Crunch time for coaches

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:12 AM ET

The Calgary Stampeders' coaching picture should become clearer tomorrow following internal meetings to discuss the team's power structure.

The CFL team is developing a model president Ted Hellard describes as "unconventional" compared to other CFL franchises.

It is unclear whether all staff from the 2005 season will fit available roles.

It could include some new faces next season as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have asked permission to talk to defensive co-ordinator/assistant head coach Denny Creehan and offensive boss Steve Buratto, a request the Stampeders have accepted -- albeit delayed until tomorrow.

"The Stampeders organization is very comfortable that there are a lot of quality people out there who can do these roles," Hellard said, declining to elaborate on the specifics involving his staff.

"Hopefully, they want to stay but, in the end, as the pyramid gets smaller, you can only have so many positions."

Creehan has a series of one-year contracts, with a club option, that he claims would eventually promote him to head coach, a role now held by Tom Higgins, also the team's v.p. of football operations.

Hellard has said he is confident the coaching staff from the 2005 season will remain intact, although the team is emphasizing the model rather than the staff working within it.

"I'm a firm believer the Stampeders will put their best foot forward in terms of the organization and the model we're trying to implement. The coaches have to decide whether that opportunity best suits their needs," said Hellard, part of the ownership group that took control of the franchise in January.

While Burrato, 62, has been a CFL head coach twice before, he appears content with his role with the Stampeders.

He intends to sell his Vancouver home and move with wife Judy to Calgary in the off-season.

Creehan is keen on assuming the head coaching role in Calgary or elsewhere, although he has often professed his love for the players within the vaunted 3-4 defence he implemented here since joining the team in 2004.

He declined comment yesterday.

Hellard said it is a reality of professional football at this time of year that other franchises attempt to lure coaches away from successful regimes.

He said he can't prevent that but as long as Calgary establishes a winning formula, qualified coaches will be eager to fill any vacancies that might occur.

"We're trying to digest and evaluate all the learning we've done this year, everything we've seen," Hellard said.

"We're digesting and evaluating what goes on in other professional organizations and, for all intents and purposes, we've confirmed in our own minds what the model is and we're adding finishing touches to it.

"It happens to be during the 'coaching hunting season' but our coaches will be well aware of what our model is, what those opportunities are but in no way would I ever restrain them from looking to see if the grass is greener. Ultimately, they have to be here because they want to be here.

"I know this seems simplistic but the reality is it's the model that counts."


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