While Hamilton Tiger-Cats kicker Brett Maher may have been disappointed by the season’s abrupt end, he was one of the first players to hit the road after Tuesday’s locker-room cleanout. His excitement was understandable: He was on the way to meet his daughter for the first time.
Maher’s wife gave birth to their second child on Nov. 3, and because the baby was earlier than expected, Dad wasn’t able to make the trip back to Lincoln, Nebraska, in time for birth. Then, with the team in the midst of a playoff push and as the team’s only kicker, Maher elected to stay in Hamilton.
As a result, he’s yet to hold Laekyn Maher. “Everyone wants to play in the last game of the year, and I’m no different,” Maher said. “I just have a little bit better consolation prize than most people.”
The latest addition to the Maher family was just the capper on what’s been a wild year for the 26-year-old. He won a drawn out competition for the team’s kicking job, then enjoyed an excellent start to the season.
He struggled at times down the stretch but still finished with an 82 percentage rate on field goals and earned an East all-star nod as a punter.
“Everything you do in this stadium is harder than everywhere else in the league because of the wind, and that’s its reputation,” Maher said. “I thought overall it was pretty positive. There’s things I thought I could have been better at, so I’ll focus on those and see what happens for next year.”
Maher signed a one-year deal before the season and is scheduled be a free agent in February. He says he hasn’t spoken to the Ticats about an extension but is open to returning.
He is well aware the team gave him an opportunity after a one-year hiatus from the CFL.
But all that can wait. Maher’s only focus on Tuesday was the 14-hour drive ahead and the hope he’d arrive in time for a middle-of-the-night feeding.
“I’m pretty excited.”
Now that the season is over, some of the super-secret details around player injuries has been declassified.
Receiver Luke Tasker missed the last six games after taking a hit in a September game against Montreal that caused an internal layer of his abdominal muscle to tear off the pelvic bone. It also exacerbated an existing hip injury and caused damage to his hip flexor.
The injury took weeks to properly diagnosis and the timeline for his recovery was extended several times.
“I probably would have been running routes this week,” Tasker said. “I won’t do that now, I’ll give it some more time, but it will heal 100 per cent.”
The team kept details of Tasker’s injury under wraps in case he was able to return to the lineup. The same held true for defensive back Emanuel Davis, who played with a significant finger injury through much of 2016. “Emanuel should have had surgery earlier in the year. He battled through, played every game, moved positions,” said defensive co-ordinator Orlondo Steinauer.