Ticats fire coach Taaffe

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

Bob O'Billovich thinks his CFL team still can make a run at the playoffs, but did not like the chances with head coach Charlie Taaffe running the show.

O'Billovich, the general manager of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, yesterday fired Taaffe, replacing him with Ticats offensive co-ordinator Marcel Bellefeuille.

Later in the day, O'Billovich sent linebacker Zeke Moreno to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for rush end Tom Canada and the rights to Canadian-born defensive lineman Corey Mace.

Bombers general manager Brendan Taman confirmed that the two teams had signed off on the deal, but that was before news that Canada failed a physical broke late last night.

"Tom isn't medically right," Taman said. "There are problems that could affect his playing.

"It was agreed to and signed off on but it's not fair for Hamilton to get a player that's not medically able to play."

Taman wouldn't divulge details about Canada's medical condition; however, he said it's not a career-threatening ailment.

When asked where that development left trade talks between the two teams, Taman said, "I don't know."

However, Taman did say the Ticats and Bombers might continue talking to see if they can agree on another deal involving a different player or players.

O'Billovich said the time was right to make a coaching change.

"We're still in the hunt for a playoff spot and definitely building for the future," O'Billovich said during a news conference in Hamilton to announce the coaching change. "It was my instincts and gut feeling and evaluation that Charlie was not the right guy for this situation.

"Being an eternal optimist that I am, we're still in the thick of the battle here and that's why we have made this decision. (Marcel) is the best guy for this."

The Ticats are 2-8, good for last in the East Division, and like the Blue Bombers, are just four points behind the second-place Argonauts. Hamilton's only two wins have been against their arch-rivals from Toronto.

In 11/2 seasons, Taaffe, who was the CFL coach of the year in 1999 and 2000 with the Montreal Alouettes, was 5-23 with the Ticats. Bellefeuille will serve as coach on an interim basis until the end of the season, but it would not be a surprise if he becomes the full-time head coach in 2009.

Disruption and turmoil have become part of the Ticats lexicon in the past seven years. Since losing the East final in 2001, the Ticats have participated in one playoff game. That was in 2004. Otherwise, in five of the past six seasons, the Tabbies have lost at least twice as many games as they have won.

"We want to be more aggressive in all phases of the game," Bellefeuille said. "We want to be more disciplined. We need to play with passion and have fun and go out there and fly around with high-energy type football."

Danny McManus, hired earlier this season as a consultant, will have more of a hands-on role, Bellefeuille said.

O'Billovich said he couldn't discuss anything surrounding the Moreno-Canada deal because nothing had been finalized.

The six-foot-three, 255-pound Canada is in his fifth CFL season, all with Winnipeg. A source says Canada, 28, is balking at reporting to Hamilton.


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