February 16, 2012
Fantuz, Eiben interest Ticats
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
While the winners and losers will soon be identified once the free-agent speculation and petty bickering ends, it’s clear the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have a lot to gain if all the chips fall into place.
At the same time, they may have the most to lose if the pieces don’t fall their way.
Such is the fickle nature of free agency, where there’s no assurance, only a guarantee that media mavens and alleged associates of players will take to social media to spread garbage that has no merit, but gets attention because that’s how low the media business has deteriorated.
With so much misinformation, separating fact from fiction is virtually impossible.
What is known is that the Ticats have been very active in trying to lure Andy Fantuz to the Hammer.
Money, it seems, is not an issue and nor should it be with a club that has money to spend in the wake of departures that were both expected and unexpected.
Hamilton isn’t the only team in the hunt for Fantuz, who is expected to return from an African vacation this weekend, if all goes according to plan.
Even the least astute observer can see what’s unfolding in Hamilton, where the team has yet to take a dip into the free-agent pool, other than the re-signing of hard-luck special teams player Ike Brown.
Until the Fantuz question is resolved, it’s virtually impossible for the Ticats to proceed with any significant move that will address many of their needs.
Not surprisingly, the team has reached out to long-time Argos linebacker Kevin Eiben, who should one day be remembered as one of Toronto’s all-time greats.
While Eiben has had a distinguished career, he’s no longer a starter, but he’s more than serviceable and would add so much to the Ticats that his move to the Hammer makes too much sense.
The problem, though, is that Eiben still views himself as a starter worthy of starter’s money, which speaks to Eiben’s pride.
No longer a piece on an Argos team that keeps getting tweaked and retooled, Eiben would make a perfect match with the Ticats, both on the field and inside the locker room.
Given his personal training facilities in the GTA, Eiben’s business wouldn’t be disrupted, but at this point it’s up to Eiben to figure out what’s best for him and what situation best fits him.
Certainly, Hamilton has a need for a player of Eiben’s stature, but it’s apparent the Ticats aren’t willing to fork over the kind of money Eiben envisions.
If Eiben does see fit to join the Ticats, former Argos teammates Taylor Robertson and Rob Murphy may not be far behind.
The two were inseparable in Argoland, two key pieces along the line offensive line who each had season-ending injuries last season.
Much like Eiben, both Robertson and Murphy no longer fit into Toronto’s plans.
As clear as Hamilton’s push to acquire Fantuz, equally clear is the way the Argos have gone about their off-season business.
For the first time in many years, the team has been aggressive and is setting itself up for an interesting year, which hasn’t been the case for far too long.
While the Argos are said to be interested in Fantuz, no team has laid its cards on the table quite like the Ticats.
Fantuz’s former team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, have just spent in excess of $300,000 on Canadian offensive linemen Dominic Picard, Toronto’s starting centre who played every snap the last two years, and Brandon LaBatte, one of the jewels this free agency who decided to go back to his native province after playing in Winnipeg.
TWEETS IRK GM
Winnipeg Bombers GM Joe Mack went on the attack after two of his players went ballistic on their Twitter accounts.
“Man seems like every team has gotten better except us ... I guess our 3 quarterbacks gonna play some receiver get the F outta here man #Sad,” tweeted Jonathan Hefney. “B4 someone text me bout my Tweets just wanna say we really F-ing up ... Feel like Micheal Jordan Making Decisions in out office #epicfail”
Deon Beasley then waded in.
“Whats the chance someone from the Bombers brass will stick their head out today and reply to this stuff? How did we go to the GREY CUP and still being cheap ... I’m heated AF.”
Receiver Gregg Carr and defensive lineman Don Oramasionwu jumped to Edmonton, while non-import linemen Brendon LaBatte joined Saskatchewan in free agency.
Later, Mack held a news conference.
“Those comments are the most disappointing thing for me (Thursday),” said Mack. “We talk about being a team, and those two comments aren’t team-oriented. It is something I will address with them as soon as possible.
“They’re unprofessional and uncalled for. It’s not acceptable. You can’t be taking a shot.
“When they become general manager of a football club, they can make those decisions.”