“For years, our fans have asked to have the schedule released as early as possible, preferably in time to consider buying season tickets as gifts for family and friends,” said Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the Canadian Football League.
“We are pleased today to deliver on that request. Not only is this schedule out two months earlier than last year’s, it promises a season that starts a little sooner and will deliver all the excitement Canadians have come to expect from the CFL.”
The regular season will kick off one week earlier, on Thursday, June 14, when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers host the Edmonton Eskimos – the first of 11 summer Thursday Night Football telecasts on TSN. It will conclude with the 106th Grey Cup presented by Shaw in Edmonton on Sunday November 25.
The defending Grey Cup Champion Toronto Argonauts kick off their title defense – and Friday Night Football on TSN – on June 15 when they travel to Saskatchewan to face the Roughriders.
Rounding out opening weekend is a double header on Saturday, June 16, with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats visiting the Calgary Stampeders and the Montreal Alouettes facing the BC Lions in Vancouver.
The Argos’ home opener on June 23 shapes up as a night to remember: the team will raise its Grey Cup banner before facing the Stampeders in a rematch of last month’s thrilling 105th Grey Cup presented by Shaw.
Mark's Labour Day Weekend features all the traditional rivalries: Montreal visits the Ottawa Redblacks on Friday, August 31; the Bombers visit the Riders on Sunday, September 2; and the holiday Monday on September 3 features a classic doubleheader, with Edmonton at Calgary in the afternoon followed by Toronto at Hamilton in the evening.
The following weekend features back-to-back-to-back rematches on Saturday September 8: Hamilton at Toronto, Saskatchewan at Winnipeg and Calgary at Edmonton.
Teams hit the Shaw Road to the Grey Cup come Fall. The lineup for Thanksgiving Weekend includes Calgary at Montreal and Edmonton at Saskatchewan on the holiday Monday, October 8. The final three weeks of the season feature 12 straight divisional match-ups which will likely determine the seeding for the playoffs.
The 2018 schedule spreads the same number of regular season games over 21 weeks instead of 20, promoting player safety by ensuring fewer short turnarounds for the league’s nine teams.
It eliminates the requirement that any team play three games in eleven days, something that had been part of every schedule dating back to 2005. The number of games to be played on less than a full week’s rest has been cut to 44, down from 51 last year and 54 the year before.
The number of games played on five days rest has been cut from 21 last year to 15 this year, a 29 per cent decrease. And this year, every team will get three bye weeks instead of two, reducing the number of consecutive weeks a team must play.
“Building on the momentum of one of the most thrilling Grey Cups ever, our league is looking forward to an exciting 2018,” Ambrosie said. “Now, with the schedule out and season tickets on sale, our fans can give the gift of that excitement to friends and family, and we can all anticipate a happy new year of great Canadian football.”