Head coach Craig Dickenson prepared if COVID-19 takes him off the Riders sidelines

Photo courtesy: Hannah Souster

The Montreal Canadiens made a run to the Stanley Cup Final despite issues with COVID-19 and the Saskatchewan Roughriders are prepared for the uncertainty presented by the virus.

Habs head coach Dominique Ducharme tested positive for the coronavirus prior to Game 3 of his team’s semifinal series against the Las Vegas Golden Knights. He spent the next 14 days in quarantine at his Montreal home while assistant coach Luke Richardson stepped into the bench boss role.

With the the virus ever-present, Riders’ head coach Craig Dickenson has considered how the team would move forward if he contracted COVID-19. Dickenson admitted he’s planned for the ramifications the coronavirus can quickly create for a professional team.

“That’s a real thing and we’ll do everything we can to stay healthy and not get COVID, but if we do we’ll have people in place that can replace players, and we’ll have people that can replace coaches,” Dickenson said on a videoconference.

“We’ll make sure we get the right guy that takes over and handles the head coaching responsibilities. It could be Jason [Maas], it could be [special teams coach] Kent Maugeri, it could be Coach Shives [Jason Shivers] — we’ll have to figure out which guy works best and go from there.”

Maas is the only one of the three coaches named by Dickenson who has experience as a head coach in the CFL. He had a 39-33 record in the West Division with a 3-3 post-season mark during four seasons as the head coach of the Edmonton Elks.

“Jason’s got head coaching experience and successful head coaching experience. Certainly he’d be a guy that you could lean on, but he’s also going to be calling plays, so we’ll see,” Dickenson said.

Maas was hired by Dickenson to be the Riders’ offensive coordinator in December 2020. At the time, the former CFL quarterback signed a two-year contract which runs through the 2021 season. Even though past experience pointed to Maas as an ideal interim candidate, Dickenson wouldn’t divulge exactly who would step into his role if needed.

“I have thought about it, I’m not going to share that with everybody just yet. We have a plan in place, we’ll have coaches that can take over and make decisions on both sides of the football,” Dickenson said.

“If for some reason I’m out of a game, heck, we might play even better, who knows? They might not want me to come back after that — keep him in there for a couple more weeks.”

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.