This Canadian Football League off-season carries on much like any other for Jason Maas.
He still lives in Sherwood Park and plays basketball with a number of friends from the Edmonton Eskimos, including Ed Hervey, Donny Brady, Joe McGrath and A.J. Gass. The biggest difference is those friends are now ex-teammates.
Maas has turned the page on his six-year career as an Eskimo to become a starting quarterback once again -- this time in Hamilton. After learning of his trade to the Tiger-Cats shortly after the Grey Cup last November, he was quick to build ties with his new set of teammates and attempt to create the kind of chemistry he credits for Edmonton's continued success.
"I've called quite a few of them, met quite a few," said Maas, who was signing autographs at a couple of Edmonton Booster Juice locations on Saturday. "I'm already trying to start a relationship with them because that's going to be my biggest thing. I don't want to go into training camp learning guys' names and learning who they are."
New faces and names won't be the only challenge however. Maas has left the reigning champion Eskimos to try and turn around the fortunes of a Ticats team that finished a disappointing 5-13 in 2005.
So the opportunity to become a starter again could be paired with the growing pains of a retooling team in Hamilton.
But after asking for a trade in October, he's happy he received the chance to stay on for the playoff drive in Edmonton and had his situation resolved soon afer winning the Grey Cup.
"It worked out exactly how I wanted it to work out, and that's nice," said the 30-year-old.
He added that his primary goal is to remain healthy and take every meaningful snap in the coming season.
But a return to his 2004 numbers, when he completed 65.8 per cent of his passes for 5,274 yards and 31 touchdowns, would be welcomed.
"My expectations are extremely good," said Maas. "Every team should go into the year with the Grey Cup as the goal and that's no different with Hamilton. There's a lot of work to be done there, but we have the talent."
The Ticats have raided the Ottawa Renegades for some added chemistry this off-season. They've added running back Josh Ranek, and offensive linemen Pascal Cheron and George Hudson via free agency.
The Ticats also signed former Renegades coach Joe Paopao as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator. They'll all play a part in helping keep Maas off his back and using his arm as much as possible in 2006.
"Anytime you have three of the six guys protecting you already knowing the offence, it's pretty easy to get the other three on board with you," said Maas.