CALGARY — The last Labour Day game was a banner one for Stampeders receiver Maurice Price with three touchdown catches totalling 165 yards.
A photo of him giving one of his touchdown balls to his girlfriend graced a Calgary newspaper front page the morning after the 37-34 win over the Edmonton Eskimos.
So Price is feeling a sense of occasion for the next edition of the Labour Day Classic, particularly because Monday’s game will be his first since breaking his hand in the season-opener June 28.
“I’m looking to try to repeat those efforts, but it’s just about making plays and being consistent and finally getting chance to contribute again (after) being out for so long,” Price said Thursday after a wet practice at McMahon Stadium.
The recipient of that football last year is now his fiancee as Price and Nicole Romero are engaged.
“She told me yesterday ’I want to make that front page again,”’ Price said.
Price’s 102-yard touchdown catch against Montreal before breaking his hand in that first game was Calgary’s longest since Terry Vaughn’s for 104 yards in 1996.
The offence welcomes the return of Price’s speed, which is a challenge for the opposition’s backfield.
The fourth-year Stampeder from Orlando, Fla., started 13 games and had 57 catches for 788 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013.
His return was one of several developments this week in the lead-up to the Labour Day Classic, which already had enough hype as a clash of the CFL’s 7-1 teams.
This Battle of Alberta will be for sole possession of first place in the CFL with the two sides meeting again in Edmonton on Sept. 6.
After beating the Esks 26-22 in Edmonton on July 24, Calgary can clinch the season series with a victory Monday.
“It’s no secret we’re the best two teams in the league record-wise, so this Labour Day game in particular is really going to be exciting for everybody, for both teams, all the fans,” Price said.
“All the games are big, but it’s the Battle of Alberta and who ever wins this wins the series for the season. That’s huge too.”
The Stampeders and Eskimos will also debut their third “signature” jerseys and helmets, although Calgary took the ta-da out of Monday’s unveiling with the announcement the jerseys will go on sale Friday in their store.
The new helmet adorned with a mirrored galloping horse has been on the players’ heads at practice since last week.
Among Thursday’s moves, Calgary brought back veteran defensive back Quincy Butler and added him to the practice roster.
The team suspended the 30-year-old from San Antonio in May when he was charged with two counts of assault stemming from an incident outside a Calgary casino.
Butler pleaded guilty to one charge of assault and was sentenced to 18 months probation.
“Quincy is a man that made a serious mistake,” head coach and general manager John Hufnagel said. “I had a lengthy discussion with him. I know he’s genuinely remorseful for his actions, but I also believe he’s deserving of a second chance.
“I expect him to compete and try and get a roster spot. Off the field, stay out of trouble. He’s on probation, so it’s all up to him now. I’m giving him the chance.”
Butler played 16 regular-season games for the Stampeders from 2011 to 2013. He’s had 42 tackles, two interceptions, a pair of fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. In three playoff games, Butler has 14 tackles and an interception.
“In life, you make mistakes and I was just happy the Stamps, the organization, Coach Huf gave me second chance to prove myself,” Butler said.
“I’m here to be better on the field and off the field as well.”
Also, a source told Dan Ralph of the The Canadian Press that Calgary added suspended NFL receiver Josh Gordon to their negotiation list, but Hufnagel would not confirm it.
“My neg list is confidential information,” was the coach’s response.
Gordon, 23, posted 1,649 receiving yards and nine touchdowns for the Cleveland Browns in 2013. The NFL suspended him for the season for testing positive for marijuana.
Under CFL rules, a player who is suspended by the NFL is not eligible to play in Canada. If the Browns released Gordon he would no longer be under contract in the NFL and would be able to sign with the Stampeders.
Hufnagel expects receiver Joe West to play Monday despite a family tragedy. West’s younger brother Brandon Hobdy was shot and killed in Arkansas just hours before West’s 129 yards on four catches in Sunday’s win over the Redblacks in Ottawa.
West was absent from Thursday’s practice.
“Joe is in town,” Hufnagel said. “He went to meetings this morning, but late morning he had to have some conversations on the telephone with his family.”
Two men have been arrested in connection with the shooting death of Hobdy and another victim, according to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department’s website. Hobdy, 23, played receiver at Southern Arkansas University.