MONTREAL -- The English media in this city will never miss Don Matthews, but many youngsters were disappointed not to see the former Alouette coach this past week.
Inside Olympic Stadium on Friday morning, 150 school-aged youths from the troubled Mistissini Cree Nation had made the 1,000-km journey to watch the final practice session before game day.
With five players in tow in June, Matthews had initially visited the reserve, which is in desperate need of positive influences as 19 youths have committed suicide in the last three years.
"He was unbelievable," said Gordon Hudson, the director of youth services for the Cree Board of Health.
"When (Matthews) gets around children it is a side you never see.
"He is so soft-hearted and warm."
After running a football camp for three days during the Als' bye week, the club donated tickets for the kids to come to Montreal to watch the game last weekend.
The only unfortunate part of the trip was that the children didn't have a chance to give Matthews a painting as their thank-you gift.
LIFE IS IMPROVING ...
Alouettes radio broadcaster Tony Proudfoot will never forget the horror of the Dawson College shooting.
A phys-ed teacher at the school during the day, he came to the aid of one of the first shooting victims last month.
"There was a lot of blood, panic and mayhem," he said. "It was a tremendously terrible situation."
But life is getting better at the school.
"There are more than 30 councillors in there," he explained. "There has been less pressure on assignments and attendance. It's a kinder, gentler atmosphere now."
HITTING THE SKIDS ...
Loaded with talent but incredibly inconsistent, Henry Burris has gone cold at the wrong time of the year.
With the Stamps facing a two-week break before the playoffs, Burris has thrown seven interceptions in four games.
LINE OF THE WEEK ...
Legendary Eskimo broadcaster Bryan Hall delivered this beauty on this trip east: "Olympic Stadium is a great vegetable storage warehouse."
Hallsy obviously figures that the massive concrete structure, which is hardly used anymore for major events, could be used in other ways.
FINISH LINES ...
Hall has just signed a new contract with 630 CHED, ensuring he will be the voice of the Eskimos until the current rights deal ends after the 2008 season.