June 25, 2012

Stephen: Don’t call it a complete rebuild in Calgary

The names of the departed are few, but prominent.

With Henry Burris, Joffrey Reynolds, Ken-Yon Rambo and Burke Dales all wearing new colours, one has to wonder if the chain saw has officialy been applied to the Stampeders’ roster.

With the amount of talent from last year gone, the easy assumption is that the team has been completely rebuilt.

READ: Stampeders release Rambo, trade Tisdale back to Tiger-Cats
The Calgary Stampeders were busy over the weekend, releasing Ken-Yon Rambo and trading Geoff Tisdale back to Calgary

However, the reality is that the Stampeders have retained the vast majority of their players from last season.  Based on the final roster out of training camp, the Stampeders have just nine newcomers on their 46-man active list.  

Four of those players come with previous CFL experience, while five are rookies who survived the two-a-day grind.

However, the players who have moved on have been fixtures for many years.  The latest player to move on was Rambo. The fan-favourite veteran of seven years struggled all throughout training camp with an injury, forcing the team to release him at camp’s end.

“It’s unfortunate that Ken-Yon hasn’t been 100 per cent healthy and hasn’t been able to practice with our club for a large portion of training camp,” said General Manager, and Head Coach John Hufnagel.

“We want to thank Ken-Yon for everything he has done for the Calgary Stampeders and wish him all the best in the future.  He will be considered one of the greatest players in franchise history.”

Long-time teammate Nik Lewis echoed those sentiments.

“It sucks,” lamented Lewis.

“It’s the last official piece of what was combined in 2005 with me, Joff (Reynolds), Hank (Burris), Ken-Yon and (Jeremaine) Cope. Good luck to him, I know he will be playing somewhere.”

Lewis may be one of the last standing in the class of 2005, but he is not the longest serving Stampeder. That honour belongs to special team standout Marc Calixte who is entering his 10th season as a Stampeder.  

Lewis, however, is the longest serving import as he suits up for a ninth season in Calgary red and black.

Quarterback Kevin Glenn has the most CFL experience on the team as he enters his 12th season with his fourth different squad.

The elder statesman on the team is long-snapper Randy Chevrier who turned 36 during training camp. By contrast, the youngest Stampeder is rookie safety Keenan MacDougall who turned 21 in March.

MacDougall may have to shed his rookie status in a hurry during this week’s opener against Montreal. Incumbent starting safety Eric Fraser was injured in the pre-season finale in Regina, meaning he will start the season on the one-game injured list.

So does that mean MacDougall would have to make his debut against the legendary Anthony Calvillo?

“I think the coaches will put the players in a position to have success,” said the Saskatchewan product.

“We’ll prepare this week and go out there and get in the film room.”

The Stampeders have yet to declare MacDougall as the starting safety.  However, if he is the man in the middle, he will need all the film room time he can get.

MacDougall was just three years old when Calvillo tossed his first pass in 1994 as a member of the Las Vegas Posse.

The familiar may be gone for the Calgary Stampeders but there is still plenty of continuity.