MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes will recognize several familiar faces when they size up their next opponents, including former head coach Marc Trestman.
The Alouettes play host to Trestman and the Toronto Argonauts at Percival Molson Stadium on Friday. It’s the first time Trestman returns to Montreal as a head coach in nearly five years.
“Trestman is a person and coach who will always have an important place in my life,” said centre Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, who won two Grey Cups under Trestman in 2009 and 2010. “We’ve lived big moments together.
“We consider each other part of the same family, and that will always stay that way. Our names are both on the Grey Cup together, and that’s for eternity. We’re linked forever.”
Brodeur-Jourdain is one of seven current players who were on the roster when Trestman coached his final game as an Alouette on Oct. 28, 2012. The other six are John Bowman, Martin Bedard, Chip Cox, Kristian Matte, Daryl Townsend and Kyries Hebert.
“It’s definitely going to be different,” admitted Hebert. “It will feel a little weird. But at the end of the day, we have a job to do. We’re not paid to play football, we’re paid to win games. They’re an East Division rival and they’re in our way.”
Trestman compiled a 59-31 record in five seasons with the Alouettes from 2008-2012. The 61-year-old was named the Canadian Football League’s coach of the year in 2009. He is the only Alouettes coach to win back-to-back Grey Cups. Trestman and the Als parted ways when the Minnesota native was offered a head-coaching job with the Chicago Bears.
“Montreal will always be special and coaching there will always be special,” Trestman told the Argonauts website this week. “But once you get off the train and you go to work, you’re working until you leave. It’s never really been part of my makeup to get caught up in that.
“We’re going on a business trip.”
Trestman won’t be the only one returning to the city he once called home. Jim Popp, Montreal’s former general manager and a member of the Alouettes organization for 21 years, is now Toronto’s GM.
On the field, the Argonauts have three starters who were on Montreal’s roster last season: veteran slotback S.J. Green (traded to Toronto for a sixth-round draft pick), linebacker Bear Woods (released by Montreal in the off-season) and defensive lineman Jeff Finley (signed by Toronto as a free agent in the off-season).
“It’s going to be a different kind of atmosphere,” said running back Tyrell Sutton. “I’ve never gone up against Bear in a real-life situation. It should be a good one. I’m not going to poke the bear.”
Added Brodeur-Jourdain: “Obviously before and after the game, there will be some strong emotions. But when the game starts, as soon as I get on the pitch, I’m facing the Toronto Argonauts. It’s a team I don’t like very much and it’s a game I want to win.”
The Argonauts are first in the East with a 3-4 record. The Alouettes are right behind them at 2-4. Both teams have lost two games in a row. They play each other twice in the next eight days in a home-and-away series that could have major implications on the season standings.
Montreal also plays Toronto a third and final time on Sept. 23.
“This month is crucial,” said receiver Nik Lewis. “To be one game out of first place and to play them three times is so crucial. To be able to win this one, and we know we have to win one of two in Toronto to win the tiebreak, that’s what our focus is.”
It appears rookie Jeff Mathews will get the start at quarterback for the Argonauts, replacing the injured Ricky Ray. Ray suffered a shoulder injury in Toronto’s loss last week against the Calgary Stampeders.
Matthews has yet to take a snap for the Argos this season. The 25-year-old has appeared in 10 CFL games at the quarterback position in his career, all with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He’s thrown seven touchdowns and nine interceptions.
“I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m not too concerned about their players,” said Alouettes head coach Jacques Chapdelaine. “Every team has to contend with injuries. I think either of their replacement quarterbacks is capable of running the playbook.”
Notes: The Als and Argos faced off in a pre-season game in Toronto. The Argonauts won 24-20.