It’s been a kinder, calmer Jason Maas.
The fiery Montreal Alouettes head coach has been on his best behaviour this season. The sideline outbursts that were common during Maas’ tenure as the Edmonton Elks head coach (2016-19) have been non-existent this season with the Montreal Alouettes.
On Sunday, Montreal faces the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Grey Cup at Tim Hortons Field. The Alouettes return to the CFL championship game for the first time since winning it in 2010.
Maas won two Grey Cups as a quarterback with Edmonton (2003, ‘05) and another as quarterback coach with Toronto (2012). But he’ll try to win his first championship as a CFL head coach Sunday.
On Tuesday during the Grey Cup coaches news conference, Maas said he took it upon himself to be more in control and accountable for his sideline behaviour. But GM Danny Maciocia doesn’t want his head coach to be too subdued.
“I make a joke about it at the office,” Maciocia said. “We need to keep him as close as possible to that line, that famous line you don’t want to [cross].
“We want to keep him there [because] that’s when he’s at his best. When he’s doing too well and has the big happy smile on his face, I always joke, ‘I’ve got to try to find something that’s going to irritate him just so I can move him closer to that line because that’s where he’s at his best.’”
Maciocia said while he never asked Maas to change his sideline behaviour, the two did speak about it.
“I told him, ‘When you feel that way, come into my office, grab a chair and throw it around the office if you have to release some of that stress, passion, tension, call it whatever you want,’” Maciocia said. “But when you look at him, he’s in another place right now.”
Fortunately, Maciocia said Maas hasn’t taken him up on that offer.
Maciocia likens Maas to Dan Campbell, the emotional head coach of the NFL’s Detroit Lions.
“Jason is a little bit like coach Campbell, that’s who they are,” Maciocia said. “Anything less could come across phony, I think.”
Maas might be more in control of his emotions on the sidelines these days, but this passion and demand for excellence certainly haven’t waned. On Thursday, he lit into the Alouettes with a series of loud F-bombs following practice because he wasn’t happy with their effort.
But Maciocia credits Maas totally for his turnaround.
“He’s been able to control [that] and that’s full credit to him,” Maciocia said. “But that passion, that fire, that desire, it’s still there and he needs it because that’s what makes him who he is.”
Maciocia hired Maas in December after Maas was fired as the Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive co-ordinator. But Maciocia said the two don’t have a typical GM-head coach relationship because of the strong bond that they’ve forged over more than 20 years.
From 2002-08, Maciocia served as Edmonton’s offensive co-ordinator or head coach/GM, while Maas was a quarterback there from 2000-05.
“I’m just hoping we’re going to be able to sustain it for a long, long time,” Maciocia said. “We know this is going to end at some point in time but it’s like I told him, ‘You’re going to end up leaving me.’
“We’re extremely close, we have a strong bond. He knows I’m always going to side with him unless I feel he’s going to put us in harm’s way but I know him well enough to know he’ll never put us in harm’s way.”