Creehan returns to McMahon

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

A full 10 months later, Shannon James can finally admit it.

The linebacker was upset when the Calgary Stampeders fired defensive co-ordinator Denny Creehan last October.

Creehan was a huge fan of James', and the feeling was reciprocated.

Don't get James wrong, he certainly enjoys having Chris Jones as the defensive co-ordinator now.

It's just that James came into the league in 2006 under Creehan, who he will face tomorrow when the Stamps host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at McMahon Stadium (7 p.m., TSN).

"Me and coach Creehan were cool," James said. "We had a nice chemistry in a player-coach aspect. I have a great deal of respect for him. I wish him the best wherever he goes.

"I was happy he got another job. I think he deserves it. He's there, and I'm here. This is my family, and I'm sticking with them, right now."

When the Stamps fired Creehan, the defence wasn't performing well under the 3-4 front the coach brought to the team in 2004.

Creehan was replaced by Tim Burke on an interim basis before new head coach John Hufnagel hired Chris Jones to fill the post. Burke then went to the Montreal Alouettes.

In Hamilton, Ticats head coach Charlie Taaffe cleaned out the majority of his coaching staff and hired Creehan to replace Ed O'Neil.

This season, Creehan dropped his 3-4 defensive plan and is employing a more traditional 4-3 front.

And, after training camp ended, the Ticats added defensive lineman Terrence Patrick, who was a late cut of the Stamps.

Patrick is happy to be reunited with Creehan and doubly excited to return to Calgary to face the Stampeders.

Through three years with the Stamps, Patrick saw good times and bad with Creehan and says the coach has adapted his style to suit his new team.

"He's still calm and cool. He is willing to listen to the players," Patrick said. "We just had a meeting, and there was a discrepancy with the defence. Denny changed it with no problem. He made it easier for the guys.

"He's more player-friendly now. He just wants us to play hard and know what we're doing. The defence isn't that difficult to understand."

The Ticats may be close to adding another former Creehan favourite.

Linebacker Scott Coe will work out for the Ticats before tomorrow's game and could sign with the team afterwards.

So it's clear players still love to work for Creehan.

That was the case for James because the coach gave him the freedom to grow into his position.

"He sat me down right from the start and told me my role," said the third-year Stampeders player. "I took that as a positive thing.

"He let me have more freedom as pretty much a rookie. I could go out there, be myself and make plays."


Videos

Photos