What a dream scenario! I had the privilege of being in Hamilton on Sunday to watch the Gray Cup Final between the Alouettes and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. It was a pretty exciting game, like the entire season. The Alouettes never gave up before accepting the precious trophy.
I have so much to say about each member of this championship team. I could have had 50, but let me introduce you to seven favorites:
The first person I am deeply excited for is veteran Kristian Matte. In 2010, during the Alouettes championship, he was just a rookie (and a reserve player). It was therefore his first real success in 13 years and I can completely understand how he feels as he has remained loyal to the Montreal club throughout his career.
Marc Antoine Dequoy
Two weeks ago, as part of this column, I spoke to you about Dequoy’s eyes, which reminded me of Maurice Richard’s. After the Alouettes’ win on Sunday, the man I called “Flash” came out on behalf of all Quebecers to criticize the CFL and its lack of respect for French speakers. I can only applaud, even if some of the comments were made out of emotion.
Head coach Jason Maas is the one who created an environment and culture that led to this Gray Cup win. Week after week he had to deliver his message about the importance of hard work and the need to be there for one another. I don’t know if the Alouettes would have had the same journey without Maas.
When we talk about taking a step back to better move forward, Anthony Calvillo is a good example. After an initial stint with the Alouettes, he had to leave to study at university level with the Carabins. And now he returned to the Canadian Football League more experienced and knowing how to communicate better with the players. It would take a very humble person to do that, and Calvillo, a legend in his own right as a quarterback, could have let it pass. Instead, he contributed to this great conquest as offensive coordinator.
Alouettes quarterback Cody Fajardo had his best game of the year in the Gray Cup final. God is good! Fajardo and I share the same religious values and I couldn’t be happier for him. After last season, this athlete strongly considered retiring, but was able to persevere.
Eric Deslauriers, who often operates in secret, has done a tremendous job as head of football operations. By addressing the players’ needs off the field with the help of Allyson Sobol, he allowed them to focus on football. Deslauriers also has an impact on the game. I know he spoke during halftime of the Gray Cup final, when the Alouettes were 17-7 against the Blue Bombers. . He was respected by the players and had every right and presence to be so.
I think this is the season Noel has had the most fun in his career. His system was adopted by all of his defensive players. At this point, an honorable mention to cornerback Kabion Ento for his performance in the Gray Cup final. He impressed me, especially because he used to be a pass catcher.
Danny Maciocia (general manager), Jean-Marc Edme (recruiting manager), Pierre Karl Péladeau (owner), Byron Archambault (special teams coach), Alexandre Gagné (player) and Greg Quick (linebackers coach) are among my other favorites for various reasons for this. I would have so much to say about each of them and others too… But at the end of what may be my last column of the year, I would definitely like to highlight the work of journalist Benoît Rioux, who has followed the entire Alouettes season, has helped me through it Collecting my comments gave a real boost. He also impressed me with his hard work in providing excellent content for Le Journal de Montréal, especially this final week at the Gray Cup. More importantly, our professional relationship developed into a friendly relationship over the course of the games. I am happy to now count Benoît among my friends. As the Alouettes have proven over the past few months, there is nothing that beats the camaraderie between teammates!
Comments collected by Benoît Rioux