If not for a little hardball on Wally Buono's part, Jamie Crysdale might have staged his retirement press conference in Vancouver.
Drafted by the Lions in 1992, Crysdale and fellow o-lineman Rocco Romano were traded to Calgary that spring in exchange for quarterback Danny Barrett, although pounding out the deal took some perseverance.
"No Jamie Crysdale, no trade. That's how serious it was," recalled Buono, the former Stampeders GM/head coach, now boss in B.C.
At the time, Bob O'Billovich was GM/head coach of the Lions and was desperately in need of a pivot. The Stamps had already signed Doug Flutie for the season, making Barrett expendable. Behind the scenes, then-Stamps owner Larry Ryckman and Lions king Murray Pezim had already completed a side deal with the Barrett swap as the finishing touch.
"Bob was on his way back to the airport with no trade," said Buono. "It was actually quite hilarious. Bob and I went back and forth, back and forth, and Bob didn't want to make the trade.
"They fly out to Calgary, Larry picks them up in a limousine and we spend all day trying to get a deal done. Nothing. We're going back to the airport to drop Bob off because there's no trade. Now we're almost at the airport dropping them off and they say, 'OK.' That's how we got the rights to Jamie Crysdale and he was a great Stampeder ever since."
The Stampeders won the Grey Cup that season, their first since 1971, although Crysdale didn't suit up with the club until the following year. Buono said both Crysdale and Romano were key components in the dynasty of the '90s.
"It all started with those two guys and they played forever," Buono said. "Look at how well Jamie's played and been entrenched in the community, he's been a great asset for that city."