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.'