SUN Hockey Pool

Rearguard comes to Riders' defence

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

Rhett Warrener is a die-hard, share-holding Saskatchewan Roughriders fan.

Like all those who bleed green, the Calgary Flames defenceman was caught off guard by the CFL trade that sent star quarterback Kerry Joseph from his beloved squad to the Toronto Argos.

"There was a flurry of phone calls when it happened from various friends and family. A lot of concern in the voices. We'll have to see how it plays out," Warrener said of the trade, which became known late Wednesday and was announced yesterday.

"I don't think anyone wanted him to go, but you've got to make choices."

Joseph, the league MVP last season, was dealt to Toronto for offensive tackle Glenn January, defensive lineman Ronald Flemons and a pair of draft picks.

On the surface, it doesn't appear Roughriders GM Eric Tillman exacted a huge return for a star quarterback, albeit one whose contract expectations increased exponentially.

Could Tillman's name be mud in Saskatchewan?

"Not yet. He's still in the good books with that Grey Cup," Warrener said.

"It's tough, but you've got to trust that Tillman knows what he's doing."

Certainly, Warrener understands the impact of salary caps and budgets, quite likely better than the average fan.

"Yeah, but it affects everyone. It affects the rest of your team," he said. "If you think you can fill the hole with someone else at a cheaper price and your team's gonna be better off, you've got to do that.

"I'm sure it's a tough decision to make. How do you let go the best player in the league and your quarterback? But it had to be done."


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