Twice would be nice

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:32 AM ET

In winning the Grey Cup a year ago, the Calgary Stampeders often went out to prove they could do things people said they couldn't.

The only thing that changes in John Hufnagel's second year are the rallying cries.

Instead of hearing how the team can't win on the road, can't win in Toronto, can't win in B.C., or in a dome overall, they will listen to a couple new facts.

Those would be that no host team has won the Grey Cup since 1994, when the B.C. Lions did it, or how no team has repeated since '97-98 when the Doug Flutie-led Toronto Argonauts did it.

Prior to the Lions win in '94, the last host team to win was the '77 Montreal Alouettes.

Hufnagel said it's too early to mention those hurdles, being that training camp doesn't open until Sunday.

"We're trying to get ready for camp," Hufnagel said at a pre-camp luncheon yesterday. "We're trying to get better, win jobs in camp and beat Montreal in our first game. I think that would be jumping ahead if were talking about that right now."

In going through his roster yesterday, Hufnagel had little to explain or announce.

Eleven of the 12 offensive starters from the Grey Cup are back, with the only one missing being fullback Teyo Johnson, who retired this week.

Although there will be three new starters on the defensive line, seven of the other eight positions on defence will be familiar faces.

This season, the Stamps are the clear favourites, but they could end up being victims of complacency so many defending champions experience.

"I can't say I've had a lot of experience coaching championship teams," Hufnagel said when asked about the hunger factor. "There is parity. There is a salary cap. Why is it hard to repeat in every football league? Free agency plays into it, as well. But it's not impossible."

The last two teams to repeat as champions are the late '90s Argos and the Eskimos dynasty of the late '70s-early '80s. Both of those teams were quarterbacked by CFL legends in Flutie and Warren Moon, so Henry Burris would be in great company if the Stamps were to win again this year.

Hufnagel made it clear again yesterday all spots are up for grabs in camp, even with so many returning veterans.

"People have to win positions, whether you were on the championship team last year or were 21 years old coming out of school," he said.

In winning the coach of the year for 2008, it was clear Hufnagel knew how to motivate his team.

So expect him to use the home-team Grey Cup angle or repeating hurdle eventually.

Just not this week.

"Obviously, a coach should have a good pulse on his team and players and know what button to push," Hufnagel said. "I try to make sure our team is prepared emotionally, mentally and physically."

EXTRA POINTS

To replace retired QB Will Proctor, the Stamps have signed former Roughriders QB Drew Tate as the fourth pivot in camp ... Import DL Kenny King was placed on the suspended list and won't be in camp ... Draft pick OL John Hashem, import WR Justin Chambers and import LB Brett Sturm signed contracts yesterday ... OL Jesse Newman was placed on the inactive list with an ankle injury.


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