TORONTO - On the surface, the Argos’ move to bring back Noel Prefontaine is a no-brainer, a can’t-miss opportunity to address two positions with one player, a Canadian to boot.
But one has to look beyond the obvious and delve into football’s intangible to realize just how much of a hole Jamie Boreham’s absence will have on a team that finds itself at 7-7 with a crucial home game looming against Hamilton.
Boreham was more than the Argos punter, he was a stand-up guy who was held in high esteem inside Toronto’s locker room.
He’s a glue guy who just may have had his final kick as an Argo as the team awaits results on his right hamstring, which was injured in Saturday’s improbable win over the Roughriders in Regina.
There aren’t many players such as Boreham, universally liked and always willing to sacrifice himself for the team.
That’s not to say that Prefontaine isn’t a team-first guy, but his exodus out of Toronto two years ago when the Argos traded him to Edmonton was not handled properly.
If you recall, Prefontaine took the move personal, thinking that somehow he was above the team for putting so much time and effort in many of the Argos’ off-field initiatives.
The team Prefontaine returns to is very different from the unit he last played for, totally remade by head coach Jim Barker, but a team nonetheless that has its established leaders and personalities.
Boreham doesn’t have Prefontaine’s athleticism, booming leg and isn’t going to kick 57-yard field goals.
Prefontaine is someone Boreham views as a mentor, a player Boreham sought when the Argos travelled to Edmonton earlier this year, a pioneer if you will, because it was Prefontaine who proved that kickers can do more than just kick.
Kicking yards can be measured, tackles get tabulated, field position monitored, but leadership can’t be quantified.
And it’s leadership where Boreham will be missed, a gap that will take time for Prefontaine to fill, if he so feels inclined.
A lot was made of the Argos’ creative trick play last weekend when Boreham faked a knee in the end zone and deftly handed the pigskin to Byron Parker, who would move the chains in a sequence rarely seen in the CFL.
“That was Jamie’s play out of the end zone,’’ Barker said Tuesday following practice, a session that featured receiver Reggie McNeal heaving the football as far as he could to simulate a punt.
“Jamie’s kickoffs have been fantastic all year. We’re certainly not throwing him to the curb.”
Sadly, though, most of the attention will be on Prefontaine’s return and very little focus will be on Boreham.
There was nothing wrong with Boreham, but it now seems likely that his days as an Argo are finished just as he was finding his groove.
“One day (Boreham’s) going to be Mike O’Shea, he’s going to be a coach because he understands and he gets it,’’ Barker added.
In Prefontaine, Barker gets a guy whom he knows well and whom he has coached in Toronto, a familiarity that goes a long way when engineering trades.
For the record, the Argos sent Edmonton defensive lineman Etienne Legare and the negotiation rights to import DB Damaso Munoz.
Legare wasn’t going to get a chance to play in Edmonton and Munoz isn’t exactly Anthony Munoz.
The Argos also parted company, again, with Justin Medlock, who becomes redundant in the wake of Pre’s return.
Medlock is also an American, a loss that now provides the Argos with more roster flexibility.
“The whole key to winning in this league is developing Canadian depth,’’ Barker explained. “Pre is the top Canadian at his position and that was the over-riding factor.”
Certainly, the Argos are better with Prefontaine, but he has shoes to fill in the absence of Boreham, whose presence wasn’t confined to the playing surface and whose impact will be missed.