Crazy loonie fine by Esks

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:30 AM ET

The soaring Canadian dollar is music to the ears of American players with the Edmonton Eskimos.

The loonie hit a 30-year high this week, closing on Tuesday at 98.64 cents in U.S. funds.

Holding strong in trading yesterday, the dollar closed at 98.50 cents.

Being paid in Canadian dollars while playing in the CFL, American players are finally getting a break after years of dealing with a very weak Canadian currency.

"That is super," said 13-year CFL veteran Shannon Garrett yesterday.

"I never would have imagined that in my CFL career that the Canadian dollar would be even with the American dollar.

"I can remember it was 2000 or 1999 - I guess - I think it was 60 cents on the (U.S.) dollar.

"You look back - I lost so much money by switching my money over from Canadian to American.

"But I was going back and forth every year (from Canada to the U.S.)."

LOST $100 GS

Garrett estimates he has lost almost $100,000 during his CFL career by changing money over in his earlier playing days.

Considering Garrett works in a bank in Mississippi during the off-season, his estimate is probably very accurate.

Eskimo receiver Jason Tucker - who has been in the CFL for six years - believes he has lost $50,000 from converting Canadian cash to American before the loonie's value skyrocketed.

"I know when I first got here it was 62 cents (to the American dollar)," said Tucker, who calls Texas home.

"It was killing me - to go back home (to the U.S.) with five dollars, basically after you exchange everything."

In his first year in the CFL, Tucker was making about $40,000 Cdn - meaning his salary in American dollars was pretty low.

With financial analysts predicting the loonie will hit par very soon - possibly as early as tomorrow - Tucker has his sights set on even bigger targets.

"Hopefully (the Canadian dollar) will go above par and that way I will make money on the conversion," he said.

Tucker and Garrett just wish they could turn back time and come into the CFL now.

"That would be great," remarked Garrett, a versatile defender playing linebacker at the moment.

"It is great for the young guys coming in that are American.

"It is a great time to be playing in the CFL."

EXTRA POINTS: THE RISE OF THE CANADIAN CURRENCY DOESN'T REALLY IMPACT THE BOTTOM LINE AT THE ESKIMOS HEAD OFFICE.

"Our U.S. dollar expenses aren't material," said Edmonton president and CEO Rick LeLacheur.

"We got some scouting costs, some travel costs down there.

"But it is not like the NHL where we are paying our salaries in U.S. dollars."

FEW U.S. COSTS

Director of player personnel Paul Jones is the only full-time Eskimo employee based in the United States.

As for American travelling costs, scout Ed Hervey and head coach Danny Maciocia make trips at different times throughout the year.


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