Esks back in the Hunt

Eskimos special teams coach Malvin Hunter was approached by the Toronto Argonauts, but instead...

Eskimos special teams coach Malvin Hunter was approached by the Toronto Argonauts, but instead signed a new one-year deal to stay in Edmonton. (Edmonton Sun File/Perry Mah)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Contrary to the rumour mill, Malvin Hunter isn't leaving the defending Grey Cup champions to join the Toronto Argonauts.

The promising young coach has signed another one-year deal with the Eskimos to guide the special teams unit this season.

"Edmonton is where I want to coach right now, and I don't see any need to leave," said Hunter. "We have a great group of athletes there and a group of people I thoroughly enjoy working with."

The Green and Gold had great special teams success last season during Hunter's first year as co-ordinator.

Tony Tompkins led the league with four return TDs in the regular season and another during the Grey Cup. However, rumours started to swirl earlier this month, suggesting Toronto was about to hire Hunter to coach the defensive line.

NOTHING SERIOUS

The former CFL West all-star (1996, '97, '98) defensive lineman admits he spoke with members of the Argos, but it was nothing serious.

"Rich Stubler -- the defensive co-ordinator in Toronto -- gave me a call and wanted to know if I would have some interest in possibly moving out that way," said Hunter, who played under Stubler in Edmonton last decade and coached with him in the Arena League. "But it never did go beyond the consideration stage. I never got a job offer or anything like that."

Joining the Argos would have placed Hunter closer to home. With a very young family -- two children under the age of three -- he spends nearly seven months of the year away from his Virginia home.

"It's not going to be easy with the family staying (in Virginia) again," he explained.

"But talking it through with my wife, she felt confident that it is the right thing to do and (we) decided to go for it (in Edmonton)."

Head coach Danny Maciocia is thrilled the 36-year-old Illinois native is coming back.

"In my opinion, he is the best special teams co-ordinator in the CFL," said Maciocia. "Special teams is an important facet of our game. It would have been a huge blow (to lose him)."

ANIMATED AND ENERGETIC

Soft-spoken in the locker-room, but animated and energetic on the practice field, Hunter definitely gets the players' respect.

"If players had a good idea or thought a certain scheme or play might work, he was open to that," said kicker/punter Sean Fleming. "When you have a coach that listens to the players, it makes you want to play harder."

SHORT HITS: Like last year, Hunter will also help tutor the defensive linemen ... With Hunter in the fold, Maciocia doesn't expect to lose any assistant coaches.


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