'Riding a crest of excitement'

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:08 PM ET

There's more than just a new crew running the Calgary Stampeders. A new attitude is also in place, starting with the ownership group and spreading throughout the coaching staff, says Tom Higgins.

"Right now we're riding a crest of excitement and hopefully we can bring it right into training camp so that the players get a chance to feel it," says Higgins, who has touched base with every Stampeders player under contract.

"I've made contact with everybody and I think there's only one or two I haven't left messages with or talked to personally.

"I wanted to introduce myself but I also wanted them to know that things are changing a little bit. There's a new feel going on and that a group of local businessmen have purchased the Stampeders and they're going to notice a big differences. We're going to have an opportunity to not notice any distractions for the product we're going to put onto the field."

The next step, in addition to hiring coaches for the offensive line and quarterbacks, is building a wish list for the free agency period that begins Feb. 15.

"We're still a little scattered among our coaching staff and we still have lots of time but with all the coaches, we've told them to put a hit list together of who you'd like," Higgins says.

"But we're keeping the list to ourselves.

"We know a lot of good football players will be available but a lot of players will be signed before the 15th.

"Now we're making a push to get as many of our guys signed as we can."

Topping the list of 10 Stampeders free agents is import linebacker John Grace, a finalist last season for CFL defensive player of the year.

"We want to bring in competition for everybody," says Higgins, already anticipating training camp in May.

"The better the competition, the better chance we have of being successful. We're starting to formulate plans but nothing is concrete."


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