FRIESEN: O’Shea not eyeing move west, but Bombers could lose assistant GM

Article content

As feared, the Edmonton Elks are threatening to raid the front office of the two-time Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

The good news for the Bombers is the target of their affection is not head coach Mike O’Shea.

At least, it’s not anymore.

The Elks did contact the Bombers about talking with O’Shea to discuss their vacant GM job.

O’Shea has one year remaining on his current contract, but the opportunity for promotion typically makes that a moot point. The Elks may even have seen O’Shea as a combination head coach/GM.

No inside information here on how their discussion went, only that the two finalists for the Edmonton job do not include O’Shea.

Bombers assistant GM Ted Goveia and longtime CFL coach and executive Chris Jones were interviewed on Monday, with a winner expected to emerge as early as Tuesday.

Goveia, Winnipeg’s assistant GM and director of player personnel, and Danny McManus (assistant GM/director of U.S. scouting) have been the right-hand men to GM Kyle Walters for the past eight years.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

While losing Goveia would be no small blow — he was instrumental in scouting talent on both sides of the border — it’s not the staggering hook the loss of O’Shea would represent.

The somewhat magical locker-room culture that brought so many players back after the lost 2020 season starts with the 2021 CFL coach-of-the-year, who’s a perfect six-for-six in Grey Cup games as a player, assistant coach and head man.

That magic will once again be sorely tested this off-season, as the Bombers have just four starters under contract.

With O’Shea remaining in the coach’s office, they’d be off to a good start.

Presumably, he and Walters will be receiving contract extensions in short order, although CEO Wade Miller isn’t tipping his hand.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

“We’re just getting through the end of the year,” Miller said on Monday. “How many days has it been since we won: Six? Seven? We’ve still got a lot of work to do. We’ll get to all those things in due course.”

Once O’Shea and Walters are locked up long-term, they can get to work on convincing players to re-sign.

MERRY CUP CHRISTMAS

A second straight gulp from the Grey Cup is paying off at the souvenir shop.

“Business is fantastic,” Miller said. “We’ve done almost 70% of the online orders that we did from November to Dec. 31 of 2019. And our staff are just killing it. We’re jamming six weeks into two weeks here. Everybody’s stepping up.

“I wasn’t sure we could build off of 2019 … and we have.”

Miller has already said the community-run franchise will make a significant profit this year, so Grey Cup merchandise sales are gravy on top.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

“It helps pay for the Grey Cup,” Miller said. “As we know, Grey Cups are expensive for winning teams. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

ONLY IN THE CFL

One of the lasting images from the Bombers’ West final win over the rival Riders was the appearance of B.C. Lions star receiver Lucky Whitehead in the front row, singing, dancing and at one point wearing a Bombers tuque.

How he got there is one of those only-in-the-CFL stories.

“I put on Twitter that I would be at the final, and let me know if I can crash somebody’s tailgate,” Whitehead explained from his off-season home in Virginia. “I got a ton of messages about that. So I showed up early, had some good food and drinks. A couple of young guys were like, ‘Hey, come to Section 141,’ and I ended up in Section 141 and we partied.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

A former Bomber who was with the team for its 2019 championship, Whitehead remains close to Winnipeg receiver Rasheed Bailey.

He says pulling for his former team in that atmosphere was a blast.

“It was definitely electric,” he said. “It was kind of cold, but the energy that we were bringing made it electric and fun. I don’t remember even watching it much.”

At one point Whitehead had stripped down to his bare chest at the urging of a fan going after the Chris Streveler look (fur coat, no shirt) from the 2019 Grey Cup parade.

As for the Bombers tuque, Whitehead says he actually came wearing a Lions ball cap.

“One of the fans took it off and put their hat on my head. I was like, ‘OK, here we go.’ ”

Whitehead, along with about a gazillion others, will be a free agent in February.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

NO REPEAT HERE

Hockey Canada pulled out of the Spengler Cup on Monday, scuttling Eric Fehr’s plans to win another international championship.

“It hurts,” the product of Winkler, Man., said, via Twitter. “I was looking for a nice back to back!”

Fehr, 36, a former Winnipeg Jet who played parts of 14 seasons in the NHL, has played in the top Swiss League the past two seasons and was part of Team Canada at the previous Spengler Cup in 2019.

EHLERS, JETS GROUNDED

Winger Nik Ehlers is the third star of the week in the NHL, after a two-goal, five-assist performance in three games.

When he and the Jets play again is up in the air, as the pandemic has caused the postponement of games in Nashville and Dallas this week.

The status of games immediately after Christmas is also shaky, as the league considers a shutdown through to the New Year.

The Jets are supposed to host Minnesota, Dec. 27, and Chicago two nights later, before flying to Calgary for a New Year’s Eve tilt.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

View original article here Source