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What Now For The 2-1 Toronto Argonauts?

The Toronto Argonauts are not playing at BMO Field on Thursday Night. And the Argos will likely not be playing at all in Week 4 against the Edmonton Elks. All indications suggest that the CFL is exhausting all options for the game to be rescheduled for later this season. Edmonton’s COVID outbreak of a reported 11 players has created a great pause in resuming any football activities, so the league is putting the Elks in isolation until further notice. Edmonton’s next game on their schedule is not until September 6th. So the league and team have time to rectify the situation.

Rescheduling The Toronto Argonauts-Edmonton Elks Game

The CFL and its decision-makers are working behind the scenes to determine when and where the Argonauts-Elks game can be rescheduled. The operative word is where. There are already hints that the game might involve some hurdles in lining up a return date at BMO Field.

For starters, Toronto FC has specific home dates at BMO on their calendar, during the timeframe that the Argonauts are on their bye in weeks 9 and 11. Like for example, Wednesday, September 29th, and Saturday, October 16th at BMO Field. These dates for Toronto FC make it difficult for the Argos to set up shop and play at BMO. Edmonton’s bye weeks (8 & 12) don’t correspond with Toronto’s. So that makes it more challenging for the two teams and the league to find a date on the calendar that works.

Adding to the issues would be the possibility of stacking games on top of each other in such a short period of time. The Argonauts already have games scheduled on short rest: September 6th and 10th and October 6th and 11th. Trying to sandwich an Edmonton game around those dates in the season will negate any normal rest; the team would have had to recover.

Imagine a scenario where the Argos played Edmonton on Monday, October 18th at BMO. The team would then be required to play games on the 6th, 11th, 18th, and 22nd of that month. By November, the Boatmen’s ship would surely sink.

Not that the Toronto Argonauts franchise historically is not accustomed to playing unorthodox schedules that have handicapped their team. But making the team play 4 games in a 2-week span is not only hazardous for player safety and health. It is a competitive disadvantage that could lead to not only losses on the field but the loss of many players to injury.

No matter how you slice it, weighting a schedule in that fashion is patently unfair to Toronto and their players.

There is a real possibility that BMO won’t be available for a redo with Edmonton. The best option would be scheduling the game somewhere in the GTA, but the likelihood is that the Argos head to Edmonton to play a makeup game with the Elks. With the Edmonton franchise fronting the bill financially because Toronto would be losing a home game.

In that scenario, The Argos would be, in essence, punished for the sins of Edmonton so that the CFL can avoid having the stench of a forfeit or losing a game on their calendar. Here’s hoping that the league finds the right solution and compromise.

The Positives To The Argos Not Playing In Week 3

In the meantime, Edmonton’s issues have put the 2-1 Boatmen in limbo, but it’s potentially an advantageous scenario for Toronto in the short term.

The Argonauts are coming off one of their most uplifting and promising wins in quite some time. A 30-23 victory over the defending CFL champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

In their first home game in 665 days, the new-look Argos gave its fanbase and the entire league evidence that they might be serious contenders this year. Toronto was hoping to carry that momentum into Week 4 at home against Edmonton.

The advantage to Toronto’s impromptu bye in week 4 is that the team gets to regroup and prepare for what could be a season-defining stretch in weeks 5 and 6 against heated division rival, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Boatmen will play the Cats twice in a matter of five days. Starting with the 50th chapter of the Labour Day Classic in Hamilton on Monday, September 6th, and then a rematch that Friday at BMO Field.

The truth is that playing Edmonton on Thursday, despite being at home, was not going to be easy for the Argonauts. Toronto would have been playing that game on short rest, and the Boatmen have had to deal with a series of injuries through three weeks of the season.

Prominent layers like Cordarro Law, Drake Nevis, and others have yet to suit up for the Double Blue. While starting, players like Juwan Brescasin, Shane Ray, Kony Ealy, Cameron Judge, and others have all gone down to injury. This past Saturday’s defeat of Winnipeg saw DeVaris Daniels leave the game with a head injury. Although Daniels is much better now, getting clearance after that type of injury is difficult in a short time frame.

The Argos also have standout players like starting OL Philip Blake playing in considerable pain. Blake has been dealing with an arm injury since week one. He’s toughed it out for the team, but this newfound bye week will give players like Blake a chance to recover and rest for Hamilton.

By the time Toronto gets to Hamilton to play the Tiger-Cats in week 5. It will have been 16 days since they last played. The Argos players and coaching staff should have plenty of prep time heading into that pivotal eastern division contest and the following game four days later.

Toronto Argonauts News And Notes

On Tuesday, The Canadian Football League announced that Argonauts QB Nick Arbuckle had been named week three’s Top Performer for his performance against Winnipeg. Arbuckle completed 23-of-32 passes for 310 yards and one passing touchdown while rushing for another major. This was Arbuckle’s fourth career 300-yard passing game, and it helped Toronto get to 2-1 and first place in the East Division.

The Argonauts media relations team officially announced two Toronto transactions on Tuesday. But other transactions have flown under the radar to start the week. And there’s one that could be related that hasn’t been announced yet.

Not only did the Argonauts release OT Brandon Smith, but they moved OT Terry Poole from their active roster to the practice squad. Potentially setting the stage for another offensive tackle to join the Argos. Although not yet officially announced or confirmed by the team. Sources are indicating that former Hamilton Tiger-Cats offensive linemen Trevon Tate is on his way headed to Toronto.

Tate, 25, was Hamilton’s week one starter at left tackle, winning the job in training camp. But an injury sidelined him in week 2, and this past Saturday, the Tiger-Cats released him. When Hamilton head coach Orlondo Steinhauer was asked why his team released Tate, he told the media. “Just a collective decision. We’re doing some shuffling on the O-line, and we released a very good player who has already been picked up. We knew he wasn’t going to be on the market long, and we moved forward in a different direction”.

Trevon Tate started 49 games at the University of Memphis.  The All-American Athletic Conference first-team left tackle spent time with the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders before signing on with Hamilton in 2019. If he is fully healthy, Tate could face his former team in weeks 5 and 6.

The Loss Of An All-Time Argo

Longtime Boatmen fixture Nick Volpe, who spent nearly seven decades with the franchise, has passed away. He was 95. Nick Volpe played a key role in the Toronto Argonauts’ victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the infamous 1950 “Mud Bowl.” Volpe is a member of the University of Toronto Athletic Hall of Fame. Much like his playing career, where he played kicker, HB, safety, and returned kicks. Volpe played multiple roles off the field as well. In his post-playing career with the Argos and his career away from the CFL.

The Toronto Argonauts released this statement on the passing of Nick Volpe.

The Toronto Argonauts organization is saddened to learn that one of the oldest living former members of the Double Blue, Nick Volpe, passed away Saturday morning.

Volpe suited up for Toronto from 1949-1952, helping the Argos win the Grey Cup in 1950 and 1952. Volpe played a key role in the infamous “Mud Bowl” of 1950, kicking two field goals and helping beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 13-0, the last time a team has shut out their opponent in the Grey Cup. The University of Toronto alum would enter the coaching ranks after his playing career, helping the Argos farm team, Toronto Balmy Beach, to an ORFU championship in 1953. He would also coach the Lakeshore Bears, a junior football team, from 1955-1963. Volpe returned to the Argos in 1988 and worked under several capacities, including the head of Canadian scouting for several years. All in all, the former Argo ran his Grey Cup championship total to seven (1950, 1952, 1991, 1996, 1997, 2004, and 2012) as a player/employee of the team and never lost a Grey Cup game. A member of the U of T Athletic Hall of Fame, Volpe helped the Blues win the Yates Cup in 1948. Outside of football, he worked as a superintendent with the Peel Board of Education, with CFRB radio, and was an isolation director for CTV football telecasts from 1972-1987.

The Toronto Argonauts organization extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Nick Volpe.

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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