- Free Agency
MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes announced Monday that Vice-President and General Manager Jim Popp will not return to the team in 2017.
Popp spent 21 seasons with the team after originally joining the Baltimore Stallions in 1994, who later moved to Montreal to become the Alouettes. The Als have played in eight Grey Cups since Popp took control, winning three of them in 2002, 2009 and 2010.
“Jim’s leadership over the last 20-plus years has created a football legacy, delivering Montreal three Grey Cups and eight East Division titles during his tenure,” said owner Bob Wetenhall. “We are very grateful for his dedication and personal sacrifice to the Alouettes franchise. We know this team is positioned to get back to its winning ways in 2017.”
The club already has commenced its search for the next general manager, the team also confirmed Monday, which would be the first the team has had since relocating to Montreal in 1996.
“We are 100 per cent committed to bringing the Grey Cup back to Montreal, and our record over the last several years has not been acceptable,” Lead Governor Andrew Wetenhall said. “Our general manager search is focused on candidates that will embrace the Club’s three guiding principles: delivering championship football to our fans; supporting the success of our players and staff; and giving back to the Montreal and greater Quebec community.”
The Alouettes have missed the playoffs in back to back seasons after appearing in the Eastern Final in 2014. A year after stepping in as a head coach in 2015, Popp relinquished coaching duties after a 3-9 start in 2016.
“It’s been a difficult last few years with our results,” Alouettes President and CEO Mark Weightman said in a press conference. “I think we just mutually agreed that now is the right time to make this change. Everybody is going to be emotional about this to a certain extent because we’ve all worked together for many years.”
Despite a 7-11 record and a tie for second in the East with Hamilton, the tie-breaker puts the Ticats in a home playoff game against Edmonton.
Still, the Alouettes finished their season on a positive note, finishing 4-2 in six games under interim head coach Jacques Chapdelaine, whose status remains in the air entering a pivotal off-season for the club.
“We do want to hire our next general manager first and then have him be a part of the evaluation and decision process for the naming of our next head coach,” Weightman said of finding replacements for both vacant positions. “We feel that’s the right way to go about doing things and the right order of things.”
Popp leaves behind a city that has treated him very well over his time there and says he will take those experiences with him no matter where he ends up.
“The City of Montreal will always be very special to me: I got engaged to the most incredible woman here, and my six wonderful children were all born here,” Popp said. “I also had the privilege of participating in three Grey Cup parades through the streets of Montreal. I will bring all of these good memories and so many more to my next opportunity in this great sport.”
More to come…