It's a Kwong show!

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

It would be "politically incorrect" said Alberta's Lieutenant Governor, to offer any prediction on the game. But it would be OK, he said, to ask him about 1952.

If the Edmonton Eskimos are looking for inspiration in their current circumstances, they pretty much have to go back that far.

That's the closest thing to what we're dealing with as the Eskimos return to Calgary for the CFL West semifinal against the Stampeders after losing 43-23 Sunday.

Back in 1952, the Eskimos lost the first game of a two-game total point series of the West semi-final to the Stampeders 31-12. The Eskimos bounced back and won the second game 30-7 to advance to the best-of-three final in those days and go on to the first Grey Cup in history of the Edmonton franchise, which was formed in 1949.

Normie Kwong was part of that Edmonton-Calgary November to remember.

"We were really embarrassed in Calgary," said Kwong yesterday, wearing a half Calgary/half Edmonton jersey which Eskimo COO Rick LeLacheur presented to him.

Kwong, who won a Grey Cup as a rookie with the Stampeders in 1948 and became an Eskimo as compensation for some Calgary crime against Edmonton, said he still remembers taking that beating. "Everybody just made up their mind to win the next one."

They didn't have a whole week to do it like the Eskimos, who also get to start the semifinal at 0-0 not down 20 points.

"We played Saturday-Monday in those days," said the Lt. Gov.

NO ADVICE

Kwong, a former owner of the Calgary Flames who also was the president and GM of the Stampeders - and made Wally Buono head coach - said, "Edmonton has to be very careful. Calgary is a team on the rise. They have things clicking for them. Edmonton has the personnel to come back. It's a matter of the coaches taking over and coming up with different schemes."

His eminence, the Living Legend, the China Clipper, says in his current role he can't offer his old team any advice.

"I can tell you what we did in 1952. Frank Filchock was the coach and he had a surprise first play that really shook them up."

OK. Going back to 1952 is a stretch.

The problem here is there is no precedent.

There's been no situation where the Eskimos and Stampeders found themselves in an end-of-the-year regular season game which was effectively a playoff game followed by an actual semi-final playoff game.

Oh, there have been back-to-backs galore, especially between the two teams.

There's plenty of 20-20 hindsight on what happens there. In fact it really is 20-20 hindsight. Since moving into Commonwealth Stadium in 1978, they've had 40 back-to-backs. Twenty have been sweeps. Twenty have been splits.

SIMILAR SITUATION

There have been 17 Labour Day/Labour Day Replay games. Eight have been sweeps. Nine have been splits, including the set this year.

Former Stampeders coach Wally Buono, now sitting in Vancouver awaiting the winner to go against his B.C. Lions in the West Final, says he remembers a similar situation when he played for the Montreal Alouettes.

"In 1975 we were in something similar against the Ottawa Rough Riders. They beat us 48-6 in the last game of the regular season. We went and won the semi-final and everybody figured we were going to go back and take a shit-kicking in Ottawa again. We beat them 20-10.

"The psychology of each game is totally different. There can be an advantage in losing the first game in terms of one team being more satisfied and the other team being more angry and one coaching staff not changing much and the other coaching staff making a lot of adjustments.

"But the advantage is what you do with it. If it's one team being more confident, that works one way. If it's one team that's a little more content, that can work the other way."

Buono says there's one other thing he knows.

"For some reason the emotion and intensity was not typical of a Calgary-Edmonton game, particularly for the Eskimos."

Buono was definitely cheering for the Stampeders last weekend after the Lions played even worse than the Eskimos and lost their sixth of the last seven. "Our team is in the same situation as Edmonton now. The best thing for us is we have one more week than the Eskimos to make it better."


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