It will be business as usual when Wayne Shaw takes to the turf tonight.
It's become old hat for Shaw, an eight-year CFL veteran who's made many trips back to his hometown of Winnipeg to play the Blue Bombers over the years. Tonight, the safety will be leading the Hamilton Tiger-Cats into Canad Inns Stadium in the second game of a home-and-home series.
"I just play it like it's a regular game," he said of returning to the city. "You know, I try to get as many tickets as I can for friends and family. I love the city, it's where I grew up but its just another game to me. It's basically my job. I just go out and do my job."
It's been a difficult year for Shaw to ply his trade as the Ticats are 1-6 coming into the game. Greg Marshall was relieved of his coaching duties earlier in the year due to the slow start and the Tabbies were pummelled 29-0 by the Bombers last week.
"The challenges have always been there," said Shaw, who starred for River East Collegiate in high school. "That's pro ball. You're always challenged in life. You just have to find a way to overcome. Even winning teams have challenges they have to fight their way out of."
And it's been frustrating for Hamilton as the players don't believe their record reflects the talent on the team.
"No definitely not," said Shaw. "Most teams that play us know that for sure. We just can't finish off the win. We've been playing 3 1/2 quarters and have been taking a lot of penalties."
Shaw played two season of college at Ohio's Kent State University after transferring from North Dakota State junior college. The Toronto Argonauts drafted him in the second round of the 1999 Canadian College Draft and he's been a non-import force since.
Shaw's always enjoyed playing against Winnipeg. Back in 2000 while with Toronto, he returned a Khari Jones interception 53 yards for a touchdown in a 41-41 tie. In 2004, he picked off Kevin Glenn and returned the pigskin 21 yards for a major as Hamilton beat the Bombers 20-13. Shaw has 25 career interceptions with six of those returned for touchdowns.
Shaw joined Hamilton as a free agent after the 2002 season when he helped the Montreal Alouettes to a Grey Cup championship, a feat he called his proudest in pro football.
"That's the main goal of playing football," he said. "It means you're the top team in the CFL, you're the king of the jungle and next year the teams are out to get you."
Going from Montreal to Hamilton, Shaw has gone from first to worst. But he said you wouldn't know it if you visited the Ticats locker-room.
"It's a lot of fun," said Shaw. "Our record doesn't show it but we just have to stay positive. You can't get down in the dumps. You just have to keep working hard."
Hard work was one attributes the Ticats like in Shaw.
"He's a very steady football player," said Ticats interim head coach Ron Lancaster. "He's got the experience we need in the secondary and he provides veteran leadership. He's also a good person."
And while he isn't the most vocal guy in the locker-room, Shaw is a team leader.
"He's a quiet guy," said Lancaster. "He leads by example and you don't hear him hollering and screaming in the locker-room. He goes about his business and he's appreciated by the coaches because they know they can rely on him. He's very even-keeled and that's important at that position."
Shaw, who makes his home in Mississauga, Ont., during the off-season tries to get home to Winnipeg every Christmas to see his family. He and wife Natasha (of Thompson) have two boys -- Kyowa, 6 and Kalayo, 2.