Steeltown is waiting

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

The question isn't if. It's when.

"It won't be this week," said Edmonton Eskimos CEO Hugh Campbell.

"I'd like to have it done this week," said COO Rick LeLacheur. "We'll start the process today. We'll start taking a look at 2006 this week. I'd like to have a lot of things done this week before players leave town."

Word out of Hamilton Sunday night was that the Tiger-Cats wanted to do it immediately, wanted to seal the deal sending Jason Maas to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for Tim Bakker, Danny McManus and a first-round pick -- that they wanted to make the most of the moment with a press conference tomorrow.

But Maas, who still hadn't had a conversation with the Eskimos about the deal, much less with Hamilton, said he has every intention of being here for today's parade and tomorrow night's team party.

"At the moment my plans are to stay in Edmonton until Saturday when I plan to leave for home in Indiana," said Maas.

WAITING FOR CONVERSATION

The quarterback who came off the bench to win the semi-final and final to get the Eskimos to the Grey Cup says he's still waiting to have a conversation with the organization.

"They haven't told me what's going on. I know they've had talks. I had talked to our organization earlier but was told nothing had been finalized.

"We basically knew where this was going to go and I have total faith in this organization. It's been a tremendous ride," said the six-year Eskimo.

Maas has known since the day Ricky Ray returned from the NFL New York Jets and signed that, despite the fact he'd have a year remaining on his Eskimos contract, he'd be moved to someplace where he could restart his quarterbacking career as a starter.

It didn't take a genius to figure out that would be Hamilton even before the Eskimos did the deal for Troy Davis and Dan Comiskey which gave the Tiger-Cats dibs.

NO DEAL IN THE WEST

He knew the Eskimos weren't going to want to deal him to any team in the West where he could come back to haunt them in regular-season and playoffs games. Montreal and Toronto have quarterbacks. You wouldn't deal your worst enemy to the Gleiberguys operation in Ottawa. That left Hamilton.

All that remains is for him to leave for Hamilton, work out the details on a contract in which Maas is in a wonderful bargaining position for a multi-year quarter-million-dollar a year deal, and to hold the press conference in Hamilton.

For all the time he'd likely ever spend on the football field wearing an Eskimos uniform, it won't be necessary for Danny McManus to show up here for a press conference when the deal is done and the date is set. Jason Johnson would almost certainly move up to second string and McManus would be reduced to a clipboard carrier in transition to becoming a coach, around only for emergency quarterbacking duties.

Bakker is from Edmonton in the first place and lives here in the off-season.

Maas may be moving to play in Hamilton but his wife, who owns a women's wear store in Sherwood Park, and family are remaining in the Edmonton area.

"Edmonton is always going to have a special place in my heart wherever I'm going," said Maas.

"And no matter where I play in the rest of my career, I'm going to continue to live here."


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