No losing mentality

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

Of this time and those other places ...

Ryan Donnelly has experienced just one winning season in his CFL career.

That was when the current Winnipeg centre helped the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a 9-8-1 record and a third-place finish in the East back in 2004.

But the other seasons in Steeltown were rather forgettable -- 7-11 in 2002; 5-13 in 2005; 4-14 in '06; and 3-15 last year. And who could forget 2003 when the Tabbies finished a dismal 1-17? They lost 12 straight before posting their first victory.

Now, Donnelly is starting for a 2007 Grey Cup finalist that has fallen to 0-3 and is seeking its first victory in B.C. against the Lions tomorrow night.

"The outcome may be like I experienced before but, if you're not in the locker-room, you don't know the difference," Donnelly said yesterday. "This is not a losing team. This is not a losing mentality. We have leaders in this locker-room.

"I spent a lot of years losing in Hamilton and dealing with that. You don't get accustomed to that but it's not the same here. And if anyone in Winnipeg thinks it is, they're absolutely wrong because ... it is not the same, not even close."

Nor does Donnelly expect to see yet another extended losing streak here.

"They've got experience here," said Donnelly, who signed with Winnipeg as a free agent. "In Hamilton, we had a lot of young guys and a lot of guys who didn't want to respect leadership and follow the rules, and wanted to do their own thing. That's not happening here.

"We just haven't come together and we're not playing as a team yet. We haven't filled our full potential. We have a lot of skill on both sides of the ball. We were talking (yesterday) -- would we trade our offensive line, our receivers, our quarterbacks or anyone else? No. We have it, we just need to make it happen here."

While Donnelly had at least one winning season in Hamilton, Bomber defensive lineman Jerome Haywood never experienced one in Ottawa, where its best record was 7-11 while he was there. But Haywood was emphatic when asked if this season reminded him of those dark days in the nation's capital.

"No," he responded firmly. " This is a whole different thing. It's not even close ... I'm in Winnipeg, I'm not in Ottawa. It's different coaches, different players, there's no comparison. We had a lot of talent in Ottawa when I was there, we just weren't putting it together. Out here, it's different.

"Nobody wants to start off 0-3 but it is what it is. We dug ourselves a little hole and we'll try to dig ourselves out."

Bomber linebacker Barrin Simpson, at least, had a fonder memory.

"My second year in B.C., we started off 0-5 and finished 10-8 so, it can be done," he said. "We've just got to fix our mistakes."

And the Bombers are seeking revenge after the Leos completely embarrassed them at home 42-24 last week.

"We've got to go out there and prove that we can play with anyone in the league," Donnelly said.

But the more they lose, the tighter the collars will get.

"The deeper you get into the season, each game there is certainly more (pressure)," conceded Bomber head coach Doug Berry. "Every game is (a must-win). I want to win every game and this certainly would be a huge inspirational win for us, especially given the circumstances surrounding this game.

"So, we would like to go out there and get our first win and use it as a steppingstone for a sequence in the other direction in the win-loss column."


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