Montreal Alouettes owner Gary Stern warned, even before the start of the season, that he wouldn’t be standing still for long if his team started the season on a bad note. The first pawn on the board fell on Wednesday when coach Khari Jones showed the way out.
He is also general manager Danny Maciocia who will take on the interim role until the end of the 2022 season.
“This kind of decision is always difficult to make, but in our eyes it was necessary. It was better to take it at the beginning of the season, while there is still time, “Maciocia said in a statement.
This layoff comes 24 hours after the CEO said he was “not present”. How things can change fast in the world of professional sport.
A valuable coach
As for the players, winger Christophe Normand and linebacker Brian Harelimana had the same feelings when it came to Jones.
“Khari is a guy who has been loved and is a really nice person,” said the former.
“He was loved and respected by the whole locker room, for his part expressed the second. Sometimes you just need a breath of fresh air. But that doesn’t detract from Khari, who was a really good leader.”
While the 51-year-old’s dismissal came as a surprise to Normand, Harelimana hasn’t fallen off his chair upon hearing the news, considering the team have scored a disappointing 1-3 so far in 2022.
“We don’t really talk about it among ourselves, but we’ve all heard it. We knew we had to be better with the club we have. With each defeat, we felt the pressure get stronger, “said the defender.
“It is a pity that this is the way it is going, but our ultimate goal is to win a championship. In this perspective, I believe that this is a decision that will help us ”, continued Harelimana.
A matter of time
Jones was in the final year of his contract in 2022, having entered the position prior to Maciocia’s hiring. This foreshadowed that he would be the first to leave, in case of a bad start to the season.
The 51-year-old was nominated for the role less than a week before the 2019 campaign began, after Mike Sherman was fired. He had maintained an impressive record, under the circumstances, of 10-8, good for second place in the Eastern Conference that season. However, the Alouettes had dropped the flag in the first round of the playoffs.
Jones returned to the collar in 2021 after the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19. During that shortened season, he went 7-7, earning the Montreal organization’s third place in the east and another place in the playoffs. Again, he was shown the exit door in his first game of him.
Barron Miles too
Manager Khari Jones wasn’t the only one to lose his job with the Montreal Alouettes on Wednesday, as defensive coordinator Barron Miles also left.
Hired in 2020 as a defensive manager, the former Canadian Football League (CFL) star safety is very close to Jones.
The defensive unit of the Alouettes has been dominant only once this season. Without being mean, she was terribly lacking in consistency. After four games, she is penultimate in the league in yard racing (427) and majors in aerial games (5).
“We haven’t been able to live up to our expectations in defense for two years,” said linebacker Brian Harelimana. We have an excellent defensive line, excellent linebackers and excellent defenders. We have never been able to be a dominant defensive. Maybe we needed this change to become one. “
This change will be embodied by Noel Thorpe, who will replace Miles. The 52-year-old thus returns to the fore with “Als”, his third experience in life with the organization. He will take on the role of defensive coordinator, as well as take care of the defensive defenses.
Danny Maciocia: a man of experience
Quebecer Danny Maciocia, who will take over as head coach of the Montreal Alouettes after Khari Jones’s dismissal on Wednesday, finds himself in familiar territory.
The 55-year-old, who has been at the helm of the University of Montreal Carabins for a decade, previously served as head coach in the Canadian Football League, also winning the Gray Cup in that role in 2015 with Edmonton Eskimos.
It is important to remember that Maciocia, general manager of the Montreal team, was also a member of the Alouettes coaching staff between 1996 and 2001 before moving to the Eskimos, first as offensive coordinator.
If Maciocia’s presence on the sidelines was not the desired scenario, he has something to reassure. It has nothing to do, at least, with some past situations where CEO Kavis Reed took over from coach Jacques Chapdelaine in September 2017. In previous years it was Jim Popp, whose reputation as GM was well consolidated, after having carried out various inconclusive periods as head coach of the Alouettes. The last time he replaced Tom Higgins in 2015 without much success.
Speaking of Maciocia, he first won the Gray Cup with the Eskimos in 2003, along with Higgins himself. He was then offensive coordinator.
On the university scene, Maciocia in particular won the Vanier Cup, with the Carabin, in November 2014.
“He is one of the best coaches I have had in my career. He has won wherever he went. His experience will help us tremendously,” said Alouettes linebacker Brian Harelimana, who worked under Maciocia during his stay at the Université de Montréal. .
– With the collaboration of Philippe Asselin