Vanstone: Durant and Calvillo are now allied with the Alouettes
The unfamiliar sight of Darian Durant in a Montreal Alouettes uniform will surely induce a double take — or a Double-D take, as it were.
That will be especially true on June 22, when Durant makes his regular-season debut with the Alouettes against his former team, the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“I think it’s exciting,” Durant, a Roughriders legend who was traded to Montreal in January, said Thursday during a conference call with reporters. “First and foremost, it’s a great storyline. It brings some excitement to TSN, to our league, and I love it.
“Of course, playing against your old team is something that you look forward to. I’m excited about it and I’m sure that our team is, too. To open the season and be the only game going (that day), I think the guys are looking forward to that as well.”
Durant has also taken some time to look back during his first few months with the Alouettes.
Montreal’s quarterbacks coach is Hall of Fame pivot Anthony Calvillo, who had some classic aerial duels with Durant.
On July 1, 2010, for example, Durant threw five touchdown passes to lead Saskatchewan to a 54-51, double-overtime victory over Montreal on Taylor Field. That season was punctuated by the Alouettes’ 21-18 Grey Cup victory over the Roughriders.
In the previous CFL championship game, Montreal had edged Saskatchewan 28-27 as a result of the “13th man’” meltdown.
As time expired, Montreal’s Damon Duval was wide on a 43-yard, game-winning field-goal attempt. The Roughriders began to celebrate a championship, only to realize that the field was littered with flags.
Saskatchewan was penalized 10 yards for too many men on the field. Because a game cannot end of a penalty, Duval was given a second chance. The kick was true from 33 yards away.
Now that Calvillo and Durant are allies, they have had a chance to reminisce about memorable battles between their teams.
“During our cool-down period after practice down in Florida, we sat there and joked about it,” Durant said. “I finally had the courage to ask him if he thought the game was over, especially in ’09. What was his mentality after the missed kick and how did he see things? He told me he thought it was over. He thought that we had it.
“I’m pretty sure that the more we’re together, we’ll have a lot more discussions about it. He’s such a cool guy, so much fun to be around, so I know we’ll have a lot of good talks about the things we’ve been through.”
Small world, this football biz.
“It’s amazing how when you play a game you love from the time you’re a kid, you grow up and you get to meet legends and be around them,” Durant marvelled. “Now, to play for one, it’s just amazing. This game we play, it can take you to great places, and you meet special people. This is just one of those cases.”
In Montreal, Durant is reunited with Jacques Chapdelaine. The Alouettes’ head coach was Saskatchewan’s offensive co-ordinator in 2015. Chapedelaine’s system impressed Durant to the extent that he predicted a 6,000-yard passing season — only to suffer a season-ending Achilles tendon injury late in the first half of the season opener.
“I had very high expectations going into 2015 and they don’t change going into this year,” Durant said. “I think it’s a great offence for myself, for my skill set, and I’m looking forward to it.”