On a weekend where some of Canadian Football’s all-time greats were being enshrined into the CFHOF, former Alouette great Peter Dalla Riva had plenty to be proud of.
As the final playoff puzzle pieces fell into place, the three-time Grey Cup champ surveyed the evidence and like a World Wildlife Fund researcher after a rare sighting, and declared the removal of a football species off the near-extinction list.
The Alouettes are bringing the tight end back.
Ryan Bomben’s first career touchdown, which coincidentally fell on the same day his picture was on season ticket holder stubs for Fan Appreciation Day, was the exclamation mark on it.
Patrick Lavoie’s nomination for Outstanding Rookie honours confirmed it.
“I told Lavoie it’s good to see the position come back and when I talked to (Marc) Trestman he told me the kid is learning,” said Dalla Riva.
In fact, the Alouettes’ 2012 first-round pick has surpassed even the legendary Dalla Riva for first year production and you may be shocked to learn how Lavoie stack s up against other great Alouette homegrown hopes in touchdowns and receptions their first years.
Dalla Riva, the prototypical tight end of the ‘70s had only eight catches in his rookie season and four TDs his first two years. Lavoie scored three TDs his first three games, four on the season.
On the tight end evolutionary chain, Dalla Riva having Canadianized what was then an “American” position, gave way to the 80’s TE who would morph into slots---Nick Arakgi.
Lavoie has surpassed his 27 catches and thre TDs his first two seasons combined (though Arakgi busted out for 89 catches in his fourth year.)
The Alouettes’ surprise draft pick has even out-produced wideouts and slotbacks of the 90’s and 2000’s including future Hall of Famer Ben Cahoon, current TSN analyst Jock Climie and past Quebecois hopes Denis Montana and Sylvain Girard.
Even Lavoie’s current teammate Eric Deslauriers, who has taken six years to amass three TDs, has fallen off the radar screen compared to the recent Laval Rouge et Or grad.
“My goal at training camp was just to make the team,” admits the chiselled sometimes fullback from Saint-Flavie, Quebec - population “almost 800 people and about 50 would know football.”
“He’s earned it,” says Anthony Calvillo of his bodyguard originally expected only to be a major contributor only on special teams.
“He has worked his way into our starting lineup, he’s worked his way into earning more passes that are designed for him.
“He doesn’t make a lot of mistake so you have to give a lot of credit to a guy right out of college to make a major impact on our offence.”
“If you don’t believe in someone on the field you are already mentally defeated. So not going to give a young kid a chance - I just don’t buy into that.”
“Lavoie has some natural fluidness in his route-running,” says Coach Trestman, who has bulked up with maximum protection formations frequently this season, putting tight ends to both the short and the wide side of the field.
“He handles the ball well and will only get better. When we get big guys on the edges that helps the running game too.”
Rick Moffat is the Voice of the Montreal Alouettes on CJAD 800. He works alongside former CFL Dave Mudge. Moffat's first attended Grey Cup was as a fan in '77 - the infamous Tony Proudfoot "Staple Game". Rick is proud to say he had his first beer at an Als' game during the Marv Levy Era. Follow Rick on Twitter @RickMoffat.