Grievin' season begins

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:22 AM ET

A year ago, You Be The Boss provided a forum for stressed-out Calgary Stampeders fans to vent their rage regarding the underachieving organization.

There was plenty to be angry over, too, when the team finishing its third straight losing season with just four wins, one of the worst records in team history.

You said you wanted massive changes and they eventually came, spearheaded by a new ownership group involving John Forzani, Ted Hellard and Doug Mitchell.

A complete overhaul followed, including most of the coaching staff, led by newcomer Tom Higgins, before the 40-man roster was rebuilt under the guidance of general manager Jim Barker.

The result was a sensational turnaround in 2005 with the Stampeders posting a 11-7 record before hosting the CFL West semifinal, an emotional 33-26 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos.

"I can't speak for the fans but I don't think we could have accomplished more, although certainly we could have won a Grey Cup with this team," Hellard said.

"We accomplished far more than we ever thought possible to this point in time.

"How the fans respond, I don't know.

"I'd be surprised if they weren't (pleased) but that's the beauty of a poll or the beauty of having a voice.

"They get to express themselves and express whatever they want."

Although the last few days has been a painful recovery period for players and fans, the Stampeders can once again boast a bright future.

The 2005 CFL season was an unqualified success and the team appears in good hands with future home playoff dates a distinct possibility.

In fact, the new-look Stamps can already stake a claim as Grey Cup contenders.

The additions of free- agent quarterback Henry Burris, along with receiver Jeremaine Copeland, was profitable as both fielded the types of performances the team paid handsomely to acquire.

Import running back Joffrey Reynolds also provided a sensational performance in 2005, posting the fifth-best rushing total in team history.

The additions of Canadian linemen Godfrey Ellis at centre and Alex Gauthier at left tackle also strengthened the offence while the defensive front-seven, revered in its first season together in 2004, grew into an even more imposing threat to CFL offences.

A completely revamped secondary eventually rounded into form, providing the team with consistent pass coverage.

Fans responded by opening their wallets and again pledging their devotion to their team, although You Be The Boss is an opportunity to tell the team what work still needs to be done.


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