Thanks but no thanks

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:35 AM ET

Dave Dickenson is on his way back to Calgary. Of course, that's the way it should have been a year-and-a-half ago when the then free-agent quarterback was willing to take less money to return to his adopted hometown.

Instead, he's on his way back as a B.C. Lion for Friday's Mauling at McMahon.

He's bringing with him the league's hottest team, a slight limp and concerns over when he'll be able to crack an offence currently being run by surprise league MVP, Casey Printers.

Although it's likely he'll dress for the first time since undergoing his third knee surgery in a year, questions over when he'll get another chance to play have been bouncing around the league like bad cheques. To date Wally Buono hasn't shared his plans on how he'll integrate the 2000 MVP back into his offence.

Suffice it to say, the coach's handling of the affair will go a long way towards determining Dickenson's future as a Lion.

After all, the knee problems that have allowed Printers to win eight straight games at less than one fifth of Dickenson's $400,000 salary have sparked plenty of talk their former franchise player could become expendable.

"The off-season will be interesting," admitted Dickenson, who still has two years and an option left on his deal.

"Unless Calgary gets sold or something happens there, I don't want to come back. There have been a few rumours out there (about him being traded) but I didn't listen because I haven't been healthy and didn't think -- for a time there -- that I'd play again this year. Right now, the way the (Lions) organization is going, I want to be here. Winning is definitely priority one and it's not happening in Calgary. They've got to clean up a bunch of things there."

Like the entire offence, the owner, the coaching philosophy, the scouting staff, the front office...

Other than that, the Stamps should be fine.

A fan favourite in Calgary for five years before pacing NFL sidelines for two seasons, the failure to sign Dickenson in 2003 is the single-biggest reason the Stamps are now the laughingstock of the CFL.

There can be no debate over whether Dickenson could have fared better than Marcus Crandell, Kevin Feterik or any of the other stiffs who've turned the CFL's quarterback factory into a pivot pasture where careers come to die.

"If things were different and I signed with Calgary, I think I could've made a difference," said the 31-year-old Montana Mogul, who still maintains a residence in Valley Ridge.

It didn't happen because Crandell was gifted a chunk of change up front (by Buono) and because owner Michael Feterik made sure nothing was going to impede the progress of Kid Kevin.

"There might have been interest from certain people (read: coach Jim Barker) but the ones making the decision (Feterik and Fred Fateri) weren't going to let it happen," he said.

Now there's interest all right.

If Feterik has learned anything the last two years, it's that he made a horrific mistake thinking Crandell is CFL material. His club needs a quarterback and, just as he was told all along, his team will never be anything but a bottom-feeder unless he gets one. Fast.

Dickenson is one of the only men with the ability to help turn the franchise around over the winter.

Given the accelerating erosion of the Stamps' fan base, paying Dickenson's salary shouldn't be a concern.

Nor should the asking price for Dickenson via trade. Question is, would Buono ever trade the former MVP to an owner like Feterik who ran him out of town?

Not on your life.

Which suits Dickenson just fine.


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