Playoffs close for Blue

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:09 AM ET

Even though the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have been more up and down than a yo-yo this season, they are only two days away from possibly clinching a CFL playoff berth.

If the Bombers (7-7) beat the Montreal Alouettes (7-6) tomorrow night at Canad Inns Stadium and the Saskatchewan Roughriders (7-6) upend the Edmonton Eskimos (4-9) on Saturday, Winnipeg is in for the first time since 2003.

That would make Bombers safety Shawn Gallant quite happy. Why? Because the 29-year-old from Windsor, Ont., is in his seventh CFL season and has yet to make the playoffs.

"They keep saying 'Let's win the Grey Cup for Milt,' " Gallant said yesterday. "I'm like, 'Let's make the playoffs for Gallant!'

"Trust me, if I get in the playoffs, you're gonna see the hypest white kid you've ever seen in your life. I'm gonna be so happy.

"... The ultimate would be the Grey Cup. I've had a suit ready for the Grey Cup for the last six years. Even though it's in our home town, I'm going to wear it anyway. I get excited even talking about it."

There are plenty of players in the Bomber locker-room who are foreign to the post-season, but Gallant's drought takes the cake.

"I got drafted by Saskatchewan, and we were rebuilding," he said. "I got picked up in Ottawa, and we were rebuilding. I came here last year, and we were rebuilding. And I'm just like, no more rebuilding!"

The closest Gallant got to the playoffs was in 2003, when Ottawa finished third in the East Division. Unfortunately for Gallant and the Renegades, the crossover was in effect and the B.C. Lions stole their berth.

Missing the CFL playoffs for six consecutive seasons is quite an achievement by Gallant, considering there were six playoffs spots available for the eight or nine teams during his drought. After a while, you start to wonder if you're the problem.

"That's what I keep telling myself: It's not you. You're playing well. It's OK. It's not you," Gallant said with a laugh.

Defensive end Tom Canada has been a Bomber since May 2004, but he too is wondering what it's like to suit up for a playoff contest north of the border.

"I haven't seen the playoffs since I've been up here. I haven't even had visions of the playoffs. I haven't even smelled the playoffs. I haven't even been downwind from the playoffs," he said.

And now that they're so close to a post-season berth that they can taste it, Canada said his team's motivation for tomorrow night's rematch against the Alouettes is through the roof.

"Every day we look at those (temporary Grey Cup) stands, and every day we hear about the Grey Cup in Winnipeg," he said. "It's driving the hell out of us right now. We're a motivated team right now, and this weekend's going to be huge.

"It's going to be like a playoff game -- at least, that's what I'm hearing."


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