Edmonton - May. 16, 2012 - The recent retirement of Edmonton Eskimos long-snapper Taylor Inglis brought to mind notable Canadian players and their impact not only on their teams, but on the league as a whole. The list, nowhere near exhaustive, included the likes of newly retired players this off season such as BC Lions defensive lineman Brent Johnson and Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Slotback Jason Clermont and Offensive Lineman Gene Makowsky. These and other names such as Jon Cornish, Brendon LaBatte, and Paris Jackson only brought these thoughts into sharper focus.
In the ultimate Canadian game (outside of hockey of course), how important are Canadian players to the success of a franchise? The answer seems quite obvious but many don’t truly acknowledge it. Indeed Canadian players are vitally important.
In looking over the success of some of the teams, some very notable canucks come to mind:
- The Saskatchewan Roughriders made three Grey Cup appearances in the span of four years between 2007 and 2010, winning the Championship in 2007. Names like Andy Fantuz, Chris Getzlaf, Chris Szarka, Rob Bagg, Gene Makowsky, among others come to mind.
- How about the Calgary Stampeders and their success throughout the 90s: Dave Sapunjis, Mark McLoughlin, Rocco Romano and Stu Laird come to mind.
- The Toronto Argonauts team that won back to back Grey Cups in 1996 & 1997 did indeed have arguably one of the greatest players to ever play north of the border in Doug Flutie, but one cannot forget the contributions of Mike O’Shea, Mike Vanderjagt, and Paul Masotti, just to name a few.
- The Montreal Alouettes’ recent championship success cannot go noticed without acknowledging the contributions of the likes of Ben Cahoon, Shea Emry, Scott Flory, and Etienne Boulay. It almost seems just that the only touchdown scored by an Alouette in the 2002 Grey Cup was by pesky receiver Pat Woodcock on a 99-yard scamper, a record that stands to this day.
Indeed the canucks are not just filling up the requisite 20 rosters spots are they now.
In keeping with this belief, is it truly a coincidence that the Eskimos have lost their way a bit over the past decade while not really having a notable Canadian stand out, outside of retired K/P Sean Fleming? This is not to slight the players they have had or those currently on the roster. However it seems we’re stating the obvious that with a Canadian game, played by Canadians, would it not be prudent to have a number of notable Canucks on the roster? Make no mistake, this is not earth-shattering news.
Further testimony can be had by simply looking over the names of the Eskimos’ Wall of Honour and noting the number of great Canadians. Thereafter, trace these names back to their eras. Indeed it is now recognized that Canada is producing more highly skilled players in key positions on both offence and defence. The Esks need to take note of that or risk falling further behind. Who among the current crop can we envision being next on the Great Wall? From the ferociousness of Dave Fennell and Larry Wruck to the pinpoint accuracy of Sean Fleming and Dave Cutler to the dependability of Chris Morris and Rod Connop, perhaps the team needs to look to its past for answers on the future. Fennell, for the record, was also selected to the TSN Top 50 all time players list in 2006.
Just who will be the next great Eskie-Canuck? For the fans’ sake, it had better be someone on the current roster or a newly drafted player going into training camp. The memories of the 2005 ticker tape parade are quickly fading.