Coming to grips with losing a fan favourite

As a sports fan, you get used to watching your favourite players depart your favourite teams.

Toronto Maple Leafs fans watched Wendel Clark get traded, 49ers fans dealt with the trading of Joe Montana, Knicks fans watched as Patrick Ewing spent the final two years of his career with the Seattle SuperSonics and Orlando Magic and Indianapolis Colts fans were forced to endure Peyton Manning playing in Denver. We no longer live in the day where a player will spend his entire career with one team. There are notable exceptions — Kobe Bryant never played for anyone but the Los Angeles Lakers — but the days of a player being a part of just a single franchise is rarer and rarer.

It might be hardest for CFL fans. Players become part of the community and entwine themselves in the social fabric of the cities they play in. But at the end of the day, football is a business, and it is one that rarely provides the happy ending fans hope for.

Such was the case for Tiger-Cats fans late last week as they watched long-time favourite Peter Dyakowski was released by the team after a 10-year run that began when the team selected him in the second round of the 2006 CFL Draft. The outpouring of sadness on social media was immediate.

And then the news hit just a few hours later: Peter Dyakowski had signed with the Toronto Argonauts. It was a shocking turn of events that left some fans wondering what to think.

Losing a long-time franchise player is one thing, but losing him to your most-hated rival almost feels like a betrayal. Just last year, Ticats fans were on the opposite end of this exchange when long-time foe Chad Owens left the double blue to don the black and gold. It was a weird thing to see at first — and some of us had a very visceral reaction when the news broke — but while it never looked quite right, Ticats fans got used to Owens making plays for the good guys. When Owens left the Ticats last week to sign with the Riders, the reaction was mostly positive from Ticats fans. Yes, including yours truly.

While most fans understand that football is a business, losing a player who spent a decade with your team is always a tough pill to swallow. I think many understood why Dyakowski was released; the writing was on the wall a year ago when the Ticats signed Ryan Bomben to a contract extension and traded up in the draft to select Brandon Revenberg. From there, it was only a matter of time.

That time came on Thursday.

Peter Dyakowski is no longer a Hamilton Tiger-Cat. That in and of itself is difficult to process. But Peter Dyakowski, the Toronto Argonaut, might be an even more difficult thing to wrap one’s head around.

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