By François Ferland,
Montréal – Future CFL hall-of-famer Bryan Chiu caught everyone by surprise when he announced his retirement from football on the eve of training camp this past June.
However after the dust settled and time moved forward, attention then shifted towards finding Chiu’s replacement at centre, a position that had been filled for the bulk of his 13-year tenure with the team.
Not since the start of the millennium have the Alouettes been forced to look for a centre other than Chiu. After all, how do you replace a player that has since become synonymous with the position, a player that seven times was named a league All-Star and once the league’s best offensive lineman?
While some panicked, Alouettes management were quick to name a replacement for Chiu. Head coach Marc Trestman quickly named veteran Paul Lambert as the new centre, much to delight of the eighth-year Alouette.
“I love playing centre,” he said in a rather convincing tone. I’m excited to enter a new part of my career,” he added.
Though clearly energized about his opportunity, Lambert knows there is always room for improvement. “I still have to work on my on-field communication skills,” he said. Prior to the snap, I’m the guy who’s now responsible for telling my teammates and especially Anthony (Calvillo) everything they need to know about what’s going on,” he added.
“I have to tell the guys what the opposing line is doing, what I think the linebackers are up to and where I think the pressure is going to come from when the ball is snapped.”
One season at a time
A 2004 All-Star, Lambert notes that Winnipeg’s Doug Brown has been the most difficult lineman to contain since the start of his career.
“Because we both started our careers during the same season, we’ve developed a little bit of an on-field relationship. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, he’s a hard worker who knows how to play the game right,” he said.
Though turning 35 in November, Lambert, a father of three children has no plans on leaving the game just yet.
“I have zero intention of leaving the game just yet.”