2020 CFL Winter Meetings

Frank Stanisci
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Ownership Issues and Status of the League

The CFL 2020 Winter Meetings began on a beautiful sunny day at Blue Mountain north of Toronto the Canadian Media gathered for the first time in the new year in advance of the upcoming 2020 CFL Season. The owners and or their proxies were at meetings to discuss the first hard copy of the CFL / CFLPA agreement and the manner in which it will impact their teams. More on that later.

The Commissioner is pleased with the way the rules are being applied and the fact that their ‘decision time’ has not impacted adversely on the TV / TSN time broadcast window. The way the defensive players have adapted and shown the talent they can display and excitement they can generate outside of and including the big hit has been ‘eye popping’. The upgrading of the World Players is in the works including a combine, based on the contribution and seamless assimilation into the CFL team’s rosters in 2019.

The CFL Ownership partners as a group are now as solid as they may have been in long time. The one issue on the horizon is David Braley’s desire to move on from the CFL. No one has been more important and influential in propping the CFL up in its greatest moments of need. Here is wishing good health to a man every CFL fan, employee and Player should be thankful for.

Last week the Alouettes were sold to Gary Stern and Sid Spiegel. Dale Lastman the man behind the Alouette sale was not at the meetings mourning the death of his mother Marilyn. Our condolences to Dale and the rest of the Lastmans who were “Sitting in Shiva”. The importance of the contacts that Mr. Lastman and MLSE have were highlighted a week prior to the meetings with the Als sale.

The new ownership in Montreal was not available for comment, understandable considering the agreement was only days earlier. The impact of the sale was not lost on Head Coach Khari Jones still waiting to hear who will be his GM. Last year days before the season started the Als needed to find a Coach. Days later a new GM and ownership. This year so far ‘two out of three ain’t bad’. A great season to build on last year bodes well for the Montreal Alouettes in 2020.

In Toronto a solid ownership has been in place, a Grey Cup was won under two- thirds of the MLSE partners. MLSE is now all in as of last year with the addition of Sportsnet the third partner. Toronto’s GM Mike (Pinball) Clemons has put his trust in the hands of an inexperienced Head Coach Ryan Dinwiddie.

The Pinball plan is to build an organization with the consistency that has abandoned the ‘Double Blue’ for going on too many decades. Providing winning records as a bridge to the same level of Grey Cup Championships has been elusive for the Argonauts. Winning consistently is the ‘next answer’ to gaining the kind of fan support in the stands that has levelled just above 12,000 on average in attendance, recently.

The Commissioner on Halifax expansion while on a conservative track is acceptable to the Commissioner. The stadium seems to be in the offing with the finances being clarified by the City of Halifax with the Province of Nova Scotia next. The location is also being narrowing down. Don’t expect federal assistance, but who knows?

The rest of the Coaches and GMs including the Commissioner were available to all in attendance. There are plenty of new hires that now find themselves together with the rest of the management members of each CFL team. The familiarity of this group was on display at the meeting where many of the coaches sat around catching up on life and how things are going.

Many of the people at the Winter Meetings are ‘CFL lifers’. The future of players, teams and the hopes of the fans are riding on the decisions made here at the meetings and in the upcoming months of challenges. The stories are many and waiting to be written, until next time,

I am (Candid) Frank Stanisci