Allen insulted by GM

Injured Argos QB Damon Allen was clearly dismayed at comments made by GM Adam Rita. (Sun File/Chris...

Injured Argos QB Damon Allen was clearly dismayed at comments made by GM Adam Rita. (Sun File/Chris Procaylo)

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

The atmosphere at the Argonauts practice was tense yesterday as a result of controversial statements made by general manager Adam Rita.

In an interview with The Fan on Tuesday, Rita suggested that veteran quarterback Damon Allen may have stunted the organization's development because his presence has prevented the team from developing younger quarterbacks. Rita added that he is not sure if Allen will even dress when he comes off the injured list for the final two games of the season -- comments that were picked up in a Toronto Sun story yesterday.

Allen was angry when told of Rita's comments, while Rita flip-flopped on the subject, suggesting at first that he didn't say anything of the sort, and then saying that his quotes were taken out of context. Head coach Michael Clemons and starting quarterback Michael Bishop both indicated that what Rita said was the truth. All of this as the Argos attempt to re-group from a 40-7 loss to the B.C. Lions on Saturday and prepare for a crucial game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the Rogers Centre on Sunday.

TAKEN ABACK

"I am really taken aback," a visibly miffed Allen said, when told of Rita's comments. "(To say) when I come off the nine-week (injured list) that I still won't probably dress ... that's an insult. That's a slap in the face."

Rita insisted that he could hardly remember the interview with The Fan.

"I don't think I said anything about Damon Allen," he said.

For the record, Rita told the Fan: "We as an organization have been stunted because of him being our No.1 quarterback and it's hard to get a guy to come in, knowing that Damon Allen is your starting quarterback ... It was hard on Bishop."

Coach Clemons, who did not hear the interview, said it was a tempest in a teapot.

"It's not a bad statement," Clemons said. "Brett Favre has stunted the growth of potentially emerging quarterbacks in Green Bay. That's because he played so proficiently so late in his years, and I think that's Damon's case. In 2004, he led us to a Grey Cup championship and in 2005 he was the MVP in the league at 42-years-old. To say he may have stunted Michael Bishop's growth, I think that's a fair statement."

Bishop, who certainly holds no hard feelings toward Allen, concurred, adding that he may have been ready to start three or four years ago if not for the fact Allen was still playing so well.

"In my case, you sit for three to four years and watch (from the sideline), if you're not a positive guy, it could have turned out to be something that's (negative)," Bishop said. "At a certain time, you want to be the guy who's out there playing."

Rita told The Fan that when Allen returns from the injured list, his contributions to the team may no longer be on the field. That really threw Allen for a loop.

"I don't remember saying that," Rita said yesterday. "I don't know why I would say that. Whatever happens to him after he comes off the injured list will depend on what the coaches want to do.

"I'll tell you one damn thing," Rita said. "If I said something like that, it's got to be taken way out of context. Because I have no ill feelings towards Damon or what he has contributed to this team ... This is crazy."

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THE GOOD

- Winger Simon Gamache had a second strong game and won the admiration of the bench for a retaliation bodycheck on Daniel Carcillo in the second period. Forward Colin Murphy landed some punches in a third-period bout with Carcillo.

- The Leafs are already in mid-season penalty killing form, defusing a 5-on-3 and 15 of 17 over two games.

- Chad Kilger, utilized at centre on Tuesday and on penalty killing early last night, returned to his one-time NHL home for a power-play goal.

THE BAD

- D Hal Gill was minus two with a clearing gaffe, before assisting on both third-period goals.

- Though the Leafs had one power-play goal on four chances, they had issues trying to gain the blueline.

- D Pavel Kubina took two minors.


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