Sack attack!

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

It was a first for Danny Maciocia and the second time around for Dan Comiskey and Joe Montford.

The rookie Edmonton Eskimos' head coach pulled the trigger on a one-for-one swap that has Comiskey headed to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in exchange for Montford.

Dealing a non-import offensive lineman for an import defensive end in a league where Canadian O-linemen are worth their weight in gold is unconventional - but Maciocia wasn't concerned about the optics of trading away his starting left guard in this situation.

"I have the utmost respect for Dan," Maciocia said after his first trade as a head coach. "I think he's a tremendous football player and a tremendous human being.

"I'm family oriented. When it's all about family, I think that's more important than this game that we play or coach."

After the premature birth of twin daughters, Comiskey, 32, briefly considered retirement. He later approached Maciocia about a trade that would put him closer to London, Ont.

DONE BEFORE NOON

The request left Hamilton and Toronto as the Green and Gold's only potential trading partners. Talks began late last week and the deal went down before noon yesterday.

"You get married and start having kids and that has to take precedence over everything else in your life," said Comiskey, who was acquired from Saskatchewan in the Nealon Greene deal and has now been traded for the second time in his nine-year career.

"That's the situation we're in here. We're thankful the Edmonton Eskimos were such a class organization as to take care of me and my family in this way."

Comiskey can now commute to Hamilton from London while the Esks pick up a three-time Outstanding Defensive Player award- winner with a knack for sacking quarterbacks.

"We wanted equal value in return and I think that's what we got," Maciocia said. "We felt we had certain needs that we needed to address and that's what we did.

"When October and November roll around, defence wins championships. You've got a guy (in Montford) who's experienced and proven. I did a lot of research on Joe, he's a specimen."

Aside from a one-year stint in Toronto, Montford spent his entire CFL career lining up for the Ticats.

The deal came as a mild surprise to the six-foot-one, 235-pound end, who found himself in GM Ron Lancaster's doghouse.

"I'm a little surprised, but at the same time I know me and the GM weren't seeing eye to eye as far as contract negotiations for a while now," Montford said.

"I figured if they were going to trade me they were going to put me out West, because they don't want to face me three or four times."

There are only two meetings between the Esks and Hamilton this season. The first clash is the day Montford turns 35.

Once reluctant to play anywhere but southwestern Ontario, the author of 124 career sacks is looking forward to tugging on an Esks' jersey and adding to that total.

OPTION YEAR

"Whatever team I'm on, I'm capable of putting 20-plus sacks up in a year," said Montford, who is in the option year of his contract and looking for a new deal. "That's what I want to get back to.

"My thing is really being able to focus in on what I'm doing out there on the field, helping my team win and getting back to the Grey Cup. Edmonton is my team right now."

With the number of non-imports Edmonton has under contract, Maciocia could replace Comiskey with an import. Regardless of who ends up in Comiskey's spot, filling the six-foot-five, 302-pounder's cleats won't be easy.

"We hate to lose Dan," offered Kevin Lefsrud, who is shifting from right guard to centre in the wake of Tim Prinsen's forced retirement this month.

"But under these circumstances he has to make the right choice for him and his family. I fully understand why, and this is the right choice."

LATE HITS: Defensive lineman Steve Charbonneau was in town yesterday to be fitted with a knee brace. The 31-year-old suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament tear in a road loss to Winnipeg last August.


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