Blue Bombers relieve Kelly of his duties as head coach

{eot} Staff
12/18/2009 5:46:38 PM
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The tumultuous Mike Kelly era in Winnipeg is over.

The Blue Bombers announced on Thursday night they have relieved Kelly of his head coaching duties. No replacement has been named as yet.

The news comes following Kelly's arrest earlier in the day that saw him charged with assault and harassment following a domestic dispute.

"We have to recognise that an incident did take place today (Thursday) but in the eyes of the of the law these are allegations and allegations only," said Bombers board chairman Ken Hildahl at the press conference.
"Our review, as I mentioned earlier today, was based strictly on (the) past year's performance," added Hildahl.

When speaking at the press conference, Hildahl suggested that Kelly was offered an opportunity to resign.

"It would have been our preference that the head coach resign, but that didn't materialize so we're here tonight, the board dealt with it, we think it's in the best interest of the Winnipeg football club moving forward," Hildahl explained.

Kelly, who was hired by the team in December last year, came into Winnipeg and overhauled a roster that went 8-10 in 2008, just one year after making it to the Grey Cup in 2007.

In the off-season, the 51-year old Kelly acquired quarterback Stefan LeFors to be the starter, while releasing veterans Kevin Glenn and Ryan Dinwiddie. Like Kelly, LeFors was employed by the Edmonton Eskimos last season.

The LeFors experiment didn't last long as he led the team to a 1-3 record before being replaced by CFL journeyman Michael Bishop. LeFors was then asked to take a pay cut to stay with the team before his season came to an end following shoulder surgery.

Kelly also lost three experienced offensive linemen to free agency, including former all-star Dan Goodspeed as well as defensive back Kelly Malveaux.

After a loss to the Alouettes in Week 12, Kelly wasn't concerned about the rumours of his imminent demise and was convinced that, despite their record, the Blue Bombers were on the right track.

"I could care less. That doesn't affect me, we're in the building, and we know we're doing the right things, and you know, everybody wants to be speculative and sensationalize things," Kelly said. "But we know that in our locker room we're doing everything that we can, we understand what our shortcomings are and we just need to keep working at it."

Kelly was the offensive coordinator with the Blue Bombers from 1992 to 1996 and captured three regular season division titles and appeared in the Grey Cup twice.

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