Great Esk-pectations?

Eskimos' Kenny Onatolu (right) and Eric Taylor celebrate a fumble turnover against the Blue Bombers...

Eskimos' Kenny Onatolu (right) and Eric Taylor celebrate a fumble turnover against the Blue Bombers on Saturday. (Sun Media/Jason Halstead)

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

If the Edmonton Eskimos win against the Montreal Alouettes in the Eastern Final, will Danny Maciocia take the team to Quebec City for a couple days?

Maybe stay in the Chateau Frontenac? Have a team run around the Plains of Abraham?

Maybe Maciocia would take them to the hideaway the Montreal Canadiens used to frequent in the Laurentians during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Maybe up at Mont Tremblant? Or is there some other special secluded spot he might have in mind from local knowledge of where he was born and raised?

One thing Maciocia promised his young football team - half of whom had never played a playoff game prior to becoming the first crossover club to win an Eastern Conference playoff game Saturday in Winnipeg - was an adventure and a fun November-to-remember experience.

It has been that already with their upset win and return as underdog darlings of the CFL post-season as they prepare to head east with suitcases instead of overnight bags, hoping to turn a three-day road trip into an 11-day stay in the host city of the Grey Cup.

Maciocia doesn't want any of the details of any of the plans or any of the things they're doing to become public.

"We had a meeting last Monday hoping to set the tone for the next three weeks. It was something we shared among ourselves at the kitchen table. You don't want your neighbour in your kitchen," he said of it being family stuff.

Obviously a video was part of it. Defensive lineman Brandon Guillory opened the door to the kitchen after the win when he told the Sun's Jonathan Huntington how much of an inspiration it was adding he "damn near saw guys start crying when we watched the video."

Maciocia says the seven-minute in-house Grey Cup Eskimo emotion film worked.

"It's one of several things we've done so far."

Maciocia is hoping the team keeps the rest of the stuff in their kitchen.

"I'm not talking about anything other than the game. This game."

He does admit it's been rewarding, so far, doing all the fun stuff the staff has come up with and will continue to come up with as they go forward.

"We're a young team. This isn't a team loaded with veterans like Ed Hervey, A.J. Gass, Jason Tucker, Chris Morris, Bruce Beaton and the likes," he said of his 2005 title team. "You don't have to do this sort of thing with all those guys. In fact, if you did they might figure 'This guy is not serious.' But with this group, while we're working hard, we're going out of the way to make sure it's also fun. We want them to work as hard as possible but be as loose as possible and enjoy this ride.

"This is a special young group," he said of his transition team on training wheels coming off the biggest turnover of talent in team history after back-to-back years of missing the playoffs.

"You came up with the statistic. We have had 155 different players in the last three years. These guys are the result. We didn't have an off-season here. We went hard at it looking to find these guys who could play at a high level but also making sure we knew what kind of guy we were getting. Now they're learning how to win together and become Eskimos in the tradition of the Eskimos. They are a young group slowly starting to buy in. And they could be part of history here and become part of the Eskimos tradition and be in the next film we show the next team the next time.

"Nobody picked us to still be playing in a final at the start of the season. It's different for this team than just about any Eskimo team in the past because the expectations on this team aren't as high as they usually are here."

Imagine, Eskimos who had never seen snow.

"Considering the number of players who had never seen snow before or played in the conditions they faced in Winnipeg, the team handled it exceptionally well. We led them to believe the game was being played indoors," Maciocia laughed. "Actually what we did was not talk about it. We decided not to tell them just how cold it was going to be. They found out when they got there and I thought handled it very well."

Now they are indoors at Olympic Stadium the rest of the season other than Tuesday and Wednesday practices here.

They are staying on the Eastern time zone with all their meetings and practices as they did last week, bumping up their entire day to fit the 1 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m. local) kickoff time of both playoff games. Thursday will be a travel day with no practice.

"The No. 1 thing with this week is to make sure they have their legs Saturday and to be as mentally sharp as possible. We're coming off a very physical football game. At this time of year, I don't know how many more reps you need."

The Alouettes will be reminded all week about how many times Grey Cup hosts have gagged on this game and will be reminded as well about their 3-8 post-season record against Edmonton.

The Eskimos will be reminded frequently about their 40-4 loss at Molson Stadium earlier this year.

Maciocia lectured his rookie-infested team going in to that game that Montreal could beat you - the town not the team. And maybe the nightlife capital of Canada did. But he thinks he has a group going back to Montreal "taking ownership" with this trip to town.

If they want to experience Montreal night life, well, Saturday night after a win and most of Grey Cup week could be fun. With the possibility of the Calgary Stampeders getting there for a rootin', tootin' Battle of Alberta Grey Cup game, they could make it a once-in-a- lifetime experience.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA

Maybe Maciocia would take them to the hideaway the Montreal Canadiens used to frequent in the Laurentians during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Maybe up at Mont Tremblant? Or is there some other special secluded spot he might have in mind from local knowledge of where he was born and raised?

One thing Maciocia promised his young football team - half of whom had never played a playoff game prior to becoming the first crossover club to win an Eastern Conference playoff game Saturday in Winnipeg - was an adventure and a fun November-to-remember experience.

It has been that already with their upset win and return as underdog darlings of the CFL post-season as they prepare to head east with suitcases instead of overnight bags, hoping to turn a three-day road trip into an 11-day stay in the host city of the Grey Cup.

Maciocia doesn't want any of the details of any of the plans or any of the things they're doing to become public.

"We had a meeting last Monday hoping to set the tone for the next three weeks. It was something we shared among ourselves at the kitchen table. You don't want your neighbour in your kitchen," he said of it being family stuff.

Obviously a video was part of it. Defensive lineman Brandon Guillory opened the door to the kitchen after the win when he told the Sun's Jonathan Huntington how much of an inspiration it was adding he "damn near saw guys start crying when we watched the video."

Maciocia says the seven-minute in-house Grey Cup Eskimo emotion film worked.

"It's one of several things we've done so far."

Maciocia is hoping the team keeps the rest of the stuff in their kitchen.

"I'm not talking about anything other than the game. This game."

He does admit it's been rewarding, so far, doing all the fun stuff the staff has come up with and will continue to come up with as they go forward.

"We're a young team. This isn't a team loaded with veterans like Ed Hervey, A.J. Gass, Jason Tucker, Chris Morris, Bruce Beaton and the likes," he said of his 2005 title team. "You don't have to do this sort of thing with all those guys. In fact, if you did they might figure 'This guy is not serious.' But with this group, while we're working hard, we're going out of the way to make sure it's also fun. We want them to work as hard as possible but be as loose as possible and enjoy this ride.

"This is a special young group," he said of his transition team on training wheels coming off the biggest turnover of talent in team history after back-to-back years of missing the playoffs.

"You came up with the statistic. We have had 155 different players in the last three years. These guys are the result. We didn't have an off-season here. We went hard at it looking to find these guys who could play at a high level but also making sure we knew what kind of guy we were getting. Now they're learning how to win together and become Eskimos in the tradition of the Eskimos. They are a young group slowly starting to buy in. And they could be part of history here and become part of the Eskimos tradition and be in the next film we show the next team the next time.

"Nobody picked us to still be playing in a final at the start of the season. It's different for this team than just about any Eskimo team in the past because the expectations on this team aren't as high as they usually are here."

Imagine, Eskimos who had never seen snow.

"Considering the number of players who had never seen snow before or played in the conditions they faced in Winnipeg, the team handled it exceptionally well. We led them to believe the game was being played indoors," Maciocia laughed. "Actually what we did was not talk about it. We decided not to tell them just how cold it was going to be. They found out when they got there and I thought handled it very well."

Now they are indoors at Olympic Stadium the rest of the season other than Tuesday and Wednesday practices here.

They are staying on the Eastern time zone with all their meetings and practices as they did last week, bumping up their entire day to fit the 1 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m. local) kickoff time of both playoff games. Thursday will be a travel day with no practice.

"The No. 1 thing with this week is to make sure they have their legs Saturday and to be as mentally sharp as possible. We're coming off a very physical football game. At this time of year, I don't know how many more reps you need."

The Alouettes will be reminded all week about how many times Grey Cup hosts have gagged on this game and will be reminded as well about their 3-8 post-season record against Edmonton.

The Eskimos will be reminded frequently about their 40-4 loss at Molson Stadium earlier this year.

Maciocia lectured his rookie-infested team going in to that game that Montreal could beat you - the town not the team. And maybe the nightlife capital of Canada did. But he thinks he has a group going back to Montreal "taking ownership" with this trip to town.

If they want to experience Montreal night life, well, Saturday night after a win and most of Grey Cup week could be fun. With the possibility of the Calgary Stampeders getting there for a rootin', tootin' Battle of Alberta Grey Cup game, they could make it a once-in-a- lifetime experience.


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