Saturday, December 25, 2010

NLL Roster Changes

By Graeme Perrow

All your roster updates, in one handy spot. Note that this just covers players who are on the roster - players on Injured Reserve or Physically Unable to Perform lists may be included here as "Out".

NLL East

Boston Blazers

In: David Brock, Kevin Buchanan, Scott Campbell, Geoff McNulty, John Orsen, Casey Powell, Matt Quinton, Kyle Rubisch, Josh Sanderson

Out: Gary Bining, Paul Dawson, Mat Giles, Jon Harnett, Matt Lyons, Sean Morris, Kyle Ross, Matt Smalley, Brendon Thenhaus, Daryl Veltman

Buffalo Bandits

In: Chad Culp, Clay Hill, Travis Irving, Tracy Kelusky, Scott Self, Brendon Thenhaus, Mike Thompson, Jay Thorimbert

Out: Mike Accursi, Kevin Dostie, Sean Greenhalgh, Ken Montour, Kyle Schmelzle, Billy Dee Smith, Brandon Swamp

Philadelphia Wings

In: Matt Alrich, Ryan Boyle, Paul Dawson, Ray Hodgkinson, Steve Holmes, Athan Iannucci, Bodie MacDonald, Brett Manney, Ryan McClelland, Ryan McFadyen, David Mitchell, Brendan Mundorf, Shawn Nadelen, Joe Smith, Alex Turner

Out: Rob Blasdell, Dave Cutten, Tom Hajek, Kevin Huntley, Jordan Levine, Brett Moyer, Steve Panarelli, Jeff Reynolds, Josh Sims, Bob Snider, Geoff Snider, Dan Teat, Kyle Wailes, Mike Ward

Rochester Knighthawks

In: Mike Accursi, Troy Bonterre, Tyler Burton, Jarrett David, Colin Hall, Cody Jamieson, Pat McCready, Ian Rubel, Josh Ruys, Matt Vinc, Chase Williams, Matt Zash

Out: Marshall Abrams, Mac Allen, Cory Bomberry, Matt Danowski, Shawn Evans, Kevin Fines, John Grant Jr., Peter Jacobs, Cody Johnson, Bobby McBride, Pat O'Toole, Andrew Potter, Regy Thorpe, Steve Toll, Shawn Williams

Toronto Rock

In: Pat Campbell, Mike MacLeod, Pat Maddalena, Patrick Merrill, Gee Nash, Tim O'Brien, Aaron Pascas, Kyle Ross

Out: Scott Campbell, Steve Dietrich, Brendan Doran, Mike Hominuck, Anthony Lackey, Pat McCready, Geoff McNulty, Kim Squire, Josh Wasson

NLL West

Calgary Roughnecks

In: Cory Conway, Curtis Dickson, Jon Harnett, Derek Hopcroft, Brandon Ivey, Dan MacRae, Dayne Michaud, Curtis Palidwor, Geoff Snider, Daryl Veltman, Kurtis Wagar

Out: Craig Conn, Craig Gelsvik, Tracey Kelusky, Matt King, Rob Kirkby, John Lintz, Cutris Manning, Jeff Moleski, Josh Sanderson, Carlton Schuss, Rob Van Beek, Devan Wray

Colorado Mammoth

In: Mac Allen, Shayne Bennett, Rob Blasdell, Ned Crotty, Ben Davies, John Grant Jr., Matt King, Matt Leveque, Mike Mclellan, Jarrett Park, Josh Wasson

Out: Rich Catton, Cory Conway, Chad Culp, Shawn Dhaliwal, Chris Gill, Chris Levis, Andrew Leyshon, Derek Malawsky, Ryan McFadyen, David Morgan, Bruce Murray, Curtis Palidwor, Jed Prossner, Brad Richardson, Bryan Safarik, Neil Tyacke, Matt Wilson

Edmonton Rush

In: Bill Greer, Kedoh Hill, John Lafontaine, Bruce Murray, Devan Wray

Out: Bruce Alexander, Chris McElroy, Ryan McNish, Justin Norbraten, Ryan Powell

Minnesota Swarm

In: Mat Giles, Tyler Hass, Travis Hill, Matt Kelly, Ryan Sharp, Rory Smith, Andrew Suitor

Out: Colin Achenbach, Kevin Buchanan, Ryan Cousins, Josh Funk, Scott Self, Sean Thomson, Jay Thonimbert

Washington Stealth

In: Chet Koneczny, Chris McElroy, Jeff Moleski

Out: Joel Delgarno, Wade DeWolff, Travis Gillespie, Ben Hunt, Brett Manney, Kyle Sorensen

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Roster Day WTF?

By Mike Wilson

We are less than 40 hours away from Christmas day, the happiest time of the year. It is also a happy time for NLL fans that get the bonus of receiving the knowledge of what players will play for their favourite teams. Every coach sent in their rosters today; and all but one of those coaches made it past that mark.

From the Blazers website:

"Boston Blazers Head Coach Tom Ryan has been relieved of his duties with the team according to Blazers President and General Manager, Doug Reffue."

I now ask the internet, WTF? I have yet to hear the reason behind this firing but I can easily make a list of why I am very confused. 

  • As an expansion franchise they have made the playoffs in both of the two years of their existence. It took the Rush 5 years to make the playoffs for the first time.
  • They have 3 of the games top offensive players in Dan Dawson, Josh Sanderson, and Casey Powell. How can a coach go wrong when he has these 3 tearing it up.
  • He just sent in his roster. He made the team and the Blazers told him he can't coach it. 

If the people of the internet could justify this firing, let me know in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading.

Follow Mike on Twitter @WilsonNLLBlog

Monday, December 20, 2010

NLL rule changes (That I would like to see)

By Avry Lewis-McDougall

The 2011 NLL season is one for experimenting as the league is bringing in orange balls during the preseason and changing faceoff stick distance but there are some rules that I would love to see the league test out one day. 

1. Full overtime, sudden death only used in playoffs

I would love to see a full frame of OT, I mean could you imagine the final scores after 5 full quarters? Would be interesting to see a 30-29 shootout or maybe even the ability to see who has enough gas in the tank to go an extra frame. A game might be 11-11 after regulation time but who has enough for one more frame? That 11-11 game could wind up 17-11 very quickly. Why keep sudden death in the playoffs? To keep the element of the sudden upset, I want to keep the chance of seeing an OT game last 8 minutes or 8 seconds when it really counts. 

2. Faceoffs only at start of quarter

Now this may be too radical for the NLL to ever adopt but this would literally create non stop action until the buzzer. How I could see it working is that when a team scores the opposition would have to bring the ball back over half before the team that scored can attack. This would force teams into thinking quicker and see who has the ability to run a truly flawless offense or defense. 

3. Flashing nets

The Ontario Hockey League adopted this a few seasons ago and abandoned it but I think it is a very smart idea to bring to the NLL. The amount of challenges would go down as the light would only flash when the ball crosses the goal line, thus less stoppage time. 

Gary Gait back for one more year

By Alex Hinkley

It was announced on Saturday that Gary Gait has re-signed with the Rochester Knighthawks for one more season. This is great news for Hawk fans as many thought the 43 year old veteran would be finally calling it quits for good after last year.

"I want to help them transition into a really young team and, with the injury situation, I want to help them out," Gait said in a quote on NLL.com.

With three NLL Championship Titles under his belt, six league MVP awards (the most of any player), and fifteen all-pro appearances, Gait is one of the all time greats in the National Lacrosse League. The Hall of Famer still has plenty left in the tank to offer the K-Hawks in 2011. In 11 games last season, he scored 16 goals and added 16 assists for 32 points. The year before he had 37 points in 11 games (22 G + 15 A). 69 total points in 22 games isn't too shabby.

Aside from inevitably being slower due to age, one thing that has held Gait back from scoring as much as he did years ago was that he was at best the third man down the offensive ladder. There is only one ball out there and with other guys like John Grant Jr., Shawn Williams, Craig Point, and the Evans brothers, Gait just didn't get enough opportunities. He only had 52 shots on goal last year. With 16 goals, that means over 30% of his shots went in! Compare that with John Grant's 20% scored, Craig Point's 28%, or Shawn Evans' meager 14% and it is easy to see that Gait can still compete with the best.

With injuries to Knighthawks forwards mounting, John Grant being traded to Colorado, and Cody Jamieson still not officially signed, Gait should provide a much needed boost to the Hawks offense this season.

Source: examiner.com

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Balls!

By Mike Wilson

During the Christmas season there are 3 colors you will see quite a bit. Green, Red, and White. In lacrosse you can see the same colors. Green being the turf, Red being anything from a jersey to an ad, and white being the ball. Or is it?

From an NLL Press Release:

"The National Lacrosse League is experimenting with a pair of potential rules changes during the preseason. At the recommendation of the league’s competition committee, the NLL is using orange-colored lacrosse balls for all preseason games.

The ball has brought up a discussion. So you may ask how a different color ball could change the aspects of the game.

Lets go into that:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stability in the NLL

By Graeme Perrow

Most NLL fans know that every year, teams appear, disappear, or move. But here's a sobering fact: the last time an NLL season began with exactly the same teams as the previous year (in the same cities) was 1993. That's eighteen straight seasons with some kind of team movement. Here's what's happened since then:

  • 1994: Removed Pittsburgh
  • 1995: Added Rochester, removed Detroit
  • 1996: Added Charlotte
  • 1997: Removed Charlotte
  • 1998: Added Ontario and Syracuse, removed Boston
  • 1999: Ontario moved to Toronto
  • 2000: Added Albany, Baltimore moved to Pittsburgh
  • 2001: Pittsburgh moved to Washington, Syracuse moved to Ottawa, added Columbus

Friday, December 10, 2010

Knighthawks already crippled by injuries

By Alex Hinkley

The Rochester Knighthawks have already been crippled by injuries and the 2011 season hasn't even begun! Yesterday I wrote that newcomer Jordan Hall would be out for at least four games after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia but he isn't the only one injured.

Last week the Knighthawks placed forward Shawn Evans on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Players are often placed on the PUP when they suffer injuries outside of an NLL game which prevents them from playing (while the injured reserve is for players injured during games). It's unknown why he is on the list but it may not actually be due to injury. Sometimes players are put on the PUP due to personal obligations. Evans recently won the Major Series Lacrosse Bucko McDonald Leading Scorer Award after turning in a 21 goal, 60 assist performance for the Peterborough Lakers. His absence will seriously hinder the Hawks' offensive production.

Shawn Williams is also a question mark going into the 2011 season. Williams suffered a broken arm in August during an MSL playoff game against the Six Nations Chiefs. There hasn't been any word recently on whether or not Williams is fully healed and ready for the season but the Knighthawks placed him on the Physically Unable to Perform list on November 23rd which isn't a good sign. Defensemen Marshall Abrams was also placed on the PUP the same day as Williams.

Even Cody Jamieson isn't at 100%. According to fan reports on the Wingszone Message Board, Jamieson has been having knee problems during training camp. One veteran user on the forums writes, "I believe that Cody has actually had some knee surgery and that's why he didn't play with the Nations in Hawaii. From what I've heard he is on target to be ready for the season opener, but another new front line player will not be ready to play the first couple of games." Let's hope he's right.

With injuries mounting, the offense is starting to look drained. At least Craig Point still seems to be healthy and the Knighthawks did re-acquire forward Mike Accursi during the off-season. Accursi should definitely help out on offense while many of the big guns are missing. Gary Gait is also still listed on the roster on Knighthawks.net. Could he be coming back to help for one more season?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jordan Hall to miss four weeks

By Alex Hinkley

It was announced yesterday on Knighthawks.net that newly acquired Rochester Knighthawk Jordan Hall will miss at least the first four games of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia. Hall, who will be recuperating for the next eight weeks and thus miss the first four weeks of the season, was one of the two new big name players brought in on offense (the other of course being first round draft pick Cody Jamieson). The Jamieson and Hall combo would have helped to fill the void left by John Grant Jr.'s departure to Colorado.

“It is disappointing, but I would rather miss the first four games instead of the last four games,” said Hall.

The Knighthawks picked Hall third in the NLL Dispersal  Draft of the former Orlando Titans players. He had over 50 assists the previous two seasons. Hall is definitely a very talented player and would have been a great setup man to have at the beginning of the 2011 season when teams are still working to establish their chemistry. It will be interesting to see how the Knighthawks' offense fairs without him (or without John Grant for that matter).

The Knighthawks had the worst offense in the league last season with only 155 goals scored.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thankfully It’s Just Preseason

By: Melissa Dafni

After last night’s game at the Pepsi Center against the Toronto Rock, the Mammoth coaching staff have some very hard decisions to make.  Unfortunately, regardless of the score, I don’t think the players made it any easier for them.

Mammoth offensive veteran standouts Brian Langtry and Jamie Shewchuck each scored three of the Mammoth’s seven goals.  But as for the rest of the offense… it’s going to be tough.  There were a lot of dropped passes and missed loose ball opportunities.

Granted, some of it may have been nerves.  Some of these guys have never played in the Pepsi Center, nor in front of a crowd that despite only being 6,507 strong was quite loud.  Some of it may have been chemistry.  I’m sure the coaches were changing lines up a lot trying to find who pairs well together.

The defense wasn’t much better.

Read the rest at http://www.prosportscolorado.com

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lacrosse season is just around the corner

By Alex Hinkley

Today marked the first major snow in the greater Rochester area and lacrosse fans know what that means - Knighthawks season is just around the corner! It seems like every time the Rochester Knighthawks play at home, I have to brave the elements to get there. One year it snowed the night of every home game without fail. Unfortunately, a blizzard even forced me to miss a game once several years back and I had to watch it at home on the cruddy B2 network. Luckily for fans of today's NLL, just about every game is broadcast live online via the NLL Network.

The Hawks began preparing for the upcoming 2011 season just last weekend as training camp for the team opened on Saturday. On December 18th, the K-Hawks will take on the Boston Blazers in a preseason game at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena in Six Nations. With so many new faces joining the team including All-Stars Matt Vinc and Jordan Hall, Rochester is going to need as much time as they can get to prepare so they start off the season on the right foot.

"Everyone's really positive and upbeat. The team gelled real quick together. From what I've seen, I don't think we'll have any problems or issues this year. It's gonna be a good team," said Knighthawk Troy Bonterre in a video interview appearing on the official Knighthawks website after a team practice. Bonterre took the season off last year due to work and family responsibilities taking up most of his time but aims to be back with the team in 2011.

The Knighthawks' season officially starts in a little over a month when Rochester goes on the road to play the Minnesota Swarm on January 8th. Their home opener is on January 15th against division rivals, the Toronto Rock.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

All things being equal

By Graeme Perrow

When fans discuss a league for a period of time, something that inevitably comes up is parity. This seems to be the goal of any league – the idea that all of the teams in the league are similar enough talent-wise that it's highly possible for any team to beat any other team on any given night. This also implies that any team has a reasonable shot at winning a championship. The idea certainly has merit. If you're a fan, you know that the chances of your team winning it all or at least being competitive are pretty good.

But if you listen to Bob McCown, one of Canada's most knowledgeable sports broadcasters (both loved and despised by many), he'll tell you point blank that parity is the worst thing that could possibly happen to a league. When you look back over the history of pro sports in North America, what kinds of team-related things do you remember? The Yankees' dominance in the 50's, the Islanders in the early 80's and the Oilers immediately after that, the Red Wings in the late 90's, and the Rock of the late 90's/early 2000's. Do you look back fondly on the years of parity? Do you even know when they occurred? No, you don't. You remember the dynasties.

With the dynasties come the, well, anti-dynasties, I suppose. We also remember the teams that were really bad for long periods of time – the Senators of the mid-90s, the lowly Nordiques before Eric Lindros turned them into the powerhouse Avalanche, the Maple Leafs for most of the last 40 years, and the Clippers, Pirates, and Cubs seemingly forever. Again, do you remember the years when all the teams were pretty good, but nobody was awesome and nobody was terrible?

So parity isn't so good for the history books, but is it good for the fans? That depends. I've been a Maple Leafs fan all my life, and apart from a few good years in the 80's and a few more in the 90's, they've been mediocre at best for the majority of that time, and downright awful for quite a bit of it. A little parity sounds like a pretty damned good idea there. The Jays were terrible from 1977 until about 1984, then good for the rest of the 80's, awesome in the early 90's, then dropped off and have been no better than pretty good for the last fifteen years. The Raptors were terrible for a while, then pretty good for a few years, and now they're terrible again. The aforementioned Cup-winning Islanders and Oilers are both pretty bad these days. It's a terrible feeling watching your favourite team lose, and know that they're going to have a lousy season and are not likely to improve for at least a couple of years. That feeling is made even worse knowing that some other teams are likely to be awesome for that entire period. I'm sure parity would be welcome to fans of those teams as well.

But I've also lived the other side of the equation, thanks to the NLL. I became a Rock fan in 2001, when they had already won two championships. The total number of home games they lost was in single digits for several years. In their first seven seasons, they won five championships and lost a total of two playoff games. The Wings stole the 2001 championship away (don't get me wrong, they earned that victory), but the Rock stormed back and won the next three of the next four. I can tell you that parity in the NLL was the last thing that Rock fans wanted around 2005.

So for the fans the conclusion is hardly surprising – when your team is winning, parity is something you want to avoid. When your team is losing, parity is something to strive for. How about for the league as a whole?

Obviously most leagues think that parity is ideal. They want fans from all of their teams to continue to pay money to come out to the games as much as possible. This is easier when all the games are meaningful because each team still has a chance to make the playoffs and win it all. This is at least part of the reason we have salary caps and luxury taxes and such, so that some teams can't outspend the rest of the teams by 200% and buy themselves a stacked team. Of course that wouldn't happen in a league without a salary cap, would it? Well, the pre-cap Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers tried it for a number of years, but just ended up with some very expensive losing teams. But this strategy has worked very well for the New York Yankees, and has made the Yankees one of the most hated teams in all of North American sports, outside of New York anyway. It has also turned the Yankees into one of the biggest draws at MLB stadiums all over North America, and has made them one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. And at the same time, MLB is doing very well financially, thank you very much, with no salary cap. Parity shmarity. How's that salary cap working for your owners, Mr. Bettman?

The NLL east has been pretty even for a couple of years. Only 2 games separated 2nd from 5th last year. In 2009, the top 3 teams had the same record 10-6 record, and in 2008, the top four were 10-6. The west has been kind of weird for a few years. Minnesota's 5-11 regular season record (.313) in 2010 is the second worst ever to make the playoffs in the NLL, and the third worst ever in any sport*. Calgary ran away with the west in 2009, and in 2008 San Jose and Colorado tied for the division lead with records just above .500.

In 2011, you've got a couple of strong teams (Washington and Boston) but nobody that's unbeatable. You've got some weak teams (Philly, Colorado, Minnesota), but nobody who's really terrible. And everybody else could easily find themselves in the playoffs or fighting for a spot. Could Washington repeat? Sure they could. It's way too early to say "dynasty", but they could easily be in the running again this year. But could I predict a Rush championship without looking like an idiot? Sure I could. Or the Blazers. Or the Rock. Or the Bandits. Could the Roughnecks win without Sanderson or Kelusky? Well, the Oilers won without Gretzky, so anything's possible.

* In the 1993 and 1994 NLL (called the MILL at the time) seasons, three different teams made the playoffs with 2-6 (.250) records. In the other major sports, only the 1952-53 Baltimore Bullets of the NBA were worse: 16-54 (.229). No NFL team has ever made the playoffs with a record under .500. In baseball, the 1981 KC Royals made the playoffs at 50-53 (.485), though that was a strike-shortened season. And my beloved Leafs made the playoffs in 1987-88 with a 21-49-10 record, which is .263 in wins (21 wins in 80 games) but ties screw things up. They got 52 out of a maximum of 160 points, which is .325.

Monday, November 22, 2010

NLL Team Doughnuts

By NLL Blog Staff

If each NLL team were represented by a Tim Horton's doughnut, here's what they might be:

Calgary Roughnecks: Management took out the two top ingredients, but still believe it will be as good as ever

Colorado Mammoth: Best selling doughnut for years, but doesn't taste very good. (Compare with Stealth doughnut)

Edmonton Rush: Undercooked and yucky for years, but after adding a new ingredient a year ago, is now quite good 

Minnesota Swarm: Plain glazed. No sprinkles, no creamy filling, nothing fancy, but if there's nothing else available, it'll do.

Washington Stealth: Best tasting doughnut last year, but nobody buys it. (Compare with Mammoth doughnut)

Boston Blazers: A doughnut with Chocolate, Gummy bears, and other things that are great on their own, but don't go well together.

Buffalo Bandits: A big bear claw. Soft creamy fillings are for wimps.

Philadelphia Wings: An old stale cruller. People fondly remember back years ago when it tasted really good.

Rochester Knighthawks: Strange doughnut with some of the best quality ingredients. Sometimes they mix properly and taste great, other times you take a bite and get a mouthful of flour.

Toronto Rock: Was one of the most popular doughnuts for a while, then new management changed the recipe and made it doughy and tasteless. After the former management was brought back, it's getting better.

New York/Orlando Titans: A great Doughnut, but it was only around for a limited amount of time.

(With a nod to Down Goes Brown)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Jersey Shore- Calgary X

By Mike Wilson

From the Roughnecks website:

To celebrate their 10th season the Calgary Roughnecks have designed a new jersey and logo to commemorate their anniversary. The new logo will represent the Roughnecks 10 years in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).

 

Now first of all, I like the jerseys. It’s simple, stylish and gets its point across. I believe they are a few steps above the jerseys that the Edmonton Rush spit out.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Get Over It

By Graeme Perrow

Your team has just traded for a player who is one of the best players in his sport, and has been for much of the last decade. We're talking about a lacrosse player who has the following credentials:

  • NLL MVP
  • NLL Championship (Rochester Knighthawks)
  • NLL Championship game MVP
  • MLL Offensive Player of the Year
  • MLL MVP
  • World Indoor Lacrosse Championship (Team Canada)
  • Mann Cup (Peterborough Lakers)
  • Mann Cup MVP

That's a pretty impressive list for any career. But consider this: those are John Grant, Jr.'s accomplishments in 2007 alone. Not listed here are his accomplishments in other years: rookie of the year awards (2), other championships (2 MLL, 2 Mann Cup, one World Indoor Lacrosse, one World Outdoor Lacrosse, one Heritage Cup), other MVP awards (2 more), and MLL Offensive Player of the Year awards (2 more). Guy's got more hardware than Home Depot.

So now this guy is on your team, and all you had to give up for him was a guy who has never played for your team in the first place, and you got for free anyway. Great news, right? Why would any fan be upset about acquiring such a player? Well, just ask Colorado fans how they feel about acquiring Grant last week. Not all of them think this was a great idea, in fact some are quite unhappy with the deal. Why? Because they don't think he's that good? Absolutely not. Nobody is arguing Grant's talent. It's because of a split second decision that Grant made back in December of 2006. Grant cross-checked Colorado defender John Gallant in the back of the head, knocking him out and getting himself a one-game suspension. Gallant was likely concussed – he was out six weeks and suffered headaches for a while – but luckily returned to the Mammoth. For Mammoth fans, this brought back a painful memory of the last game of Steve Moore's NHL career, before Todd Bertuzzi ended it.

Was Grant's hit a cheap shot? I personally didn't see it, but I can't imagine how a cross-check to the back of someone's head while they're walking away from you wouldn't be. Is Grant a goon? Not by a long shot, but I can't say he's the most sportsmanlike player I've ever seen either. We all know that lacrosse is an intense game played by passionate people, and passionate people sometimes make errors in judgement in the heat of the moment. John Gallant himself has said that he and Grant are friends and he's very much looking forward to playing together on the Mammoth, so he's forgiven Grant. It's easy to just say "Yo Colorado fans, it's been six years. Gallant only missed a few weeks and he himself is good with it, so just get over it." But that's much easier said than done.

Back in the early-mid 2000's (I can't remember exactly when it happened), the Philadelphia Wings were in Toronto to play the Rock. At some point in the game, the Wings' Dave Stilley and Toronto's Steve Toll started pushing and shoving each other and the gloves dropped. No more than a couple of punches were thrown before Stilley did something I had never seen before on a lacrosse floor and haven't seen since – he head-butted Toll, who instantly dropped to the floor. Stilley was booed relentlessly, and was tossed from the game. I don't remember if there was a suspension involved. Toll was out the rest of that game, but returned for the next game uninjured. To this day, I remember seeing Toll drop like he'd been shot. I remember the jaws of everybody in our row dropping open as we watched Stilley being dragged away. I remember the defiant look on Stilley's face, as if to say "Yeah, I went there, so don't fuck with me!" Ever since that game, the name Dave Stilley has represented to me the worst of violence in pro sports (well, up until Todd Bertuzzi grabbed it and hasn't let go). A couple of years ago I saw a picture of Stilley raising the 2001 Champions Cup in Toronto as a member of the Wings. The fact that you could see me in the background of the picture was pretty cool, but I couldn't stop staring at the C on his chest, stunned that he had at one point been chosen as captain of the Wings. As I read the tweets, blog posts, and message board postings about how ticked off some Mammoth fans were about the Grant trade, I immediately thought "Get over it, Mammoth fans". But then I wondered how I would have felt if the Rock had traded for Dave Stilley.

My first thought was "Well, that was different, because..." but then I couldn't think of how to finish that sentence. Both were cheap shots. Both could have caused devastating injuries or even been career-ending, but they weren't. Both players returned after a relatively short absence, and both continue to play well – interestingly, Toll played with Grant for five years on the Knighthawks and Gallant is now captain of the Mammoth and Grant's teammate. Both offenders were penalized and the incident subsequently considered closed by the league, the teams, and likely the players involved. But not the fans. The only real difference I can think of is that if Stilley were acquired by the Rock, it would have been a fairly minor deal, as Stilley was never a superstar. We could have still followed the Rock but hated Stilley, and it wouldn't have been that big a deal. Nobody would have cancelled their season tickets over it. But Grant is a superstar, and is expected to singlehandedly bring the Mammoth back to glory. If he succeeds and the Mammoth contend this year, it will be very difficult to cheer for a team led by a man you hate. Of course the other option would be to give up your lacrosse tickets. I cannot imagine doing this myself – I wouldn't give up my season tickets even if the Rock traded Colin Doyle for Dave Stilley straight-up. (Excuse me while I go and scrub my brain with steel wool for even thinking such a thing.) The only advice I can give Mammoth fans is to give it time and try to forgive, even if you can't forget.

To Be a Fan, or Not to Be

By: Melissa Dafni

When does a player’s actions outweigh their contributions?

Anymore, it’s not that uncommon to have players do something either on or off the field that makes you question if they should even be playing. But for good or bad, because they have a huge impact on the field everything else has a blind eye turned towards it. Or maybe because they play for your team it’s not considered as bad. At what point does that change for you?

This season I’m forced to reevaluate something I never thought I would have to.

The Colorado Mammoth traded for John Grant Jr. (JGJ) from the Rochester Knighthawks.

This is a very significant trade. Although older, JGJ is still considered to be on one of the best players to have ever played the game. I certainly can’t deny he’s talented, but I hate the fact that he’s going to be in a Mammoth uniform this season.

All because he did something out of anger while playing at the Pepsi Center.

read more at http://www.prosportscolorado.com

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Avry's Sports Show

Avry and Mike talk some lacrosse on Avry's Sports Show! It's at about the half-way point of the show if you don't care about other sports.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cody Jamieson has big shoes to fill

By Alex Hinkley

It's always tough being the new guy somewhere, especially when people have high expections of you. Being the first overall pick in the 2010 NLL Entry Draft and joining the Rochester Knighthawks is surely both exciting as well as stressful for Cody Jamieson. He will have an especially tough road ahead next season, however, now that John Grant Jr. is out of the picture.

While many hardcore lacrosse fans know who Cody Jamieson is, equally as many probably have no idea. Jamieson first made a name for himself by leading the Six Nation Arrows to four straight championships in the OLA Junior A Lacrosse League. During his first season of college lacrosse at Onondaga Community College, he lead the Lazers to an undefeated championship and finished second in the league in scoring with 57 goals and 121 points. The next year, he lead the league in goals (65), assists (51), and points (116) on the way to a second consecutive undefeated season and national championship. He then transferred to Syracuse University but due to academic reasons was restricted to playing only the final few games of the season. He made his mark in the NCAA Championship game, however, when he scored the game winning goal in overtime to give Syracuse the title. Jamieson also had an incredible season last year with the Six Nation Chiefs of Major Series Lacrosse, netting 48 goals and adding 48 assists for 96 total points in just 17 games. For such a young player, Jamieson has already had a storied career.

When John Grant Jr. was traded recently, some fans were wondering why the Hawks would let their franchise player go. Although adding an elite caliber goaltender like Matt Vinc to the roster was obviously a huge reason for the trade, Jamieson joining the team also most likely played a part. There's only one ball out there and both he and Grant wouldn't have been able to hog it. Now that Grant is gone, it frees up Jamieson for much more floor time each game which allows him to take more shots and (hopefully) score more goals.

Many Knighthawks fans will expect even more out of Jamieson now that he can be seen as replacing John Grant on offense. It would be unrealistic to expect a rookie, even one as talented as Jamieson, to immediately enter the league and dominate on the level that John Grant has for so many years. Even if Jamieson ends up having an amazing season, if he falls short of matching the level of play Grant has given to the Knighthawks, suspicious fans might even start to dislike him. Grant's are definitely big shoes to fill.

It will be interesting to see where Jamieson fits into the offense and how the loss of Grant will affect the Knighthawks' style of play. One thing that is for sure is that he certainly has his work cut out for him.

Friday, November 5, 2010

NLL Scheduling

By Graeme Perrow

Scheduling in pro sports leagues is hard. I cannot imagine the complexity of the software that does scheduling for a league of 30 teams and 82 games (NHL, NBA) or 162 games (MLB). Even 16-game seasons like the NFL or NLL are pretty complex. You have to take into account arena availability (though many NBA, NHL, MLB, or NFL teams have first priority on the arena / stadium), how many games against division / conference opponents should there be, other league-imposed rules like the Maple Leafs must always play at 7pm on Saturday nights, and travel time (you can't have a home game in New York on Saturday and a road game in Vancouver on Sunday). In the NHL, you're talking about 30 teams and 82 games each, or 1230 games. That's gotta be a nightmare to schedule. I'm not sure if scheduling baseball would be easier or harder, since all their games are in groups of 3 or 4. So before I talk about the problems in the NLL scheduling, I want to say that I realize that this is a hard problem.

Having said that, the software that does the scheduling for the NLL has some flaws. Either that, or some of the league-imposed rules are a little silly. In the six seasons from 2005 to 2010 inclusive, here are some things I noticed:

  • Rochester played in Colorado four times but Colorado only played in Rochester once.
  • Colorado has had a weird schedule hosting teams from the East. Rochester has played there four times, Buffalo and Philly two, Toronto zero.
  • Toronto never played in San Jose or Colorado, and the Stealth and Mammoth only played in Toronto once each. (Toronto did play the Washington Stealth once in 2010, but only in the Championship Game.)
  • Buffalo and San Jose each hosted the other only once.
  • San Jose hosted the Rock, the Bandits, and the Knighthawks once each, but Philly three times.
  • Cal-Edm games in Calgary: ten. Cal-Edm games in Edmonton: six.
  • Edm-Col games in Colorado: eight. Edm-Col games in Edmonton: five.
  • Buf-Min games in Buffalo: eight. Buf-Min games in Minnesota: five.
  • Neither Edmonton nor Calgary have ever played in Buffalo or Philadelphia, but they've played in Toronto four and six times respectively. The Bandits have played in Calgary once (plus one Championship game) and Edmonton twice, and Philly has played twice in Calgary and twice in Edmonton. Toronto has played five times in Edmonton and six in Calgary.

I get that the NLL wants teams from the same division to play each other more often, and I have no problem with that. But the Stealth were in San Jose for six seasons, and the only time they played the Rock was the last game of the sixth season in Toronto. In a league with this few teams, does it make sense to have two teams go almost six full seasons without meeting at all? And for the love of Jim Veltman, can we please do away with this supposed Canadian rivalry that doesn't exist? I think Calgary and Edmonton could have a good rivalry with each other because they're so close together (and already have rivalries in the NHL and CFL), but Toronto's main NLL rivals are the Bandits. A rivalry that's forced on the fans doesn't work, and it makes the scheduling problems even worse.

I'd love to see a system that allowed every team to play every other team at least once per season, but I understand that this may cause scheduling difficulties. But every other year should be doable. Now that there's five teams in each division (not that that is likely to last long – article on NLL stability coming soon), the scheduling could go something like:

  • three games against other each team in the same division = twelve games (alternate 2 home + 1 away or 1 home + 2 away from year to year)
  • one game against four of the five teams in the other division. That's four more games, totalling sixteen. The team that gets skipped changes from year to year, so you won't go more than one season without seeing any one team. Alternate home and away as well so you don't have a discrepancy that way.

Maybe this is just too difficult a problem for a simplistic solution like this to work. But the Toronto Rock and the Washington Power / Colorado Mammoth had a pretty good rivalry going back in the day, when they played each other in the semifinals three years in a row (2001 and 2002 as the Power and 2003 as the Mammoth). In the seven seasons since then, the Rock and the Mammoth have only played each other in the regular season once. Obviously, something is wrong with the current scheduling system.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sometimes Blockbuster Trades Don't Make Sense:Part 1

By Mike Wilson

Huge trades have gone down this  off-season. Two of them involved Calgary and the Roughnecks. Josh Sanderson, the league’s leading scorer last year with 34 goals and 70 assists; and Tracey Kelusky, who was the necks All-time leading scorer. Both were traded. One because of money issues and one because he asked for a trade. Two of the teams top scores last year are now gone. What did they get back you ask?

Daryl Veltman, defenseman Jon Harnett, transition player Kyle Ross, and two first round picks. One pick remains the as necks picked Curtis Dickson from the University of Delaware, third overall back in September.

They got a lot in the first trade where Josh Sanderson was dealt to Boston. (Kelusky went to Buffalo). I'm not saying Calgary didn't get some good players out of this, because they did. But in my mind, I would rather have the star player then a bunch of smaller role players. You never hear the fans suggest that they trade the star for the group of smaller players. No it's "who do we have to send off to get the star?"

While a group of players can contribute to the team, a star can control a game single handily. 

An example is "Dangerous Dan Dawson". When he has here in Edmonton last year he took control of the game. He scored 5 goals and assisted on 2. But it was more then how many goals he scored, it was how he did it. He would stand at the rag line and seem to walk deeper into the zone, and when I say "walk" I mean it; He took his time. Then, in a split second, he would make a cut and rifle the ball into the corner. Nobody knew what happened until the replay.

After plays like that, the defense will try to shut him down. The thing is, you can't. He would cleanly beat the one or two guys that were told to handle him, or he would dish to guys like Gary Bining who had 5 goals that night from the crease.

He either makes his own magic happen or gives someone else the spell. Thats what a star does. 

Heres an interview I had with Dan after the game: http://www.cinchcast.com/in-the-crease/32976

The moral of the story, in a blockbuster trade where a star player is dealt for a group of lesser players, the team that gets the star will more often then not, win the trade by a mile.

Follow me on twitter @MikeWilsonITC

Yet another blockbuster

By Graeme Perrow

First Josh Sanderson was sent from Calgary to Boston for a buncha kids. Then just a couple of weeks ago, the Roughies sent Tracy Kelusky to Buffalo for a draft pick. And now in the third major trade of the offseason, John Grant Jr. leaves Rochester for Colorado in exchange for Matt Vinc. Combine this with some other trades (Snider, Paul Dawson, Conn, Moleski) and the Orlando Titans dispersal draft, and I can't remember an offseason when so many big name players were moved around.

I have to say I'm confused about one part of the trade, as reported by NLLInsider.com:

The Colorado Mammoth have confirmed the deal Insider reported on earlier today, the Mammoth sending Matt Vinc, Matt Zash, Brad Self and their first & third round picks in the 2012 entry draft to the Rochester Knighthawks in exchange for John Grant, Brad Self and Rochester’s first round picks in the 2011 and 2013 draft.

Odd that Brad Self finds himSelf (har) on both sides of the same trade. The second Brad Self there (the one going to Colorado) should actually be Mac Allen.

I found this trade a bit odd at first. One of Colorado's biggest problems over the last few years is the lack of a solid #1 goalie. They picked up the reigning Goaltender of the Year in the Titans dispersal draft, so problem solved, right? Wrong. Instead they improve their office by getting Grant. But then later in the day, they grabbed Matt King from Calgary. King is no Vinc, but he's an improvement over the committee the Mammoth had in goal last year (Levis, Leyshon, Palidwor, Tyacke). The Mammoth definitely needed a bump in the offense department – they scored more than 12 goals only four times last year. Adding Junior will help there, no question.

Being a Rock fan, I've seen Grant play a bunch of times and when he's on, there's arguably nobody better in the game today. (I'd be interested to know if anyone has scored more than Grant over the last ten years. Likely Tavares and maybe Doyle or Sanderson, but that's about it.) More often than I can count, I've seen him walking around the offensive zone, looking for someone to pass to, when he seems to just decide "I think I'll score now" and does. His behind-the-back goals are legendary, and I always laugh when I see some rookie run out in front of the net and try one, missing the net by three feet. Not only can he score, but he'll deal the ball as well – of course, when you play with guys like Gary Gait, Shawn Williams, Cory Bomberry, Craig Point, and the Evans boys, you've got some talented people to pass to. But just having Grant on the floor will help you. He's a big strong guy that pretty much requires double-teaming by two very capable defensemen, thereby leaving only three defenders to cover your remaining four forwards. This makes Grant deadly on the power play.

Now, this is not to say that Grant doesn't have his weaknesses. Here's a tip for all you western division defenders that haven't played against Grant often. (Aside: Write this date down in your calendars. It's not every day you see a man who's never played a lacrosse game in his life giving lacrosse advice to pros 20 years younger than him.) Here's how you reduce John Grant's effectiveness: PISS HIM OFF. Surely by now Grant is used to being double-teamed and hacked relentlessly by defenders, but now and again something makes him angry and he takes a dumb retaliatory penalty. Mission accomplished. More often than not after this happens, he's just not the same John Grant anymore. He loses his scoring touch (to some extent – you can't completely shut him down) and sometimes takes even more dumb penalties. This is what makes John Tavares so great – piss him off and he'll just score on you. I've seen Tavares take his share of dumb penalties as well, but not as often as Grant, and it doesn't seem to affect his scoring touch afterwards.

Rochester gives up some offense, but now has one of the most enviable goaltender tandems in the league. O'Toole was Goaltender of the Year in 2003 and has been at the top of anyone's goalie list for most of his career. Now with Vinc as the likely #1, O'Toole becomes the best backup goalie in the league.

But assuming Colorado doesn't make any more moves, they have King and either Palidwor or Levis as their goalies this season. This is an improvement over last year, even if it isn't as big an improvement as Vinc would have been. They've also improved their offense substantially, so when combined with the King deal, I'd say Colorado wins this trade.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Trade

By Graeme Perrow

Many sports franchises have a particular trade that fans remember as one that turned the franchise around, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Many Blue Jays fans remember sending Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff to San Diego for Robbie Alomar and Joe Carter. Oilers fans remember losing Wayne Gretzky (though it didn't "turn the franchise around" as much as first thought - they won the Stanley Cup a year later). Both Flyers and Nordiques/Avalanche fans remember the Eric Lindros deal. For the Toronto Rock, the biggest one (known to Rock fans simply as The Trade, at least until the Colin Doyle deal of two years later) occurred in the summer of 2004. It was essentially Anthony Cosmo for Josh Sanderson, but there was more to it than that.

I remember watching Josh Sanderson score 10 points for the Albany Attack in the 2002 Championship game (and thinking he should have been named game MVP even though the Attack lost to the Rock), so I was excited about having him join the Rock. However, I did think at the time that trading Cosmo was a bad idea and would come back to bite the Rock later on. Despite the fact that Cosmo blossomed into one of the best goalies in the league, I was totally wrong on this one. This turned out to be a fabulous trade for the Rock.

For four seasons, Cosmo was the Rock's backup goaltender, behind the legendary Bob "Whipper" Watson. During most of that time, Whipper was the definite #1 goalie and Cosmo was the backup. Beginning in 2003, Cosmo began playing more often, and when Whipper got injured, Cosmo took over. He played in nine of sixteen games in 2004, as he and Whipper more or less shared the goalie job. Whipper was in his mid 30's at the time while Cosmo was more than seven years younger. I distinctly remember one game where Whipper started but didn't play very well and was pulled in the first quarter. Cosmo finished the game, and played amazing. I wondered that night if we had just seen the unofficial transition from the Watson era of Rock history to the Cosmo era. Beginning that night, I assumed that Cosmo would be the starting Rock goaltender the next season, with Watson serving as the backup, if he didn't retire. Never happened. The Cosmo era, if it ever truly began, ended a couple of months after the 2004 season ended.

In a blockbuster deal, Toronto traded fan favourite Steve Toll, defenseman Darryl Gibson (later to become an all-star), two draft picks and a player to be named later to the San Jose Stealth for the single-season assist record holder and master playmaker Josh Sanderson, his cousin Phil Sanderson (another soon-to-be all-star defenseman), and Rusty Kruger (who happened to be a good friend of Josh). It wasn't officially part of the trade announcement, but it was widely known that the Rock "player to be named later" was Anthony Cosmo. It was weird that someone as good as Cosmo was a player to be named later, but that wasn't the weirdest thing about The Trade.

The league was about to hold an expansion draft for the new Minnesota Swarm. Each team was allowed to protect a certain number of players and the Swarm would be allowed to pick one unprotected player from each team. As part of the deal with the Stealth, the Rock were obligated to protect Cosmo. Not only was this weird because it meant that they had to leave someone else unprotected, but the Stealth already had two very good goalies (Brandon Miller and Rob Blasdell), both of whom they protected. So the Stealth essentially forced the Rock to protect a Stealth goalie, allowing them to end up with three. This made little sense, as Cosmo started the majority of games for the Stealth the next season, with Miller and Blasdell seeing little floor time. Blasdell was left unprotected in the next season's expansion draft, and was selected by Edmonton (who immediately traded him to Arizona).

In an even more odd turn of events, the Rock player that Minnesota selected in the expansion draft was none other than Rusty Kruger – who was traded back to the Rock two days later for Eric Pacey and Ken Millin.

Many lacrosse fans raised a Spockian eyebrow at The Trade announcement since Josh's father Terry Sanderson was the GM and head coach of the Rock at the time. Some wondered if he gave up too much to acquire his son, his nephew, and his son's best friend. But nepotism aside, The Trade turned the Rock into an offensive powerhouse. Josh Sanderson combined with Colin Doyle and Blaine Manning to make the Rock one of the most potent offensive lineups in NLL history. In 2005, Doyle led the league in scoring, Manning was tied for second, and Sanderson was tied for fourth. Josh set a new single-season record for assists. Doyle, Manning and Josh were named to the All-Star and All-Pro teams, and Doyle was named league MVP as the Rock won their fifth championship in seven years. In 2006, all three were again All-Stars, as was Phil Sanderson, Josh led the league in both assists and points, and Doyle and Josh made the All-Pro team again.

After 2006, the Rock went downhill quickly. Terry Sanderson was fired, and Colin Doyle was inexplicably traded to the Stealth. Without Terry to fight for him, Josh became unpopular with management, and he was traded to the Calgary Roughnecks during the 2008 season. (In return the Rock received Lewis Ratcliff, who was later traded for Colin Doyle. The circle of life continues.) The Rock finished below .500 in both 2007 and 2008 (their worst records ever), and they missed the playoffs in 2008 for the first time in team history.

But what about Cosmo? He became the starter in San Jose that Rock fans knew he would. He made the All-Star team in 2005 and 2006, was named Goaltender of the Year in 2007, and is now, as a Boston Blazer, widely regarded as one of the best goaltenders in the league. And yet the Rock traded him away — so why was this still a great trade? Because of Bob Watson. In the six seasons since The Trade, Watson has simply been outstanding. He made the All-Pro team in 2005 and 2008, and was named Goaltender of the Year in 2008 at the age of 38 — on a team that went 7-9. He's had several different backups (John Preece, Phil Wetherup, Mike Poulin, Mike Attwood, and now Steve Dietrich), none of whom played much because Watson is a workhorse. Trading Cosmo didn't hurt the Rock because even if they hadn't, he wouldn't have gotten much playing time anyway. The fact that the Rock pretty much sucked in 2008 and 2009 is irrelevant — their suckage was not Watson's fault, and having Cosmo in goal wouldn't have changed things.

The Rock had an excess of talent and traded some of it away for a championship. That's the quintessential example of a great trade.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Jersey Shore-Edmonton

By Mike Wilson

If you don't know me, I am a man who is a fan of jerseys. The crazier the better. Just like the one I posted a few days ago. 

This article and others that will follow it will contain the theme of jerseys in the NLL and my opinion on them. 

The first piece...

Edmonton's New Third Jerseys

Josh went on a bit of a rant on these jerseys and I totally agree with him. But this is not about how they look. It's about the door they have opened.

If you haven't herd, read what Josh said.

Its been disused in the NHL that goalies might where ads on there jerseys but it was quickly shot down.

In the Champions league for soccer in Europe, teams are represented with ads on their jerseys, not logos.  I could name a company to a soccer fan and they could instantly tell me what team that company sponsors.  So what the Rush did was nothing new.

We all know why the Rush did it. Money. Plain and simple. In the NLL its all about trying to keep your head above water. 

Now I'll be honest if was McDonalds that sponsored these jerseys I probably wouldn't dislike them as much as I do.

So if teams are having money trouble, why not have a patch or something with a sponsor on it? Money is what runs any league. The Rush have opened a door for other teams to have ads on their jerseys.

Now I'm still not a fan of what they did. Alberta Energy made the jersey all about them. I'm thinking 1-4 patches with a company's name on it. When you sell the jersey, have it include the patch.

But just collect the money-I'm fine with that. But don't sit there and lie saying that you did this to show Alberta pride.

Maybe it was just the company that was the sponsor that pissed me off, not the concept.  

Until then I guess I'll still be rooting for team Alberta Energy. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Video

This is the first "Saturday Video" on the NLL Blog!  In the first episode of the Boston Blazer Danger Zone, 'Dangerous Dan Dawson' explains what to expect out of the Danger Zone and viewers get a first-hand account of a Boston Blazers workout. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another introduction

Hello everyone! My name is Graeme Perrow and I am the newest blogger on the NLL Blog. I am honoured and excited to be joining this team, and I hope we can provide lacrosse articles that are insightful and interesting, or at the very least entertaining.

I don't come from the same background as a lot of other lacrosse fans, in that I did not grow up playing lacrosse. In fact, I knew nothing about it until one of my roommates in university bought a lacrosse stick. Of course, he was the only one who had a stick, so he played a lot of wall-ball by himself. That was it for me until about ten years later, when another friend of mine started going to lacrosse games featuring some team called the Toronto Rock. My buddy's nephew, Shawn Williams, played for the Rock at the time. My introduction to the NLL was not even a Rock game -- some friends were heading down to Buffalo to watch the Bandits take on the Philadelphia Wings near the end of the 2000 season. I tagged along and was instantly hooked. They had season tickets for the Rock that year and I joined them the next year. From the 2001 season until 2009, I missed only one home game, and saw a number of games in Buffalo and Rochester as well. Due to health problems I missed most of last season, but I am back and ready for another exciting season of NLL lacrosse. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy 25th NLL!

By Avry Lewis-McDougall

When the 2011 NLL season kicks off on January 8th with the Boston Bandits playing the Philadelphia Wings and the Edmonton Rush taking on the Toronto Rock it will be the 25th season of the league. 25 years of the NLL? Seems insane considering this started as a 4 team league in 1987 and was called Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse (the 4 original franchises were the Philly Wings, the Washington Wave, the New Jersey Saints and the Baltimore Thunder). There hadn't been a true pro box lacrosse league around since the mid 1970's where there was a prior league that was ironically enough called the National Lacrosse League.

I first caught onto pro lacrosse as a tyke when I was about 5 years old, my appetite for sports was already blooming and I had heard of a team called the Ontario Raiders that played in Hamilton in the National Lacrosse League, this team was lackluster finishing 6-6 under head coach Les Bartley and moved to Toronto for the 1999 season and became known as the Toronto Rock. The Rock as many lacrosse fans know became an NLL powerhouse winning the NLL title in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2005. I latched onto the team with guys like the ageless wonder Jimmy Veltman, Colin Doyle, Bob Watson and Kim Squire.

As the league grew, I was able to see of course the never ending cycle in the NLL of folding, relocating and expansion teams such as the Vancouver Ravens, the Montreal Express, the Anaheim Storm, the New York/Orlando Titans, the Columbus Landsharks, and the New Jersey Storm. When the NLL in 2005 announced that Edmonton was getting an expansion franchise I was overjoyed! I would finally get to see pro lacrosse in my own town, (I even played a year of bantam lacrosse myself in grade 9 finishing the year with no points and two penalty minutes in nine games) and of course there have been growing pains with the Rush like that expansion year of 2006 where the Rush went 1-15 but there has been reason to celebrate as of late, the Rush had their first trip to the post season last year and made it to the division finals losing to the Washington Stealth in OT. The 2011 will also be my 3rd year of covering the Rush and my 2nd doing it along side the guys of In The Crease Radio in the press box at Rexall Place. This league has had ups and downs but it hasn't thrown in the towel and collapsed like other pro leagues. Happy 25th to the NLL! Hopefully I can blog about the 50th NLL anniversary one day.  

Friday, October 15, 2010

In The Crease-34

On In The Crease Tonight: The Edmonton Rush have come up with a new third jersey and we critique them in our E-Town bias. We make our weekly NFL picks. In the NLL we talk about Tracey Kelusky being traded to Buffalo. Mark and Josh give you an MLB playoff update and we go around the NHL. All with Mike Wilson, Josh Bourhis, and Mark Risdon

Listen to internet radio with In The Crease on Blog Talk Radio

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Now I Get It: The Tracey Kelusky Trade

By Mike Wilson

If you hadn't heard, Tracey Kelusky, the former Calgary captain, has been traded to the Buffalo Bandits for a first round pick. This is a big deal.

If your from Edmonton you can compare it to when Ryan Smyth was traded to the island for Robert Nilsson, Ryan O'Mara, and Alex Plante. The heart and soul of a franchise traded for practically nothing.

At first I didn't get it at all. Why would you trade your All-time leading scorer and a guy who brought you 2 championships.  Especially after trading after trading one of the leagues top scorers in Josh Sanderson to Boston in the same offseason. 

So I started to ask some questions. I asked former Roughneck assistant coach and our "In The Crease" NLL Insider, Abe Conn why this greatly one sided trade was made. This is what I found out:

Tracey recently moved to Peterborough, Ontario and alerted the team that in 2 years he would want a trade. The team decided to trade him right now while he was at his highest value. Makes sense to me.

P.S.

I made some new modifications to the site as well as changing the theme. I added links to "In The Crease" and "Avry's Sports Show" check them out as they are both very good shows. 

Also, If you have something to say about the NLL give me a shout in the submit box.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Joisey!

Coming to a city near you.  

A jersey that has never been seen before.  

A jersey...

You will never want to see again.

The Edmonton Rush unveiled their new third jersey this year. Exciting right? nope! Thank god it's an away jersey so our eyes will be saved from this embarrassment.

The colours are decent. The design is bland.  

The advertisement...

THE ADVERTISEMENT????

If you don't know about Alberta, where Edmonton is located, we have oil, and lots of it, but as of late that is all we care about and really all that people outside of Canada know about.  So how do we show the United States, and all of their lacrosse fans, what Alberta is known for. We put an ad on the bottom of our jerseys saying, "ALBERTA: Canada's Energy Province". 

*pause for Josh's hysterical laughter*

I cannot believe it. Are we playing lacrosse here or are we trying to get more tourism, or more publicity, or what are we doing? We pollute so much because of our oil that it doesn't matter if we supply energy to the rest of Canada. The jersey even proves it because the trim on the black of the jersey is shaped like smoke.

I don't believe its the Rush organizations fault.  In the NLL sponsorships are very important, so any money they will take, but this is a mistake.  We are going to look absolutely stupid wearing these, and when we do, how many people are even going to care about it? maybe 5%.

 I believe the Rush need a third jersey, but they should be making one for the home crowd first. Make an all gold coloured jersey, with a combination of the old barbed wire and the new jersey style.  Now that's a third jersey!!

Be happy Rush fans, these jerseys will never grace your great presence!

Cheers

Josh

the front of the new third jersey

the back of the third jersey

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NLL 'PIG.'

NLL all-stars Brodie Merrill, Dan Dawson and Mark Steenhuis play a round of lacrosse 'PIG.'

Sunday, September 19, 2010

NLL The Video Game: A Review

By: Josh Bourhis

Hey everyone, once again I’m back! And today I’m going to kick off the inaugural content blog.  The three writers have written blogs introducing themselves, but this marks the first blog we talk about NLL stuff. Today I’m talking about the NLL video game that came out back when last season was going on.  This is what I thought of it:

 

  The talks of an NLL video game started way back when in about 2008 when a deal had been made with Activision to make a full fledged game, coming out in the stores.  That soon got shut down because of lack of interest and the issue remained dead for a couple years.  Then earlier this year talks began to come up again with the commissioner of the league and other NLL representatives.  This time they knew a full game wouldn’t work so they decided to start small with a five dollar Indie game available on the Xbox marketplace.  The game features all the players, with their numbers and includes a season mode also.

            For five dollars, the game was worth the money and there were many high points that came from the game. 

1)      The Game Itself:  Getting an NLL game out there, not matter how small it was, gets the word out about the NLL and helps for the future.  This increases the chance of an actual NLL game made by a big game company.

2)      The Controls:  The controls are bang on, relating to the same control scheme as NHL. Using the right stick to shoot, using buttons to deke and a speed burst etc…

3)      Season Mode:  Adding an extra game mode than just play now in a small game like this is important to attract players to keep playing.  The season mode is a full 16 game schedule and has all the things you would imagine in a season, including the championship game.

There were some downsides though:

      1) No penalties: It’s not a big deal, but in the end, that is a part of the game and should be included.

      2) The Graphics:  The Graphics are absolutely atrocious and they are not aesthetically pleasing at all.

      3) The Physics Engine:  Above I said the control scheme is good, but I never said the controls are responsive.  Pick and roll rarely works and sometimes passes fly the other way.  Not to mention that the hit button rarely works.  The players get stuck in the boards, the ball never can fall out of play, and sometimes, there are no line changes.

            Overall, the game is decent, and like I said for five bucks, it’s a great deal.  Hopefully this will be able to spark enough interest for a full game. If you haven't already experienced this game, and are a fan if the NLL, you should give the game a try.

Overall Score: 6.5/10

Screeenshots:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Now Introducing...

Hey everyone, hope you are all doing fasmatasical.  My name is Josh Bourhis and Mike and I have been doing our show “In The Crease” for almost a year now and when he asked me if I wanted to blog for the site I was excited. I had heard little about lacrosse when I was younger, but I knew about the Toronto Rock.  It was in 2005 when I watched my first NLL game.  It was the Championship game between Toronto and Arizona.  It was only a couple weeks after that I heard Edmonton was getting a team.   By the next NLL season, I was sitting in Rexall Place, watching one of the most exciting sports I have seen in my life. And what do you know; I began to play lacrosse that year myself. It’s now my fifth year playing lacrosse and it’s my favorite sport.  I have a feeling this NLL year is going to be a good one, with some teams making major acquisitions, and I am ready to cover it to the best of my abilities.

Cheers,

Josh Bourhis

P.S I’m the middle guy in the picture Mike posted.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Allow me to introduce myself

Hey folks, my name is Avry Lewis-McDougall. I'm the 2nd writer that will be contributing to the NLL blog with Mike Wilson. I've been an NLL fan for over 10 seasons, the first team I followed was the Toronto Rock with guys like Jimmy Veltman and Colin Doyle. When Edmonton got a team in 2006 I felt was my duty to support the hometown team! Hopefully the Rush make it to the post season for a 2nd time in 2011 and Mike and I along with other bloggers will make sure this blog is always fresh with NLL news.

Photo

Mike here,

I always like to know what the author of what I am reading looks like. So i'm the guy on the left.

Enjoy

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Welcome to the NLL Blog!

This new site is a collection of blogs on the National Lacrosse League.

My name is Mike Wilson and I am one of two admins of this site. I host "In The Crease" radio on blogtalkradio.com and write for other blog sites. One being CFL Insider.com another one in which I partially own.

This site is all about the fans point of view of the NLL. If you have something to say big or small, send it to me at inthecreasemw@gmail.com and I'll make sure it gets on the site promptly as long as it is appropriate. I will post a code of conduct soon as the site is still partially under construction.

We are looking into adding features such as a complete NLL schedule and individual pages on each team.

Thanks for reading,
Mike Wilson