MONTREAL - The Alouettes falling short in their bid to become the first team in three decades to win three consecutive Grey Cups has led many in CFL circles to assume the Als dynasty is over. That's certainly news to head coach Marc Trestman.
Less than 24 hours after seeing his injury-riddled squad battle into overtime before being bounced from the playoffs by Hamilton, Trestman sounded nothing like the coach of a team on the decline.
"There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this season and what we went through. We will come back stronger as a football team and an organization because of all that we battled through," explained Trestman. "The loss hurts. It hurts a lot right now and that doesn't go away, but our last game showed the fight in our football team. It also said a lot about our quarterback who is always there to lead the way for us. That's something to build on for next year."
Despite speculation mounting about his 39-year-old star quarterback's career plans for next season, Trestman isn't planning to influence Anthony Calvillo's decision to fulfill the remaining year on his contract or not.
"I'm actually not planning to lobby A.C. at all. I thought his performance was amazing, especially in the second half. He showed his abilities quite clearly," said Trestman about Calvillo's exploding for 513 yards passing in the Eastern Semi-Final against the Ti-Cats. "AC is in a position where this is a decision for him to make. I expect him to be back. But we are going to leave that up to him to decide with his family.
"All I did yesterday was sit with him for a few minutes just after the game," added Trestman. "I took a moment to express my appreciation for what he did for the team not only against Hamilton but this entire season."
Calvillo had company in the appreciation department in his coach's eyes. After seeing his depleted defence valiantly battle the injury bug all season long, the Als' head coach was quick to underline the contributions of his supporting cast.
"I thought that the guys who played, played as hard as they could and did the best they could under the circumstances," said Trestman of the young players who were thrown into the fire this season. "We had a lot of inexperience in there. I think they grew with the opportunity that they had and they're all guys you will continue to work with and develop."
Coming off consecutive championships - not to mention three straight Grey Cup appearances - it would be logical to assume that the 2011 season is hardly one to remember for the Alouettes. Trestman isn't so sure about that.
"I tell the guys each year that the end result whether you win a championship or if you don't, isn't worth it if you don't enjoy coming to work every day and our staff certainly did," confirmed Trestman. "If that's not the case, then it makes the 160-day journey not even worth it."
"It was a blast to coach this group through all that we went through. Our staff really enjoyed coaching these guys. We're not happy with the result and we're disappointed with the way it ended for us, but that doesn't take away from the enjoyment of the season. Every one of our guys laid it on the line this year, and that leaves a good feeling in our house."