Blue barkin' up right tree with Daley

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

We now take you deep inside the headquarters of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, for a rare chance to be a fly on the wall at the CFL club's negotiating table.

Bomber GM Brendan Taman and potential head coach Jim Daley are attempting to hammer out a multi-year pact that would see Daley become the face of the community-owned football team.

It's one of the most critical hires the organization can make, one that involves hundreds of thousands of dollars and will shape the on-field product for years to come. A mistake here (hello, Jeff Reinebold) could set the franchise back a decade.

Somewhere between discussions about football philosophies, salary-cap management and long-term planning, Daley got down to the really important issue: his dogs.

"Diane (his wife) and my two dogs are vital," Daley was saying yesterday, after the Bombers announced he'd ended weeks of negotiation and agreed to a new contract. "They weigh heavily in our discussions."

The man was not joking.

This is a guy who's answering machine says something like, "Mac and Riley and Jim and Diane can't come to the phone right now..."

Black labs, Mac and Riley are certainly this man's best friend.

And how he was going to continue seeing them -- they're based in Calgary -- while he works in Winnipeg, was something Daley had to know before putting his paw mark on the bottom line.

"There was a point last week where, in our discussions, we had inquired about the cost of flying dogs without somebody on the plane with them," a chuckling Taman related, rolling his eyes at the recollection. "I'm in my office, talking to a potential head coach, and we're talking about the cost of dogs. That was a very tough thing for Jim to overcome."

So tough, that the two sides couldn't come to an agreement before leaving for the Grey Cup.

The deal finally got done in a tavern in Ottawa. The pooch issue was settled over pizza and Pepsi.

The solution? Daley will spend much of December and January working from his home in Calgary. After that, somebody will likely commute, unless his wife finds a suitable job here.

"In all seriousness, if the dogs were here I think it'd be a lot easier for him," Taman said.

So what in the name of Old Yeller have the Bombers got themselves into? I mean, does Daley consult the canines when it comes to football decisions? You know, one bark means kick the ball, two means go for two?

Actually, the preceding anecdote simply shows the kind of detail-mad person Daley is. And, to be honest, that'll be a welcome change around the Bomber bunker.

From team rules to game plans, there won't be a stone left unturned, an approach that'll come in handy trying to turn around a team that had grown complacent under the previous regime.

Let's face it, this old dog needs a few new tricks.

Which brings us to the trick Taman didn't quite pull off at yesterday's news conference.

"I was hoping to bring the dogs in and surprise him," the GM said. "I'm kicking myself for not getting it done. Because you probably would have seen him get off that chair, hop on the table and jump when he saw them coming through that door. It might have made his year."


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