Cuthbert's new Suits

DAVE 'CRASH' CAMERON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

It's kind of like their pre-season training camp.

Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor are getting their game faces ready, visiting camps and doing the media shuffle as the duo will be the point-men in the booth for TSN's 2005 CFL broadcasts.

Their official debut as play-by-play and analyst, respectively, will come next weekend in Halifax for the CFL's June 11 Argonauts-Ticats pre-season ground-buster, but the pair have some familiarity with each other.

"We are old vets who have actually worked together before, so that's the nice thing," said Cuthbert, the newest member of the TSN crew. "We've done Labour Days, we've done Thanksgivings and playoff games in the past, so it's not going to be brand new.

"Once I get the rust off me, we'll be fine," he said of not having done a broadcast since early last year, shut down by the NHL labour dispute, then famously shunted aside by CBC during the downtime.

"It'll be easy," said Suitor, the ex-Saskatchewan Roughriders D-back and long-serving TSNer. "Chris is as prepared as anybody can be for a game. That's what I'm looking forward to."

I sat down over lunch Wednesday to talk about our game with the pair. What struck me (other than Glen's lack of moustache!) was that Cuthbert and "Suits" already had a rhythm of a good game-caller and colour man, picking up each others' thoughts.

ON HOW THEY PREPARE: "You try and watch every game," said Cuthbert. "I think Glen may watch a game different than me. I'll watch every game like a player will watch game film, but on a simpler basis. Just to know the players, just to know what they do.

"You want to talk to the players, you want to make sure you're in touch with the coaching staffs. There's not an article on the Internet you haven't read. So you'll have a good overview of the game."

And, of course, know who's wearing what number.

"For me I think it's like a coach or a player being ready to play," said Suitor. "At this time of year, I'm looking at how a team's changed. How they've changed schemes. Everything from defensive coverages to offensive sets.

"How does it change, for example, with Ricky Ray here in Edmonton and not Mike Pringle. Will they go with less two-back offences, and even one-back offences, and more spread like the old Doug Flutie-type offences?"

ON QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSIES: "I look at where they could potentially happen. Here is one place, B.C. is one place," said Suitor. "But, I don't think so. Not with the character guys you have at those positions.

"Quarterback controversies only happen if the quarterbacks allow it to happen. Like we had two good quarterbacks in '89," he said of his Grey Cup-winning year with the Riders. "Two good quarterbacks (Kent Austin and Tom Burgess) that could have turned that into a controversy and didn't."

Added Cuthbert: "The Dunigan, Allen, Ham era - it's nothing new here.

"I think the controversies will be in the East if guys get hurt. Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton - their guys go down, there's going to be some question marks."

SPEAKING OF DUNIGAN: They haven't been razzing Matt Dunigan since his return to the Friday Night Football crew following Dunigan's experience with the Stampeders last year.

"Bit of a sensitive issue," laughed Suitor.

"No, I said it when he was hired, and I believe it to this day, he would be a great coach.

"Matt was put in a very difficult situation in Calgary. It didn't work out and we're glad to have him back."

Said Cuthbert, "If somebody did an autopsy on what happened, he was close to being successful there and he probably deserved another year.

"In fact, probably isn't strong enough - he did deserve another year. He overcame a lot of adversity as the year went on."

ON HOW THEIR BROADCAST CAREERS EVOLVED: Suitor did a spot on Regina radio at the start of that '89 Grey Cup run. Superstition being what it is for players, he showed up again after the Riders won their first playoff game.

"It turned out that their sports director was leaving (and) they asked if I would audition for the job. I thought, 'Why not?'

"They asked me to do the sports for a week, basically just reading the scores. It sort of evolved into being morning co-host on the FM side.

"I did that for a couple of years while I was still playing. It was a grind. Started at six in the morning, then I'd go practise at 11, then do all the work after, the films and all that. But I'm glad I did it because it was good experience."

Injuries were about to keep Suitor from starting the '94 season with the Riders.

"They asked me to go back to my trainer in Vancouver and get back in shape for the season. And that's when TSN called."

Cuthbert was doing Montreal Alouettes/Concorde games on Superchannel when a CBC job in Edmonton opened up. Ironically, all these years later, it was a fledgling all-sports channel that opened up the opportunity.

"When John Wells went to TSN, the Edmonton opening came to be. I actually hesitated because I was happy in Montreal, but I realized that was a chance to cover the Oilers, a chance to be on Hockey Night in Canada and everything else." said Cuthbert, who was here from 1984 to '91.

"Don Metz was the cameraman for Ken Chilibeck with the TSN unit and I remember them handing me a sticker that first day I got here, promoting this new enterprise."

An all-sports network? Who'd have thought?

"Never work!" laughed Suitor.

DITCHING THE 'STACHE: This is not the Oprah Winfrey Show. Most networks aren't fond of having their on-air personalities show up with a new 'do every day.

They like the continuity. (Besides, there's all those publicity pictures that would have to be re-shot.)

So when Suitor decided to ditch the moustache, he actually had to inform his employers.

It was also a bit of a momentous occasion for Suitor. Dude's been carrying the facial fur for quite some time.

"Oh, since I was about 13," he laughed.


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