TORONTO -- Head coach Scott Milanovich will have to look for another big-play threat coming out of the Toronto Argonauts backfield this season. Bailey Howell Jersey . Veteran halfback Chad Kackert retired Sunday, the opening day of the CFL teams training camp. The five-foot-eight, 206-pound Kackert led Toronto to victory in the historic 100th Grey Cup in 12 but has been slow recovering from a broken left leg suffered prior to last years East final. Kackert, 27, will remain with the Argos as their strength-and-conditioning coach. Hell also continue working to rehab his leg and hasnt completely closed the door on resuming his pro career. "Never say never," he said. "I just dont feel like Im anywhere close to being ready to play football, its an issue of range of motion, to be specific. "I want my leg to get better just because who wants to walk around on a gimpy leg the rest of his life? If its sooner rather than later then I will re-evaluate but as of right Im going to get my leg better and coach this team as far as strength and conditioning goes." Despite playing just three seasons in Toronto, Kackert quickly emerged as an offensive threat. He rushed for 1,467 yards on 228 carries -- an impressive 6.4-yard average -- with 12 touchdowns while adding 50 receptions for 454 yards, two TDs. "Chad was a home-run hitter," Milanovich said. "Hed get a crease and could go to the house and thats nice. "He also brought an intangible. The players loved seeing him succeed. When he got the ball and did well, it just kind of ignited our football team. Well see whos around to replace that but well certainly miss those things." Kackert rushed for 638 yards on 100 carries during the 2012 season -- both career highs -- but was at his best in the playoffs. He ran for 139 yards and a TD in Torontos 27-20 road win over Montreal in the East Division final. The next week before over 50,000 fans at Rogers Centre, Kackert was named the MVP of the 100th Grey Cup game, rushing for 133 yards on 20 carries and recording eight catches for 62 yards in the Argos 35-22 win over the Calgary Stampeders. Kackert appeared in just nine games last year, rushing for 480 yards rushing on 71 carries (6.8-yard average) as Toronto (11-7) finished atop the East Division to secure home-field for the conference final. But Kackert didnt play in the Argos 36-24 loss to Hamilton, breaking his left leg during practice. "It was a no-contact practice, freak injury," Kackert said. "I was just running a route, didnt see the defensive end running his twist. "We knocked shoulders and my foot caught the turf and that was it." Injuries plagued the hard-running Kackert throughout his brief Argos tenure but he knew immediately this one was serious. "It hurt," the former University of Hampshire star said. Still, Kackert spent the off-season working to strengthen his leg, accepting he might even have to spend the early part of the season on the injured list before returning. But Kackert realized Friday he simply wasnt ready to go. "I dont want a handout," he said. "I dont want to come on to a team and take a paycheque while Im sitting around not helping anybody. "Im in a position now where I can help people. Its a different contract but its a priceless opportunity." Milanovich wasnt surprised about Kackerts retirement. "I wasnt expecting him to be here as a player," Milanovich said. "It was a very serious injury, particularly with his style of playing using his quickness and speed, and we were planning all along, unfortunately, to have to replace him." But not let him go altogether. Milanovich said he and GM Jim Barker began discussing about two weeks ago the possibility of offering the immensely popular Kackert the strength-and-conditioning position. "Kack is such an integral part of our team," Milanovich said. "Kack is too good a person to not find a way to let him and make him be a part of this. "Thats where it started and we were lucky it was something he was interested in." Very interested, as it turns out. "Its very important to me because Ive fallen in love with this city and Ive kind of established a home base out here," he said. "Jim is never going to make a decision thats going to hinder the team or not get it to the Grey Cup. "Im really honoured to be able to stay here and help get the guys back to where we need to go." However, Kackert admitted it felt a little odd Sunday in his new job. "Its a little tiring standing for three, four hours straight," he said with a chuckle. "But it felt good, the guys are buying in and I appreciate that from them. "Theyre calling me, Coach, already and asking me for workout tips. It will be fun. Im going to learn a lot, theyre going to learn a lot." Teammate Chad Owens was shocked to learn of Kackerts decision "He told me about it (Saturday) and I was kind of lost for words," Owens said. "Its sad because injuries happen in this game, we all understand that . . . but there are certain guys you pray and hope nothing but great things for just because theyre good people. "Kack is probably the most genuine person Ive ever encountered. He is the epitome of a team player. Im going to miss going into battle with him out there on the field because he brought everything he had. He was a playmaker." Kackerts departure creates an open race for the starters job among the seven running backs in camp. Sophomore Curtis Steele does have the benefit of experience in Torontos offence but Milanovich said rookie Anthony Coombs, Torontos 2014 first-round pick, remains very much in the picture. "Its wide open," Milanovich said. "Curtis has an advantage because hes been here and been in the offence but it could be any of those guys at this point." The five-foot-nine, 190-pound Coombs, a Winnipeg native who played at the University of Manitoba, said Kackerts retirement hasnt changed his approach. "Its pretty much the same because we had a lot of good backs that just came in this year," he said. "Its not like its free pickings now. "It (starting) is a huge possibility . . . but you cant think too far ahead. Ive just got to get used to the speed of the game and its coming along slowly but surely. Whether Kackert is in or out I still have the same mentality: Show up to practice, learn the playbook and get better." NOTES -- Lost in Kackerts retirement was Toronto released offensive lineman Scott Mitchell on Sunday. Mitchell was selected second overall by Edmonton in 2011 and signed with the Argos in the off-season as a free agent. He failed his physical Saturday but theres word the expansion Ottawa Redblacks have an interest in the former Rice star . . . The Hamilton Tiger-Cats signed defensive lineman Ed Laurent on Sunday, The six-foot-one, 303-pound Montreal native spent three seasons with the Eskimos. Bob Cousy Jersey .C. -- North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried said his team had a "golden" opportunity to help its NCAA tournament chances. Don Chaney Jersey . LOUIS -- To stay a step ahead of goaltenders, T.IMATRA, Finland -- Canada is off to the semifinal round at the world under-18 hockey championship, thanks to Travis Konecny. Konecnys third-period goal earned Canada a 3-2 quarter-final victory over Switzerland on Thursday. He scored with 30 seconds remaining in regulation after Switzerland had tied it earlier in the period. Switzerland pulled goalie Gauthier Descloux for the extra attacker afterwards but couldnt beat Canadian netminder Mason McDonald to force overtime. "I think its the same old story, were finding a way," Canadian team coach Kevin Dineen said after the game. "But weve got to do a much better job of showing up the way we play. "Hockey Canada put together some good character players and some talented players. I think weve survived on our talent, now we have to start relying on a little more character." Canada, which finished the preliminary round atop Group A, faces the Czech Republic in the semifinals Saturday in Lapeenranta, Finland. The Czechs, who were second to the U.S. in Group B, advanced with 3-2 quarter-final win over Russia here. John Quenneville and Jake Virtanen had the other goals for Canada, the defending tournament champion. McDonald stopped 19 shots. Dominik Diem and Kevin Fiala replied for Switzerland, which outshot Canada 21-17 but was just 1-for-7 on the man advantage. "Our penalty kill really stood out and I give a lot of credit to our defence, they had a really solid game," Dineen said. "That group really made a difference for us, it was a really satisfying win from that perspective." However, Dineen felt his players didnt make things easy for themselves throughout the game. "Undisciplined penalties, I thought, were an issue for us," he said. "We put ourselves in a lot of disadvvantages, not just in terms of manpower but wearing out the body over and over. Kyrie Irving Jersey. . "Also, our puck decisions have to be better, both in our defensive zone and at the opponents blue-line. I think we were just a little bit too cute and it kept on coming back on us." Diem opened the scoring at 7:50 of the first before Virtanen tied it on the power play at 17:28. Quenneville, a second cousin to Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, had the lone goal of the second, putting Canada ahead 2-1 with an even-strength marker at 11:58. But the Swiss tied it again on Fialas power-play goal at 15:43 of the third, setting the stage for Konecnys late-period heroics. "We got the right guys on the ice and fortunately ended up with the puck," Dineen said "Even though it wasnt overtime it was pretty dramatic nonetheless. "I thought the Swiss played a heck of a game, they were the better team for stretches. We mightve learned a pretty good lesson and survived this one. Were not going to be that fortunate against the Czechs. Were going to have to change the way we do our business to have that success." Dineen saw some of the Czech Republic-Russia game and was impressed with the Czechs resilience. "I thought in all honesty the Russians played very well but obviously they (Czechs) are a worthy opponent and found a way to stick around," Dineen said. "Theyre pesky and at the end of the night ended up with the win." The Americans take on Sweden in the other semifinal Saturday. The U.S. beat Slovakia 6-2 in its quarter-final game while the Swedes advanced with a lopsided 10-0 victory over Finland. The semifinal victors will meet Sunday in the tournament final after the losers square off in the bronze medal game. ' ' '
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