The NLL without Blaine Manning

Next weekend, the Toronto Rock will play their first game without Blaine Manning in the line-up since the Championship game in 2001, more than ten years ago. Ten years is a long time, so let’s see how the league has changed in that time.

2001 2012
Teams in the league 9 9
The league is considering expanding to Vancouver in the not-too-distant future Yes Yes
The Toronto Rock have been in the last two championship games, winning one of them Yes Yes
John Tavares is a veteran, providing leadership to the Bandits and can still score with the best of them Yes Yes
Number of playoff wins in Philadelphia Wings history 16 16

OK, so things don’t look all that different so far. Maybe we should look at the changes from another angle. Let’s just list some things that have happened in the NLL since the end of the 2001 season:

Teams

  • 3 teams entered the league and are still around: Calgary, Montreal (which became Minnesota), Edmonton
  • 2 teams moved: Washington Power (became Colorado), Albany Attack (became San Jose and then Washington)
  • 2 teams folded: Ottawa, New York Saints
  • 1 team moved and then folded: Columbus (became Arizona)
  • 6 (or 8) teams entered the league and have since folded: Vancouver, New Jersey/Anaheim, Portland, Chicago, New York/Orlando, Boston

Championships

  • Toronto has won four more league Championships
  • Calgary has won two, and singles have been won by Buffalo, Rochester, Colorado, and Washington

Players

  • Someone other than Gary Gait or John Tavares was named league MVP. This had never happened in the first eight years this award was given.
  • Only one of the most recent four MVP winners (Casey Powell) had ever played an NLL game.
  • Players such as Brian Langtry, Taylor Wray, Shawn Nadelen, and Jay Jalbert have entered the league, had a significant impact, and retired (Update: Taylor Wray has not officially retired.)
  • The only players on the 2011 All-Pro teams who were in the league in 2001 were Pat McCready, John Tavares, and Anthony Cosmo
  • The only members of the 2011 All-Star teams who were in the league in 2001 were John Grant, John Tavares, Colin Doyle, Anthony Cosmo, and Bob Watson.
  • In 2001, Mark Steenhuis was 21 and had only been playing lacrosse for four years. Brodie Merrill was 19. Paul Rabil and Ryan Benesch were 15. Rock sophomore player Rob Hellyer was 9.

Blaine, here’s hoping for a speedy recovery and return to the line-up. The Rock, and the league, won’t be the same without you.

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