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- Free Agency
Since Friday, April 3rd, football fans have been able to rewatch classic CFL battles every single week with the TSN’s CFL Encore Fridays series. In addition to that, RDS has just launched its RDS Classics program, allowing Alouettes fans to relive some of our most spectacular showdowns from the last decade.
The first game of the series aired last night with the epic Alouettes vs. Tiger-Cats battle that took place at Tim Hortons Stadium on August 27, 2015. Few are the ones who have forgotten about this frenzied face-off that ended with a game-winning field goal by Boris Bede less than 2 minutes and 10 seconds before the clock hit triple zero, defeating the Ticats 26-23.
2015 was the year our Als plummeted in the standings, ending the season with a 6-12 record. This was unexpected, considering they had finished the 2014 season ranking second in the East Division with a 9–9 record, and making it to the Eastern finals. But the 2015 season was also receiver Samuel Giguère’s first year in the Alouettes uniform. The Sherbrooke native had signed a one-year contract with the Als as a free agent, after having spent three seasons with the Ticats (2012-2014), the team that had selected him in the 8th round of the 2008 CFL draft.
From 2008 to 2011, Giguère had spent time in the NFL, more precisely with the Indianapolis Colts and the New-York Giants, catching passes from Peyton and Eli Manning. That’s no small feat, especially for such a young player. He was released from the Alouettes in January 2018 and headed to the other side of the country to join the Eskimos a few months later. He was unfortunately released shortly after, on August 14th.
But what has he been up to since?
“ Last year, I tore mt Achille’s tendon during the winter,” said Giguère. “I was rehabilitating my foot. I completely healed and started competing again with the Canadian bobsleigh team. I’ve been part of this team on and off for the past eight years.”
“In 2019, I was able to take part in the second half of the bobsleigh season. The season ended and everything came to a halt due to the coronavirus.”
And would he consider coming back to the CFL?
“Of course I would like that,” said Giguère. “But at the same time, I’m aware of my age and my mileage. I know that the chances of me playing again are quite slim, but yes, I’d like that.”
It seems like Giguère, at 34 years of age, would be a great veteran for any team in the Ambrosie circuit.
Giguère joined the Alouettes in 2015 – the start of a series of four very difficult seasons for the Montreal-based team – and left the ship before having the chance to be part of the 2019 new and improved version of our birds.
This former Alouette had been a longtime fan of the organization before joining the squad. Giguère was therefore thrilled to see the team regain momentum last season.”
“I am very happy. Before joining the Alouettes, I had been a fan for as long as I can remember,” he explained. “To see the team spiral down (in the last few years) and to witness that as a player especially was very frustrating and disappointing.”
“And as a former player and unconditional fan, I’m elated to see the team slowly but surely climb back up.”
After spending time south of the border and in Hamilton, Giguère was finally back home when he joined the Alouettes in 2015.
« It allowed me to get back to a dear friend of mine, André Bolduc, who had mentored me in university,” explained Giguère. “I was, of course, excited to be with the team, but all the losses, the changes in the staff, and the hire and departures were becoming frustrating. But it remains that I was very happy when I got to Montréal.”
On August 27, 2015, Giguère was going head to head with his former teammates from the Hammer, who had not yet been defeated at Tim Hortons Field since it opened the season before and who were thriving on a 5-game win streak.
A few weeks prior, the Als had beat them at McGill Stadium and had defeated the 2014 Grey Cup champions, the Calgary Stampeders. Our birds knew it wasn’t going to be an easy fight, but they were confident.
Besides, coming back to Hamilton felt good for Giguère, as he had spent some great moments with the Ticats. There was never this sense of vengeance when he played against his former crew.
“I still had a lot of friends on the team. Most of the guys were the same guys I had played with, and the coaching staff hadn’t changed much,” explained Giguère. “I was happy to get back to Hamilton. My family and I spent three years there and it was always fun to go back!”
« I’m the one who chose to leave Hamilton when I became a free agent,” he said. “The Ticats offered me to stay, and their offers were better than the ones I got from Montréal, but I was adamant about coming back to my province because I wanted to be closer to my family. It was important for me to be close to home, and to give my kids the chance to grow up in a single place and to not have to constantly move them around the country. If I had only considered football, I wouldn’t have left Hamilton.
“We felt confident before the game,” said Giguère, remembering the moments before the August 27th showdown. “We knew we had everything in place to defeat them. It’s not like we didn’t think we couldn’t do it. We always said that we had all the athletes and players we needed to win against anyone. “
We can’t forget that the Alouettes’ starting quarterback back them, Rakeem Caro, had gotten injured during the first half. Tanner Marsh had brilliantly taken over, and led the Alouettes towards victory, completing 11 of 18 passes for 99 yards, and rushing seven times for 18 yards and one touchdown.
Samuel Giguère, on his end, accumulated 23 receiving yards (2 out of 2) and 27 rushing yards. He didn’t score any touchdowns but perfectly executed key plays, especially towards the end of the battle in order to run out the clock. One of those plays took place with 2 minutes and 27 seconds left on the clock, during which he managed to get the Alouettes closer to the Ticats’ 30-yard line. A field goal by Boris Bede then secured the big W for the Alouettes.
« At the end of the game, it was very close, and the most important thing was to make sure Hamilton did not get possession of the ball, since there was still a lot of time left to the game,” explained Giguère, who ended the 2015 season with 4 receiving touchdowns and the 2016 season with 5 of them, and 3 rushing touchdowns. “They were THE team to beat and we didn’t want to give them the chance to get the lead back.”
“I knew it was important to run out the clock during the last seconds of the battle.”