June 25, 2012
Hufnagel OK with calculated risk
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
CALGARY - John Hufnagel took a calculated risk, and it cost him a first-round draft pick.
Still, after being spurned by Ameet Pall, who signed the Montreal Alouettes on Monday, the Calgary Stampeders GM-head coach said he likely wouldn't have done anything different even with the benefit of hindsight.
On Friday, Pall left the pre-season tilt against the Saskatchewan Roughriders with a foot injury. On Saturday, the Stamps released Pall, with the plan the fifth-overall pick from this year's Canadian draft would stick around Calgary, rehab and see where things went.
An MRI was scheduled for Monday and the Stamps were going to find him a place to live, but the 25-year-old Wofford product never got that far.
He left Sunday for his hometown of Montreal to sign a two-year deal with the Alouettes, despite the fact he's injured.
Hufnagel knew this could happen once he released Pall outright, but with five players on the one-game injured list and now a full practice roster, he had nowhere else to stash the defensive end.
Pall could have gone on the IR, but Hufnagel didn't want create salary-cap problems down the road.
"I thought we had an arrangement that was agreed to by all parties," Hufnagel said. "When it comes right down to it, he was free to do what he wanted. Our indications was he was going to allow the process to happen here.
"When I brought Ameet in, I told him what his situation was. He was here to rehab, get this MRI, see what's going on with it and make a decision. I did not give up on him and he thanked me for that. If I didn't have as many injuries and had room somewhere, that would have helped the issue.
"The only thing I'm disappointed about it is when I was talking to him, he didn't say, 'My agent is working a deal out.' This would have been all avoided."
The news of Pall leaving was relayed to Hufnagel on Monday morning, and he quickly called the Calgary media together to explain his side of the situation.
Hufnagel made it clear this wasn't a mistake. If Pall develops into a defensive star down the road, then it will look like a missed opportunity, but from what Hufnagel saw of the 6-ft., 245-pounder, he can't predict what would happen.
"If I thought he deserved to be on the roster, this would have never have happened," Hufnagel said.
"When we drafted Ameet, we knew wanted to have him be a very good special teams player and a situational defensive player.
"I don't expect the very first year for a player to make that jump. He had a lot of growth to do before he became a roster player."
With starting safety Eric Fraser (concussion) missing Sunday's opener against the Alouettes, the Stamps added former Montreal defensive back Jeff Hecht to the practice roster.
When healthy, the Stamps boast a deep group of Canadian talent, especially on the defensive line. Before getting released, Pall was fifth among non-imports on the line.
"Anybody I draft, it's a tough ticket," Hufnagel said. "I didn't expect him to beat out Junior Turner or Justin Phillips. I expected him to come in, learn the game and develop into a player."
Unfortunately for the Stamps, he will develop in Montreal instead.
On Twitter @SUNIanBusby