As the Bombers turn

The Bombers have been unable to find a trading partner for receiver Derick Armstrong. (Sun...

The Bombers have been unable to find a trading partner for receiver Derick Armstrong. (Sun Media/Marcel Cretain)

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

Conflict? What conflict?

The man in the big chair over on Maroons Road isn't at all concerned that the Mike Kelly/Derick Armstrong soap opera is putting a damper on what's supposed to be a special week for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"We're not dealing with much of a conflict at all," Bomber president/CEO Lyle Bauer told the Sun yesterday. "There's a culture that's being nurtured, and for the most part it's being embraced in our locker-room. Embraced also by our fans.

"It's very clear there's a direction, a type of football team we want to have, and a type of player we want to have on that football team."

Armstrong, apparently, isn't that type of player. At least, not after getting into a blowup with the head coach over his reduced role in Edmonton, last week.

And so while the Bombers try to unload their 6-foot-2, 215-pound "problem," the celebration goes on.

After all, it is Milt Stegall week in Winnipeg, to be capped by Friday's Hall-of-Fame game, the home opener against the defending Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders.

If the air of anticipation is being threatened by an air of dissension, Bauer isn't breathing it.

After all, the old O-lineman has seen coach/player clashes before. Back in the early 1990s, star linebacker Tyrone Jones flipped out on head coach Cal Murphy -- and was subsequently sent packing to Regina.

"These things happen," Bauer said of the Armstrong saga. "There's an expectation that our coaches have with the players. It is what it is, and we'll deal with it."

Murphy didn't win another Grey Cup after his clash with Jones, so it's debatable how successful that move was.

Bauer stands behind Kelly's handling of the Armstrong issue, saying some coaches believe in setting the tone with their new teams.

Of course, having hand-picked the head coach, one wouldn't expect the boss to publicly question him seven months later.

I'll bet if you injected Bauer with truth serum, though, he'd admit he didn't expect the roster to undergo the extreme makeover it has, with a 50% turnover.

"I look at what Huf did in Calgary the year before, it was probably pretty close as well," Bauer said. "I expected Mike to do things that would fit what he wanted to do, or what he believed.

"People wanted change -- they're gettin' it."

It doesn't always mean ruffling so many feathers along the way.

Kelly has been a public relations nightmare -- from breaking CFL rules to calling out the former GM to several clashes with the media -- but Bauer isn't letting on that he's concerned about that, either.

"You can do one of two things: you can just meld into what you think people want to see, or you can move forward and have a clear plan and stand behind it. I guess we've chosen to go the latter route," Bauer said. "Certain people have an edge. And you know what? Some of the greats have edges. We'll see where things go."

Murphy certainly had an edge. But it seems to me he developed it after winning a few games.

Bauer says his team is on the right track. He liked what he saw from the defence and running game in Edmonton last week, and expects the offence to come around quickly enough to make the Bombers a contender this season.

That's right, the top dog says 2009 is not a rebuilding year, despite the massive number of changes.

"You put people in place to get the job done," Bauer said. "Otherwise, what's the sense being here? Rebuilding may be more for a college program.

"We knew the first third (of the schedule) was going to be really tough, there's no question. But it's also a heck of a measuring stick. So we'll get another check on that measuring stick Friday night."

And another check on Bauer's choice of head coach.

Conflict, or not.


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