Ottawa Redblacks’ general manager Marcel Desjardins isn’t over-dramatic about his contract status with the franchise.
The only GM in franchise history signed an extension after Ottawa won the 2016 Grey Cup and it runs out on December 31, 2020.
“People can get caught up in all of the woe is me or trying to think through the what-ifs – I don’t think that’s healthy, so I don’t play that game. It’s not that you don’t think about it, but you don’t dwell on it, go down those rabbit holes and try to figure out every little detail. It’s not worth the hassle,” Desjardins told Postmedia reporter Tim Baines.
The 54-year-old graduated with a sports administration degree from Laurentian University. He was hired by the Montreal Alouettes in 1999 as assistant director of football operations and earned the assistant GM title in 2002 under Jim Popp. The Burlington native was hired as Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ GM midway through the 2006 season, but he was fired following the 2007 campaign. Desjardins went back to the Als from 2008 to 2012 until he was selected as Ottawa’s GM.
“You just have to be patient and have trust in the people that are involved in the decision making – the ownership groups and the league. If things don’t work out, you adjust. Anybody working in this league at any level usually has the ability to improvise and adjust on the fly. If you don’t, you don’t normally have a long tenure in one place,” Desjardins said.
He’s compiled a 44-62-2 win-loss-tie regular season record while in the nation’s capital, plus a 4-3 playoff mark which includes the 104th Grey Cup overtime victory. The Redblacks have qualified for the post-season in four of his six years as GM, but Ottawa had its worst showing in 2019 since the team’s expansion season with a 3-15 finish. With the 2020 season being cancelled, it could create uncertainty around Desjardins’ status with the Redblacks.
“We’ve talked about what next year looks like, but what the context of that is – I’ll just leave that to (Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group CEO) Mark (Goudie) and I for now. There’s no place I’d rather be, I don’t want to go anywhere else. This is too good a situation to think there’s anything better anywhere else,” Desjardins said.
Head coach Rick Campbell decided to leave after the dismal results in 2019 and was hired by the B.C. Lions as their bench boss. That allowed Desjardins to go out and bring in former Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice as head coach, inking him to a three-year pact through the 2022 season. Desjardins traded for quarterback Nick Arbuckle to give the Redblacks a new potential face of the franchise at quarterback.
“I mean that from the city to the ownership to OSEG management to the budgets they provide – all those things,” Desjardins said. “I made it clear when I got hired those were things that were important and they’ve proven to be what I hoped they would be over time. There’s no better situation in this league than what we have here in Ottawa.”