There are particular figures within the CFL that your thoughts will at all times assign to 1 group, regardless of the place their profession takes them. Danny Maciocia is actually certainly one of them.
Now in his fourth 12 months because the Montreal Alouettes’ common supervisor, Maciocia received his begin along with his hometown franchise in 1996 as an unpaid high quality management coach. He climbed his approach to the Als’ offensive coordinator place earlier than taking these abilities to Edmonton in 2002. In 2005 he was named the group’s head coach and in 2008 turned the group’s GM. As Edmonton and Montreal engaged in a years-long Gray Cup back-and-forth, that purple and blue group continued to wrap itself round Maciocia’s burgeoning profession.
“That is my fifth journey to the Gray Cup,” Maciocia stated this week, “and the Alouettes have at all times been within the image. I’ve been with them twice…and the opposite 3 times once I was in Edmonton, we confronted off towards the Als. It looks like I can’t shake them,” he stated, laughing. “So that you would possibly as properly be a part of them.”
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When Maciocia’s time in Edmonton got here to an finish in 2010, it was a full decade earlier than he’d work within the CFL once more. He ran the Montreal Carabins program from 2011-2019, holding him close by the Als as they transitioned from a CFL powerhouse within the tail finish of Anthony Calvillo’s profession, by what turned out to be a really tumultuous stretch.
Between 2015 and 2018, the Als went a mixed 21-51 and endured a four-year playoff drought. Attendance bottomed out because the group went by eight head coaches from the time that Marc Trestman left the group for the 2013 season and Maciocia taking up for Khari Jones in 2022. The group went by two possession adjustments between 2020 and 2023, with the league taking short-term possession in between every transfer.
Seeing the robust occasions, first as a U SPORTS coach within the metropolis weighed closely on Maciocia.
“It appeared like they weren’t aligned, I suppose, is a phrase that might come to thoughts,” he stated.
“There wasn’t a lot stability there. I don’t know what number of quarterbacks they went by. I don’t know what number of coaches they went by. I don’t know what number of coordinators they went by. That wasn’t actually typical of who they had been earlier to that as a result of there was stability and there was alignment. It simply received misplaced there throughout these years.”
Pierre Karl Péladeau’s buy of the group in early March, coupled with the Alouettes’ great playoff run that noticed them take down the 16-2 Toronto Argonauts to make it to the one hundred and tenth Gray Cup recreation has given the franchise one of the best outlook it’s had maybe since Calvillo was taking part in and Gray Cup journeys had been the usual in Montreal.
For a choose few which might be with the group now which have ties to these attempting years, this season and this week particularly have been a breath of contemporary air that’s changed what some apprehensive could be a final gasp for the franchise.
Offensive lineman Kristian Matte was a rookie with the Als in 2010 when the group received its final Gray Cup. He noticed a shift with the group in 2019 when it ended its playoff drought and the arrival of Maciocia as GM.
“Mr. Péladeau has finished every part for this group and we’re very grateful to him as a result of with out him, who is aware of the place the Alouettes could be proper now?” he stated. “It’s a particular feeling. Montreal is a particular metropolis. Whenever you’re successful, while you’re entering into the playoffs, every part turns into a bit extra particular. We’re trying ahead to giving an excellent present this week.”
Als’ operating backs coach Tyrell Sutton suited up for the group for five-and-a-half seasons, from 2013-2018. A CFL All-Star in 2015, he tried in useless to snap the group’s playoff drought. He’s soaked up each second in Hamilton this week, watching head coach Jason Maas’ joyful group put its recreation plan collectively.
“It was simply looking for redemption,” Sutton stated of his time taking part in as an Alouette. Everybody wished to efficiently transition from the times of Trestman and Calvillo, however the items by no means appeared to line up.
“Simply me alone from ’13 to ’17, ’18 it was a change of a head coach each two, three years. Place coaches, administration employees. The 2010s was not the last decade of the Alouettes, to say the least. However the brand new decade is right here and so they’ve been doing completely phenomenal.”
The Als have been a pleasure to look at on this Gray Cup week. They appear to have tried to get probably the most out of daily and each occasion of the week. Their practices begin with offensive linemen trickling out onto the sphere early to throw a frisbee. Spontaneous dance events escape amongst place group below blaring music at practices. It’s unbelievable, what stability can carry.
Whereas Sutton didn’t discover that group success as an Alouette, Montreal gave him a life he by no means anticipated when he first put his identify to paper to come back play in Canada. He met his spouse by the group. Their kids are rising up bilingual and consequently, Sutton is studying the language. Because the Als defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats within the Japanese Semi-Closing two weeks in the past, Sutton stood on the sidelines at Molson Stadium and took within the power from a crowd that Sutton the participant hardly ever received to expertise.
“I’d by no means seen it that packed and that loud with all these followers,” he stated. “I can solely thank them for sticking with us by that whole decade.”
By way of these lean years stuffed with change with homeowners, GMs, coaches, quarterbacks and every part in between, Matte by no means questioned leaving his hometown group. Bookending his profession with these Gray Cup appearances, he’s been rewarded for an timeless loyalty.
“The Alouettes had been my dream group,” Matte stated.
“I grew up watching the Alouettes and eager to play for the Alouettes. Then I received the possibility to play with a few of these guys that I watched, in order that was very particular in and of itself.
“They drafted me, they gave me an opportunity. They believed in me, so I used to be affected person. Then when it was time, I believed in them. Loyalty is big. I’ve received the Alouettes tattooed on my coronary heart eternally, it’s by no means going to vary. That’s what it’s, loyalty. They believed in me and I consider on this group. Even by the robust years, that’s what builds character. You’ve received to construct character out of these moments. Issues are beginning to search for now and we need to hold this going for some time.”
After taking the job in 2020, solely to have the pandemic throw a wrench on the league, then struggling by two possession adjustments, Maciocia is for the primary time able to embrace an low season with stability.
“Whenever you look again at the start of the 12 months to see the place we’re at and to see the place we’re at proper now,” Maciocia stated, trailing off. “That is going to make for a pleasing low season; one thing that we haven’t skilled right here within the final three years. That is precisely the place we need to be. Sure, we need to be at this massive recreation however we additionally need that stability and an low season the place you may give attention to the duties at hand.”