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© 2023 CFL. All rights reserved.
© 2023 CFL. All rights reserved.
It all seems so simplistic and straightforward now that Nic Demski has scribbled his name on a three-year contract extension with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
He’s a born and bred Winnipegger, after all, and a man whose football journey has taken him from the Charleswood Broncos to the Oak Park Raiders and University of Manitoba Bisons before turning pro, first being drafted by the Saskatchewan Roughriders and then returning home to the Blue Bombers as a free agent in 2018.
Yet, it turns out this last negotiating period, which officially ended Sunday, was anything but simplistic and straightforward. In fact, it has been a wild and bumpy ride over the last few weeks for Demski with some extreme highs and lows. ‘Emotional rollercoaster?’ Yeah, not only is that too cliché, but it’s also an analogy that doesn’t even begin to describe how exacting the process has been.
“I’m just glad it got done, honestly,” began Demski Monday morning in a chat with Bluebombers.com.
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“It’s been stressful, but what do they say about all good things coming to those who wait? I was patient, let the cards fall where they had to and when it was time for (negotiations) to pick up the speed a little bit more, my team did a good job of the back and forth, being vocal, and communicating. At the end of the day, the deal got done.
“It went down to the last minute, but now I’m good. Now I’m on top of the world.”
The reasons are obvious as to why locking up Demski – not just for now, but for three seasons – are mammoth for the Blue Bombers. He’s been the club’s Most Outstanding Canadian in back-to-back seasons and posted career-best totals in 2022 with 64 receptions for 772 yards and 10 touchdowns while being named a West Division All-Star. All that despite missing five games.
There was also a stretch between Aug. 25 and Oct. 8 when Demski consistently flashed his still-emerging game-breaking skillset, as he scored at least one touchdown in each of the six games the Blue Bombers played – tying him with Charles Roberts for the second-longest consecutive touchdown streak in franchise history behind Milt Stegall’s eight in 1997.
On top of that, Blue Bombers fans love their hometown products – the announcement on social media posts of the return of every pending free agent back to late last November was always accompanied by some variation of ‘Good, but what about Demski?’ – and there’s value in that for the team and for a player who turned 29 in December and seemingly has lots of runway in front of him.
That meant something to him as he thought through the negotiations, just as did the familiarity of the offence, the coaching staff, and, especially, his teammates.
“That definitely was a big impact in my decision,” Demski said. “I know what we have here and there is that sense of unknown in possibly going somewhere else. I know other guys and other coaches on other teams, but this is what I know, and this is where I have excelled. I wouldn’t say ‘scared’ is the right word, but the hesitancy about change was there, even if I knew there were other opportunities.
“My best opportunity is here.”
Again, though, as the official start of CFL Free Agency approached – the market opens on Feb 14 at noon ET, but teams could officially begin making offers with players on Sunday – Demski couldn’t help but think about what playing elsewhere might look like.
“That’s part of what made this so stressful,” he said. “I never wanted to think about leaving. It almost got to the point where I had to start thinking outside of the box. This is a business at the end of the day, and I understood the risk if they didn’t want me, or we pushed the buttons too hard. You play all those factors into it.
“I keep saying it, but I wanted to be here. My heart and my mind was always about coming back to Winnipeg. I never fully took myself out of that, but I was preparing to look at other opportunities just because of the business we are in. This is what pays the bills for me, and a family will probably be brought into our life soon. That was a main thing: if I was staying in Winnipeg, I wanted to work out a long-term deal. I want to be here and this allows me to plan longer term into my future.
“I’m just completely thankful and honoured that they want to do that with me, too, and they have me in their plans. I just can’t wait to work and grind with the boys we have in our locker room.”