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Secondhand Eight: LeLacheur facing prostate cancer

Andrew Bucholtz
55 Yard Line

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Welcome back to Secondhand Eight, your regular Friday stop for the best CFL news and notes from around the web. This week's edition starts in Edmonton, where the city hosted a fantastic Grey Cup last week, but a team official is now dealing with significant health challenges.

Edmonton: Anthony Calvillo isn't the only person associated with the CFL facing upcoming surgery. Eskimos' president Rick LeLacheur (pictured above at a July press conference) announced today that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will be undergoing surgery later this month.

"I was diagnosed this past summer and thanks to early detection the prognosis for a full recovery is excellent," the 62-year-old said in a statement. "I expect to be back on the job in late January ready to hit the ground running for the 2011 Eskimo season."

It's certainly positive to hear that LeLacheur's prognosis is good, but prostate cancer is still a frightening disease. He is planning to stay on through 2012, though, and seems determined not to let illness get him down. I'm sure the thoughts of the CFL community will be with him through this difficult time.

In other Eskimos' news, the team has hired Duane Vienneau as a vice-president. Vienneau was the chairman of the Grey Cup organizing committee, and from this perspective at least, he did an excellent job. The game and the football events generally went smoothly, and so did the surrounding festival events and parties. He should be a strong addition to their team.

The Eskimos' head-coaching search is also continuing, with general manager Eric Tillman talking to Stampeders' assistants Dave Dickenson, Chris Jones and Rick Campbell. Those are just a few of the names on what appears to be a very long list of candidates, but the clubhouse favourite may still be Winnipeg defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Kavis Reed. Reed has worked on offence, defence and special teams in the CFL, and he does have a history with Tillman. On the field, they're also planning to bring quarterback Ricky Ray back.

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B.C.: The Lions don't have any head coaching uncertainty now that Wally Buono (pictured, right) has announced he's coming back as both head coach and general manager in 2011, and they don't even have much assistant coach drama since Buono announced he would stick with Jacques Chapdelaine as offensive coordinator instead of trying to lure Dickenson. They've even locked up their broadcast rights for four more years, committing to TEAM 1410 through the 2014 season. That strikes me as reasonably good news for B.C. fans; the move down the dial from sister station TEAM 1040 has allowed the Lions to improve their own brand by not running into conflicts with Canucks' games, and it's also put them on a station that covers football more regularly. Remaining part of the TEAM family should ensure that they're a frequent topic of discussion on both stations' talk shows as well. In other, more sad Lions' news, former head coach Dave Skrien has passed away.

Calgary: The big news in Cowtown this week was that co-owner and co-managing partner Ted Hellard, a crucial part of the group that's turned around the Stampeders' fortunes in recent years, will be stepping down. Hellard has been a key player in the Stampeders, filling every role from club president to managing partner, and generally doing a pretty solid job of it; many players were quite high on him, at least. It sounds like he wanted to get out of the way and move on to new challenges. We'll see how the club replaces him.

Saskatchewan: On the prairies, perhaps the most interesting story is that Roughriders' offensive lineman Gene Makowsky is planning to run for the Saskatchewan Party in the next provincial election. That takes place early next November, which might interfere with football, but Makowsky says he still wants to play, and Rob Vanstone thinks the Riders should bring him back. The other big Saskatchewan news is Ken Miller's decision to step down as head coach, which should lead to an interesting month or two before that void is filled. Dave Naylor says the top three candidates may be Doug Berry, Richie Hall and Greg Marshall (the Hamilton defensive coordinator, not the University of Western Ontario coach), while Vanstone focuses on Hall and Berry. Whoever winds up being picked could set off a coaching carousel.

Winnipeg: There may be a noticable lack of news on the stadium front, but there are still some interesting things going on in Winnipeg. The Bombers were able to sign star defensive end Odell Willis to a contract extension, which is certainly positive for them considering many had thought he might jump to the NFL. They haven't been able to lock up Phillip Hunt, though, and it sounds like he may be trying his luck south of the border. Meanwhile, FRC reporter of the year Ed Tait has a very interesting piece I didn't see until now, a look at one of the CFL's famous what-ifs: what if the Bombers hadn't passed on Anthony Calvillo 16 years ago?

Hamilton: Drew Edwards has the news on the departures of Tiger-Cats offensive coordinator Mike Gibson and offensive line coach Steve Buratto. He also weighs in on the news that Marshall might be considered in Saskatchewan. Meanwhile, Mark Masters spoke to Lions'/Argos' owner David Braley on a variety of subjects, and one of the most interesting notes is that Braley planned to meet new Hamilton mayor/former legendary Ticats' broadcaster Bob Bratina today to discuss the Hamilton stadium project. In addition to his CFL connections, Braley is also involved with the PanAm Games, which makes that meeting even more interesting.

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Toronto: Speaking of the Argonauts, there's plenty of CFL news in Hogtown too. Cory Boyd would like to sign a long-term deal with the team (he's there for one more year at the moment), and they might be very smart to lock him up given his incredible play this year. Masters also spoke with Canadian quarterback Danny Brannagan, who wants to return and perhaps compete for a starting job next year, and he has good interviews posted with defensive lineman Adriano Belli and team president Bob Nicholson.

Montreal: After their season came to a triumphant end last Sunday and was celebrated with a massive Grey Cup parade Wednesday, things have been understandably quiet on the Alouettes' front. Herb Zurkowsky has a couple of excellent pieces on Calvillo (pictured, right) and how he's approaching his upcoming surgery, though.

Thanks for reading 55-Yard Line! Feel free to get in touch with me by Twitter or e-mail if you have questions, comments or suggestions!

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