All Andre Arlain wanted was to play one more year and to do it under the terms stipulated in his contract.
Instead, less than a week after a petty contract disagreement with Stamps brass, the seven-year veteran was cut after just two days of camp.
And while the 29-year-old Ontario native was clearly in tough against a talented crew of youngsters vying to steal his job, the insufficient explanation for his dismissal has him wondering aloud if in fact the days of owner interference truly disappeared last winter.
"It just shocked me there were no signs -- they don't have to get down to certain numbers until maybe Friday," said Arlain yesterday. "Obviously they saw something they didn't like or there are other circumstances -- and I think there are."
It was just last week Arlain broached a touchy subject at Stampyland regarding season tickets. As part of an ongoing effort to eliminate close to 5,000 complimentary ducats a game the team has been distributing for years, Stamps president, CEO and co-owner Ted Hellard wasn't exactly forthcoming with regards to the 10 sets of red season tickets Arlain was due according to his contract.
Following a 15-minute conference call on the issue with Hellard and GM Jim Barker, Arlain was told he'd be called back.
He wasn't. One week later he's the first Canadian cut.
"At the end of the day, those tickets are worth a bit of money for me," said Arlain of the $40 ducats that amounted to an $8,000 perk he counted on to help entertain clients in the oil patch.
"I don't know if that's a reason but I'm trying to find one. My only thinking is I'm an eight-year guy and if I get hurt they owe me every dime of my contract. And this ticket thing was an issue."
He also wonders if his unusual request to have his salary deferred weighed in on the decision.
"Maybe Hellard is figuring, 'He doesn't need the money or doesn't want to be here,' " said Arlain, drafted by the Stamps ninth overall in 1998 as a receiver, only to spend most of his career in Calgary and Winnipeg on special teams.
"I don't even know if Ted Hellard knows who I am. But he said, 'I'll get back to you,' and he never decided to."
Arlain was cut yesterday when coach Tom Higgins told him the team was opting to go with four American receivers and one Canadian, which didn't include him.
"I never saw myself as a ratio breaker and we still need 20 Canadians," said Arlain, who retired yesterday so he can focus on his two-and-a-half-year-old job at CE Franklin where he makes plenty more money selling pipe than he did in the CFL.
"Have you ever heard of a Canadian getting cut Day 2? If they thought they were going to cut me -- why bring me to camp?"
Hellard did not return calls yesterday.
Arlain, an intelligent man who is well aware few athletes get to choose their exit strategy, noted his shock, disappointment and confusion yesterday was well-tempered with plenty of good memories.
"I have no regrets other than I wish I could've ended it in my terms," said Arlain, who won one of his three Grey Cup appearances. "It leaves a bitter taste but it's not like I'm embarrassed -- everyone gets cut eventually. Realistically, I was going to be done at the end of this season.
"I had a good career, great memories and was fortunate to play the game as long as I did."
The irony of it all is Arlain would have retired rather than play under Matt Dunigan. He returned only because of the new ownership and management -- the people that ended his career.
Not one to hold grudges, Arlain is thankful the Stamps afforded him five years of employment, which led to his 'real' job in the patch.
How and why it all ended will soon be forgotten -- until game days, that is, when Andre and wife Audra have to go buy tickets.