Their strained relationship caused a fracture in the Argonauts locker room, but after two months of being apart, Kerry Joseph and Michael Bishop have nothing but good wishes for each other.
"I'm glad he is in a great situation," Joseph said yesterday on the eve the Argos' final game of 2008, a date tonight at the Rogers Centre against Bishop and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
"I wish him the best. At the same time, I don't play against him. It's more about getting a win, regardless of who is coming. I have to find something to get this sick feeling out of my stomach."
Bishop, traded west in August, has no such feeling in his gut. Unlike Joseph, who soon will be leaving for his off-season home in Orlando, Bishop is going to the CFL playoffs and will start for Saskatchewan as long as he gets through tonight without many hiccups. The Roughriders have a crack at playing host to the West semifinal if they win, and you can bet Bishop would love to show the Argos brass it was wrong to get rid of him after putting him and Joseph into a spot that neither asked for nor deserved.
"I feel sorry for Kerry, but he has done a good job handling the situation," Bishop said to reporters at the Rogers Centre. "Hopefully, next year, they can get better and get into the playoffs."
Is Bishop surprised the Argos' season went off the rails and that they will be watching the playoffs for the first time in seven years?
"I'm not," Bishop said. "You could kind of see things going in that direction. For some of the guys I was cool with, you would have liked to see things turn out better."
There's no question the 2009 edition of the Argos will be different than the team that hits the field tonight, even though a number of changes already have happened.
Free safety Kenny Wheaton said if Don Matthews returns as head coach "there is probably a 100% chance that I will not be back."
Wheaton, benched the past two games, denied his shoulder trouble has been as bad as Matthews made out. Linebacker Mike O'Shea could be looking at retiring, and offensive guard Jude St. John might be as well.
The Argos simply have to get younger in some spots, and those two veterans would be vulnerable.
Receiver Arland Bruce and linebacker Kevin Eiben are heading for free agency.
Off the field, the future is not clear. Matthews, at 0-7, has done little to justify an extension, no matter how many wins he has on his resume. There could be a shakeup in the front office, but the belief is no decisions will be made until after the Grey Cup.
"Maybe it's ironic we're playing Michael Bishop, the guy who was supposed to lead us to the promised land at the end of last season," defensive end Jonathan Brown said. "This isn't the last win you want, because you want your last win to be the Grey Cup, but under the circumstances, we would take it."