TORONTO — The schedule is here and the countdown is on.
The Canadian Football League revealed its full schedule for the 2017 season on Tuesday, with the season kicking off June 22 in Montreal and finishing with the 105th Grey Cup in the nation’s capital on Nov. 26.
With plenty of fireworks expected in the year of Canada’s 150th birthday, we look at some of the can’t miss dates on the upcoming slate.
Mark those calendars and get ready for some CFL football!
Newly-minted Alouette Darian Durant will get to check on his former team early in 2017 (CFL.ca)
The wait is short for Darian Durant to face his former team. The former Saskatchewan Roughrider of 11 seasons will suit up for the Als and face his old team in what promises to be a drama-packed first game of the season.
On the other sideline, former Alouettes Kevin Glenn and Duron Carter will return to Montreal each looking to play the role of villain.
Is there a better way to kick off the 2017 calendar?
June 23, 2017 | Week 1 Calgary at Ottawa
REDBLACKS players celebrate during a 104th Grey Cup win over Calgary in November (CFL.ca)
The annual Grey Cup rematch.
These teams could look quite different when they square off on June 23 but the intensity will be high.
It was only a handful of months ago that the REDBLACKS pulled off the largest upset in Grey Cup history, taking down the 15-2-1 Calgary Stampeders in overtime.
Revenge is a pretty fitting theme for Week 1.
June 29, 2017 | Week 2 Ottawa at Calgary
Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stamps get two chances for revenge out of the gate in ’17 (The Canadian Press)
May I have another?
If the REDBLACKS and Stamps haven’t seen enough of each other yet, just wait until Week 2 of the regular season. They’ll meet for the third consecutive time dating back to last year’s Grey Cup as the Stamps aim to get even in a thrilling home-and-home.
This is can’t-miss TV.
July 1, 2017 | Week 2 Winnipeg at Saskatchewan
New Mosaic Stadium hosts its first regular season game on Canada’s birthday (Riderville.com)
Everything’s new and shiny for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
After winning eight games over the last two years, Riders fans can forget all that as their team kicks off a new era at New Mosaic Stadium.
New quarterback, new digs, new season . . . It’s a celebration across the nation with Canada’s 150th birthday celebration in Regina.
July 14, 2017 | Week 4 Ottawa at Edmonton
Trevor Harris (left) and Mike Reilly (right) following a season-opening matchup in Edmonton (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)
Speaking of fireworks, something flies every time the REDBLACKS and Eskimos do battle. The 103rd Grey Cup, last year’s season-opener, a blizzard in the Eastern Final . . .
The REDBLACKS defeated the Eskimos to advance to the Grey Cup and now these budding cross-division rivals square off again in Week 4.
July 21, 2017 | Week 5 Winnipeg at BC
Jonathon Jennings celebrates following his late touchdown in the Western Semi-Final (The Canadian Press)
Bombers fan? You couldn’t be blamed if you lost some sleep this off-season after the way the Western Semi-Final played out.
A massive comeback and a heroic Jonathon Jennings put the Lions ahead and left the Bombers to wonder ‘what if?’
After three terrific matchups in 2016, these two West Division foes will meet again in Week 5.
We can hardly wait.
July 29, 2017 | Week 6 Hamilton at Calgary
Zach Collaros takes a hit from Calgary’s Charleston Hughes in a 2016 matchup (The Canadian Press)
Something exciting happens every time the Stamps and Ticats face.
In a rematch of the 102nd Grey Cup Championship, Zach Collaros and Bo Levi Mitchell will square off at least twice more in 2016, including in Calgary in Week 6.
You won’t want to miss two of the league’s top pivots going head to head.
Aug. 18, 2017 | Week 9 Calgary at BC
DaVaris Daniels and Rob Cote celebrate during a Western Final win over BC (The Canadian Press)
After the promise of an exciting battle, Jonathon Jennings and the Lions put up a dud in their Western Final matchup with the Calgary Stampeders.
On Aug. 18, the Lions will get another shot to overtake the West’s best after two straight one-sided losses in 2016.
Wherever these teams are at this time in this standings, this meeting will likely be a measuring stick for both sides.
Aug. 25, 2017 | Week 10 Saskatchewan at Edmonton
Chris Jones and the Riders play their first game in Edmonton in Week 10 (Walter Tychnowicz/CFL.ca)
It’s been done before, sure, but Chris Jones returning to Edmonton on an August Friday night has ‘late summer classic’ written all over it.
With some expecting significant improvement from the Riders in 2017, this could be a matchup of heavyweights.
A nice prelude of what’s to come on Mark’s Labour Day Weekend.
Sept. 4, 2017 | Mark’s Labour Day Weekend Edmonton at Calgary Toronto at Hamilton
Ricky Ray and Zach Collaros meet following last year’s Labour Day Classic in Hamilton (Adam Gagnon/CFL.ca)
The real season starts Labour Day and this year it’s all happening on Sept. 4.
The Ticats and Argos renew their rivalry one year after one of the most thrilling classics they’ve played, but not before the Eskimos and Stamps take part in the Battle of Alberta for the first time in 2017.
New faces, new storylines, same old hatred. And it’s beautiful.
Sept. 9, 2017 | Week 12 Saskatchewan at Winnipeg
Hamilton at Ottawa
Calgary at Edmonton
Andrew Harris runs through a wall of tacklers during the Banjo Bowl in 2016 (The Canadian Press)
The Banjo Bowl is back for another year as the Riders and Bombers clash and even better, it’s a rare triple-header!
No Darian Durant but that shouldn’t have much effect as there’s plenty of hate to go around in one of the league’s most heated rivalries.
On the same day, the Ticats visit the REDBLACKS in a heated Eastern affair while the Stampeders visit Edmonton in a Labour Day rematch.
There’s NO such thing as too much football!
Oct. 9, 2017 | Week 16 Edmonton at Montreal
Adarius Bowman and the Esks look to celebrate Thanksgiving with a win and some turkey (The Canadian Press)
Food, family and football, a classic combination in our books. The Als and Eskimos square off on Thanksgiving for the second straight season, ringing in the holiday with a cross-division duel.
This could be an exciting matchup between Darian Durant and the upstart Als and the Mike Reilly-led Eskimos.
Oct. 27, 2017 | Week 19 Hamilton at Ottawa Montreal at Saskatchewan
Darian Durant spent 11 seasons with the Riders before being traded this off-season (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)
On Oct. 27, Darian Durant could do something he’s probably never imagined: play a game in Riderville as a visitor.
Will the Riders fans heckle or embrace their former star? Either way, circle this game, write in caps lock, bold it, put a hundred exclamation marks — whatever. The second meeting between cross-division foes will be epic.
Oh, and the first game in the double-header is nice too. Ottawa and Hamilton could decide the East in Week 19.
Nov. 4, 2017 | Week 20 Edmonton at Saskatchewan
Namaan Roosevelt took the next step as the Riders’ top receiver throughout 2016 (Matt Smith/CFL.ca)
The last day of the regular season and the second-last game as the Esks and Riders kick off a CFL Week 20 double-header in Edmonton.
There will be no doubt by this time whether Chris Jones’ plan is working in Riderville.
Will the playoffs be on the line?
Nov. 12, 2017 | Division Semi-Finals Matchups TBD
Justin Medlock swallows defeat after missing a potential go-ahead kick vs. BC (Jimmy Jeong/CFL.ca)
Last year’s division semis produced two instant classics in Hamilton and Vancouver.
The beauty of this time of year is that every team has hope it’ll reach this point.
Nov. 19, 2017 | Division Finals Matchups TBD
Greg Ellingson makes a snow angel after scoring in the Eastern Final (The Canadian Press)
You never know what you’re going to get in the division finals, something we all witnessed last season.
The Eskimos and REDBLACKS produced an instant classic in the snow while the Lions were blown out by the Stamps.
This year’s division finals will bring more lasting memories for everyone involved.
Nov. 26, 2017 | 105th Grey Cup Championship Matchup TBD
Images of Henry Burris celebrating another Grey Cup will live in eternity (The Canadian Press)
The last few Grey Cups have forged life long memories, sometimes for all the wrong reasons. Either way, whether it was Brandon Banks and a touchdown called back or Ernest Jackson’s bobbling catch in overtime, Grey Cup lore is impossible to break.
Who will be the hero this year? We patiently await as November inches ever so slightly closer.