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Veteran CFL GM Jim Popp the leading candidate for Toronto Argonauts post

Jim Popp leading candidate for Argos post

TORONTO — Former Montreal Alouettes general manager Jim Popp is the leading candidate for the Toronto Argonauts’ vacant GM position.

A source said Wednesday that Popp remains in talks with the Argos but a deal wasn’t imminent.

Popp didn’t immediately respond to a message from The Canadian Press.

Popp was photographed Tuesday night sitting with Larry Tanenbaum during the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 5-4 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets at the Air Canada Centre. 

Tanenbaum is the chairman of Maple Leafs Sports And Entertainment, which owns the Leafs, but is also the Argos co-owner.

“We have no comment on any speculation regarding our search for a new general manager,” Argos spokesman Jamie Dykstra said.

Montreal fired Popp on Nov. 7 after missing the playoffs for a second straight year. He’d served as GM since the franchise’s return to the CFL in 1996 and departed with one year remaining on his contract.

Last month, Toronto fired GM Jim Barker and shortly afterwards, head coach Scott Milanovich resigned to become the Jacksonville Jaguars’ quarterbacks coach.

If Popp lands in Toronto, he could potentially bring in former Als coach Marc Trestman. Popp hired Trestman in Montreal in 2008 and over five seasons Trestman led the franchise to three Grey Cup appearances, winning in 2009-10.

The Alouettes finished atop the East Division four times during Trestman’s tenure. They sported a 59-31 regular-season record and 5-3 playoff mark over that span.

Trestman, 61, was 13-19 over two seasons as the Chicago Bears head coach before being fired in 2014. He became the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive co-ordinator Jan. 20, 2015 but was released Oct. 10, 2016.

Trestman remains under contract to Baltimore through the 2017 season.

Popp established himself as one of the CFL’s top GMs, leading Montreal to eight Grey Cup appearances, winning three. In 2011, he was named executive of the year by Sports Media Canada.

But the 52-year-old native of Elkin, N.C., proved ineffective as a head coach, posting a 22-36 regular-season record and 1-4 playoff mark in four separate stints on Montreal’s sidelines.

He was fired as coach last September with Montreal at 3-9. Interim coach Jacques Chapdelaine finished the season 4-2 and was named full-time coach in December by Kavis Reed, Popp’s successor as GM.

Popp wasn’t Toronto’s first choice. There were reports Jerry Angelo, the former Chicago Bears GM, was selected to succeed Barker but withdrew from consideration when Milanovich left.

However, the source said Angelo was never interviewed by Toronto.

A second source said the Argos were interested in long-time NFL executive Tim Ruskell, now a Tennessee Titans scout. Ruskell began his pro career as a Saskatchewan Roughriders scout (1983-85) and the source added he was set to bring Brendan Taman, the former Saskatchewan and Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM, to Toronto before withdrawing from consideration.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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