Head coach and general manager John Hufnagel met with the media on Monday afternoon to discuss the circumstances surrounding Ameet Pall, Calgary’s 2012 first-round draft pick, signing with the Montreal Alouettes.
“I discovered this morning that Ameet left late last night to join Montreal,” he said. “Our plan was to assess his injury — as you know, he was on crutches — and then to find out how extensive the injury was and then figure out where to put him on the roster, if at all.”
Hufnagel said he was surprised with the turn of events.
“I thought we had an agreement with both Ameet and the agent concerning this issue,” he said. “He was scheduled for his MRI this morning and at that time, we would know which way to go.
“I told Ameet what his situation was. He was here to rehab and to get his MRI and see what’s going on with it and then we’ll make a decision. I did not give up on him and he thanked me for not giving up on him. It’s just one of those things. If I didn’t have as many injuries and had room somewhere, that would have helped the issue.”
Hufnagel said the short turnover time between Friday’s final pre-season game and the Saturday roster deadline limited the Stampeders options, as did salary-cap implications.
“I’m disappointed,” he admitted. “I was just trying to buy some time because of the way the schedule panned out — we had that last pre-season game and then we had to make the final roster by eight o’clock the next evening. We didn’t have time to get an MRI done to assess his or anyone else’s injury. So we had to make sure that for the next 12 days, where we have three games, we have as many healthy players as possible. As you know, I have a lot of one-game injuries already. I already have a couple of guys on nine-game injury.”
Hufnagel said that regardless of where Pall may or may not have fit in with the Stamps’ long-term plans, the team was committed to supporting him during his recovery from injury.
“I thought we had a plan that was agreed on by all parties but when it comes down to it, he was free to do whatever he wanted to do,” said Hufnagel. “The indications were that he was going to allow the process to happen here. My other alternative was to cut the young man and send him home but if a player is injured, even if he is a rookie and we don’t have any financial obligations (to do so), I do try to at least get him healthy on our tab and then see where his future may end up with the Stampeders or another team. It’s what I think I owe those individuals.”
Despite being a first-round selection, Hufnagel said the team realized from the beginning that Pall was a long-term project.
“When we drafted Ameet, we wanted him to be a very good special-teams player and a situational defensive player,” he said. “I also stated many times that I don’t expect in the very first year for that player to make that jump. So he had a lot of growth to do before he became a roster player.
“He had flashes as a pass rusher (during training camp), like we saw and was why we drafted him, but special teams is a new concept to him and so he had a lot of work to do in that area. And he only had the one pre-season game, which was tough to judge on.
“The only thing I’m disappointed by was that when I was talking to him, he didn’t just say, ‘Listen, my agent is working a deal out.’ Then this would have all been avoided. I would have released him and it would have been done with. Hey, that’s not for me to judge.”
Hufnagel points out that the Stamps’ non-import depth creates a challenge for any rookie.
“Anybody I draft, it’s a tough ticket,” he said. “I didn’t expect him to come in and beat out Junior Turner. I didn’t expect him to come in and beat out Justin Phillips. I expected him to come in, learn the game and develop into a player. His injury didn’t allow that to happen for the second game of training camp and we didn’t get it assessed in time to make a better decision, if a better decision was required.”