CFL's Hamilton Tiger Cats Clean Out Their Kicker Room
On July 10th, (of course, I was in the middle of the bush and missed this) the Hamilton Tiger-Cats released both K Michael Domagala and P Simon Laryea. They will opt to bring in Saskatchewan Roughriders legend P Jon Ryan and K Seth Small. Let's discuss that;
Looks like Domagala and Laryea's 2022 CFL Season will be cut short after just 5 weeks of play. The Transactions Log on CFL.ca shows the team has cleaned out their kicker room.
So how did this happen? To answer that question we need to look back at the 2021 CFL Season.
The Tiger-Cats have just lost their star kicker/punter Lirim Hajrullahu, who moved on to try his foot at the NFL. Hajrullahu was a great CFL kicker who consistently hit 85% of his field goals for the Ti-Cats. Who do they turn to next? The answer;
Kickers Michael Domagala and Taylor Bertolet and Punter Joel Whitford.
Out of those three kickers, only 1 would survive the season. Michael Domagala, though he struggled, would end the 2021 Season as the starting kicker. He completed 7/10 field goals and 8/10 PATs. Domagala was also Punting during this time, but Whitford managed to remain the starting punter for the last leg of the season.
Heading into the Preseason, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats brought in 6 kickers to compete for the 2 starting positions. By the end of the Preseason, I really thought that Michael Domagala lost the competition. He managed to go 1/1 on field goals (long of 49 yards) and 2/2 on PATs but K Seth Small was 3/3 for field goals (Long of 51 yards). Joel Whitford also lost his starting position to P Simon Laryea, who was brought in just before the start of the 2022 CFL Season.
2022 Regular Season
Let's start with Michael Domagala.
As it stands, Domagala is sitting at the worst FG % in the league (12/16 on FG, 75%). He has missed a kick, whether it be a field goal or convert attempt, in each of the first 4 games of Hamilton's season. While Michael has been money under 40 yards, making 13/14 of his kicks, he has been less than great over 40 yards. When lining up for a 40+ yard attempt, he is only 3/7 which is good for a rough 42%. That's what caused the Ti-Cats to move on.
Now let's discuss Simon Laryea.
The American Punter out of Abilene Christian performed decently during his 4 game stint with the club. He opened the season with the most punts (9) but the lowest Net Avg. (34.6 NET yards per punt). After a rough Week 2, he seemed to be improving. His most recent performance was also his most impressive, after punting 3 times, for a Net Avg. of 47.3 Net yards per punt. While I don't think he was a bad punter, I don't blame the Tiger-Cats for jumping at the opportunity to sign one of the best Punters to ever do it.
So what will the Kicker room look like starting Week 6? Well, if we can take Orlando Steinauer at his word, it looks like Seth Small will handle placekicking duties, while Jon Ryan will make his 2022 debut as a Punter! Speaking on the topic of the Canadian ratio, Steinauer said this;
"We were able to flip the ratio there and obviously we can go with the Canadian punter and we’ll go with the American kicker this week"
While Seth Small will look to impress in his first ever CFL Game, Jon Ryan will look to prove he still deserves to punt after a prolific 12NFL Career down south.
Jon Ryan played in his last game as a Roughrider in Week 12 of the 2021 Season. He went down with a serious ankle injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the year. This opened the door for Punter Kaare Vedvik, who took the opportunity and ran with it, winning the starting position by the end of the 2021 Season. Speaking of the end of the 2021 season, Ryan was up for a contract renewal. Though Ryan is widely considered one of the best punters in the CFL, he was informed that the Saskatchewan Roughriders will not offer him a new contract.
Despite the fact that Ryan was playing on a discounted contract already and made it known he wanted to play for his hometown Riders, the club went with a younger, cheaper option in Kaare Vedvik. Vedvik, due to his nationality, is paid 11k under the league minimum because of the CFL's Global initiative.
Ryan made it known that he wasn't happy with this pay discrepancy when he said this following his release;
“I can go back to the Riders and say; ‘Pay me league minimum.’ And they still wouldn’t pay it because they can pay a foreign player even less, which is very screwed up in my opinion.”
Fans will have to keep an eye out for the ultimate revenge game in Week 18, on October 9th, when the Roughriders travel East to face the Tiger-Cats.
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