CFL develops expansion plan for Ottawa

The CFL has developed an expansion draft protocol for Ottawa, hoping that the fledgling franchise will meet the necessary conditions to enter the league in 2013. The franchise's major requirement is a suitable stadium. The CFL plan calls for an expansion draft in December 2012.

If all goes as planned for Ottawa's proposed return to the CFL, it should start off with a better team than it did for its last comeback in 2002.

The CFL announced an expansion draft protocol for Ottawa on Wednesday should the franchise have a revamped Frank Clair Stadium ready in time to enter the league in 2013.

The plan calls for an expansion draft in December 2012 that will allow Ottawa to select eight imports and 16 Canadian players from the eight existing franchises, including two quarterbacks.

"Our goal has been clear throughout: To give Ottawa the chance to field a competitive team without unfairly undermining our existing franchises," commissioner Mark Cohon said in a statement. "We are confident this plan meets that objective."

After the nine-time Grey Cup champion Rough Riders folded in 1996, the CFL returned to Ottawa in 2002 with the expansion Renegades, only to see the franchise fold four unsuccessful seasons later.

In the 2002 expansion draft, existing teams were allowed to protect two quarterbacks each. This time, only one quarterback per team can be protected. That should leave at least two decent and experienced players under centre available.

More and better Canadian players should also be exposed in the draft.

The expansion draft is to consist of three rounds.

For the first, teams will protect one quarterback and 10 other import players. Ottawa will then select one import from each team.

For round two, teams will protect six Canadian, or non-import, players. Ottawa then picks one non-import from each team.

For round three, teams will protect a further six Canadians. Ottawa will then take one more player from each club.

Each team can lose only one quarterback, kicker or punter and cannot lose both a quarterback and a kicker or punter. A team that loses a quarterback in the first round can protect eight Canadians in the second and seven if it lost a kicker or punter.

A team that loses a kicker or punter in the second round can protect two extra Canadians in the third.

"In the last one, they were given a silver platter to make a good team and this one is even better," said Montreal Alouettes general manager Jim Popp. "They'll probably have a group of non-imports better than most teams have.

"The reality is that people have to be patient. If the organization is built right and they have the right people running the team, over time it will be a winning organization."

Ottawa would also get to make four picks of juniors from U.S. colleges in the 2012 draft, a year before they enter the league. They would draft in the ninth position in the first four rounds.

They will pick first in all six rounds of the 2013 Canadian draft.

Popp said all eight clubs were represented on the committee that wrote the draft rules.

"It doesn't mean everyone got what they wanted but we worked on it and everyone was content with it," said Popp.

The CFL awarded the franchise in 2008 to an Ottawa group that includes Jeff Hunt, Roger Greenberg, John Ruddy and Bill Shenkman on the condition the group has a proper facility to play in. The hope is that will be in 2013 at a refurbished Frank Clair Stadium.

John Pugh, owner of the Ottawa Fury soccer team, has since joined the ownership group.

"The expansion draft is only one part of our plan to build a team our fans can be proud of, but it will provide the foundation on which we build," said Hunt.

The target date for the expansion draft is Dec. 13, 2012.