Rather surprisingly, Mike Kelly was in a joking mood at his pre-game press conference yesterday.
"Nobody got any questions? Great, see ya all later," the Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach said. "I've had enough fun for the week."
That fun would include a blowup with Derick Armstrong, who refused to play against Edmonton last week, the fallout from fans and media over the way the whole thing was handled, and finally, banishing the veteran wide receiver from his midst, getting jack squat in return for one of the CFL's best pass catchers.
"I'm more concerned with how our players are feeling and their focus and I really couldn't care less about what anybody thinks on the outside of this building," Kelly said on the eve of tonight's game against Calgary's defending Grey Cup champion Stampeders at Canad Inns Stadium at 6:30 p.m.
"We're just lucky to be on the field with the defending Grey Cup champions," Kelly said. "I mean, we're the Land of the Misfit Toys, right?"
Those misfits, of course, include former Edmonton quarterback Stefan LeFors, who claimed the Armstrong controversy has been put to bed.
"That's not an issue," he said. "That happened earlier this week but I haven't heard any talk about that since we got back from Edmonton. People weren't sure what was going on but it was pretty early in the week. But the way coach Kelly was running practices, everybody was focused in on the task at hand. It's a big week for us so we can't let any outside distraction bring us down."
The task at hand is to see how they measure up to the reigning champs and to attempt to establish themselves at home.
"Every game's going to be a measuring stick," said ex-Eskimos linebacker Siddeeq Shabazz. "Every game, we have to come out here and prove ourselves and work hard and win some games.
"It's our home opener and we've got to come out and put on a great show. We have to defend our turf, our home territory. People need to know that when they come in here, it's going to be a hard game."
With the Bombers paying tribute to retired receiver Milt Stegall, a large crowd is expected.
"You want to win in your home backyard with a home crowd, to be a nice party," said former B.C. defensive tackle Tyrone Williams. "Just go out and show people that when they come into our stadium that it's going to be a tough place to play and that they're in for a big-time fight."
LeFors will be showing his wares to a hometown crowd for the first time this season.
"I'm just excited to be playing in front of these fans," said LeFors, who completed 15 of 32 passes for 174 yards in a 19-17 loss to the Eskimos in Edmonton last week. "Playing at home in our home opener, it didn't matter who was coming in here this week. We need to bring our A game regardless and come out with a win."
The Stamps also lost their first game of the season.
"You don't want to start the season off 0-2," said Calgary head coach John Hufnagel. "Last year, one of the trademarks of our football team was we were able to overcome adversity, whether it was during the game or coming off a loss or two. So, this is a big game for us."
And the Bombers know it.
"It's going to be a great challenge," Williams said. "They're going to come out hungry and it's going to be a good battle between two good teams. You know what kind of animal they are. They have offensive weapons across the board and a very good quarterback and running back and a solid offensive line. So, I look forward to it being very physical."