Ottawa CFL expansion team names Desjardins as GM
Marcel Desjardins talks to media as he is named the general manager of the new Ottawa CFL franchise in Ottawa, Wednesday, January 30 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013 3:25PM EST
OTTAWA, Ont. -- The Ottawa CFL expansion team named Marcel Desjardins as its general manager Wednesday.
Desjardins joins the yet unnamed Ottawa franchise after serving the last four seasons as the assistant general manager of the Montreal Alouettes.
"I'm delighted that one of the CFL's most experienced and accomplished football operations leaders has agreed to become the architect of our new team," Jeff Hunt, president of the Ottawa Sports Entertainment Group, said in a statement. "As an assistant general manager with the Montreal Alouettes, Marcel played a major role in the design of three Grey Cup-winning rosters and he oversaw one of the league's most effective football operations teams.
"He has an ideal skillset that'll only grow in his new role with us, and I can't wait to see the fruits of his labour when we kick off a new era of CFL football in Ottawa in the summer of 2014."
Desjardins, a native of Burlington, Ont., served as the general manager of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2007 before returning to Montreal the following season.
"I'm honoured and humbled by this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a CFL team from the ground up," Desjardins said. "Jeff Hunt and the other team owners are committed to re-establishing a winning football tradition in Ottawa and re-igniting fan passions, and to be able to contribute to that process is a dream come true."
The hiring of Desjardins in Ottawa is hardly a surprise as he's been mentioned as a leading candidate for the GM post for roughly the last eight months.
It's the second significant blow this off-season to the Alouettes football operations department.
Earlier this month, head coach Marc Trestman left Montreal to become head coach of the NFL's Chicago Bears.
"On behalf of the Montreal Alouettes, I first want to congratulate Marcel for obtaining the job in Ottawa and second, to thank him for a fantastic job in the way he has serviced the Montreal Alouettes," Montreal GM Jim Popp said in a statement. "Marcel is a real hero in the organization who doesn't get nearly enough thank yous that should go his way."
Desjardins, 46, also spent time working in the CFL's head office in Toronto from 1994 to '99.
The Ottawa franchise is slated to begin play in 2014 and Desjardins will have plenty of work ahead of him.
Ottawa will select four NCAA underclassmen in this year's CFL draft before participating in December in a three-round expansion draft of players made available from the existing eight clubs. Then in 2014, the club will take part in the league's Canadian college draft
Ottawa has been without a CFL franchise since 2006 when the Renegades were suspended after four seasons by the league because of financial instability. The Renegades were born seven years after the storied Ottawa Rough Riders folded operations.
The new Ottawa franchise will operate with a new name, as a condition of the city's return to the CFL was that the new club not use the Rough Riders team name.