Coach sees upside of altered sked

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

Doug Berry says he has no concerns when it comes to his team's new schedule.

The new coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers must be an optimist.

The Blue and Gold were gushing about their original schedule when it was released back in February, but their new slate, which comes after the suspension of the Ottawa Renegades, is much less friendly.

The Bombers didn't have any short weeks in the first draft, but now they face three quick turnarounds of two games in six days.

Not only that but their first six contests are against 2005 Grey Cup finalists Montreal and Edmonton and East Division winner Toronto.

Despite what appears to be a rough ride on paper, Berry is talking tough.

"I like having two opportunities for open dates throughout the regular season," said Berry. "Couple that with the fact that we expect to win our division and we'll get another week off at the end of the year."

Berry wasn't done. He exhibited even more pluck when asked about moving back to the East Division.

"The East has to now look forward to playing us," he said in a cautionary tone. "Montreal has to play us four times, Toronto has to play us three times, and Hamilton has to play us three times.

"... They were expecting games against Ottawa, and now they're getting Winnipeg. And I don't think they expected that."

Berry is also pleased about a more condensed pre-season schedule, in which Winnipeg will face Montreal on June 2 and 8. Under the previous arrangement, the Bombers had two weeks between their second pre-season game and their regular-season opener.

Another bonus for Winnipeg, according to Berry, is facing Montreal -- his former team -- four times during the regular season.

"I know a little bit about the offence and a little bit about the defence," Berry said with a chuckle. "But they know a little bit about the offence that I'm going to run here.

"In terms of trying to show well defensively, I think we've got a chance because of what we're going to be practising against. It's a matter of can we attack their defence successfully. That's the challenge there for us."

LICKING HIS CHOPS

Jerry Maslowsky, Winnipeg's vice-president of sales and marketing, said he hadn't heard of any backlash from fans about the move to the East. In fact, he was licking his chops about one possible solution to the season.

"Now we could have a Saskatchewan-Winnipeg Grey Cup," he said.


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