Landry’s 5 takeaways from the CFL schedule release

Hello, Hamilton. A Labour Day game, a Thanksgiving Day game and a Grey Cup game? I’d call you gluttonous, but that’s what Thanksgiving is for. So is Grey Cup, come to think of it.

Here are the schedule release takeaways.

ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER

Scarcity is one of the themes of this pandemic-induced schedule.

Some teams play each other only once, meaning a few of the home-and-home sets we’ve come to expect out of East-West match-ups are put on hold. Examples of one-offs abound; the Argos don’t host Saskatchewan or Calgary, the Stampeders won’t play a home date against either the REDBLACKS or Hamilton, for instance.

And in a once-in-a-lifetime quirk, Ottawa and Winnipeg won’t meet at all during the regular season, meaning the only chance we get to see head coach Paul LaPolice and quarterback Matt Nichols take on their old team, in 2021, is if the REDBLACKS square off against the Blue Bombers in the Grey Cup game, or a crossover playoff.

A little more incentive for a team that is already aware that they’re being counted out in the East by some.

ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER, PART II

Of all the arduous schedules to open the 2021 season, the Hamilton Ticats can lay claim to maybe having the toughest.

Certainly, when it comes to getting a home date they are the team that suffers the longest drought here.

Opening up with games in Winnipeg, Saskatchewan and Montreal, the Ticats are scheduled to be the only team in the CFL that doesn’t play a home game in August.

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The upside of that? You’d have to think that frequent trips might not be so much of a grind on a team so early in the season, compared to, say, doing that towards the end of a campaign (looking at you, Saskatchewan Roughriders. Playing four of your last five in enemy territory sure does provide a counter-balance for starting the season with four straight at home, with a bye sprinkled in).

And just imagine, for a moment, how mind-blowing it is to have the Mark’s Labour Day Classic as Hamilton’s home opener. Tesla would have loved the opportunity to try to harness the kind of energy Ticat fans will generate on that day. Instead, he had to settle for nearby Niagara Falls. Pfft.

THERE’S ONLY SO MUCH LEWIS WARD CAN TAKE

The release of a new schedule can really bring out the creativity of the social teams in all nine CFL markets.

The Edmonton Elks had some of their players’ kids draw the logos of the teams they’d be facing and the result was what you’d call “adorbs,” if we used words like that. Which football fans certainly do not, right?

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers scored a win with a TV-inspired beauty, spicing up their schedule announcement with clips from Seinfeld.

But the literal spice came from the Ottawa REDBLACKS, who had kicker Lewis Ward and safety Antoine Pruneau reading off the team’s weekly opponents between bites of chicken wings, each time upping the heat of the sauces they were being dipped in. The wings, that is. Not Ward and Pruneau. Although there’s an idea for next year.

By Week 11, Ottawa’s schedule gets quite spicy, it seems. At one point – I think it was Week 13, Ward has to burn a time-out, and Pruneau seems close to doing the same.

Forget the season, these guys are gonna need a bye week right now just to get themselves back in order.

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU AGAIN

The Argos meet the Stampeders, in Calgary, during Week 1 of the 2021 CFL season, and that means all those former Stampeders get it out of their system right away.

Toronto, of course, has staked out the Stampeders’ curbside recycling bins over the last couple of years and, on occasion, broken right in to the premises to pilfer some of the good silverware and flatscreen TVs.

Eric Rogers is one of many former Stampeders now set to play their former team when Toronto hosts Calgary in Week 1 (The Canadian Press)

Ryan Dinwiddie, Eric Rogers, Juwan Brescacin, Cordarro Law, Robertson Daniel. And Nick Arbuckle, too, after he’d originally ended up in Ottawa, never to suit up for the REDBLACKS.

They will not have had very much time to consider themselves Argonauts when it comes to  game day, so, on August 7th, we may very well have an inordinate number of people walking into the wrong locker room.

I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF SEEING YOU AGAIN

Having the Argos and Ticats square off four times during any regular season sure is a rivalry-stoking scenario. Having them do it during a shortened season, over the course of just over a couple of months? That’s a recipe for extra-crispy bitterness.

Out West, the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Calgary Stampeders will meet three times in four weeks, between October 2 and October 23. At least they get sent to neutral corners after the first two, although the Stamps will have to take on BC, while the ‘Riders get a bye.

If those first two games crank up the animosity – they almost certainly will – that last of the three, in Calgary, will surely be what Shakespeare used to call a “hurly-burly.”

AND FINALLY…

Scrolling through the CFL schedule has me feeling like Andy Dufresne the moment he popped out of that Shawshank tunnel.

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