HAMILTON — The relationship began fairly innocuously, with a request by Alexandre Gauthier to room with fellow offensive lineman Dan Goodspeed for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ first road game in 2007 so the two could break down game film together.
Not quite 2 1/2 years later, the two are best friends, as inseparable off the field as they are on.
Gauthier, who left the Bombers to sign with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as a free agent last February, and Goodspeed, who was acquired in a trade by the Ticats six weeks later, have started the past 54 regular-season games together.
When they’re not at opposite ends of the Ticats’ O-line at their tackle positions, it’s probable that Gauthier and Goodspeed are doing something together away from the gridiron, whether it’s having meals or buying tickets this past season for every football player in Hamilton’s 23 secondary schools.
“When Gaut first came to Winnipeg, there was an instant friendship,” Goodspeed said. “And you know that old adage that iron sharpens iron, man sharpens man? Well, he makes me a better player.”
The background of the pair couldn’t be more dissimilar. Goodspeed, a native of Cleveland, played college ball at Kent State; Gauthier, born 5 1/2 months before Goodspeed in December of 1976, is a native of Maria, Que., and spent his formative football days at Laval.
Goodspeed and Gauthier helped the Bombers advance to the Grey Cup two years ago, but fell to Kerry Joseph and the Saskatchewan Roughriders at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
The Ticats underwent radical changes to get to the 2009 Canadian Football League playoffs, and the playing experience that Goodspeed and Gauthier had with each other meant there was no awkward adjustment phase.
“We know how each other thinks,” Gauthier said. “Even though we are not close on the line, my block is going to influence his block. In my football career, I have met lots of guys, and I can count on one hand the guys I have stayed close friends with. Dan is one of them.”
Naturally, the two have superstitions.
One involves eating lunch at Al Centro, a Hamilton restaurant, on game days. And a willingness to get involved in the community — essentially an unwritten rule for CFL players — led to the ticket purchase for the teenaged football players.
“We always wanted to do something like that but there was never the opportunity in Winnipeg,” Goodspeed said. “It’s not only great for the kids, but for the CFL, because it might have been the first pro game they have been to. We were glad we could give back.”