The former Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman of the Year suspected his days were numbered when he lost his starting tackle job last week.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers dealt non-import Dave Mudge to Montreal for backup Alouettes centre/guard Aaron Fiacconi, a 2006 conditional draft pick and future considerations, the local CFL club announced yesterday.
"I'm kind of surprised but in general not all that surprised with what's been going on lately," said the popular Mudge. "I knew something was in the works. They told me it all happened since the last game (against Calgary on Thursday) but I don't buy it.
"It's actually a similar process as when (quarterback) Khari (Jones) left. First, he was criticized, then benched, then traded (to Calgary)."
Import John Feugill replaced Mudge at right tackle against the Stampeders and Mudge then filled in for left guard Dan Gyetvai during the match. But the Bombers had decided that Feugill will remain at right tackle.
Bombers GM Brendan Taman said Als GM Jim Popp initiated the trade talks on Friday but his initial offer was declined. But Popp kept sweetening the pot.
"It's disappointing," said Mudge, 30. "I always felt like a big part of this team and I really fell in love with this city. I've struggled a bit but at least I'm going to a good team."
Mudge also has a girlfriend and manages two apartment buildings here.
Montreal has the bye this week so Mudge's first game will come against the Bombers when the Als come to town on July 22.
The conditional draft pick will depend on how both Mudge and Fiacconi play in their respective cities, Taman said. The future considerations will be determined at the end of the season.
"There will be some additional compensation coming our way," he said.
Although Mudge reportedly makes about $100,000 per annum, that had little bearing on the deal, Taman said. Fiacconi, 25, is tied to a long-term pact but was unavailable for comment.
"The key for us was getting a guy who has played guard and who has prepared to play guard for as long as Aaron has done," said Bombers head coach Jim Daley. "And he's a tough, tough guy. He's reportedly the toughest guy on their team."
Montreal chose the 6-foot-3, 304-pound Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native in the fourth round of the 2002 draft and he has been a backup there ever since.
"He was a little shocked but he's looking forward to a better chance to start," Taman said.
"It was very hard," Daley explained. "He understood it. He knows it's part of the game. When we made the change at tackle, he thought that we might be considering a trade then. He has been a quality person and player for this organization.
"Hopefully for Dave, this works out really well, and for Aaron, it works out really well."
The acquisition could mean moving centre Matt Sheridan back to left guard "where he was dominant last year" with Fiacconi at centre, Daley said.
The bottom line is that Mudge lost his starting spot and, despite his superb play at left guard against Calgary, the Bombers were not sure he could make a permanent transition there.
"I don't think it's a reflection of just a slow start for Dave, our whole team has gotten off to a slow start," Daley said. "We needed to improve our offensive line."