The CFL released its 2023 schedule on Tuesday, giving league fans the chance to plan their summer and fall accordingly.
Not all schedules are created equal among the league’s nine teams. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ slate of games went pretty well last season, except for a terrible streak in which they faced the Toronto Argonauts four times in five weeks and not once after Labor Day.
The Ticats will kick off their 2023 campaign by traveling to Winnipeg to face the Blue Bombers on Friday, June 9 and will open their schedule at home against the team that beat them in the East Semi-Final, the Montreal Alouettes, on Friday, June 23. .
Hamilton’s schedule, like every team’s schedule, is a mixture of good, bad and something so weird that at first I suspected it was a mistake.
Here are my thoughts on the 2023 Hamilton Tiger-Cats schedule.
Good: stay off balance
Although I seem to be in the minority judging by what I’ve read on social media, I’m glad the CFL has decided to go with an unbalanced schedule. They have had unbalanced schedules since 2021 and will have one again in 2023.
An unbalanced schedule means that each team does not visit every other team during the season, which discourages some fans. For example, the BC Lions didn’t play Hamilton last season and it’s a shame to miss a chance to see Nathan Rourke. This year the Saskatchewan Roughriders will not be visiting Hamilton and I understand why that would upset some people. I am not one of those people.
I’m convinced that unless the CFL is considering eliminating divisions, which is another debate for another day, it needs to make divisional games more meaningful and one way to do that is to play more of them . Hamilton playing three games a year against Ottawa and Montreal and four against Toronto – as long as they’re spread out – isn’t a bad idea from where I’m sitting.
Bad-ish: Not enough afternoon
The Tabbies will only play three afternoon games in 2023, including two at home and one on the road. They’ll host their annual Labor Day Classic at 3:30 p.m. ET (more on that in a second) and their matchup with the Bombers at Tim Hortons Field on Saturday, Sept. 16, kicks off at 4 p.m. local time. Their final game of the regular season, an Oct. 28 showdown with the Alouettes, will also be played at 4 p.m. on a Saturday.
This means that 15 of the team’s 18 games will take place in the evening, although local fans will be happy to know that there is only one game scheduled after 9 p.m. and that is their July 13 matchup with the Edmonton Elks at Commonwealth Stadium.
It could have been worse — the Ticats avoided the dreaded 10 p.m. time for their game in British Columbia — but the lack of afternoon games is a little disappointing. It might just be me, but I really like football in the afternoon, especially on weekends in late summer and early fall.
Good: very few Thursdays
The Ticats took a break playing just two games on Thursday in 2023, both against the Edmonton Elks. Thursday night games are the bane of the CFL schedule and escaping the summer with just two of them feels like a win.
I feel bad for Elks and Bombers fans because each of those teams has five Thursday night games in the first 12 weeks of the season.
Bad: No classic Labor Day house-and-house
Home and away streaks are stupid and were partially ruined last year when the Ticats and Argos played way too many times in a short period of time. That said, the Labor Day Classic is still expected to be followed by a rematch the following week in Toronto.
For the second year in a row, however, the Ticats and Argos will not meet in a rematch next weekend. The two teams will play the following weekend but not against each other. The Ticats will travel to Ottawa for a Friday night game with the Rouge et Noir, while the Argos will host the Alouettes on Saturday afternoon.
It also seems unfair that Hamilton should play after three days off while the Redblacks have a week off. The easiest way to solve this problem is to drop black and gold on the QEW to face double blue on the Saturday after Labor Day each year.
Good to see this year’s games between Hamilton and Toronto stretched out over a year ago, but there should still be a back-to-back game in early September.
Good: No other back to back either
While the absence of a home and a Labor Day home doesn’t make me happy, the absence of any other back-to-back is something I’m more than happy to see.
Back-to-back games can be fun, but they can also be tedious, as evidenced by last year’s constant clashes between Hamilton and Toronto. The CFL has gone in the complete opposite direction from a season ago because the Ticats won’t face a single opponent in back-to-back games all year.
The team also only has one streak of not playing at home for consecutive weeks and that happens in the first two games of the season, one of which will be at BMO Field in Toronto.
When it comes to balancing who and where the team will play, you couldn’t do better than what the Tabbies will get in 2023.
Bad: No Bo-mecoming
If pending free agent quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell signs a contract extension with the Tiger-Cats, he’ll do so knowing a trip to his old stomping grounds won’t be on the cards in 2023 because the Tabbies aren’t playing. not in Calgary this season.
Much like when the league didn’t bring Andrew Harris back to Winnipeg last season — although, in the league’s defense, they didn’t know Harris would join the Argonauts when the schedule was released — Mitchell won’t have the chance to beat his former side at the stadium he called home for 10 years and that’s a whiff of them.
While the No.19’s signing from Hamilton is far from complete, despite the team putting the press all over the pitch recently, the likelihood of him re-signing looks high. Not getting him back to where he became the only quarterback in franchise history to win two Gray Cups is a giant missed opportunity.
Eh ! ? : Labor Day start time
Now we come to the biggest question mark of the entire schedule: why is the Labor Day Classic playing at 3:30 p.m. ET?
The league has experimented with later start times for the Labor Day Classic in the past and saw a disastrous lightning delay stretch play from 6:30 p.m. to after midnight in 2017. midday isn’t as bad as moving it to late afternoon, but it still doesn’t seem necessary.
Last year’s Labor Day Classic — a game the home team went to with a 3-8 record, I might add — drew the biggest crowd in Tim Hortons Field history. Why is the game moved to a new time the following year?
By pushing back that game, the league is also pushing back the start time for the second half of the Labor Day Classic doubleheader with the Elks and Stamps scheduled to start at 7 p.m. instead of their traditional start time of 4:30 p.m.
The CFL had it all done and decided to screw it all up. Going forward, it should be simple: the Tiger-Cats and Argonauts play at 1 p.m. before the Stampeders and Elks play at 4 p.m. If a proposed schedule says something different, throw it out.