MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Kevin Eiben's season is over.
The Toronto Argonauts' veteran linebacker requires surgery to repair a ruptured pectoral muscle he suffered in the club's 36-23 home loss to the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday night.
Eiben, 31, was hurt in the first quarter and didn't return on defence but finished the game in his role as the team's holder on field goals and converts. He was scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday night.
The six-foot-one, 216-pound native of Delta, B.C., is in his 11th CFL season, all with Toronto.
Eiben's injury is just the latest to hit the Argos' linebacking corps and bad news for a team that's lost five straight and is last in the East Division standings with a 1-5 record. It also presents yet another challenge for new defensive co-ordinator Orlando Steinauer, Toronto's former defensive backs coach who now takes over running the club's defence for Chip Garber, who was fired following the loss to Montreal.
Veteran Jason Pottinger is out for the season with a knee injury while rookie Anthony Cannon has missed the last two games with a lower body injury. Linebacker Ejiro Kuale has continued to play despite a hip pointer and also had a cast on his wrist against Montreal.
"It's difficult anytime you lose Canadians but especially when you lose top Canadians in the league," Argos head coach/GM Jim Barker said following practice Tuesday. "These two have been for a while so that's very difficult and there's not a lot of teams that can absorb that.
"I felt like our Canadian depth was much better this year and that has allowed us to at least not have to make changes. It's not easy, you just don't go out and replace Pottinger and Eiben. You just don't do it."
Cannon has resumed practising with the club and is expected to step in for Eiben when Toronto travels to Hamilton on Saturday to face the arch-rival Tiger-Cats (3-3) at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Replacing Eiben on special teams might be more challenging, though, as the Argos plan to audition players in that spot leading up to Saturday's game.
The good news for Toronto is tailback Cory Boyd will return against Hamilton. Boyd finished second among CFL rushers last year with 1,359 yards but has missed the Argos' last four games with strained knee ligaments.