July 6, 2012

Stephen: Stampeders trying to shake off dome woes

It’s no secret the Toronto Argonauts have had their ups and downs over the last several seasons.  Truthfully, more downs than ups.

But when the Calgary Stampeders roll into town, you can throw the form chart and records out the window.  For some, inexplicable reason, crazy things happen to the Stampeders  in the Rogers Center when these teams get together.

The last eleven times the Stampeders have made the trip to Canada’s largest city, they have lost.

Tough time in Toronto

Doug Flutie and the Stampeders of the 1990s found success at SkyDome but the last decade has not been kind to Calgary when they travel to Toronto. The Stampeders have only won 8 of their 23 regular season trips to Canada’s biggest city.

Last year, as an example, the Stampeders were playoff bound while the Argonauts were setting their sights on the next year.  Somehow the Stampeders fell behind 28-9 at the half and ended up losing 31-29.

Previous years?  In 2007, they came to Toronto on the back end of a two-game Eastern swing.  They were walloped 48-15 on that long, long evening.

How about 2003 when quarterback injuries forced the Stampeders to place the immortal Cory Paus under center?  Somehow the Stamps hung in, losing by a narrow 13-12 score.

Then in 2002, a series of penalties against the Stamps turned a Calgary into a one-point Toronto victory.

There have been long fumble recoveries turning into Toronto touchdowns, not to mention crazy punt returns that have aided the Argos cause.    

You get the picture.  Something odd happens when Calgary heads to Toronto.  In fact, the Stampeders have won just eight of their twenty-three regular season trips to the Skydome/Rogers Center.  Pre-game records mean nothing between these teams.

However, they do have post-season success in the building.  The team captured the 1992 Grey Cup, jump starting the wildly successful 1990’s for the franchise.

Stamps have tried everything to shake their Toronto troubles.  They have left an extra day early to become familiar with the different time zone.  They have left just the day before so they can minimize distractions and the inevitable visiting that takes place.  

So, the Stampeders, fresh off a strong opening night performance against Montreal, will try to swim against the tide in Toronto.

For their 2012 Argos appearance, the team may be looking at some lineup changes.  Eric Fraser is expected to return at safety.  He missed the opener  with a concussion.  His replacement, however, had a strong outing.  Twenty-one year old rookie Keenan MacDougall scooped up a fumble early in the first quarter and scampered sixty-three yards into the end zone for a major.  

The team may also look at veteran receiver Marquay McDaniel  at slotback.  McDaniel spent the last half of 2011 on the Stamps practice roster after his release by Hamilton but has yet to appear in a regular season game for Calgary.

This game marks the start of the Stampeders annual Calgary Stampede road swing.  Following the Toronto game, the team will workout in Kingston, Ontario for several days, then head to Montreal for a game next Thursday.