Eastward shift irks Blue

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are headed back to the CFL East Division -- again.

How does that make you feel, Brendan Taman?

"No comment," the Bombers GM said tersely last night from Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.

In other words, he's not happy.

Because the CFL board of governors' decided yesterday to suspend the Ottawa Renegades for the 2006 season, the Bombers will replace them in the East, just as they did in 1997 after the Rough Riders folded.

The Bombers, who were also in the eastern loop from 1987 to 1994, stayed in the East until 2001. When the Renegades were born in 2002, the Bombers moved back to the West.

Winnipeg Football Club chairman Ken Hildahl and president and CEO Lyle Bauer attended yesterday's board of governors meeting in Toronto, and they made it known they weren't pleased about the move.

"We do it very reluctantly," Hildahl said last night. "The message that we delivered is, from our fans' perspective, the bouncing back and forth just has to stop."

Since the Bombers are affected most by the suspension of the Renegades, the other governors vowed yesterday to help them offset the marketing and travel costs they are sure to incur.

Hildahl added that the Bombers will do more "intense marketing," since fans won't enjoy seeing more East Division teams in Winnipeg this season.

"Hopefully they'll stick with us," he said.

Including the pre-season, the Bombers will have six games against the Montreal Alouettes, who were their arch rivals during their East Division stint. Coincidentally, Winnipeg's new head coach, Doug Berry, spent the last seven seasons in Montreal.

Other fallout from the decision:

- A dispersal draft of the Renegades roster will be held within the next few days, and it's believed the Bombers will have the second pick.

"Dispersal draft-wise we'll be ready," Taman said. "... We've got two guys on the staff that know them pretty well already."

Defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall and offensive line coach Richard Harris were both with the Renegades last season.

Top players include quarterback Kerry Joseph, cornerback Korey Banks, offensive lineman Ibrahim Khan and receiver-returner Jason Armstead.

- If you've already planned your summer around Bombers home games, you're in luck.

That's because all nine Bombers home games on the new schedule have the same dates and start times as the ones on the schedule released in February.

The only catch is they are all against different opponents -- the exception being the annual Banjo Bowl grudge match against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday, Sept. 10.


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