Montreal Alouettes general manager Danny Maciocia is preparing for an eight game schedule in 2020 and training camp starting in August amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Commissioner Randy Ambrosie stated the earliest the CFL might return to play – for a shortened but meaningful season – is September due to COVID-19. The final decisions whether games are played will depend on what the Canadian governments and medical officials deem best for the safety of citizens and athletes across the country. Front offices and coaching staffs need to prepare for a target date.
“If it is an eight-game schedule, which is what we’ve talked about with the announcement from the commissioner, it’s so important we come out of the gate ready to play,” Maciocia told TSN 690 radio in Montreal.
“How do we prepare for that opening game and we come out and we’re able to be productive Week 1, knowing full well that we’re dealing with eight regular season games.”
Maciocia plans to revert back to his U Sports coaching days at the University of Montreal to serve as a partial blueprint for the Als planning. He utilized a mix of practice days with recovery days – pool and yoga sessions – trying to ensure the Carabins had full energy for the start of the season.
“We never had two practices in the same day knowing full well we were just two weeks removed from kicking off and that we’re dealing with an eight-game schedule, just like we are dealing with in the CFL with the 2020 schedule, the amount of games that we’re playing,” Maciocia said.
“Going to training camp in the month of August, if that’s the case, chances are you’re not going to have a rookie camp, chances are there won’t be any pre-season games. There’s going to be some bye weeks in there. It’s a nine team league, so there is always going to be a team that’s not playing.”
Even though it appears the potential training camp timeline Maciocia referred to is two weeks, it’s really six days and then the focus shifts to preparing for the opponent in Week 1. Game plans and starter reps become paramount as teams put effort into one goal: winning.
“We’re going to have to get quite strategic on how we practice, how long we keep them on the practice field. I’m sitting down and spending a lot of time with our medical staff just to figure out how can this possibly make sense as far as putting them on a practice field, what’s the recovery period,” Maciocia said.
The 52-year-old Maciocia is the only head coach to win a Vanier Cup and Grey Cup in his career. That means he knows what it takes to compete for Canadian football championships when it’s cold in Canada, but the real work is done in the off-season.
“The Grey Cup is not won in the month of November, the Grey Cup is won now. It’s the preparation that we need to put in place in order to put ourselves in a position to have success,” Maciocia said.
“By doing so you’re going to give yourself an opportunity to compete on a weekly basis and if you’re capable of doing that then you’re going to increase your chances of being successful in the month of November.”