Mack's list gets shorter

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

Two names got erased from the short list, and Joe Mack finally talked to Greg Marshall.

Wednesday was a fairly eventful day in the search for a new Winnipeg Blue Bomber head coach.

For starters, Mack, the new Bomber GM, finally hooked up with Marshall, the Hamilton defensive co-ordinator. It wasn't a job interview, just a chat on the phone.

"Just a little bit of get to know each other," is how Marshall, on the phone from Hamilton, described it. "The other part's yet to come. I thought it went well. He's just trying to finalize the plans for when we can get together, face to face."

That will likely happen after Mack returns from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where he interviewed Saskatchewan offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice earlier this week.

Marshall, a 16-year CFL assistant, is seen as the odds-on favourite. Just don't tell him that.

"I don't want to get ahead of myself," he said.

His chances definitely improved Wednesday, because two other candidates are no longer in the mix.

The Sun has learned that Calgary offensive guru George Cortez is out of the picture, even though the Bombers interviewed him. Cortez has decided to go in a different direction, one that may even see him leave the Stamps.

One of the league's top defensive co-ordinators pulled out, too, when Calgary's Chris Jones signed a contract extension with the Stamps.

Jones will see his responsibilities in the personnel department increase, making his stay in Calgary more attractive.

So who does that leave to compete with Marshall and LaPolice?

Probably Montreal defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke, and maybe Alouettes offensive boss Scott Milanovich, although Milanovich's ties to Jim Barker, the runner-up to Mack for the GM job, may leave him on the outside of this race.

NO SOUR GRAPES: It was four years ago this week when hockey's Don Cherry was taking aim at a couple of Winnipeggers.

Grapes, you may recall, went all sour on Olympic-bound speed skaters Clara Hughes and Cindy Klassen, among others, as the Turin Games approached, for not allowing their names to stand as potential flag-bearers in the opening ceremonies.

The skaters were concerned a couple of hours standing outside would expend energy better used for racing.

Four years later, Hughes has allowed her name to stand, making her one of the top candidates to be Canada's flag-bearer. We'll find out if it's her on Friday.

So what's changed?

Certainly not Hughes' race schedule, which sees her compete in her signature event, the 5,000 metres, near the end of the Games, just like in Turin.

This year, though, the ceremonies are indoors, at B.C. Place, so the event won't take nearly as much out of the athletes.

More significant, perhaps, is the prospect of carrying that flag before a home crowd, in her Olympic swan song.

That's a combination Hughes obviously couldn't resist.

The bonus: a peacefully silent Don Cherry.

'TOBA CONTINGENT: Skeleton racer Jon Montgomery of Russell, Man., was officially named to Team Canada Wednesday, confirming his place as one of 10 born-and-raised Manitobans who'll be competing.

You could add curler Carolyn Darbyshire to that list.

Playing second on Cheryl Bernard's team, Darbyshire was born in Arborg and spent most of her youth in Portage la Prairie, before moving to Alberta.

As for Montgomery, he's not going as an also-ran, as he won a gold this season and finished in the top seven in his last four World Cup races.

He's also returning to the track on which he won World Cup gold a year ago.

For what that's worth.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


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