Jim Barker and Scott Milanovich drove together to the Toronto Argonauts’ season-ending team meeting Monday afternoon, hours after late-night celebrations followed their victory in the 100th Grey Cup. General manager Barker said head coach Milanovich, while excited for some time off with his wife and two daughters, was already talking about his offence next season.
Milanovich mused aloud about the potential for the offence in its second year in Toronto, when quarterback Ricky Ray will open training camp already armed with a solid grasp.
“He was already so excited for where he’s going to be able to start with Ricky next year and move forward with guys who now know and understand his offence,” Barker said Monday. “Imagine where it can go. Guys came into camp this year with no clue, starting from scratch.”
Ray spoke Sunday night about the same thing, saying this offence plays to his strengths better than any other in which he has played. He said he still has lots of room to improve in it, and also has the passion to pursue more Grey Cups.
“I still have a lot to learn in this offence, it’s very detail oriented, a lot of different pieces to it,” Ray said. “[Milanovich] prepares you so well as a player, that you feel so confident going into each game. I never felt one time this year that he didn’t believe in me, where some other times in my career when I went through rough patches or got pulled from a game, you can lose a bit of confidence. But even through tough times, he kept me confident and patient.”
While Ray remains under contract, who knows which of his teammates may leave town? The team’s postgame celebration at a Toronto hotel Sunday night and their victory parade on Tuesday will be their last formal gatherings as a team. Barker acknowledged the turnover reality that teams face.
“Usually a team on average turns over about 20 to 25 per cent, and while you want to have veteran guys, there is always the [salary] cap, so you have to make tough decisions,” Barker said. “It will be a different team, but they will always be together with their names on that cup as 100th Grey Cup champions, so we’re trying to enjoy each other as a team for these last few days.”
Barker says he wants to stay with the Argos.
“My friends are here, and when you can work with your best friends, that’s what you ask for, but that’s not my decision to make,” said Barker, who reportedly has one year left on his contract.” There are people that may either want me here or don’t want me here.”
Milanovich was recently signed to a contract extension, which was also an effort to help stabilize the rest of the coaching staff. Still, it may be tough to keep Toronto’s assistant coaches from the lure of other jobs.
“You can’t control it,” Barker said. “When you have quality people, you’re going to lose some, we know that. Just like with players, we have a list of coaches we’re ready to talk to. We’ll be ready to move when and if any of these guys decides to leave.”
The parade to celebrate the Argos’ 16th Grey Cup win will start at 11:30 a.m. (Eastern) on Tuesday in Toronto at the corner of Wellington Street and Yonge Street, and finish in Nathan Phillips Square.