Hamilton Tiger-Cats go to Montreal to find their new GM

Changes and more changes. Hoping to salvage whatever they can from this already disastrous season, on the Hamilton Tiger-cats installed their new general manager yesterday. He leaves the Als to join the ails.

Marcel Desjardins was introduced as the new GM of football operations at the Canadian Football League team’s annual golf day. Desjardins comes to the Cats via his role as the assistant GM with Montreal for the past five seasons and the Tabbies are hoping the Burlington native packed some of the Alouettes success into his briefcase before he left.

“Finding the right GM to lead our team has been a lengthy process,” said owner Bob Young. “Rob (Katz) has done a great job and since his first day the main priority was to find a successor. With Marcel we have found the right individual.” Katz had stepped into the GM’s role on an interim basis without any football operations experience and now can focus on his expertise on the business side of running the team.

Desjardins arrival comes about 24 hours after the talent strong but performance poor 2-9 Ticats dispatched offensive co-ordinator Joe Paopao and offensive line coach Kanu Kauahi. And defensive lineman Adriano Belli was traded away to Montreal the same day.

While in Montreal, Desjardins was responsible for contract negotiations, scouting, salary management, budget operations, training camp and player related administrative issues for the team. Prior to joining the Als he worked for the CFL head office for five years, supervising league transactions and interacted with the National Football League, NFL Europe, and the Arena Football League.

“Growing up near Hamilton and following the Ticats as a youngster, this is a dream opportunity for me that I couldn’t pass up. I’m very excited to become part of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats organization,” said Desjardins. Ticat owner Bob Young said that while other candidates had been considered, including some from the U.S., Desjardins CFL experience and his appreciation of the Hamilton football scene made him the ideal choice.

Katz echoed those words. “Marcel has a unique skill set to become a successful general manger in this league,” said Katz. ” We were impressed with Marcel’s skill in recruiting and building a team within a system. I’m convinced his experience and leadership will help us build a winning team.”

Katz’s priority will be to find a head coach for the team. Ron Lancaster assumed the role on an interim basis after Greg Marshall’s rapid rise to stardom just as rapidly plummeted. Marshall, who came over from the McMaster Marauders, was named head coach in 2004 and led the team to a 9-8-1 record, which the year previous was 1-17. That earned him CFL Coach of the year honours. But in 2005 the team went 5-13 and when this season started at 0-4, Marshall was let go.

Prior to his dismissal, the Cats went on an aggressive shopping spree in the off season bring in a number of players that promised success on the field. While the Cats seem to have a competitive team on paper, the results have been otherwise.

Hamilton could find itself with another talent problem. Home-grown running back star Jesse Lumsden was released by the NHL’s Washington Redskins yesterday. He could be placed on the team’s practice roster if he doesn’t sign with another NFL team by Sunday.

Or he could come back to Hamilton which holds his rights. If he were to return to the Steel Town that would give the Tiger-Cats one of the league’s richest running attacks, with Josh Ranek and Corey Holmes already in place. It might also give the Cats some trade material to improve other areas.