Orlondo Steinauer doesn’t see Ticats’ ‘frustration’ as an issue ahead of Labour Day Classic

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Once thought to be Grey Cup contenders, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are precariously close to falling out of playoff contention altogether.

For the team’s head coach, looking back on how they got to where they are is not an option.

“I just want to focus on Toronto,” Orlondo Steinauer told the media on Wednesday, doing his best Bill Belichick impression.

“How we handle stuff internally is how we handle stuff internally. Last game was last game and how I spoke to the team is how I spoke to the team.”

That last game was a 37-20 loss to the Toronto Argonauts that saw the Ticats lose quarterback Matthew Shiltz to a wrist injury that will likely keep him out of action for the next four-to-six weeks.

That means Hamilton’s fortunes at quarterback rest solely in the hands of embattled starter Dane Evans, who admitted after last week’s loss that he has not performed well this season.

“We’re such a good team and I keep screwing us, I totally know that,” Evans told a small group of reporters following the team’s loss last Friday.

The beleaguered signal-caller is likely not the only player in Hamilton’s locker room feeling the heat, as the team has stumbled to a 3-8 record over the first two-thirds of the season.

For his part, Hamilton’s head coach is keenly aware that everyone in the organization is frustrated but has not yet seen any indication that his team is coming apart at the seams.

“If people didn’t feel emotion or frustration that pretty much makes us, probably, who we don’t want to be,” Steinauer emphasized. “There is a difference between that and choosing to divide or separate.”

The Tiger-Cats will attempt to take some of that building frustration out on their opponents this week, as they clash with the Argos for the fourth time in five weeks.

There is some added spice between the two teams this week as Monday afternoon’s matchup is the 51st edition of the Labour Day Classic and will take place in front of a sold-out crowd at Tim Hortons Field.

Experiencing his 21st Labour Day Classic as either a player or coach, Steinauer knows exactly what this game means to those who will be in attendance.

“There is nothing like playing here in Hamilton on Labour Day, no matter what side I was on,” he said.

Steinauer suited up in 12 Labour Day Classics during his 13-year playing career, four while donning black and gold and another eight while in double blue. The 2021 Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductee is about to coach in his ninth version of the holiday game, his first two coming while on the coaching staff of the Argos.

Steinauer’s personal record on Labour Day is 14-5-1, with his only loss as a member of the Ticats occurring back in his first Classic in 1997.

“It’s a historic game. It’s a classic for a reason. It’s high energy and emotions, and you can feel it around town. You can just see it,” said Steinauer.

The game has historically been very kind to the home side, with the Ticats sporting a 36-13-1 all-time record against their most-hated rival. The Tabbies have also won the last seven matchups, having not lost on Labour Day since 2012.

The black and gold have also yet to taste defeat on the first Monday of September since Tim Hortons Field opened in 2014 when the team christened their new stadium with a 13-12 win over the Argos in the annual rivalry clash.

While the coach won’t put any added emphasis on Monday’s marquee matchup, Steinauer knows that a win on Labour Day means a little bit more.

“It’s something you have to feel versus explain for anyone who hasn’t experienced a Labour Day Classic.”

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.