Happy to be here

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:57 PM ET

Danny Maciocia might be the most popular 5-9 head coach in the history of the CFL.

Although the Edmonton Eskimos could miss the playoffs for the first time in 35 years, Maciocia's name has appeared in papers across the country this week in speculation he could leave Edmonton for the Montreal Alouettes.

"You win the Grey Cup and you have no leverage," he marvelled yesterday.

"(But) when you are 5-9, (and) you have leverage?

"This world is screwed up," he cracked.

But while rumours of Maciocia's possible departure makes for entertaining stories, it appears there's a very good chance he'll actually stay with the Esks.

The personable head coach will not say that, knowing there are no guarantees in professional football.

But reading between the lines, that's the real story.

If both sides - Eskimo brass and Maciocia - hold true to their current words at the end of the season, the only Canadian-born head coach in the CFL will remain in Edmonton.

Club president Rick LeLacheur and CEO Hugh Campbell have already made it clear they want their bench boss back.

For his part, Maciocia is saying he wants to return - and that's not just lip service to the media horde.

It's easy to see why the Montreal native's words could be viewed as nothing more than politically correct statements, but that's simply not the case.

"I have heard so many stories about people coming here and not liking it here or their wives not liking it here," he explained.

"We love it (in Edmonton).

"My family is in Montreal - my parents, my brothers, aunts and uncles - but this is home for us.

"That's exactly how I feel.

"I am here and I want to be here."

However, there's more to Maciocia's desire to stay in the West.

The 39-year-old's relationship with LeLacheur is a major factor.

"When Rick first got here, I didn't know him from a hole in the ground. But now I don't know if I'll ever have another relationship (like this) with another guy," he continued.

"He'll come in on the weekends - when the only people you usually see are coaches - and sit with you.

"But he'll only come after a loss, never a win.

"In this industry, when things don't go well you feel all alone.

"It's hard to put a price tag on (our relationship)."

There's also the control factor.

Every head coach wants control over all roster decisions - and in Montreal there are suggestions that might not happen with general manager Jim Popp.

And - ultimately - Edmonton likely offers the best post-coaching opportunity.

Wanting to get into upper management after he's done on the sidelines, Maciocia's best chance is likely in this city, with a team that doesn't have a true Edmonton-based general manager.

That's something that wasn't on the radar screen five years ago, but it is now.

"I purchased a home (when I got here in 2002) and I said: 'Two years - see if we can win a Grey Cup and then I got to get back to Montreal,'" he recalled.

Edmonton won a Grey Cup in 2003: "And I said, 'Now it is time for me to leave.' "

"It didn't happen because Montreal clearly wasn't available.

"But in the third year (in Edmonton) we started to get comfortable."And now he doesn't want to leave.


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