Riggers sniper no sure thing

IAN BUSBY, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

Kaleb Toth is coming off a career year and has high expectations for 2010, but he's hit a roadblock.

The Calgary Roughnecks veteran forward tweaked his hamstring last week in practice and will be a game-time decision for the home-opener Sunday against the Minnesota Swarm.

Toth has missed only one game in franchise history, so being questionable to start an National Lacrosse League season isn't the norm.

"This sucks," said Toth, who holds several Riggers franchise records. "I started running and it seized up on me.

"Of course, I want to play every game. For us, we have a lot of depth, so if someone goes out, we can replace them.

"It's not good being an old guy because if a young guy comes in and does better than you, you might end up being expendable."

With captain Tracey Kelusky coming back from knee surgery, Toth's news isn't great for the Riggers as they open a title defence.

Toth was a big part of the Roughnecks returning to elite status a year ago. The 32-year-old potted 33 goals and added 47 assists for 80 points, which was a career-high.

He added nine points in the three-game playoff run as the Riggers won their second Champion's Cup.

"I hoped to have an even better season," said Toth, who improved on totals of 19 goals and 31 helpers the previous year.

"Last year, I had something to prove. I didn't have a good year the season before. I wanted to prove I could still play at this calibre and still contribute.

"This year, I want to do it again. I'm in good shape and I've been working hard in practices. I've been doing the little things I need to be doing.

"Hopefully, I can still have a good year like I did last year."

After last season, righty forward Curt Malawsky retired to become part of the coaching staff, and the Riggers brought in former all-star Craig Conn as his replacement on the attack.

But with the defensive system the Riggers employ, only six offensive players dress for each game, so Toth knows roster decisions will be tough, although his great shot is a must-have coming off the left side.

The hamstring problem is a nagging one that Toth has had played through for years, and it was part of the reason he sat out a game during the 2007 season.

But he won't let personal pride hurt the team.

"I don't want to go out there at 75% and cost us something," Toth said.

"If I have to chase a guy down and I can't do it and they score a winning goal, I wouldn't forgive myself.

"I don't want to put our team in that situation. If I can't go and the coaching staff isn't confident in it, I have no trouble sitting out.

"I'm pretty sure I will be in the lineup. They will tape it up and I will go from there. I don't want to force myself the first game, tear it up and be out the entire season."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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