By Graeme Perrow
Last week, Calgary's Jeff Shattler was awarded the 2011 Transition Player of the Year award. There is no question that Shattler had a great season, and I would even list him in the top few MVP candidates. I congratulate him both on his season and this award. But Shattler wasn't a transition player for most of 2011, he was a forward, a significant part of the Roughnecks offense.
According to ILIndoor.com (a couple of typos left intact):
...apparently as long as a player is classified with a “T” by their name (which is done by the team, not league), they can be a contender for the NLL’s Transition Player of the Year Award. Andyone with D or F by their name (defender or forward), no matter what role they appear to be playing during the season, cannot be considered for the honour.
So Shattler was considered a transition player by the league because Calgary listed him as one at the beginning of the season, regardless of how he was actually used. This is silly. Surely the GMs and coaches and whoever else votes on these awards are lacrosse-savvy enough to be able to distinguish which players should be considered based on their play, not based on a letter on the roster list?
If you look at the Toronto Rock roster on nll.com, the only person listed with a "T" by their name is Ryan Sharp, who missed most of the year. Does this mean that nobody on the Rock was even considered for this award? I don't think anyone on the Rock had a Transition Player of the Year type season quite honestly, but to completely disqualify players like Marshall and Chapman and Merrill because the Rock listed them as defenders is silly and unfair.
Whether a player is a "defender" or "transition player" is hard to nail down. Many transition players play a lot of defense as well, and some defenders are involved in transition while others aren't. But as I said, the people voting on the NLL awards know lacrosse. They don't need to be told that Brodie Merrill is a transition guy while Cam Woods is not. They are not going to vote for Colin Doyle for Defender of the Year, and they don't need to look to see if there's a D beside his name to make that decision. Having said that, enough of them did vote for Shattler which is why he got the award. Can't say I understand that.
There were a couple of travesties in the NLL awards this year – Dave Pym should have been a lock for Coach of the Year, and Matt Vinc had a very good season but Mike Thompson's was better. Many people are disagreeing with the choice of Pat McCready as Defensive Player of the Year. No disrespect to Shattler intended, but the league got this one wrong as well.