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In this November 28, 2010 photo, slotback Andy Fantuz (right) makes a move on Montreal Alouettes defensive back Billy Parker in CFL Grey Cup action in Edmonton. Fantuz says he's signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cat. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Adrian Wyld

The theme is new places for familiar faces and it starts early this CFL season.

First up, on June 29, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will be in Hamilton to take on the Tiger-Cats and their newest acquisition, former 'Riders slotback Andy Fantuz. He signed as a free agent with Hamilton on Friday. His first appearance back at Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field is slated for July 28. He'll be the guy on the opposition sidelines catching all the catcalls.

On June 30, quarterback Ricky Ray and his Toronto Argonauts will face the Edmonton Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium. Ray spent nine seasons with the Eskimos before he was traded to Toronto in December.

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Next up is the Henry Burris Bowl, named after the former Calgary Stampeder who was traded to Hamilton in January. The Ticats host the Stampeders on Aug. 9. The real fun comes on Oct. 20 when Hamilton plays at McMahon Stadium, where even when he wore red and white Burris was often jeered unmercifully.

Other highlights from the 2012 CFL schedule released Friday include:

The defending champion B.C. Lions, under new head coach Mike Benevides, play the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a Week 1 rematch of the 2011 Grey Cup. B.C. won the Cup last November to become the first team since the 1994 Lions to celebrate a CFL championship on its home field;

In the Lions-Blue Bombers season opener, B.C. receiver Geroy Simon is expected to set a league record for career receiving yards. Simon needs just 66 yards to surpass Milt Stegall's total of 15,153;

The classic Labour Day matchups are all back and in place with Toronto at Hamilton, Edmonton at Calgary and Winnipeg at Saskatchewan. B.C. will play at Montreal on the Friday night. Last season, the Ticats and Argos didn't clash on Labour Day because of a scheduling conflict at the Rogers Centre.

Toronto plays on a Monday four times during the season; two are on holidays (Labour Day, Thanksgiving), the other two are at home against B.C. and Edmonton.

The 2012 divisional playoffs will begin Nov. 11 with the semi-finals, followed by the finals on Nov. 18. The 100th Grey Cup game, slated for Toronto, will be held Nov. 25.

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Allan Maki is a national news reporter and sports writer based in Calgary. More

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