Plenty of bumps in the road

JOHN SHORT

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

There must be something valid in all those coaching clinics that say you have to learn to lose before you can learn to win.

Talk to Glen Sather or Kevin Lowe, for example, and they'll tell you the 1983 Stanley Cup final loss to the New York Islanders was the last essential step in mental preparation for the run of success that began in 1984.

Many discussions with former Eskimo players and coaches will remind you that they were embarrassed as they bowed 41-6 to the Montreal Alouettes in the so-called Staple Bowl at Olympic Stadium - before Edmonton's string of five Grey Cups in a row.

Is it fair to maintain the Stampeders refused to lose last night's second half of their annual back-to-back brouhahas at mid-season? I think so.

Is it fair to suggest the Eskimos also refused to win it?

I think so.

The Stampeders bounced back from a terrible mishap on the first play. In previous years, with many of these same players on this roster, they could well have continued down the path toward defeat and made a zillion excuses afterwards.

Sure, the Eskimos got some bad breaks. Sure, the call should have gone the other way on the last-minute onside kick.

But the players in green-and-gold dropped the ball. The players in green-and-gold gave up all those sacks.

There were similarities between Friday's loss and an early defeat by the B.C. Lions when Edmonton won everywhere but on the scoreboard.

After the Lions skulked off the field with a victory, the Eskimos shook themselves and started playing their best football of the year, their best football in several years.

How the players and coaches react this time will reveal whether they're headed to the penthouse or the outhouse.

FULL HOUSE IN NET

Seven goaltenders.

Three of them - Mathieu Garon, Dwayne Roloson and Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers - have real chances, at this point, to start the season in the NHL.

Garon was brilliant for long stretches last year but his ability to play more than 50 games as a starter is being questioned. Roloson's character and ability have endeared him to many spectators, but he carries a big contract. Drouin-Deslauriers still has to prove he can play effectively and regularly at the best level in hockey's world.

Which is not the point.

I'm impressed that all of the candidates have potential or past history on their side. Only a few seasons ago, Edmonton's only chance to win in a shootout or steal a game while being outshot came in the imagination.

PERSONALLY SPEAKING

Here's a truth - or maybe only an opinion - that most so-called football fans won't even care about.

I saw more thrills and outstanding plays when the Edmonton Wildcats defeated the Winnipeg Rifles in a Prairie Football Conference game a week ago than in both of the Eskimo-Stampeder games combined.

The junior game had plenty of offence (more than 80 points), enough intensity to harness the atom, some outstanding defence, big hits all over the field and a record-setting return of a missed field goal.

Only two things were missing: big names and a big crowd.

REMEMBERING

The good people keep leaving.

I first met Earl Lunsford in 1956 when the Stampeders held their training camp at Nelson, B.C. He was too small (about 205 pounds) to be called the Earthquake, but he didn't know that.

While traveling and learning in Africa in July, I didn't know former boxer Benny Geary had passed away. He was hard to beat in the ring and impossible to dislike anywhere.


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