The Canadian Football League has unveiled its 2019 schedule and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats should be all smiles.
The CFL season opens June 13, when Hamilton hosts the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Tim Hortons Field, which should be a stiff first test for rookie head coach Orlondo Steinauer.
A stretch of three seemingly easier games follow, when the Cats take on Toronto and then Montreal in a home-and-home series.
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Before Hamilton’s first bye week rolls around, the Ticats will host Calgary — a team they haven’t beaten in forever. Not quite, but close enough. Hamilton lost their last 14 games against the Stampeders, last beating them on Sept. 25, 2011.
The Tiger-Cats could be 4-1 after their first stretch, but 3-2 might be more realistic.
Hamilton’s middle stretch of six games during the dog days of summer includes tough road contests in Regina, Ottawa and Vancouver, and home games against Winnipeg, B.C. and the Labour Day Classic against the Argos — which, by the way, is a 1 p.m. kickoff this year.
Expect a six-game split for Hamilton, but I can also envision a 4-2 run.
The club’s final seven games after Labour Day are Hamilton’s toughest. It begins with murderer’s row of back-to-back-to-back road games in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg. The Cats will play three of their last four regular season games at home, facing the Eskimos, Redblacks, Alouettes and Argonauts.
Winning three of those seven games would be a huge plus for the Ticats, who should be playoff bound in 2019.
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The schedule provides other highlights, including the Canadian Football Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 10 in Hamilton, when the Ticats host B.C.
And the team will also add another name to its Wall of Honour next season. Potential candidates include former stars Danny McManus and Rob Hitchcock.