CFL players Max Zimmermann and Kimi Linnainmaa join Maple League

The Helsinki Roosters and Kuopio Steelers of Finland’s Maple League have both announced the signing of former CFL players with Helsinki bringing wide receiver Kimi Linnainmaa back from the Toronto Argonauts and the Steelers welcoming Max Zimmermann who played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2019.

The CFL announced that it was cancelling the 2020 season which made its players eligible for play in other countries.

Linnainmaa, who last played for the Roosters in 2018, will be on the field for the team wearing his familiar #32 this Friday, August 21 when they face the Wasa Royals. Similarly, Zimmermann will join his new teammates when they take on the Seinäjoki Crocodiles this week.

Needless to say, both players were disappointed with the cancellation of the season in Canada, but both are excited to be suiting up to play football as Linnainmaa explains:

“Of course I am disappointed about not getting to play in the CFL in 2020. It feels good to be back with the Roosters, however. Especially with the Maple League being so competitive this season.”

The 5’11”, 193 pound Zimmermann is just happy to be back on the field:

“It’s been tough. I realized how much you need the game and how much it means in your everyday life. It’s a weird feeling having so much uncertainty about actually playing football at all, and not even able to control anything about the decision. So I was just trying to look for a plan b in case the CFL season wouldn’t happen. I just felt it was good to have a back up plan. Turned out I made the right choice. Right now I’m happy. Happy that I have to learn a new playbook, can be out there with new teammates and chasing a championship.”

Roosters head coach Juha Hakala is excited about the return of Linnainmaa:

“It’s great to get Kimi back to the Roosters. Kimi has been an important part of the team for several previous seasons. Everyone knows how incredibly good a player he is, but on top of that, despite his young age of 26, when he comes, he brings a lot of experience and leadership that our young team, which is mainly made up of domestic players, needs. Kimi is able to raise the level of the whole team by his own example.”

In Linnainmaa’s last season in Finland with the Roosters, 2018, he had 36 receptions for 737 yards and 12 touchdowns. Max Zimmermann last took to the field in Germany in 2018 with the Potsdam Royals. The Berlin native was the team’s second leading receiver with 33 catches for 644 yards and nine touchdowns.

Kuopio head coach Pekka Utriainen:

“I have to say a big thank you to the local partners with whom we worked to make Max’s transfer successful and swift. There is not much time to waste, but I believe that Max, with his level of skill and experience will quickly find a common bond with our quarterback Seth Peters.”

Both players had been selected by the respective CFL teams in the historic CFL 2019 Global Draft and both survived training camp and the preseason and lasted through the entire regular season.

The Helsinki Roosters sit in fifth place in the Maple League standings with a 1-2 record while undefeated (3-0) Kuopio Steelers are in first. Helsinki plays host to the Wasa Royals on Friday, August 21. The Steelers travel to Seinäjoki to play the Crocodiles on Saturday, August 22.




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