Coach knows showing mercy has its benefits

BILLY POWERS

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

We must go back to last week's Calgary Stampeders game to start this essay, because I think it gives us one more indication of the smarts that Calgary Stampeder head coach John Hufnagel is blessed with.

After that one-sided Stampeder win over Toronto, our post-game show ended up in a semi-heated discussion between Greg Peterson and yours truly.

The topic was the Stamps not going for a touchdown when down on the one-yard line in the final minute of play. Three times they had backup quarterback Ben Sankey take a knee and run the clock out while preserving a 34-4 win. "Petsy" said it was a class move and I argued that you go for the jugular if only because it was Toronto and coach Don Matthews. For sure, I said Matthews would have run up the score. We both had supporters and the dispute ended in a 3-3 tie when we finally wrapped up.

But it was one of the first things I brought up in my regular face-to-face with Hufnagel the next day. Oddly enough, both Peterson and I were wrong. I told Huffer what the sides were and his reaction went like this:

"Class had nothing to do with it. If we score, we'd have had to kick off and I'm putting my team out there covering a kickoff against a very explosive returner (Dominique Dorsey, who had more than 250 yards on kick returns that night) and it was just a play that didn't have to occur.

"The game was over. We got down there, whether we were on the one-yard line, the 15-yard line, the 30-yard line, the time allowed us to take a knee without putting any of our other players at risk and that's how I manage this football team."

Pete said class, I said jugular, but the correct answer was protect the team. Bottom line is we were both wrong.

And I've been meaning to ask this question for months now. Why is it that it took only 100 days to build McMahon Stadium back in 1960 but it's taking almost a full year to renovate part of the West side stands?

PRAYING FOR A MIRACLE

This is a tough story to write because it involves a good friend who is losing a battle for his life. Former Calgary Cowboy George Morrison, the same guy who brought the Nationwide golf tour to Calgary just a few years ago, found out recently he has a brain tumor that his friends says is inoperable. He has asked there be no visitors but hopes those who would think of attending the service would simply raise a glass in remembrance instead and, if they so desire, make a donation to the Union College hockey program care of Union College in Schenectady, New York.

George, who friends say is in remarkably good spirits, unlike those around him, was a scoring machine when he went to the University of Denver, scoring 70 goals in 64 game to be named to the NCAA West First all-star team in both 1969 and 1970 .

He led the Pioneers to the NCAA championship in 1969. He was not drafted by the National Hockey League but signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Blues, playing 73 games and collecting 25 points.

In 1972, the speedy forward was drafted by the fledgling World Hockey Association's Minnesota Fighting Saints and had his best year as a pro in '73-'74, scoring 40 goals and adding 38 assists in 73 games. He jumped to the Cowboys in 1974 and, in two seasons, played 142 games, scoring 36 goals and adding 51 points.

One friend said: "If you've ever prayed for a miracle, pray for one now." Our prayers are with an old friend.


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