The Don creates a buzz

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

Don Matthews is creating a buzz on the other side of the country.

The appointment of Matthews as the new head coach of the Toronto Argos was a hot topic in the Edmonton Eskimos dressing-room yesterday.

WINNINGEST

With players and coaches within the Edmonton organization tied to the winningest bench boss in CFL history, there are no shortage of opinions on the move.

"It all depends on the veterans on that (Toronto) team," said Edmonton assistant coach A.J. Gass, who played two years (1999-2000) under Matthews when he was the head coach of the Eskimos.

"The young guys - of course - are going to buy in right away because he is that type of presence. The veteran guys who are maybe set in their ways might be a little more difficult.

"But knowing Don, they might be out the door if they don't buy in."

The Argos have been a mess this year.

First-year head coach Rich Stubler was officially released yesterday to make room for Matthews. At 4-6, the Argos are trying to make the playoffs in a weak East Division.

Edmonton punter Noel Prefontaine spent 10 years in the Toronto locker-room before venturing west to the Esks in a trade this spring.

He believes Matthews will bond with the Argo vets.

"You either hate or love Don," said Prefontaine.

"I love him. He stood by my side. He was my coach the first year (in Toronto) and I struggled a bit that year with field goals. Through all the stuff he had to deal with (in) the media, he stuck by my side and helped me through it.

"Part of the reason I am still playing in the league is because of him.

"Character guys like myself - those veterans over there (in Toronto) are the same way and Don likes those guys. He likes those guys that turn it on when the lights come on.

"I don't think they will have a hard time adjusting to him. I think they will actually enjoy playing for Don."

The return of The Don surprised Eskimo defensive tackle Dario Romero, who last played under Matthews in 2006 before he left Montreal for health reasons.

"I thought that was it - you wouldn't see him anymore," said Romero. "It is good to see (Matthews) back in the league. That tells me his health is back. I am glad for him.

"Don's style is player- friendly and I can see guys rallying around him.

"He gives you enough freedom (so) you don't feel like you are on a ball and chain. But you know (what) he expects."

Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia believes Matthews is coming back to the league with plenty of ideas.

'FOLLOWS OUR LEAGUE'

"It is good to see him back. I am sure he is rejuvenated," said Maciocia. "I know he follows our league. I am sure they will be tough to play against from here on in.

"I am sure that during that time off he probably put a lot of stuff on paper as far as how he would attack one team and how he would defend. It will be interesting."


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