Blue need a prayer

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:49 PM ET

The time has come for hope and prayers.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have just double-bogeyed and are about make the turn into their own version of golf’s Amen Corner which could determine whether or not they’ll make the cut this season.

The first of the make-or-break three-hole stretch will be one of the two toughest tests in this 18-hole course called the CFL regular season.

But they will at least be starting at the right place.

The 2-5 Bombers take on the reigning Grey Cup Champion Alouettes in Montreal, then follow with back-to-back games against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, last year’s finalists.

Montreal and Saskatchewan are currently 5-2, tied for the second-best record in the CFL.

While Montreal may be better known for a night life that Tiger Woods would have relished in another lifetime, it may also boast more churches, temples and synagogues than any other major Canadian city.

“You can’t throw a rock in Montreal without breaking stained glass,” American author Mark Twain once said.

So, there will be plenty of places for the Bomber players to pray the next two days.

“Absolutely,” said Bomber punter Mike Renaud, who played for Concordia University in Montreal before turning pro. “It’s always tough to play in there, especially with a new stadium that they kind of renovated so it’s going to be that much louder and that much more intense. I’m excited, though. It’s always a fun place to play.”

But visitors often do worship other, more famous attractions in the bustling French-Canadian centre.

“It’s a great city,” said Bomber defensive back Clint Kent, who spent two years as an Alouette there. “It kind of reminds me of a mini-New York. People are always on the street and they’ve got pretty women. But that’s the last thing we’re going to worry about. We may go out after the game.”

That may be the only sure thing about this trip.

“I love the city of Montreal,” said Bomber defensive end Phillip Hunt. “I like the women that speak French over there … I don’t speak French, I like to hear it. It’s a nice atmosphere.”

The players who are making their first trip to the city that is also peppered with strip joints may have to be warned to avoid temptation before the game.

“It’s been dubbed as Sin City type of thing so it’s important that the younger players can’t get carried away,” Renaud said. “But our coaches are pretty adamant about our 11 o’clock curfew so, we’ll go in there on a pretty tight leash. After the game, by all means, go ahead — but not beforehand.”

Some players have already been cautioned.

“I’ve heard all about Montreal,” said rookie linebacker Bernard Hicks. “But it’s a big business trip and I’m looking forward to it.”

Rookie wide receiver Jamayel Smith echoed those sentiments.

“I heard it’s a fun city, and real nice, too,” he said. “I also heard they speak French there so it will be different (but) I’m going down there to play ball and that’s all I’m worried about.”

Even Saskatchewan head coach Ken Miller recently admitted that he enjoyed walking St. Catharine’s at night, hoping he would not see his players emerging from certain establishments near the world-renowned Crescent Street area.

“We’re getting ready to play football,” said Bomber linebacker Pierre-Luc Labbe, who has family in Montreal. “Most of the players are really quiet and they know their role. They know they have got to be healthy and in shape for the game.

“Let’s start with the game and if we win, we’ll celebrate afterwards. But we’ve got to win it first.”

If they win, it will be a celebration of Mount Royale proportions.

“Maybe they should warn the ladies of the city when they see a crowd like this come in,” joked Hunt as he flexed his muscles. “They might get tempted …. “

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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