Coaches remain friends

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

For a brief moment this week, it appeared the Danny Maciocia and Doug Berry dinner club was going to resume.

The head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers initially invited his counterpart from Edmonton to dinner tomorrow night after the Esks arrived in the Manitoba capital.

Unfortunately, something popped up on Berry's schedule and the dinner date has been cancelled.

But the scheduling conflict aside, the latest dinner invitation shows just how deep their friendship runs.

While there is a coaching fraternity in every sport, very few head coaches invite the head coach of another team to his house for a home-cooked meal on the eve of a big game.

"I would say he is probably my best friend in the CFL - excluding Edmonton - when it comes to coaches," said Maciocia.

"Him and I have a tremendous relationship."

The pair worked together in Montreal at the turn of the decade with the Alouettes.

"When I was there, he was constantly at my place having supper," added Maciocia, "and I remember (Winnipeg general manager) Brendan Taman calling me up when he was interviewing Doug Berry (this off-season)."

Needless to say, Maciocia gave Berry a glowing referral, which probably played some sort of role in Berry getting the head coaching position.

"When you go for a job, you have professional references and you have people who are your friends for references. I would use Danny more as a personal friend reference," said Berry.

"I talk to him all the time in the off-season."

Being on opposing sidelines is nothing new to these two coaches. In fact, they have a freaky track record of meeting in huge tilts.

"(Berry) has played in four Grey Cup games in the last six years and we have been in the same games together," said Maciocia.

"In 2000 we were on the same team (with Montreal).

"And the last three we have been opponents."

Berry doesn't need reminding that Maciocia holds the upper hand in those Montreal-Edmonton Grey Cup games, winning two of them, including last year's thriller in Vancouver.

But this will be the first time they meet head-to-head as head coaches in the CFL.

However, the Winnipeg bench boss is trying his best to downplay the story angle.

"It's really nothing special. Really, it's not," he stressed.

"It's a real challenge going against Edmonton, though. That's what I see.

"We're just such good friends it doesn't matter."


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