Marcel Desjardins was fired as the general manager of the Ottawa Redblacks early Monday morning.
Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group president and CEO Mark Goudie visited him in his office at 6:30 a.m. ET to tell him that he was being relieved of his duties effective immediately.
“I said: ‘Well, I think you guys are making a mistake, but that’s up to you guys and thanks very much.’ I packed my bag and I came back home,” Desjardins told TSN 1200 in Ottawa.
The longtime CFL personnel man said that Goudie didn’t elaborate regarding the decision, simply indicating that the team was making a change.
“When your record is what it is, you never know. They’ve always talked at OSEG about continuity and those things, I know I bring a lot of right things to the table,” said Desjardins. “This is the business we’re in and it is what it is and I’ll be fine. I’m home and I’m with my wife and that’s probably the best thing there is coming out of this.”
Desjardins was hired in January 2013 as the first GM in team history. He finishes his tenure in Ottawa with a 46-71-2 record in the regular season, 3-1 record in the playoffs, and 1-2 record in the Grey Cup.
Despite a 2-9 start to the season — the Redblacks lost 32-3 to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday in Week 12 — Desjardins still believes that the team was on the verge of turning things around.
“I think that we’re on track despite what the record is. I mean, there are obviously things that I could have done better but there are things that a lot of people could have done better. At the end of the day, our record is what it is but again, we do a lot of things the right way,” he said.
“We just don’t end up with the results and that’s the disappointing part. I take responsibility for that. At the end of the day, if there’s anything to be learned from this it’s when decisions have to be made, make sure you control your own destiny and maybe I wasn’t in the right mode where that’s concerned.”
The 55-year-old denied rumours that the team has operated on a shoe-string budget, indicating that they’ve always spent to the salary cap. This year was slightly different due to COVID-19 and the late retirements of highly-paid nationals Brad Sinopoli and Alex Mateas, but the franchise has always had enough money to sign top players.
Desjardins isn’t a sentimental person. He’s proud to have been the only general manager in team history and won a Grey Cup in 2016, but it sounds like he’s ready to move on.
“I’m looking ahead, I’m not looking back. I’m not concerned about anything, really, other than I’m just happy to be home and can actually relax and not think about the B.S. that goes on behind the scenes that nobody’s aware of.”
When asked if he has any final words for the fans in Ottawa, Desjardins thanked those who supported him while acknowledging those who didn’t.
“Some of them have been great, some of them have been very difficult on me specifically,” he said. “To those that were supportive, thank-you, and to those who weren’t, you got what you wanted.”