Episode Five of Behind the R takes R-Nation deep inside the Ottawa Redblacks draft room.
From hearing the front office debate the merits of taking a more talented/bigger guy vs. someone with a higher upside, to hearing a “Let’s f*cking go!” shout amongst fist bumps as the team selected offensive lineman Zack Pelehos with the second overall pick, it’s safe to say fans in the nation’s capital have never experienced the draft quite like this.
I thought it was noteworthy to see general manager Shawn Burke say that draft night was really director of Canadian scouting Chad Hudson’s night and that he had total trust in him to lead things. The reason I found that comment so fascinating is that fans tend to assume that general managers control even the finest details of an organization.
But as Burke points out (and as viewers can see), Hudson is the expert when it comes to Canadian talent, and thus the draft. Often when he’s on camera Burke talks of wanting everyone around him to have a voice and share their thoughts — even if it results in intense debate — and clearly he walks the walk, because he does put those around him in positions to flourish and do their job.
Hudson talks of prioritizing size, speed and strength in order to build a team whose identity is big and fierce. Looking back at who Ottawa drafted, it’s evident the Redblacks stuck to that mantra.
The show reveals a neat tidbit in that the Redblacks brought Pelehos in for his third “meet and greet” the day before the draft and that he smashed his final interview out of the park. Having Hudson rave about the former Gee-Gee and mention that he plays angry, whilst showing clips of him serving up pancakes for OttawaU, was a tidy bit of editing from Josh O’Connor.
A couple of other things that stood out was that it’s funny to see Game One of the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins game playing on the background TV during the draft.
It was also cool to hear how high everyone in the front office is on fourth-round pick Daniel Valente, a defensive back from Western. Early in the episode head coach Paul LaPolice mentions he might have an avenue to start and later assistant GM Jeremy Snyder speaks highly of his ability to make plays from the safety position. If anything, it just reiterates how he’s a guy worth keeping a close eye on as training camp unfolds.
Finally Burke’s quote on the draft — but also the free agency process in general — in which he admits that although he’ll be right about some of the guys he brought in, he’ll also be wrong about others, but that what truly matters is how he — and by extension, the team — adapts to those successes and failures is what matters.
I think this showcases a high level of self-awareness from the GM and that’s something every fan should want from the man shaping the roster.
Overall, this episode does a nice job of setting the stage for training camp and delivers on its premise of providing R-Nation with new, novel access to the men calling the shots.
Behind the R is the brainchild of Josh O’Connor, a video dude and content creator for OSEG — and much like F1’s Drive to Survive — takes fans behind the curtain to show what goes down in the team’s front office. Click here reviews of Episode One, Two, Three and Four.