The CFL has released its 2005 Schedule and once again TSN will devote a good portion of its telecast time to following our Great old game. Bringing Canadians 54 CFL contests this year including 20 in HIGH DEFINITION!
The Sports Network will also for the first time bring us some pre season football, as they follow the Argonauts to Halifax on June 11th for the exhibition match against the Alouettes. That game quickly is becoming a litmus test for football interest in the Maritimes, an audition if you will for the folks down east to make their best presentation for the much discussed and often threatened 10th franchise. Other candidates for that fifth Eastern division franchise are Quebec City, Moncton and London. Halifax is generally considered the most likely to receive the eventual nod, though Quebec City has been making a case for expansion the last few years, based on the amazing success of college ball in the historic city.
While expansion is probably still a few years away, this years schedule promises many of the usual gems that make CFL football so popular. The traditional Labour Day classics, The Thanksgiving Day Weekend matchups and a newcomer to the rivalry game the Banjo classic, where the prairie kin get to battle for bragging rights.
CBC once again will gladly accept some CFL broadcasts (though sadly without their number one play by play guy Chris Cuthbert, unceremoniously dumped by the pork barrel network) filling in the spot formerly held by HockeyNight in Canada (and most recently Movie Night in Canada) with a Saturday night game of the week. The French cable outlet RDS will follow the Alouettes all season long, with all 18 games televised back into once again football mad Quebec.
Our TV coverage begins June 11th with that Argos and Alouette pre season matchup in Nova Scotia, TV then kicks off the regular season on June 22nd with the Ti Cats and Alouettes, followed three days later by a Grey Cup rematch between BC and Toronto, from there it's through the summer and into the fall, leading to the always exciting finale on November 27th and the 2005 Grey Cup Game from Vancouver.
All in all, only five games will not be broadcast this year on television in Canada, providing Canadians with a wide selection of football to follow. Having spent a cold winter and a miserable spring without any NHL Hockey, the CFL should benefit from a Canadian public starving for a sport to send some emotional attachment towards. While training camps are still a few months away, we're already reserving our space on the couch, right beside the beer cooler for the hot summer of action just ahead!