Calling it home

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:20 AM ET

Mike Maurer's first two seasons in Ottawa were nothing short of idyllic. In fact, the 29-year-old fullback planned to finish out his career with the Renegades.

Midway through last season, however, the six-foot, 195-pound back began to have second thoughts about leaving the game in Ottawa silks.

The ongoing ownership turmoil makes the Saskatoon-born Maurer even more comfortable with his decision to join the Edmonton Eskimos.

"The first 2 1/2 in Ottawa were awesome," offered Maurer, whose pact runs for two seasons with the Esks, holding an option for a third.

"Basically, you could see the wheels kind of start to fall off a little bit. With the ownership thing and the management thing, there's so much going on.

"I wanted to distance myself from that a little bit, too.

"I had no idea it was as bad in the last couple of months as it has come to be."

With a young family and a wife who works as a vice-principal in Regina, the eight-year veteran was looking to play closer to home.

In a perfect world, Maurer would have hooked on with Saskatchewan and been able to live at home year-round. Edmonton is the next-best thing for Maurer, who began his CFL career with the Roughriders before moving on to B.C. and Ottawa.

"I enjoyed playing under the coaches and I've got a lot of good friends in Ottawa but I just wanted to be closer to home," Maurer said following Edmonton's official announcement of his free agent signing.

"My wife enjoys the teacher holidays, so they'll be in Edmonton for pretty much all of July and August. When she's back in Regina when school is on, I'll be able to go back and forth quite often when we've got two days off."

Earning a Grey Cup ring with B.C. in 2000 is the highlight of Maurer's career. The Esks' consecutive-season playoff streak and willingness to sign talent also figured in Maurer's decision.

"I spent three years in Saskatchewan where we weren't that successful," said Maurer, a solid contributor on special teams as well as an accomplished long-snapper.

"And I spent three years in Ottawa. Edmonton is always up there and is an organization that's contending for the title."

BIG PAYDAY FOR RAY?: Most CFL observers agree free agent quarterback Ricky Ray could command a base salary of $450,000 a season as part of a long-term deal.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats general manager Ron Lancaster gazed into his crystal ball and said it's unlikely Ray will be handed a blank cheque.

"I don't think so but that remains to be seen," offered Lancaster.

With the Esks, Toronto and Hamilton all pitching for Ray and Ray's agent, Ken Staninger, still kicking tires in the NFL, it's unlikely anything will get done until next week.

The clock is ticking. Training camp opens two weeks tomorrow for all nine CFL clubs.

"If he's going to come to the CFL he has to make his decision quick," Lancaster said. "I don't know if he can come in and be ready to be the starter in three or four days.

"We don't have the longest training camp in the world as it is and I don't know how he would react."

SEE MIKE RUN: Sounds like future Hall of Fame running back Mike Pringle could be coming out of retirement next month. A published report suggests Pringle could sign a one-game contract, which would allow the CFL's all-time leading rusher to retire as a member of the Montreal Alouettes.

Pringle played the seven previous seasons with the Als. The 37-year-old was a free agent when he announced his retirement Feb. 14 and has yet to file retirement papers with the CFL office.


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