The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are about to get a course in TBU.
While many — including Paul LaPolice — noted the fact the Blue Bombers lost nine games by four points or fewer meant the team wasn’t as bad as its record would indicate, that won’t be a crutch the 2011 edition of the Blue and Gold will be able to lean on once training camp opens next week.
“Those things are absolutely true, but they’re useless,” LaPolice said during the annual CFL teleconference on Tuesday. “They were close but they were still losses. The first note is that we have to understand we’re not in this to get close, we’re in this to win. I hope we’ve learned from our mistakes and learned how to finish some of these situations.”
Blue Bombers general manager Joe Mack believes it’s only a matter of time before the team gets Henoc Muamba, the first overall pick in the 2011 CFL Draft, under contract.
“We’re having very productive conversations and we don’t anticipate any real problems,” said Mack. “We’re definitely in the same ball park in regards to what our expectations are. We anticipate him being signed by training camp and him being in training camp on time.”
LaPolice reiterated he was thrilled about the recent draft and Mack spoke glowingly about Central Michigan receiver Kito Poblah, who the Blue Bombers are expected to pick up at Friday’s supplemental draft.
“Kito’s had a really good career, he was very productive all three years and was a captain his senior year,” said Mack. “He’s a quality individual, we’ve done a lot of research on him and we’ll probably finalize it in the next couple of days. Any time you get an opportunity to get a talented, non-import player, into the CFL it’s a good thing. We’re excited to see where it falls out and we’re certainly going to do a lot of due diligence on Kito before the draft.”
Moving to the business side, Blue Bombers president and CEO Jim Bell told reporters the Blue Bombers are already ahead of their 2010 season ticket totals and expects to surpass 18,000 in the near future.
“It’s very, very encouraging as we look forward to this season,” said Bell. “It’s a bit of good news on the business side. Our fans are very supportive, as is our business community.”
Bell also gave an update on the status of the new stadium.
“We’re very encouraged on the progress of the new stadium to date and we get a lot of positive feedback from our fans that go on our web cam and see the progress on a daily basis,” said Bell. “As of right now, we are on time and we are anticipating that the stadium will be ready for June of 2012, of course for play in the 2012 season. To give you an accurate picture, we’re rounding first base.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, but right now I can comfortably tell you that we’re on time in accordance with the timeline set out for the new stadium.”
HASHMARKS: When asked about a potential replacement for defensive end Philip Hunt (who signed in the NFL), LaPolice said a bunch of young guys have been brought in to compete for the job but that he wanted to “wait until camp to decide. I don’t want to be an early evaluator.”