Kelly headed to 'Peg?

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:15 AM ET

Is Mike Kelly the next head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers?

The betting line in Edmonton suggests the Eskimos' receivers coach is the overwhelming favourite to get the job.

With Doug Berry fired as Winnipeg's head coach yesterday, there is plenty of speculation that Kelly will get the position after the Esks' season is over.

Sources within Edmonton and outside the city are pointing in that direction.

In an exclusive interview with Sun Media, Kelly chose his words very carefully.

When asked if he's the next Winnipeg bench boss, Kelly replied: "I am the receiver coach of the Edmonton Eskimos and I am focused on winning the divisional championship this weekend."

When told that was a good political answer, he said: "Thank you."

There are many angles to this story.

Kelly spent five years --1992-96 -- as the offensive co-ordinator in Winnipeg, helping the Bombers to three first-place finishes in the East Division and two Grey Cup berths.

Released after 1996 when Cal Murphy was fired, Kelly admits to this day that he still has a soft spot in his heart for Winnipeg.

In his first season with the Esks, Kelly is on a one-year contract and is clearly interested in a head coach position.

"I am always interested in advancing my career and the betterment of my family," he remarked.

Apparently close with Winnipeg president and CEO Lyle Bauer, Kelly is actually rumoured to be receiving a dual responsibility in the Manitoba capital as head coach and general manager.

Brendan Taman currently holds the GM role, but speculation suggests he will be re-assigned within the organization.

A second angle to this story is the possible distraction it could cause around the Eskimos' camp.

The club travels to Montreal today for the East final against the Alouettes on Saturday.

Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia is bound to be asked about it when he faces the media in Quebec before the game.

A talented Edmonton receiving group is sure to face the same questions.

Kelly has helped guide that group to a very good campaign, with Kelly Campbell and Kamau Peterson both topping 1,000 yards in the regular season.

A third angle is that Berry is Maciocia's closest friend in the coaching business.

"I was stunned, to be quite honest," said Maciocia on the firing.

"I heard that there was a news conference in Winnipeg and I thought it had to do with something else.

"But I actually picked up the phone and left him a message.

"He called me about 10 minutes later.

"It is mind-boggling. It is hard to understand.

"A wise man once told me if they don't want you it is because they don't deserve you. And that is what I told (Berry)."

Could Berry eventually re-surface in Edmonton?

Maciocia has said before he would hire Berry, which isn't a surprise. The pair coached together in Montreal, with Berry handling the offensive line.

When the dust settles after this season it will be interesting to see who moves where.


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