Rebuild or re-tool?

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:17 AM ET

Change is inevitable for a losing team, but the on-field leader of the Calgary Stampeders hopes it will be minimal this off-season.

Although they were 7-10-1 this season and lost 26-24 in the West semifinal, quarterback Henry Burris hopes to see the same faces around the locker-room next training camp.

"Change never brings consistency," Burris said. "Thing is we have to establish that here and keep our group the same. If you continually change guys you never build a trust or community and family you have to have to build a sports franchise."

However, the sad fact is the Stamps didn't have enough talent to contend for the Grey Cup. Or, at least the talent they did have didn't do enough.

There was a reason the Stamps were the most penalized group in the CFL, turned the ball over more than anyone else and had trouble slowing opponents down on defence.

While head coach Tom Higgins took the blame for the season-long undisciplined play, he did admit yesterday a few more leaders were probably needed from this group.

It was fitting then the Stamps went offside on an onside kick that would have given them a chance to win.

"How many lessons can you possibly learn before it changes?" Higgins said.

"We even put in a fine system. They had to run in practice if they jumped offside. That didn't work. We didn't come up with the formula."

The biggest changes will come in the coaching staff, where Higgins will most likely be replaced by John Hufnagel and a staff will be assembled, possibly with the same people as this season.

Once they get to player personnel, plenty of assessment will need to be done.

The offence is basically set with Burris emerging this season as a legitimate No. 1 quarterback under the tutelage of co-ordinator George Cortez.

The receivers and running backs all deserve to stay but there are questions marks along the offensive line.

Veteran left guard Jay McNeil has retired, left tackle Garrick Jones is due to become a free agent and the rest of the group may be shuffled because of it.

Defensively, the secondary could grow into an all-star calibre group, but there is a huge need for an impact defensive end.

One area that is solid is depth with Canadian talent, as long as everyone stays healthy, but a couple of non-import starters on defence would help.

Three players they drafted this year -- Kevin Challenger, Mike Gyetvai and Jabari Arthur -- could make an impact next season. The Stamps traded two East Division all-star offensive lineman to get extra draft picks because the team always looks to the future.

"If it's win now, then don't draft three players in the first and second rounds who will be future players," Higgins said.

"This team is in good shape going forward.

"There are some areas in which this team needs to be better in. By no stretch of the imagination are we good enough. In every area, offence, defence, special teams, coaches and the front office.

"It has to be the right people. You need good people and good players. You would like to have a crystal ball to know when a player's time is up.

"You have to make those calls. It's not easy building a team. Every year is a bit different."

President Ted Hellard said the proof the Stamps made the correct changes is that few of the players they released were picked up elsewhere.

Burris pointed out how the teams still active in the playoffs have the most veteran players.

"If there are going to be changes made, we need to figure that out and keep guys in house and go with what we have," Burris said.

"If you look at successful teams those are the ones who kept guys in the locker-room year in and year out.

"Bringing in guys from outside can help but sometimes you need that togetherness."


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