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TORONTO -- Head coach Scott Milanovich will have to look for another big-play threat
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TORONTO -- Head coach Scott Milanovich will have to look for another big-play threat coming out of the Toronto Argonauts backfield this season. Nick Van Exel Jersey . Veteran halfback Chad Kackert retired Sunday, the opening day of the CFL teams training camp. The five-foot-eight, 206-pound Kackert led Toronto to victory in the historic 100th Grey Cup in 12 but has been slow recovering from a broken left leg suffered prior to last years East final. Kackert, 27, will remain with the Argos as their strength-and-conditioning coach. Hell also continue working to rehab his leg and hasnt completely closed the door on resuming his pro career. "Never say never," he said. "I just dont feel like Im anywhere close to being ready to play football, its an issue of range of motion, to be specific. "I want my leg to get better just because who wants to walk around on a gimpy leg the rest of his life? If its sooner rather than later then I will re-evaluate but as of right Im going to get my leg better and coach this team as far as strength and conditioning goes." Despite playing just three seasons in Toronto, Kackert quickly emerged as an offensive threat. He rushed for 1,467 yards on 228 carries -- an impressive 6.4-yard average -- with 12 touchdowns while adding 50 receptions for 454 yards, two TDs. "Chad was a home-run hitter," Milanovich said. "Hed get a crease and could go to the house and thats nice. "He also brought an intangible. The players loved seeing him succeed. When he got the ball and did well, it just kind of ignited our football team. Well see whos around to replace that but well certainly miss those things." Kackert rushed for 638 yards on 100 carries during the 2012 season -- both career highs -- but was at his best in the playoffs. He ran for 139 yards and a TD in Torontos 27-20 road win over Montreal in the East Division final. The next week before over 50,000 fans at Rogers Centre, Kackert was named the MVP of the 100th Grey Cup game, rushing for 133 yards on 20 carries and recording eight catches for 62 yards in the Argos 35-22 win over the Calgary Stampeders. Kackert appeared in just nine games last year, rushing for 480 yards rushing on 71 carries (6.8-yard average) as Toronto (11-7) finished atop the East Division to secure home-field for the conference final. But Kackert didnt play in the Argos 36-24 loss to Hamilton, breaking his left leg during practice. "It was a no-contact practice, freak injury," Kackert said. "I was just running a route, didnt see the defensive end running his twist. "We knocked shoulders and my foot caught the turf and that was it." Injuries plagued the hard-running Kackert throughout his brief Argos tenure but he knew immediately this one was serious. "It hurt," the former University of Hampshire star said. Still, Kackert spent the off-season working to strengthen his leg, accepting he might even have to spend the early part of the season on the injured list before returning. But Kackert realized Friday he simply wasnt ready to go. "I dont want a handout," he said. "I dont want to come on to a team and take a paycheque while Im sitting around not helping anybody. "Im in a position now where I can help people. Its a different contract but its a priceless opportunity." Milanovich wasnt surprised about Kackerts retirement. "I wasnt expecting him to be here as a player," Milanovich said. "It was a very serious injury, particularly with his style of playing using his quickness and speed, and we were planning all along, unfortunately, to have to replace him." But not let him go altogether. Milanovich said he and GM Jim Barker began discussing about two weeks ago the possibility of offering the immensely popular Kackert the strength-and-conditioning position. "Kack is such an integral part of our team," Milanovich said. "Kack is too good a person to not find a way to let him and make him be a part of this. "Thats where it started and we were lucky it was something he was interested in." Very interested, as it turns out. "Its very important to me because Ive fallen in love with this city and Ive kind of established a home base out here," he said. "Jim is never going to make a decision thats going to hinder the team or not get it to the Grey Cup. "Im really honoured to be able to stay here and help get the guys back to where we need to go." However, Kackert admitted it felt a little odd Sunday in his new job. "Its a little tiring standing for three, four hours straight," he said with a chuckle. "But it felt good, the guys are buying in and I appreciate that from them. "Theyre calling me, Coach, already and asking me for workout tips. It will be fun. Im going to learn a lot, theyre going to learn a lot." Teammate Chad Owens was shocked to learn of Kackerts decision "He told me about it (Saturday) and I was kind of lost for words," Owens said. "Its sad because injuries happen in this game, we all understand that . . . but there are certain guys you pray and hope nothing but great things for just because theyre good people. "Kack is probably the most genuine person Ive ever encountered. He is the epitome of a team player. Im going to miss going into battle with him out there on the field because he brought everything he had. He was a playmaker." Kackerts departure creates an open race for the starters job among the seven running backs in camp. Sophomore Curtis Steele does have the benefit of experience in Torontos offence but Milanovich said rookie Anthony Coombs, Torontos 2014 first-round pick, remains very much in the picture. "Its wide open," Milanovich said. "Curtis has an advantage because hes been here and been in the offence but it could be any of those guys at this point." The five-foot-nine, 190-pound Coombs, a Winnipeg native who played at the University of Manitoba, said Kackerts retirement hasnt changed his approach. "Its pretty much the same because we had a lot of good backs that just came in this year," he said. "Its not like its free pickings now. "It (starting) is a huge possibility . . . but you cant think too far ahead. Ive just got to get used to the speed of the game and its coming along slowly but surely. Whether Kackert is in or out I still have the same mentality: Show up to practice, learn the playbook and get better." NOTES -- Lost in Kackerts retirement was Toronto released offensive lineman Scott Mitchell on Sunday. Mitchell was selected second overall by Edmonton in 2011 and signed with the Argos in the off-season as a free agent. He failed his physical Saturday but theres word the expansion Ottawa Redblacks have an interest in the former Rice star . . . The Hamilton Tiger-Cats signed defensive lineman Ed Laurent on Sunday, The six-foot-one, 303-pound Montreal native spent three seasons with the Eskimos. James Worthy Jersey . -- The Windsor Spitfires were left with just one goaltender Tuesday after having their starter walk out on them midway through Game 3 of their Ontario Hockey League playoff matchup with the London Knights. Jerry West Jersey . - This win was more the New Jersey Devils style. http://www.lakersteamofficial.com/Magic-...rs-Jersey/ . After a first half in which he thought "the lid was on the basket," the Toronto Raptors coach watched his squad mount a second half surge to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-91.TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger gathered for the latest installment of Insider Trading and the topics discussed were if the Oilers would trade Nail Yakupov, if the Panthers are ready to blow things up in Florida and PK Subbans contract talks in Montreal. Is there any chance Nail Yakupov ends up being traded out of Edmonton? Dreger: Not this year. The Oilers have no intentions of trading him. What they need from him, given the fact that hes played 65 NHL games, is to figure it out. He needs to start being a better defensive player, he needs to mature a little bit, work on the issues in his game and be ready for the time when Ales Hemsky is traded by the Oilers so he can take a more predominant role. As for the Igor Larionov story, Craig MacTavish spoke to him and there are no issues there. Yakupov hasnt demanded a trade yet but someone in Dallas has. McKenzie: If youve been hearing a lot of Vernon Fiddler trade rumours its because two weeks ago he went to the Dallas Stars and said he wants more ice time and wants a bigger role, and if he cant get it with Dallas than let it be somewhere else. Hes on an expiring contract at $1.8 million and an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. There is interest in him from other teams but the Stars are wining and things are going well, so theyre not going to give him away. Keep an eye on this one. Dreger: The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of those teams that have had discussions with Dallas about Fiddler. Torontos a little bit concerned about his age and the money, but the Leafs are looking for something. Theyve also had discussions on potentially trading John-Michael Liles to the Carolina Hurricanes but nothing imminent there. Is Panthers general manager Dale Tallon ready to blow things up in Florida? McKenzie: Lets play hockey jeopardy. Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad, Erik Gudbranson, Marcel Goc. Who are the five players on the Florida Panthers who cannot be had in a trade right now? Anybody else on the Panthers are available in trade. The younger guys there that are available - Shawn Matthias or Dmitry Kulikov - theyre the guys now that most teams are kicking tires on. The veterans that are making the bigger money; not so much. How about the goaltending situation in Nashville? LeBrun: The Predators have given up a ton of goals since Pekka Rinne went down; not really a big surprise. Carter Hutton, kind of an unknown commodity, has not answered the bell so the Predators and the Anaheim Ducks, Im told, have had discussions regarding Jonas Hiller. But what the Predatoors have told the Ducks is that we need to know about Rinnes health before we decide whether or not we have to make a goalie trade. Custom Los Angeles Lakers Jerseys. If they get good news, maybe they could hold off and survive but if it looks like its going to be longer than they thought, than maybe theyll have to make a trade, and Hiller - as weve been saying for a month - is very much available from Anaheim. Some quick one-timers... Tuesdays general managers meeting in Toronto? Dreger: The National Hockey League general managers talked about a lot of things at Tuesdays annual general managers meeting. One of the things that was interesting is the shot blockers. We know that the Calgary Flames have made them mandatory, but it was clarified to the GMs that you cannot make additional equipment mandatory, you can only strongly encourage. PK Subban talks in Montreal? LeBrun: Agent Don Meehan was in Montreal for very preliminary discussions where the parameters were set. Its going to be a big negotiation, obviously, for Subban who is a restricted free agent at the end of the year and is going to make a lot of money. That conversation has begun. Stamkos and Sochi?  McKenzie: Hockey Canada is not ruling him out at this point. The surgery went well. Tampa media is reporting that a metal rod was inserted the length of the tibia and a metal rod is no worse than plates or screws, so right now the unofficial timeline seems to be in and around three months. It could be more than that and it could be less, but with Team Canada not expected to name the roster until December 28, they will wait and see how much more information theyve got a month to six weeks from now to make a determination. Team Canada will meet in Toronto over the next day and will be whittling down the hardcore of what the nucleus is. LeBrun: And whittling it down to about half, Id say. Team Canada had a long list heading into this season and I think they want to work it down to a manageable number that they can focus on over the next month before D-Day is ready for Team Canada. A young hot prospect not named Connor McDavid? McKenzie: Everybody knows that the 2015 NHL draft is the so-called Connor McDavid draft and rightfully so. But keep an eye on Jack Eichel; a young American - a late 1996 birth date - who just tore up the Four Nations Cup in Finland. He had four goals and seven points in only three games for the Americans. Hes slated to go to Boston University at some point. His CHL rights were initially owned by the Halifax Mooseheads but they dropped him when he committed to BU, and now the Saint John Sea Dogs hold his CHL rights. Hes a big centre who could put points on the board. 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