’s New York Jets, and another sibling Jawann plays for Rutgers University.

At 6’2, 285 pounds Westerman has great size for the 3-4 defense. He could play in the middle of the line as an anchor, and on the edge. During the 2011 season, he accumulated four sacks, and had six tackles for a loss.

Not earth shattering numbers, but in this formation, the front three are not number crunchers. All Westerman will need to do is eat up space and allow his cohorts to swoop in for the tackle.

If he has a good E-Camp, his value would surge that could result in him not being available by the time the Alouettes make their first selection in the second round of the draft.

This is a player who has a lot to gain from this weekend’s camp. By the end of it, he could vault into the top-10 discussion of the draft.

Keep an eye

The Alouettes addressed their immediate lack of size in their defensive front by signing former B.C. Lions player Aaron Hunt.

Entering the season, Hunt will be 32 years old. But could he still play a full game?

Two other defensive linemen who could be on the team’s wish list is Western Mustangs, Michael Van Praet, who is listed at 6’1, 303 pounds, and Windsor Lancers, Seamus Postuma who is coming into E-Camp at 6’3, 300 pounds.

Both have the girth needed to eat up space in the middle. They could be available in the later rounds of the CFL draft. But they would be excellent rotational players that would fill in the non-import status requirement.

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Saturday, 25 February 2012

A Look Back at The Alouettes 2007 CFL Draft Class

With the CFL E-Camp commencing next weekend in Toronto, Ontario.

Looking back at the enitre draft history, very few teams have exercised their picks wisely; meanwhile, some general managers probably wished that there wasn’t a selection process because of the misses they have had.

Unlike the NFL, very rarely do we see an entire draft class all pay dividends to the team’s chances at winning the Grey Cup.

Historically, Jim Popp and the Montreal Alouettes have unearthed players such as Dave Stala who was selected in the sixth round of the 2003 draft, and Josh Bourke who was taken in the third round of the 2004 draft.

However, there have been some misses, such as their 2003 first round pick in receiver, Andrew Noel from Acadia University.

I decided to take a look at their 2007 draft class, and what impact it brought to the team.

Richard Yalowsky, OL, Calgary: It is best summarized in a CFL Draft history column by my TSN cohort Duane Forde in describing the former behemoth lineman.

He was highly regarded in the Canada West Conference as the premier lineman, winning numerous awards, and projected to be a CFL stalwart for many years. However, injuries derailed his career before ever donning a CFL jersey.

As a result, he decided to move on from football to pursue his engineering career.

The Alouettes took a calculated gamble, and lost, as he never had second thoughts of pursuing professional football.

Darryl Conrad, OT, Manitoba: Once again in Forde’s column, he points out of an "Urban Draft Legend" that this may have not been the initial choice of the Alouettes, but really were potentially targeting his Bisons teammate Ryan Karhut.

They kept Conrad, and eventually got Karhut, albeit at a bigger price from the Saskatchewan Roughriders who had his rights.

Conrad was released at training camp, and went back to Manitoba to help them win a Vanier Cup.

Chris Van Zeyl, DL, McMaster: If there is one player who got away from the Alouettes, it is Van Zeyl. Who has become a contributor to the Toronto Argonauts.

However, at the time he entered the league the Alouettes were loaded on both sides of the football from the likes of Bryan Chiu, Scott Flory, and Anwar Stewart on their roster. It would have been very hard for him to get any regular time in the rotation.

Thankfully for his career he found a home in Toronto, and has become a mainstay for their roster.

Brian Jones OL, Windsor: He never saw a minute with the Alouettes, as he was traded in a package deal to the Roughriders for the aforementioned Ryan Karhut.

From what the website mentioned in their ‘07 draft recap, he was on the injured reserve for the first half of the season before moving on to the practice roster.

Donovan Alexander, DB, North Dakota: Started out with the NFL Seattle Seahawks. Alexander did join the Alouettes in 2008, but was subsequently traded to the Roughriders the following season.

He flourished with Saskatchewan by being an important role player before he ended up with the Edmonton Eskimos in 2011.

James Judges and Braden Smith: In researching these two players, nothing came up in the database of what happened to them during and after their CFL careers.

I did send in an inquiry to the Alouettes public relations department, but I have yet to receive a reply about their whereabouts.

Overall, this wasn’t Jim Popp’s crown jewel of a draft class. As two players are contributors elsewhere, and their first overall selection pursued his post-football career than play for the organization.

However, this class did not setback the Alouettes long term goals, as they went on to the next three Grey Cups and winning twice.

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Thursday, 23 February 2012

Could The Alouettes Have Jimmy Clausen on Their CFL Radar?

According to NBC’s Profootballtalk website, the Carolina Panthers are contemplating releasing former second draft pick Jimmy Clausen.

As many people know, Clausen comes from a family rich in quarterback tradition as his older brothers Rick, and Casey both played in the SEC.

The younger Clausen was projected to be a first round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft. However, it seemed that his draft stock was losing steam due to the rumour having a cocky attitude. As a result, he dropped into the second round before the Panthers selected him.

In his rookie year, even though the Panthers were a terrible team, Clausen did not show any sign of hope that he would turn around the morbid franchise. He finished the season with three touchdowns, and a 52.5 percent passing completion.

Shortly thereafter, the Panthers decided to exercise their first overall selection on Auburn quarterback, Cam Newton. They haven’t looked back.

What was worse in the 2011 season, Clausen did not see any playing time. His cohort Legedu Naanee, had one passing attempt. For those who don’t know, Naanee plays receiver for the Panthers.

If Clausen is released, I am sure, there would be NFL suitors. But if it doesn’t work out, could there be any consideration for him to venture up to the CFL?

He may be on a team's negotiation's list but if he isn't. He does have a connection to Montreal Alouettes head coach, Marc Trestman, who tutored him in his passing mechanics in the lead up to the draft.

Trestman, has first hand knowledge on how Clausen operates as a person and player. Furthermore, Clausen is still 24 years old, which is plenty of time for him to realize his full potential as a quarterback. Trestman could very well consider adding him to the roster.

Historically, Trestman does have a track record of bringing in old faces (DaJuan Morgan, Jerry Porter, and O.J. Santiago) he knows from his previous coaching stops to see if they could crack the team’s roster.

As we all know, the worst kept secret hovering over the Alouettes is who could be the future quarterback once Anthony Calvillo decides to retire? There’s no denying that Calvillo’s backup Adrian McPherson would be given every opportunity to claim his place as the heir apparent.

As written in a previous article, McPherson has said the right things about his future with the team in that he will patiently wait. But, how much longer could McPherson wait for Calvillo?

Right now, nothing has been decided from Panthers management on the future of Clausen. But if the scenario plays out that Clausen would trek up to Montreal. Then the Alouettes could potentially have found their future quarterback.

Or better yet, they will have great competition for the quarterback position which will ease the inevitable tension that team’s fans will have post-Calvillo era.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Why Brian Bratton Will Make The Alouettes Offense More Dangerous

We’re approaching the halfway mark of the CFL offseason, as free agency moves forward, and teams are trying to forecast who their lineups will be for the 2012 season.

The Montreal Alouettes should feel confident knowing what their roster will look like in June.

But they could take more comfort on how blessed the most talented and deepest position group is in their receivers.

Throughout their time and most deservedly so, a lot of the attention has been on Jamel Richardson, S.J. Green, and the recently retired Kerry Watkins. But there is a forgotten man. There is one player who continues on like a stealth plane with a Shinobi mentality in Brian Bratton.

Arguably one of the classiest players in the CFL, Bratton has always been cordial in his dealings with the media. He is also articulate in many subjects on Twitter, for those who have yet to follow him, his handle is @brianbratton.

Bratton continues to be Mr. Consistent on the roster. He has been a consummate team player doing whatever is required of him whether it is downfield blocking, and when called upon to be the utility guy by playing every receiving position.

With the exception of his rookie season, Bratton has averaged 53 receptions, and 614 yards. But could this be the year where he finally cracks 1,000 receiving yards?

There is no denying the Alouettes offense has transformed from being a run team first during the Mike Pringle days to now a heavy pass offense. Since 2004, in four seasons, they have averaged at least three 1,000 yard receivers at the same time.

Of course this is a testament to quarterback, Anthony Calvillo, but he would certainly deflect the credit to his pass catchers for being wide open.

Richardson and Green have cemented their status as the best receiving duo in the CFL.

Bratton could join them and make it a trio. This year, he could conceivably reap the rewards of these two stars getting the extra attention from opposing defenses. Thus, it would enable him to have more big play opportunities.

With Watkins now retired, Bratton’s role will carry more weight on this roster. He will have the inside track to lockdown the third receiving spot in the starting lineup.

For those who forgot, he was an effective punt returner in his earlier days with the organization as he averaged close to 10 yards per return. At times during the 2011 season, the Alouettes did have some issues with their return game. Maybe Bratton’s number will be called again.

Bratton’s contributions have been valuable to the team’s cause. Many predict this will be the year he ascends as another toy weapon for Calvillo to call upon to go along with Richardson, Green, and Brandon Whitaker. This might force the opposition to play an honest defense against this lethal offense.

If there is one thing that is underappreciated with Bratton, is his ability to demonstrate a Lynn Swann ability in catching the football. For those who best remember the NFL hall of famer’s career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, will vividly recall the aerial catches he made throughout his fantastic career.

Bratton has a penchant of making these difficult airborne receptions that has been known to show up on a few highlight packages.

In 2011, there was some angst amongst the Alouettes fans on who would replace Ben Cahoon’s production? Well their nerves were put to ease when Green was able to shoulder the load.

This year, the fans do not need to be on pins and needles with Watkins retirement. Bratton will seamlessly continue the strong tradition of Alouettes receivers, and could very well be on his way to hitting the 1,000 yards receiving mark.

The moment he reaches the exclusive 1,000 yard mark in a season, the once unknown receiver will be cement his status as true professional to the CFL game.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

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Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Alouettes Add More Intrigue With Restelli Signing

As reported by, the Montreal Alouettes have poached another key defensive figure from the Edmonton Eskimos in linebacker, Mark Restelli.

Once again, Jim Popp had another trick up his sleeve in signing Restelli which adds more intrigue to the team’s linebacker depth.

Restelli brings a high motor ability that will enable him to be the potential bookend pass rusher as the outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense that is being considered by defensive coordinator Jeff Reinebold.

One key advantage that Restelli has, he is long. At 6’2, it gives him an added element to use his length to make more plays on the edge in this defensive formation.

Furthermore, in the second game of the 2010 season, Restelli suffered a knee injury that put him on the nine game injured reserved. Even though he is two years removed from being hurt. He should be 100 percent healthy with a full range of motion in his knee.

As training approaches, one has to consider whether or not the team could potentially trade, or release one of the incumbents on the roster?

With the abundance of linebackers, it is too far to tell who may be on the immediate chopping block.

But if anyone were to forecast the potential starting four linebackers, I believe Rod Davis, Diamond Ferri, Shea Emry, and Ramon Guzman could be penciled in. Now, so many variables could change due to injury, ratio status, and philosophy.

With the addition of Restelli, and the ascension of Marc-Olivier Brouillette, the numbers are deep; however, the competition will be intense at training camp in June.

Factor in that Emry is a non-import playing a position that is normally occupied by an import player. It would be difficult to see him lose his job. Considering how valuable he is to the team’s defense as they were not able to stop the run in a playoff loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The coaching staff and management are high on Brouillette having more of a prominent role by being a flex player who would be able to play linebacker, and potentially safety.

Right now I would think the competition could be between the non-import linebackers. Reinebold will be paying close attention to this position as they’re the key for the 3-4 defense to excel.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

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Monday, 20 February 2012

Habs send Gill to Nashville - exactly as I predicted

So long, Hal, it was a pleasure to have you in our city
Traveling across the state of Florida with my two kids and the wife, I've not been as up-to-date with the latest Habs news. However, upon finally settling in with some strong Internet access and time, here is my take on Hal Gill leaving town and what Pierre Gauthier was able to get. And no, I'm not going to break it down like 1000 other Habs bloggers, this is my own view and nothing more.

As you may recall, I blogged about the Habs getting at least a third round pick for Hal Gill. And the majority of Canadiens fans told me I was out of touch, uninformed and way off base. Really? How does a second round pick and a couple of prospects sound? I actually had it as a second round pick initially, but chickened out and posted my prediction as a third rounder.

I am also the same guy who on air last season was lobbying extensively for Montreal to sign Gill before he was to become a free agent. After all, the guy is a heart and soul type of leader. Guys with guts, cup experience and the ability to kill a penalty single handed don't grow on trees. I said Montreal was setting a bad example for the young players, that this is the type of guy the team had to lock up, to show how serious they were to winning and to show how loyal they are to leaders.

So Gauthier does the right thing and moves Gill out. And get this, I actually predicted Gill would go to Nashville a few weeks ago, saying that Predators GM David Poile would move Ryan Suter and need a replacement on the blue line. Hold on a second, here, let me pat myself on the back..... yep, done ... .

So Montreal gets a solid pick in the draft this year, a legacy prospect in Geoffrion and another piece in Slaney. Great job, Pierre.

As soon as the Cammalleri trade went down, I told everyone that I believed Gauthier would start next season as the general manager. No organization lets a dead man walking GM move a player like Mike Cammalleri. And now this move with Gill, it just reaffirms my take. Gauthier is being allowed to pull a Bryan Murray and clean up his own mess.

Now, let's see if he can keep it going down the right path. Prospects, picks and positivity.

Follow me on Twitter @tsnmatthew. Listen in on TSN 990 Tuesdays and Sundays for Game Points. 

With Andy Fantuz Signed, Could The Alouettes Start Contract Negotiations With Jamel Richardson?

With the Hamilton Tiger-Cats getting the most coveted signature onto a team contract from free agent Andy Fantuz. One could argue they have won the Grey Cup in February with their additions and subtractions from the roster.

Now, looking ahead, how could this impact the future contract negotiations with Montreal Alouettes receiver, Jamel Richardson?

Looking at Fantuz’s contract details that was revealed by Tiger-Cats beat writer, Drew Edwards of The Hamilton Spectator in his blog "The Scratching Post". As a non-import player, Fantuz has financially done well in that he will earn $180,000 per year, plus bonuses.

Moving Forward

Even though the 2012 season has yet to be played, there is a better sense of what the initial negotiation groundwork will be between the Alouettes and Richardson

In a January column I mentioned how these two players are interlocked with each other. During a head to head four year period, Richardson has been statistically better than Fantuz. The other argument that will be mentioned is that Fantuz is a non-import player; therefore, there is more against him than Richardson.

At the end of the day, football is a sport, regardless of your ratio status, if you could play that is what matters most.

If Alouettes general manager, Jim Popp who is known to rule with an iron fist with contract dealings (see Anwar Stewart and many other players). Could his initial offer be even close to what Fantuz will make on a per year basis?

Furthermore, according to the report by Edwards, the Saskatchewan Roughriders may have offered Fantuz upwards of $200,000 per year.

This could potentially get very expensive for the Alouettes who are at an end of an era of great dominance from their old stalwarts and moving onto the next generation of players.

Short-term, Richardson is still apart of the Alouettes organization. There is no denying his public fondness for the team, organization, city, and the fans. I certainly believe he would love to finish his career with the Alouettes organization.

Now it is a matter of whether or not Popp will start the process of getting a long term extension locked up for one of the most dominant Alouettes receivers in their history.

Otherwise, there could be potential suitors such as the Toronto Argonauts, B.C. Lions, or Saskatchewan Roughriders who all have a connection to Richardson, and will have no issue matching the contract dollars given to Fantuz.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning on The Midnight Snack from midnight-2am, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on TSN 990.

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Sunday, 19 February 2012

Recapping the Alouettes Start to Free Agency, and Future Outlook

To recap the first weekend of CFL free agency, the Montreal Alouettes somewhat surprised everyone with their first signing, and addressed one of their needs.

Here are my letter grades for the two newest members of the organization.

Rod Davis

At first, when the Alouettes signed him, I was a bit dumbfounded by this move considering who the team currently had at the linebacker position. But when word leaked out that Jeff Reinebold could incorporate a 3-4 base defense then it made logical sense.

With Davis on-board, the linebacker competition just got more interesting. The strongest advantage for him is his ability to get to the quarterback. Last year he had a respectable five sacks. But it must have convinced management that he is worthwhile to bring on-board to be an attacking player.

The remaining question that could be on the horizon, could one of the returning linebackers lose their position. Or potentially not be apart of this roster come week one against the Calgary Stampeders? We will find out in training camp.

Grade: B+

Aaron Hunt

I am not surprised the team came to terms with the former B.C. Lions player. There is no doubt that he will be the anchor of the new defensive formation.

For those who have been up close to Hunt will realize how wide his lower body is. It will be awfully difficult for opposing linemen to move him from his area. Even though Hunt will be 32 years old by the time the season starts. If he is able to continue producing at a high rate, the second level of the defense (linebackers) will reap the rewards by making the bulk of the plays.

Moreover, as the Alouettes get younger on the defensive line, Hunt will bring a veteran presence to help ease the transition process for the up and coming players such as Daunte Akra, and Moton Hopkins to becoming full time starters.

Grade: B

Moving Forward

As reported by The Montreal Gazette’s beat writer, Herb Zurkowsky in describing the stalemate contract negotiations with Mark Estelle and Jim Popp. It seems they’re playing a game of chicken on who will cave in first.

For those who know Popp’s track record, he will never wilt to players demands. The longer this situation unfolds it could hurt Estelle’s future employment. If he does not get a deal consummated with the Alouettes, it could limit his options with other potential suitors if they’ve addressed their cornerback needs elsewhere.

I remember having a brief conversation with Estelle at the Alouettes Olympic Stadium training complex. At that time he was walking without crutches and he seemed confident he would be ready for training camp.

Potential Targets

So far, I am one for four in my free agent predictions. In a previous column, I successfully predicted the Alouettes could sign Aaron Hunt and they did. However, I struck out with Justin Hickman who penned a contract with the Indianapolis Colts, Tristan Jackson re-signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Mark Calixte who re-signed with the Calgary Stampeders.

The Alouettes addressed some of their needs, but Jim Popp could have another trick up his sleeve in curing other areas.

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Saturday, 18 February 2012

Alouettes Sign Aaron Hunt

According to TSN’s website the Montreal Alouettes have signed former B.C. Lions defensive tackle, Aaron Hunt to their roster.

As mentioned in previous article, I am not surprised that Jim Popp targeted this behemoth of a man. Hunt does have a history with the Alouettes, as his older brother Reggie, was apart of the 2008 team that lost to the Calgary Stampeders in the Grey Cup.

With this signing, it looks as if the Alouettes have found their anchor to plug in the middle of their 3-4 defense that is being toyed in discussions by defensive coordinator Jeff Reinebold.

Last year, the team’s run defensive was exposed in the playoff loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as they gave up 161 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

For those who have been up close to Hunt will see he has a wide lower base that could make it difficult for opposing offensive lines to move him from the middle of the line.

One thing is for certain, if the Alouettes primarily play a 3-4 base, the linebackers will be buying Hunt many famous smoked meat sandwiches from the local deli because they will have the liberties to make a lot of plays.

A good signing for the Alouettes, as they have potentially solved one of their issues in stopping the run.

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Friday, 17 February 2012

Top Five Alouettes Games of the 2012 CFL Season

With the unveiling of the 2012 CFL schedule, right out of the gate the Alouettes will have to endure playing three games in the first 12 days of the season against the Calgary Stampeders (twice), and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Here are the top five games to circle on your Montreal Alouettes calendar to keep an eye out for in the 2012 season.

Hamilton versus Montreal, August 23rd: Most certainly, the Alouettes will have this home game circled on their schedule, as the Tiger-Cats ended their playoff hopes of trying to win another Grey Cup. Hamilton may have ended their Montreal winless streak.

But let’s not forget they have yet to win at Percival Molson Stadium in the same period of time. As the summer comes to a close this game could be a precursor for the second half of the season of what to expect from both clubs.

Montreal versus B.C., September 8th: The house of horrors continues for the Alouettes. Yes they did win in Vancouver in 2010, albeit at Empire Field, but since 2000 they haven’t won at B.C. Place.

Furthermore, before entering the playoffs, their last appearance in Vancouver wasn’t too kind as they were drubbed 43-1. This is the second half of a home and home battle with the defending champions. At least the team won’t have to endure a late season long flight to Vancouver. Will things be different this time in September than in November?

Winnipeg versus Montreal, July 6th: Ironically, in a 2001 September game, the Blue Bombers and Alouettes were vying for first place when the visitors won a critical game at Percival. As a result, it set the tone for the season as Winnipeg went on to the Grey Cup and Montreal went in downward spiral.

Fast forward to 2011, a late September game in the same stadium set the pace for both teams, as the Blue Bombers won the critical division game. This gave them confidence to beat the Alouettes, and as a result, they went onto the Grey Cup. Could the same scenario play out again in 2012? Entering the season the Blue Bombers will have a huge target on their chest.

Montreal versus Calgary, July 1st: Opening game for both teams. Calgary will have a new quarterback in Drew Tate. The Alouettes will have a new defensive coordinator in Jeff Reinebold. Last time these teams met at McMahon Stadium, it was a fantastic finish, and coming out party for Johnny Forzani in a Stampeders 38-31 win.

Let’s not forget, the last time these clubs played on Canada Day in 2009, the Alouettes exacted revenge from their Grey Cup loss by defeating the Stampeders 40-27. Expect this to be a potentially sloppy, but high scoring game affair.

Montreal versus Hamilton, July 21st: Vancouver might be the house of horrors for the team on the west coast. But it seems visiting Hamilton is the east coast version. The last Alouettes win at Ivor Wynne Stadium was a 27-6 victory in September 2010.

In their last three trips to southern Ontario the Alouettes have been outscored 118-50. Furthermore, last year’s Labour Day duel set the course for both teams as the Alouettes could not score from the one yard line before halftime and lost by 23 points. Finally, this will be the secondary’s first look at newly signed Andy Fantuz. It will be a great chess match between head coaches George Cortez and Marc Trestman.

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Thursday, 16 February 2012

Alouettes Sign Rod Davis

I guess Jim Popp didn’t get the memo from the CFL office that free agency started on Wednesday at noon instead of midnight.

But management have scooped up their first free agent in signing linebacker Rod Davis from the Edmonton Eskimos.

First reaction, the Alouettes have added more depth to their linebacker position. Clearly, they were exposed in the second level of their defense when the likes of Shea Emry and Ramon Guzman were derailed by injuries in 2011.

Things did not get any better when Guzman’s injury really hurt the team’s playoff chances when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats running game exposed his replacement Bear Woods.

This is a depth move by Popp to address this position group. He must have figured to play it safe given that any moment the team could be hit by the injury bug.

Davis had his best season last year where he finished seventh in league tackles with 79, and had five quarterback sacks. In-fact, he would have led the Alouettes in the tackles category as Chip Cox finished with 78.

Future Look

As some fans have pointed out with the Davis signing, there’s abundance of players at the linebacker position. As I stated before, this will bring some great competition in training camp.

But could this mean the team might carry all these linebackers on the roster? Potentially, but just like last year when the team was loaded at the receiver position. They conceivably could consummate an in-season trade to address another position of need.

But come early June, Emry, Guzman, Chip Cox, and Diamond Ferri should be prepared to fight for their position.

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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Woldu Leaves The Alouettes for The Roughriders

The first piece has fallen off from the Montreal Alouettes puzzle as Paul Woldu has signed on with his hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders.

It does not come as a surprise to see Woldu leave the organization. In-fact, during the season some media members predicted that if he entered free agency that he could end up in Regina.

However, the Alouettes will lose another non-import who brought a lot to the table by being able to play in the secondary, and most importantly on special teams. On paper it might not be viewed as a big loss for the organization. But for those who have played with Woldu will explain how valuable of a commodity he was to the team.

Moving Forward

Woldu should be comfortable in his domestic surroundings. He knows the organization very well having tried out for the team in 2006.

Furthermore, he should get a fair shot to potentially get more playing time in the Roughriders rotation. Factor in that new head coach, Corey Chamblin is a former defensive back’s coach; it will make the transition easier.

As for the Alouettes, it is another non-import loss, as they will need to address this quota situation through free agency, or CFL draft.

Two guys who could be on their radar, is former Toronto Argonauts player, Wes Lysack who could be Etienne Boulay’s backup, and play special teams.

But if the team would like to get younger, then they could target Courtney Stephen from Northern Illinois University. Moreover, he is almost the same size as Woldu, and could excel playing on special teams, and potentially get playing time in the secondary.

Right now the Alouettes have stayed quiet, but maybe the Woldu signing will trigger them to delve in the market.

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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

NHL Trade Deadline Pool

Picking who's on the move and where...

All Signs Are Pointing That Dwight Anderson is Back With The Alouettes

With reports surfacing that the Montreal Alouettes are planning to bring defensive back Dwight Anderson for the 2012 season.

It seems on surface that the internal issues that hovered over him and the team have been cleared up. There is no denying the talent that Anderson possesses. However, entering the 2011 season it seemed that the Alouettes didn't have a firm grasp on understanding who he is.

In relaying the message to a cohort of Anderson , he was ecstatic to hear that management has decided to bring him back to the team.

Moving forward

With Anderson situation settled, this could signal the Alouettes intentions of moving on from Mark Estelle. On the other hand, management could be forcing him to take less money if his desire is to be apart of the only team he's known in his CFL career.

But with re-addition of Anderson, it allows new defensive coordinator, Jeff Reinebold to be flexible with his unit. It could enable him to mix and match his now strong secondary on certain in-game situations.

In-fact, both Reinebold and Anderson are very expressive people which could bode well in their coach-player relationship. Reinebold was adored as Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach for allowing his players to be themselves.

In what could be considered a redo, Dwight Anderson 2.0 could bring a new profound attitude in trying to help the team win a third Grey Cup in four years.

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Scott Flory Very Important for the Alouettes

One of the few remaining priorities for the Montreal Alouettes is to re-sign offensive guard, Scott Flory.

From all indications, it seems that contracts talks are running smoothly, and it looks like he will be finishing off his great CFL career in Montreal.

The importance of Flory to the team is enormous. It lessens the leadership blow with Anwar Stewart being released by the organization.

But it will help the offensive line transition to the next group of players who will be blocking for Anthony Calvillo and whoever the future quarterback will be for the team.

Furthermore, Flory would be able to teach young prospect Anthony Barrette the guard position as he transitions from CIS to the speed of the CFL game. In likelihood, whenever the day comes that Flory hangs up his cleats is when Barrette could take over his position.

The Alouettes have been very careful in developing their offensive linemen. In some cases, players such as Dylan Steenbergen did not pan not, due circumstances. But in other situations it flourished with the likes of Ryan Bomben who patiently waited his time learning from the players above him and now he could get an opportunity to crack the lineup. Another Canadian to consider is Josh Hashem who could potentially be in-play for the right tackle position.

If there is a bright future to look at in-terms of the Alouettes position groups it is their offensive line. They have young stalwarts such as Josh Bourke, Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, Bomben, Barrette, and Hashem. Who are or will be future CFL all-stars in this league.

Jim Popp and management have done very well in identifying the players who best suit their philosophies on the offensive line.

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Big Game Points show tonight

Well, since I will personally be away the 17-27 of February, tonight's 9pm-12am show on TSN 990 will not leave any stone unturned. It'll be energetic, packed with guests and a lot of fun.

Confirmed as guests:

  • Former NHLer and USA Hockey coach Danton Cole
  • TSN 1050 Radio's Matt Cauz
  •'s Brian Compton
  • TSN 990 basketball analyst Dwight Walton
Plus - We'll give away another $50 to Cheeburger Cheeburger! 

So listen in, everyone. You can hear us on 990am in Montreal, or on the Bell Media smartphone App.

Follow the show on Twitter @tsnmatthew or in the Facebook Group.

Could the Alouettes Have Any Interest in Wes Lysack?

As CFL free agency rapidly approaches, what could the Montreal Alouettes have on their wish list to sign in the market.

Traditionally, Jim Popp never dips into the pool; however, last year he signed Dwight Anderson which was considered to be the rich getting richer. But could the team delve into free agency to address their needs?

For starters, the team has to tackle their non-import quota at the skill positions. It seems that Popp is renovating the Canadian content as he released Danny Desriveaux, and Jeff Robertshaw. So far, Paul Woldu and the team have yet to come to terms on a new contract.

Could the Alouettes potentially take a look at former Toronto Argonauts safety Wes Lysack? Even though he is entering the twilight of his career, the Alouettes could conceivably be looking to fill their backup safety position to incumbent Etienne Boulay.

With non-import, Tad Crawford announcing his retirement, historically, the safety position has been occupied by a Canadian. Lysack fits the bill to be an on-field contributor, special teamer, and fill in for Boulay if called upon.

Furthermore, it would weaken a division rival to bring a player such as Lysack. He could be another set of eyes for the team in dissecting Chris Jones defense since both were apart of the Stampeders organization a couple of years ago.

Moving Forward

As the clock ticks closer to Wednesday afternoon’s start of free agency, the Alouettes shouldn’t have too many in-house contracts to lock up.

But without a doubt their priority has to be addressing their Canadian quota.

You can follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

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Saturday, 11 February 2012

Lemmens and Morgan Could Bring in an Infusion of Youth to the Alouettes

Amidst the Noel Devine excitement, the Montreal Alouettes did sign five more free agents on Friday. However, two names that caught my attention due to their success at the college level were defensive lineman, Kristofer “Duke” Lemmens, and safety DaJuan Morgan.

During his four years at the University of Florida, I watched Lemmens play with a blue collar mentality. His motor never stopped, especially going against the premier running backs of the SEC.

Given the superior talent that the Gators possessed on their defensive line, Lemmens did not put up incredible statistics as he finished with five career sacks. After playing for the Gators, he was briefly apart of the Arizona Cardinals training camp last season.

But at 6’3, 250 pounds, Lemmens' speed off the edge could be vital for the Alouettes pass rush. There is no question that the open spot once occupied by Anwar Stewart is up for grabs. Sure, Daunte Akra would be given first opportunity to fill that void. But Lemmens isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty, and to do what is needed to win each play.

Moreover, the top level coaching he received in Gainesville from the likes of Urban Meyer, Greg Mattison, Teryl Austin, and Dan McCarney all spoke volumes of how hard of a worker he is.

With the defensive line transitioning to the younger horses such as Moton Hopkins and John Bowman, Lemmens could fit in seamlessly into this energetic group.

Morgan is a player that head coach Marc Trestman is familiar with during his time as offensive coordinator at North Carolina State.

Heading into the 2008 NFL draft, Morgan was considered to be one of the premier safeties in the draft, as he was taken by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round. But it seemed he never felt comfortable playing in the Herm Edwards cover two system. Then after the season, Edwards was fired and replaced by Todd Haley, who brought his own players and different philosophy to the team.

Following the 2009 season Morgan moved on from the Chiefs. In 2010 he had a brief stint with the Indianapolis Colts, and in 2011 he joined the New York Jets practice roster, before surfacing with the Alouettes.

If Morgan is going to play safety, could he supplant Etienne Boulay? Recently, this position has been occupied by a non-import as prior to Boulay; it was Matt Proulx who was the starter. It would be awfully tough decision for the organization if Morgan has a solid camp. Keep in-mind if he were to become a starter that means the non-import ratio would have to be applied elsewhere.

For Morgan to crack this roster, he would almost assuredly need to make an impact on special teams, and become versatile to play all the positions in the secondary which he did at N.C. State.

Entering the 2011 season the secondary was a group full of depth, and talent, but by the last game of the season it resembled a MASH unit with third stringers on the field.

In the end I give credit to Jim Popp for bringing in two players who have received the highest education of football during their time in school and the NFL. If they could become solid contributors, then Popp has laid a solid foundation for the next generation of players.

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Friday, 10 February 2012

Alouettes and DeAngelis Part Ways, Is Whyte the Clear Number One Kicker?

The Montreal Alouettes have released Sandro DeAngelis from their roster.

Last year, Jim Popp made kicker, Brody McKnight their first selection in the draft. Immediately after, he acquired Sean Whyte from the B.C. Lions many pegged a dream scenario for the team.

But Popp brought a whole new meaning to competition because shortly thereafter he signed DeAngelis. In conversing with a team source on the day DeAngelis signed, it came as a surprise that they would bring in another kicker to camp.

It proved to be an excellent calculated move by Popp knowing McKnight would not be apart of the present roster. As a result, Whyte rose up from the competition against DeAngelis coming up with clutch kicks throughout camp and into the preseason.

However, for DeAngelis, he did not anticipate being in the shadows of Whyte for the entire season. No question, DeAngelis was great with the media. Never did he have a look of anger, as he always smiled to everyone. In fact, we had a couple of conversations about the best Italian restaurants in the city.

DeAngelis' greatest professional triumph was helping propel the Calgary Stampeders to the 2008 Grey Cup by nailing all five of his field goals in 22-14 victory over the Alouettes. It seemed ever since that moment, it hasn’t been the same.

After moving from Calgary to Hamilton, the honeymoon did not last long as a lot of the fans blamed him for the team’s loss to the Toronto Argonauts in 2010 division semi-final. Even though he was two for three in field goal attempts, he missed a late opportunity that could have sealed a trip to Montreal.

Unfortunately, the cruelty of football is evident as a player is brought in simply to be an extra body. Essentially, DeAngelis fit the profile as he continued to practice with the team, and help Whyte get prepared for games. From public observation, there was never any animosity between the two as they worked with great synergy.

Moving Forward

Whyte will be entering camp as the number kicker on the depth chart. Not too far away is McKnight who they have very high hopes for.

One would ponder, could there be anther situation where this time it is McKnight who plays the role of being a supporter for Whyte?

Come June in Lennoxville, it could an intriguing battle between these two considering that in 2011 the Alouettes gave up some real estate in the field position battle. So who could come out on top?

As for where DeAngelis could end up, it would be difficult to forecast who is in need of a kicker.
The first team that comes to mind is the Tiger-Cats, considering that Justin Medlock is exploring his NFL opportunities, but would they want to go down this road again?

Keep in mind, new head coach George Cortez knows DeAngelis from their time in Calgary, and could bring him in for a training camp tryout.

Another option is the Toronto Argonauts and there’s no denying that Noel Prefontaine’s illustrious career is soon coming to a close. So if DeAngelis is willing to be patient, he could have an opportunity kicking in the controlled climate of the Rogers Centre.

But for now, the Alouettes have somewhat cleared up their kicking situation until training camp.

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Alouettes Sign Former West Virginia Star Noel Devine

According to Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette, the Montreal Alouettes have signed former West Virginia University standout, Noel Devine.

With this signing Jim Popp may have solved the team's kick and punt return issues.

Devine had a solid four year career in Morgantown where he was apart of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl team led by then interim head coach Bill Stewart in routing the heavily favoured Oklahoma Sooners 48-28. In that game Devine subbed in for the injured Steve Slaton and had 108 rushing yards, on 13 carries for two touchdowns.

But his best season was his junior year in 2009 where he amassed 13 touchdowns, and 1465 rushing yards. Many thought he would have left for the NFL. But he came back for his senior year, where injuries derailed his season and he wasn’t a factor for the Mountaineers.

Devine had a tough up bringing losing both his parents at a young age, and becoming a father of two kids prior to joining the Mountaineers.

But he may be best known for his association with NFL hall of famer Deion Sanders. Both played at the same high school at North Fort Myers High School. Sanders started mentoring Devine, and he was in the process of filing legal papers in Texas to adopt him.

However, he abruptly left the family home and leaving Sanders SUV at the Dallas airport to go back to his hometown in Fort Myers, Florida.

After his collegiate career, Devine had a brief stay with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, and UFL’s Omaha Nighthawks.

What does Devine bring to this team?

Speed, he was a highly sought out by the premier schools such as Alabama, and Florida State, but opted for West Virginia due to their spread offense.

But his speed and ability to read his blocks well could be huge for a team looking for a dynamic playmaker. There’s no denying his God given talent, but it is a matter of whether or not he will apply it with force.

The one question that Devine will have entering training camp is he mentally checked in to be apart of a football team.

According to NBC’s Profootballtalk report, Devine quit on the Eagles after a few days in training camp. Factor the incident of leaving Sanders family, could Popp and Marc Trestman have a plan in place?

If they do, maybe they consider having one of the new leaders take Devine under their wing. That teammate could potentially relate to Devine and the struggles he has experienced growing up so he could have someone to lean on just in-case he needs to converse.

In the meantime, come June, it will be Devine’s time to shine, and show why he was one of the premier high school players, and dynamic college player in the last few years.

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Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Pressure of Success: Looking at the Premier League we have to wonder wh...

The Pressure of Success: Looking at the Premier League we have to wonder wh...: Looking at the Premier League we have to wonder what wil be the fortune of the managers who have weight of expectations on their shoulders....

Post Anwar Stewart, Where Does The Alouettes go From Here?

With Anwar Stewart given his walking papers, in the aftermath on Twitter, there was a lot of bitter resentment from the Alouettes fans towards Jim Popp’s decision.

It is understandable to see it from both sides. From Stewart’s perspective, he mentioned to Montreal Gazette writer, Herb Zurkowsky about the lack of loyalty from management’s towards him.

Moreover, the fans are disappointed to see one of the old pillars get crushed to make way for construction of a new one.

From the Alouettes point of view, it is the business of sport. They’re trying to forecast what could be a player’s future production value compared to where he is now? Even though last winter Stewart took a pay cut and was making $50,000 in 2011. For Popp and his management team they figured the fountain of youth was about to run dry on him.

In sports, management will have to make bold predictions, so it better to release a player one year early than one year too late.

Last night, just as I posted my Stewart article, one of the potential targets in Justin Hickman, signed with the Indianapolis Colts.

So who is the most desirable CFL free agent left? Scouring through the list, the most enticing player is B.C. Lions defensive tackle, Aaron Hunt.

By the time training camp is underway, Hunt will be 32 years old. But he could still have a good couple of years left in him.

His size is perfect to plug in the middle of the defensive line, for those who have been up close to Hunt, knows how wide his lower base is. Thus, it could alleviate the potential double teams that rush end John Bowman could face in 2012.

Furthermore, Hunt does have a connection to the Montreal organization, as his older brother Reggie played in 2008 with Alouettes. So he could get first hand information of how they operate under Marc Trestman and Popp.

But from reading the tea leaves, a lot of pundits figure Hunt could re-sign with the Lions, or potentially take his talents to Calgary where they need to replace recently retired Devone Claybrooks.

With one week before free agency begins, Alouettes fans have expressed their angst about the future makeup of this team.

However, Jim Popp has a plan that will be on display soon enough. Shortly afterwards, everything would be forgotten and potentially this team could be back to their old winnings ways, albeit with a new cast of characters.

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Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Game Points Realities of Sport Special: Podcasted

It was a heck of a night back on January 17th, 2012. Here is a podcasted portion of the special we had on TSN 990, featuring Montreal Alouettes defensive back Etienne Boulay, two-time Canadian Olympic hockey gold medallist and current Montreal Stars player Meghan Agosta, San Francisco Giants minor league player Jonathan Jones and TSN 990 basketball analyst and former professional player Dwight Walton.

Podcasted segments:

Concussions Part 1

Concussions Part 2

Drug Testing

Social Media

We hope you enjoy. Follow @tsnmatthew. Game Points is Tuesdays and Sundays on TSN 990.

Alouettes Release Anwar Stewart, What is Next

The Montreal Alouettes have decided to part ways with longtime member Anwar Stewart.

A couple weeks ago, Stewart admitted that his days were numbered in Montreal. But regardless of the outcome, the Alouettes have lost a respected leader in the locker room.

What does the future hold for Stewart?

A source of mine told me that Stewart will explore his options, but he will first contact the Toronto Argonauts. He does have a history with the coaching staff, especially new defensive coordinator, Chris Jones, who coached him in Montreal.

Stewart’s best output was during Jones' tenure with the Alouettes, where he amassed 40 of 66 sacks under his tutelage.

There isn’t a doubt that Stewart could still contribute on a CFL roster. With the Argonauts overhauling their personnel, it would be a perfect match for them to sign him. Furthermore, he would be able to teach his teammates the frenetic defense that Jones will employ this year.

Moving Forward

As the Alouettes move on from Stewart, their priority is to replenish their defensive line with bodies.

With Jeff Robertshaw also given his walking papers, general manager Jim Popp could address this situation by re-signing Jermaine McElveen, who wasn’t a happy camper. In the last media session of the year, he expressed his frustration of the limited playing time he received.

Moreover, the team has high hopes for incoming player Daunte Akra, who they figure could be an excellent tag team partner for fellow teammate John Bowman.

If the Alouettes opt to go through free agency, as stated in a previous article, they could go for the homerun and try to lure away Hamilton Tiger-Cats stalwart, Justin Hickman if his attempt of making the Indianapolis Colts roster does not pan out for him.

Hickman would be the most highly sought out defensive player and could garner a serious payday. But given he will only be 27 years old in July, he has been the best defensive lineman in the CFL.

It could be an excellent signing for the Alouettes to get him, and weaken their division rival.

Finally, if Popp remains patient, and sees no one in the free agent market is worth the dollar value. This year’s CFL draft is loaded with defensive linemen, led by Tyrone Crawford of Boise State, Arnaud Gascon-Nadon of Laval University, and Akiem Hicks of Regina University who would surely garner NFL attention, and could already be on a CFL negotiation list.

Out of the three, I believe the Alouettes have a strong chance in landing Gascon-Nadon. He fits the profile they look for in a defensive player, he has great length, good speed, and is a local product.

Right now, as the Alouettes move away from the old guard, a new chapter is about to begin because these are no longer your father’s team

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Andy Fantuz An Alouette? The Future of Paul Woldu

As free agency inches closer, on Twitter I have received a lot questions from Alouettes fans about the potential scenario of the team signing Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver, Andy Fantuz.

As I stated in my previous articles about the Fantuz situation, I highly doubt that the team would be in play for him.

Aside from penning Dwight Anderson, the Alouettes have been very judicious in signing outside talent. Furthermore, the confidence that Jim Popp has in himself to discover a player in a tryout camp is large and would be economically cheaper than anything else.

Already, the Alouettes have locked up Brian Bratton, Eric Deslauriers, S.J. Green, and Brandon London. Even though Kerry Watkins announced his retirement last week, it does not hurt the team but rather it frees up money for Jim Popp to use in a future contract offer to Jamel Richardson.

Richardson is set to be a free agent after the 2012 season, and I am sure both parties would take an added interest in the Fantuz negotiations.

In professional sports contracts, the law of averages dictates whatever Fantuz ends up signing for expect Richardson to get a contract number 10 to 20 percent higher than that.

As for where Fantuz could end up, I still believe the three teams in the running are the Edmonton Eskimos, Saskatchewan Roughriders, and Toronto Argonauts.

If Alouettes fans are inclined about adding Fantuz to the loaded position group, they should be more concerned that Popp should start negotiations with one of the popular players in Richardson.

The Future of Paul Woldu?

Woldu is one of the Alouettes few remaining free agents that they have yet to re-sign. For all the discussion that was bantered about his future, the feeling is management might allow him to walk.

There’s no denying he had a tough go last year when he was thrown into the lineup after the rash of injuries in the secondary.

The one eye sore he experienced was in Calgary, where Stampeders receiver, Johnny Forzani had a career day in dominating Woldu and the secondary with six receptions for 107 yards, and two touchdowns. Indirectly that was the beginning of the end for Woldu to showcase his skills to management and show he could be a major contributor to the team’s long term cause.

Unless Popp feels there isn’t anyone in free agency or in the draft that could bring the same elements that Woldu has brought to this team, he could make him an offer to him.

But the stars are slowly aligning that a bid from his hometown Roughriders could be in the works. The organization knows him very well from his CJFL, and CIS playing days in the province. In-fact, he had a tryout as a non-roster player with the team in 2006 but was released shortly thereafter.

In an ideal world a team would like to re-sign all their free agents. However, in the business of professional sports the chances are slim everyone would want to comeback considering they’re better offers from other competitors.

Generally, the Alouettes have kept their plans close to the vest. So anything is possible, but it would not be shocking if they’re idle in the free agency sweepstakes.

You can follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning from midnight-2am on The Midnight Snack, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on TSN 990

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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Three Players The Alouettes Could Target at The CFL Draft

CFL free agency begins next week. But we’re not far away from the CFL Evaluation Camp set for the first weekend of March in Toronto, Ontario.

Currently, the Alouettes do not possess a first round pick, since they traded it at last year’s draft to the B.C. Lions for kicker Sean Whyte. I’m certain general manager Jim Popp is content that he got himself an impact player in Whyte who provided huge dividends in 2011.

This year, with the 11th overall selection, the team could go in many directions with their draft plans. It is very deep in Quebec players, and if the team would like to replenish their local talent, they could have a plethora of prospects fall into their lap.

Here are three players they could target by the time they make their selections. But if Popp is feeling lucky and confident he could potentially trade up and alter the draft landscape.

Ismael Bamba, WR/Returner, Sherbrooke Vert et Or: As mentioned in my last article, with Danny Desriveaux about to be granted his release. The Alouettes would need to address their receiving non-import ratio.

Bamba transferred from the University of North Dakota to Sherbrooke, and had a splendid 2011 season. He made the Vert Et Or‘s special teams lethal, as he had game changing punt returns for touchdowns that contributed to their victories.

Furthermore, his ability to read his blocks on receiving plays made him dangerous on offense.

The Alouettes need to address their return situation, as they had no impact plays for their returners. Granted this position has been primarily occupied by an import player. Bamba is an exception to the rule since he played against stronger competition at North Dakota and in the RSEQ where special teams are important.

The only question, is he motivated when he isn’t the primary target on the play? Otherwise, he has great tangibles a team would look for in a football player.

Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, DE, Laval Rouge et Or: Another Canadian player who transferred from Rice University to the Laval program. He has great length, and has shown with his speed from the edge that he could disrupt plays.

From what was stated by Alouettes Anwar Stewart, that his days could be numbered with the club. The Alouettes haven’t had a dominant local defensive lineman since Steve Charbonneau. Moreover, the team‘s pass rush was invisible in the last three games of the year, as they had zero sacks.

Gascon-Nadon has been privileged to learn from different coaching styles during his collegiate career. So his assimilation to the next level should not be a problem since high demands were placed on him at Laval.

However, how healthy is his knee? During the Vanier Cup it seemed that he was hampered by his brace, and at one point did take it off for more mobility. As a result, heading into evaluation weekend plenty of team scouts and doctors could take a closer look at this situation.

Even though he received a high pre-draft grade, he could fall into the Alouettes lap if there are lingering concerns. Thus, they could afford to allow him to learn, and develop behind the veterans on the roster. The sky’s the limit for this prospect, and he would fit in well with Alouettes.

By the way, for those who are curious if Gascon-Nadon is on Twitter? He is under the handle of @AGN45.

Courtney Stephen, DB, Northern Illinois: Here is one of the rare success stories of a Canadian football player realizing his football dreams playing in the NCAA by taking a different path than others.

For those unaware of whom he is, give him a follow on Twitter @TheCStephen.

Initially, Stephen started his collegiate career at Laurier University, becoming one of the premier defenders in the OUA. He was the Canadian version of the honey badger before LSU’s star defensive back, Tyrann Mathieu received his nickname.

He took the great leap of faith by taking his talents from the CIS to DeKalb, Illinois where he redshirted in 2010. But in 2011 he showed why the NIU coaching staff had faith in him as he made an impact on special teams.

The Alouettes are in a unique situation with their secondary. They could conceivably allow soon to be free agent Paul Woldu to walk next week. Without question he would garner serious offers. Stephen could be a perfect replacement for Woldu because of his size, intelligence, and athletic ability.

Stephen has been coached by the best in the CIS and NCAA, so he knows what it takes to play well at the next level. I am sure the Alouettes wouldn’t mind have the Canadian version of the honey badger on their roster.

Even though the actual draft is three months away, a lot could transpire at the E-Camp, and weeks on ahead. But for the present time, these three players could be on the Alouettes radar.

You can follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning from midnight-2am on The Midnight Snack, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and other shows on TSN 990.

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