Durant puts Roughriders behind him, says focus now is making Alouettes a contender

Durant hopes to make Alouettes great again

MONTREAL — Darian Durant wants to put Saskatchewan behind him and get started on his new role as quarterback of the Montreal Alouettes.

Durant donned his new Alouettes jersey with his old number four for the first time at a news conference on Friday, a day after inking a three-year contract reportedly worth $1.2 million.

“I’ll do everything in my power to make sure we get back to winning ways, and that’s not just the playoffs,” said Durant. “It’s all about Grey Cups.

“That’s my focus. And starting from this day, 100 per cent of my time and energy will go into that.”

The 34-year-old Durant did not want to talk about Saskatchewan, where he spent the first 11 years of his career and where he led the Roughriders to a Grey Cup victory on home turf in 2013.

A potential free agent in February, Riders coach and general manager Chris Jones traded his rights to the Alouettes on Jan. 13 after failing to reach agreement on a new contract. The move left Saskatchewan without a proven starting quarterback, but Jones didn’t want to commit to a long term deal at top salary to an aging quarterback who has had injury trouble the last three seasons.

When asked why Saskatchewan let him go, Durant said: “I have no idea. I think everything I showed and did showed that I wanted to finish my career there.

“I guess it comes down to want. This organization wanted me here, wanted me to lead and be a part of everything going forward, and they wanted to go in a different direction over in Saskatchewan. I don’t want to spend much more time talking about Saskatchewan. I’m an Alouette now. I’m very happy to be one. I had a great time in Saskatchewan the last 11 years but it’s time to turn the page on that chapter and get started here.”

The Alouettes first-year GM Kavis Reed felt Durant’s injuries were an acceptable risk in order to bring a proven veteran into a position that has seen a dozen quarterbacks take snaps since the CFL’s all-time passing leader and current Alouettes offensive co-ordinator Anthony Calvillo retired after the 2013 season.

Reed said giving Durant a three-year deal allows time to develop younger pivots like Vernon Adams, who started and won the final three games of the Alouettes’ otherwise bleak 2016 campaign.

“It was an important number simply because we wanted stability and also enough time for us to make certain that we have the data to see whether the guys behind him are ready,” said Reed. “We feel confident that Darian will be here for the long term and confident that we will enjoy some success with him.

“It’s a tremendous step for the organization.”

Durant, who has missed at least two games per year since 2010, does not feel he has become injury prone but he recognizes the importance of having a strong backup. And Adams has stated his intention to try to keep the starting job despite Durant’s arrival.

“I’ve been injured in the past and I know that it takes more than one good quarterback to win a championship so I’m here to lend a helping hand to whoever the guys are behind me,” said Durant. “It’ll take all of us to get the job done.

“It’s about winning as a team. It’s not going to be just about me.”

But there will be expectations from fans who have seen the once-powerful Alouettes finish out of the playoffs two years in a row.

“I can just come in and be the leader that I’ve always been,” he said. “When you put myself in with veterans like S.J. (Green) and Nik Lewis and especially that defensive core, I’m just a piece of the puzzle.”

Reed got to know Durant when he served as an assistant coach in Regina in 2009. Coach Jacques Chapdelaine worked with him as the Riders’ offensive co-ordinator in 2015.

Durant described a Chapdelaine offence as “kind of like basketball on grass.

“He gives you many options across the field and if I pick and chose right and deliver the ball with accuracy, then we can be something to be reckoned with.”

While he regrets missing out on the opening of a new stadium in Regina this season, he looks forward to playing in the close confines of Percival Molson Stadium, which the Alouettes hope will be full again with a veteran quarterback in place.

“A lot of games are lost by the visiting team coming into this place,” he said. “So my plan is to give the fans something to cheer about, put some points on the board. That helps the defence out and leads to wins.”

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version stated Durant has gone five seasons missing at least a game, when in fact it has been six.

Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

A hummingbird gives its wings a rare rest while feeding in a North Okanagan garden. (Karen Siemens/North Okanagan Naturalists Club)
Hummingbirds back for another Okanagan season

North America’s littlest birds return, and they’re hungry

The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP has released its quarterly policing report for the first three months of 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Vernon crime statistics trend upward to start 2021

North Okanagan’s two First Nations see biggest crime rise compared to first quarter 2020

Former Vernon Panthers football standout Ben Hladik of the UBC Thunderbirds (top, in a game against the Manitoba Bisons, <ins>making one of his 38 Canada West solo tackles in 2019</ins> ), was chosen in Tuesday’s 2021 Canadian Football League draft. (Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds photo)
B.C. Lions call on Vernon standout in CFL draft

Canadian Football League club selects former VSS Panthers star Ben Hladik in third round of league draft

(File photo)
Ex-Vernon man’s escorted-leave ‘beyond disappointing’: murder victim’s mother

Shane Ertmoed was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2000 death of 10-year-old Heather Thomas

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

George Ryga, considered by many as Canada’s most important English playwright lived in Summerland from 1963 until his death in 1987. He is the inspiration for the annual Ryga Arts Festival. (Contributed)
Summerland archive established for George Ryga

Renowned author wrote novels, poetry, stage plays and screen plays from Summerland home

Grizzly bear. (File)
Malakwa man bitten by grizzly bear on dog walk

The man and dogs were not seriously injured

Two cyclists traverse a closed Bernard Avenue in downtown Kelowna on June 29, 2020. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Kelowna recognized as bike-friendly city

City earns bronze in nationwide Bicycle Friendly Communities award program

Most Read