Ticats ship receiver Bruce to Lions for draft picks

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats traded veteran receiver Arland Bruce to the B.C. Lions on Wednesday for a third-round draft pick in 2012 and an additional conditional selection.

Veteran receiver Arland Bruce is heading west.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats sent Bruce to the B.C. Lions on Wednesday for a third-round draft pick in 2012 and an additional conditional selection.

Bruce said he was surprised by the trade.

"I was a little puzzled," he said in a telephone conference call. "It's the nature of the business.

"I accept the good and the bad. I think it's an opportunity for myself to really refresh and get my mind back bright and clear and have an opportunity to play with another quarterback and see what happens."

Bruce said he was on the field during practice with Hamilton when told about the deal. He has no hard feelings over leaving the Tiger-Cats to join the CFL's only winless team.

"I have no complaints," he said.

"Those qualities I have I am going to bring them out to Vancouver to be that player to help that team win."

Wally Buono, the Lions coach and general manager, said Bruce gives B.C. another offensive weapon.

"I think a guy like Arland Bruce gives us a very dependable, big-time receiver that will really help balance the field," Buono said after his team practised.

"Defensively [teams] are going to have to be a little more balanced. Hopefully it gives the quarterback a guy that everyone can count on."

Bruce has played 146 career games over 11 CFL seasons and was in his third campaign in Hamilton after being dealt there by the Toronto Argonauts.

In 34 games with the Ticats, Bruce had 169 catches for 2,450 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Bruce, who said he is a free agent after this season, has recorded 611 career receptions for 9,416 yards and 76 touchdowns but struggled this season with Hamilton (3-2), registering just nine catches for 104 yards and no TDs.

The Lions and Ticats had been talking trade of late but it was more for receiver Maurice Mann, who has missed the last two games with a foot injury, as well as receiver/returner Marquay McDaniel. Bruce, who earns a hefty six-figure salary, has been hampered by a leg injury this season.

But improving the receiving corps was a priority for the Lions — the CFL's only 0-5 team — because the team has been plagued by dropped passes.

Lions slotback Geroy Simon likes the veteran experience Bruce adds.

"We can't keep going at this rate," said Simon, B.C.'s leading receiver with 23 catches for 402 yards and a touchdown.

"You bring in a good player of his calibre, he is going to help us get better. He's going to take a little burden off me as far as leadership. He's a heck of a competitor and I think that's going to help us."

Bruce, 33, had a stellar 2010 campaign, finishing third overall in receiving with 86 catches for 1,303 yards and eight TDs in helping Hamilton post a 9-9 record and end up second in the East Division standings.

However, Bruce never seemed to get on track this season under first-year offensive co-ordinator Khari Jones's scheme.

A free spirit, Bruce also raised eyebrows when he had the letters "RETH" taped over the nameplate on the back of his practice jersey. In a tweet, Bruce wrote: "i took that slave name off my back … Google me RUNAKO RETH."

A Google search of "Runako Reth" provided a website for Hunid Racks, which provided energy drinks. It also featured numerous photos of Bruce.

Bruce butted heads with former Toronto head coach Bart Andrus in 2009 and was dealt to Hamilton for the rights to defensive lineman Corey Mace and two draft picks. Bruce had spent five seasons with the Argos and helped the team capture the 2004 Grey Cup.

He had led Toronto in receiving his final three seasons there but also clashed with the CFL, drawing fines for his end-zone celebrations. Bruce also drew the ire of some teammates for not always following the gameplan when on the field.

He began his CFL career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2001 and registered 115 catches for 1,880 yards and 19 touchdowns over two seasons before signing with the San Francisco 49ers. Bruce spent the 2003 season with the NFL club before being released and ultimately joining the Argos in '04.