Geoff Snider: Top of the List

Geoff Snider is not the most popular guy in the NLL.

I know what you’re thinking – “You can’t make controversial statements like that unless you can back it up”, but I don’t need to. First of all, it ain’t that controversial. Secondly, Geoff backed it up himself this past weekend on Twitter by RT’ing a number of  “fans” telling him he’s a douchebag, that he has no class, and a couple of others with some more colourful language. As Mike Wilson succinctly said on the NLL Blog: awesome. He could have chirped back, he could have tried to defend himself, he could have “taken the high road” and simply ignored them. But just an RT with no extra comment was even better.

There was a time that I didn’t like Snider either. I watched him play as a member of the Philadelphia Wings for a few years, and I initially thought he was just another punk who liked to fight and happened to own a lacrosse stick. I did have to admit that his skill in the face-off circle was impressive, putting him a step above the average NLL fighter, but still not at the level of “good lacrosse player”.

But as time went on, I started to notice him a little more. First off, he got more floor time than your average FOGO or fighter, and he did score goals now and again. OK, so maybe he does have some actual lacrosse skill beyond face-offs and fighting. And come to think of it, he’s not just a good face-off guy, he’s an outstanding face-off guy. I’ve seen games where Snider sets up for a faceoff and the other team just concedes it, presumably because it’s not worth sending a face-off guy out there; they just let him have the ball and get their defense set up.

Then an interesting thing happened. I was at a game where the Wings were playing; I have a feeling it was in Buffalo, though it might have been in Toronto. The game was starting to get rather physical (which is why I think it might have been Buffalo). There were no fights, but there were a number of occasions where it looked like there was going to be. Then a player got in Snider’s face and there was some shoving, and the other player dropped his gloves and ran at Snider. I don’t remember the details of exactly what happened, but essentially Snider ignored him and walked calmly to the bench. The other player got a penalty, and the Wings scored on the resulting power play.

I may not have described the play exactly right, but the long and the short of it is that he realized that a fight was not necessary, and his presence on the floor would be more helpful to his team than having him in the penalty box for five minutes. This was a very smart plan on Snider’s part. He could see that the other player wanted to go; it’s almost as if he taunted the other guy into losing his mind and attacking him, knowing it would get him a penalty. If he fought, they’d both have gotten majors. Since he didn’t, his team got the advantage. Of course the opposing fans were all over him calling him every name in the book, though if you’ve ever actually watched Snider fight, “coward” is not a word that applies.

Does he make the odd stupid decision and take unnecessary penalties? Sure he does. No player as passionate as Snider doesn’t. On his Off the Crossebar radio show, Teddy Jenner recently said of Snider “He won’t shy away from a fight”, which is is absolutely true. Will he fight if the situation calls for it? Yes, and he’ll probably win. But if a fight opportunity presents itself, will he walk away if he thinks it would help his team? Yes. This doesn’t make him a coward, and it doesn’t make him a douchebag. It makes him a smart lacrosse player.

Many fans (and players!) have a list of people who they hate playing against but would love to have on their team. I know it’ll never happen since Snider’s a Calgary boy playing in his home town, and I know there are a lot of Rock fans would disagree with me, but Snider’s at the top of my list.

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