There are two early candidates in the mix to be the new bench boss in La Belle Province.
Sources say Stampeders defensive coordinator DeVone Claybrooks could be a front-runner for the position while Bombers offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice is also high on the list. There will be others.
Claybrooks has ties to the organization as a player when he suited up for Montreal in 2007 and 2008. The 40-year-old coach currently calls the shots for the stingiest defence in the league while Montreal has allowed the most points in the CFL (510). Claybrooks inked a three-year extension with Calgary that takes him through the 2019 season so the Alouettes would need permission from the Stamps to interview the defensive guru.
LaPolice is currently directing the league’s highest-scoring offence (504 points.) He’s been a key in quarterback Matt Nichols taking his game to a new level (quarterback coach Buck Pierce deserves some credit as well) while Andrew Harris has had his most dynamic season under LaPolice. The 47-year-old signed a two-year agreement before the 2016 season, which means he’s in the final year of that pact.
Current Alouettes general manager Kavis Reed also has ties to LaPolice. The two men have been on coaching staffs together in the past with the Argos (2001), Ticats (2004-2005), Riders (2009) and Bombers (2010). During their last stint together in Winnipeg, LaPolice hired Reed as his defensive coordinator for his first season as a head coach in the CFL.
Montreal owner Andrew Wetenhall has also started background work on prospective head coaches for the Alouettes, per sources. With that in mind, the kind of decision-making power a potential head coach might have will be a factor in who ultimately accepts the position. The list of potential candidates could be lowered if they’re told who has to be on the coaching staff. For example, Anthony Calvillo, a favourite of the Wetenhall’s after winning three Grey Cups as the Alouettes quarterback, has been a coach with Montreal since 2015. If there is an insistence that Calvillo stays that could change the outlook for anyone considering the job. That’s no slight against Calvillo it has more to do with the amount of say, more principle than anything, a head coach would want to have over his coaches.
One day after the younger Wetenhall said “it’s safe to say nobody’s job is safe” at a team golf tournament, general manager Kavis Reed fired Jacques Chapdelaine and defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe and took over as head coach. “Just Ok” was not enough for Reed.
Montreal had been beaten 41-18 in B.C. in advance of the pink slips being given out to Chapdelaine and Thorpe, but the Als have lost five straight games, getting outscored 202-71. At 3-13 Montreal sits last in the league while scoring a league-low 302 points, the only team in the CFL to average under 20 points per game (18.8).
Since 2013, after Marc Trestman left for a job in the NFL, Montreal has had five different men hold the head coach title in La Belle Province: Dan Hawkins, Jim Popp (twice), Tom Higgins, Jacques Chapdelaine and Kavis Reed. Over that span, the Alouettes have a 33-55 record and have missed the playoffs for a third consecutive season, tying a franchise-worst streak.