TORONTO — The CFL’s board of governors has officially moved the Winnipeg Blue Bombers back to the West Division.
The league announced Thursday the Bombers will play in the West Division in 2014. They’ll be replaced in the East Division by the expansion Ottawa Redblacks.
Since 1930, Winnipeg has spent 61 years in the West, including 34 seasons since the CFL’s inception in 1958. But on three occasions, the Bombers have been shifted to the East Division, the last time coming in 2006.
“We are proud of our history in the CFL, but especially proud of our 10 Grey Cup victories, eight of which came as we represented the West,” Wade Miller, Winnipeg’s acting chief executive officer, said in a statement. “It’s no wonder then that so many of our fans consider the West our natural home.
“We look forward to competing, and succeeding, in the West Division.”
In 2014, the West Division will consist of Winnipeg, the B.C. Lions, Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders. Ottawa, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts will make up the East Division.
Tiger-Cats quarterback Henry Burris is in the East now but used to play in the West with the Stampeders.
“It’ll be good to get Ottawa back into the fold and get Winnipeg into the West where it truly deserves to be,” Burris said. “When you talk about the CFL, that’s what you think of the CFL — Winnipeg is a western team.
“It’ll be a good change. There is where Winnipeg belongs, them with their great rivalry with Saskatchewan will be more than just two games now. It’ll definitely open up the league more and definitely keep the audiences pleased when it comes to the sibling rivalries between the prairies.”
The top three finishers in each division will qualify for post-season play unless a fourth-place team in one conference has a better record than the third-place team in the other. In that situation, the fourth-place team will cross over into the opposing division and assume the No. 3 playoff seed.