Game report: Buffalo 11 @ Toronto 18

The Rock and the Bandits really don’t like each other. This is not news to anyone who’s ever watched them play, and may be surprising considering the Bandits have eight former Rock players in their lineup plus their GM while Roger Vyse, former Bandit captain Chris White, and both the Rock coach and GM are former Bandits. We thought we’d be in for a long game during the first, with penalty after penalty after penalty, but eventually things settled down and we actually saw some good lacrosse for a while. Most of the really rough stuff was over halfway through the first, but the penalties continued all game.

If you read the NLL Message Boards, there’s a thread that starts before every game in the Bandits forum called Keys to the Game. Every week, someone comes up with three ways the Bandits can win – shut down the opponent’s star player, minimize opponent’s transition goals, grab an early lead (or prevent the other team from grabbing an early lead), that kind of thing. For the last ten years, #3 on that list has always been “NO DUMB PENALTIES”. Apparently the Bandits don’t read the message boards. The Rock have the best power play unit in the league, something you’d think Darris and the boys might have paid a little more attention to, but they didn’t. Special teams weren’t exactly root cause of the Bandits downfall, but Toronto’s four power play goals didn’t help.

That said, not all of their penalties were dumb. I’m not generally one to complain about reffing, but there were a number of phantom calls in this game, going both ways:

  • Alex Kedoh Hill was given a penalty for knocking Josh Sanderson down, though (a) Sanderson had just punched him in the head, and (b) Hill barely touched Sanderson, who dropped like a soccer player.
  • No less than eight players got roughing penalties at the same time after the first Bandits goal. It all started with some rough stuff between Josh Sanderson (!!) and Mark Steenhuis.
  • Anthony Cosmo gave Doyle a smack on the back with his goalie stick and although it wasn’t that hard a hit, Cosmo was penalized. Perhaps the refs thought it was too close to the head. I actually thought it did hit Doyle in the head, but on viewing the replay, it did not.
  • Just a couple of minutes later, Derek Hopcroft had possession when the Bandits were called for a moving pick. The whistle was blown and play stopped but Hopcroft did not drop the ball. Jesse Gamble tried to get it from him but he pulled away. Hopcroft should have gotten two minutes right there for delay of game – you must drop the ball as soon as the whistle is blown. Chris White then hit Hopcroft’s stick away (getting a slashing penalty in the process), and Gamble and Hopcroft had words. At this point Bill Greer stepped in which might have been a mistake, since Hopcroft immediately pulled Greer’s helmet off and just laid a beating on him. This was one of the most one-sided fights I can remember. I counted sixteen punches by Hopcroft and zero by Greer.
  • Just two minutes after that, Luke Wiles hit Patrick Merrill in the face, getting a slashing penalty. This was a good call.
  • But later on Wiles had possession when the whistle was blown and he dropped the ball right away. Perhaps it didn’t go straight down and stop – it did roll a little, but it seemed obvious to me that there was no intent to roll it away from the Rock player who was right there. Wiles was given a delay of game anyway. People around me were confused, wondering why I was complaining about that penalty since it was against the Bandits. Simple – it was undeserved.

All of that was in the first quarter.

The game did settle down after that. There were still lots of penalties (4 in the second and 5 in each of the third and fourth) but other than Luke Wiles double-minor for slashing and facemasking, most of them were fairly innocuous. I kind of held my breath near the end of the game, waiting for the Bandits to explode and start more fights (the “go down swinging” attitude that seems prevalent in some lacrosse people) but it never happened.

Cosmo wasn’t great but I wouldn’t place the blame for this loss on him, or on Kurtis Wagar. The problem was Buffalo’s defense. The Rock got a lot of chances in close, and when you have Colin Doyle with the ball standing just outside the crease and no defender within ten feet of him, he’s more than likely going to score. Give him and Kasey Beirnes a few of those types of chances each, and that’s a recipe for a blowout. Nick Rose had a pretty good game, but much of his success on Friday came because the Rock defense was preventing the Bandits from getting clear shots at the net. There is no video of the game highlights up on yet, but from what I remember, the bounce shot was not Rose’s friend.

As expected, it was an entertaining and exciting game, and I’m glad the rough stuff was taken care of early in the game. Nothing pisses me off more at a lacrosse game than a team starting fights near the end because they’re getting blown out. If your team is getting destroyed, tough. Man up and regroup for your next game, learning from the mistakes you made. Starting fights because you’re losing is just an adult temper tantrum.

Other game notes:

  • It was Kids Night, so there were some special promotions and events and such for kids. What better way to celebrate Kids Night than with 14 roughing penalties, six slashing penalties, and a fight? Maybe pick the Mammoth or Stealth next year for Kids Night, not the Bandits.
  • On a similar note, the song called Dance With Me (which contains the inane lyrics “if you’re sexy and you know it, clap your hands”) may not have been the best choice for the cheerleaders on Kids Night.
  • As I mentioned last week, the Rock were pretty slow on the offense-to-defense transition. This week was much better – no lollygagging.
  • There was a guy sitting behind me who called for Nick Rose to be pulled at least two or three times in the first half. The last time he said “They gotta put Boychuk in. Get Rose out of there” as if it was 15-0 Bandits or 5-0 after three minutes. But this was near the end of the second quarter and Rose had given up 5 goals. He did allow another goal with a second left in the half, but then kept the Bandits off the board for the next sixteen minutes. Didn’t hear any complaints about the goaltending in the third quarter.
  • Also overheard from someone behind me: “That #9 [Steenhuis] is out there an awful lot, isn’t he?” Yes. Yes he is.
  • Nice to see Rock captain Colin Doyle and Bandits alternate captain Shawn Williams going out of their way to get the game ball from the ref after Roger Vyse and Kevin Brownell scored their first goals of the year – Vyse’s was his first as a Rock (that must have felt good, especially against the team that released him before the season) and Brownell’s was the first of his career.
  • Shawn Williams’ nine-year-old daughter Dylana sang O Canada and did an outstanding job.
  • Great to see Roberto Alomar doing the opening face-off. I recently watched a game from the 1992 World Series on TV and I think I had forgotten just how much fun Alomar was to watch.

Week 13 picks

Last week was my first above-.500 week since week 6. I was 2-1, missing only Edmonton’s victory over the Rock. Some tough picks this week though they should all be entertaining games. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the Bandits at the ACC and the Stealth-Roughnecks game as well.

Record: 22-30 (.423)




PHI @ MIN Philly needs to sweep this weekend to get into the playoffs, but as I said on the Pro Lacrosse Face-off show this week, I don’t see it happening. I’m still bullish on the Swarm, especially given their recent demolition of the Stealth. Swarm
BUF @ TOR I love when the Bandits come to town. The games are always physical, always exciting, always eventful. Of course, the Bandits have a winning record in Toronto, so much of the time the ending of the game isn’t so good for me. But the Rock are in first place and the Bandits have lost four in a row. So obviously the Rock will win. Cause that’s the way the NLL works, right? Rock5
PHI @ COL I originally had the Wings logo here, but I’ve changed my mind. The Wings have five wins but four of them have been against Rochester, Buffalo (2), and Colorado. Toronto (early in the season) is the only team above .500 they’ve beaten – and they’ve since been beaten by the Rock. Colorado had a lead last week and let it slip away but that’s par for the course for the Mammoth – they’re becoming known for taking one quarter off per game and in that one, it was the fourth. If they can put 4 solid quarters together, they can beat the Wings easily but even if they only play 3 I think they can still win. Mammoth
TOR @ ROC Rochester is playing for their playoff lives, so they won’t go quietly. Or will they? They’ve lost five of their past six at home and only hit double digits in the first of those six. They’ve also only played one game since the 2nd of March. Worse home offense in the league (8.3 goals per game at home!) against the third-best defense? I’ll risk looking like a homer and take the Rock. Rock
CAL @ WAS I can’t figure out the Stealth. They win 3 in a row, two of them with 16 goals, and then only score 5 against the Swarm? So which Stealth do we get this weekend? Meanwhile the Roughnecks have allowed 15+ goals in 5 of their last 6 games. The Roughnecks haven’t demonstrated the ability to hold back the top offensive teams, at least not in the second half of this season. I originally had Calgary for this game but I’ve switched this one too. Stealth

Game report: Edmonton 17 @ Toronto 12

In my preview of the Edmonton Rush, I picked them to finish last in the West – not because I thought they were a last place team, but because there was so much uncertainty. Would Aaron Bold continue his strong play from 2012? Would the defense continue to dominate? Would Mark Matthews turn out to be the star everyone thought he would be? And after a 1-4 start, it looked like the Rush might have to wait at least another year to get back to the Championship game. But they’ve now won seven of their last eight games including five in a row, and have looked pretty dominant doing so. Sunday’s game against the Rock was no exception.

The first quarter might have been the Rock’s worst quarter of the season. The offense was sloppy, passes were missing their targets by several feet, lots of fancy over-the-shoulder passes were made to teammates not expecting them, and Nick Rose did not have his best game. Two minutes into the second, Rose was pulled for Zach Boychuk and the Rock were down 8-2. Shots after the first quarter were 22-8 for the Rush. Boychuk allowed another goal fairly quickly but then settled down and held the Rush scoreless for the next 12 minutes. Boychuk was hot and cold the rest of the way – he made a couple of holy-cow-how-did-he-stop-that saves, but let in a few softies as well. Boychuk is a much more athletic goalie than Rose; while Rose seems to move as little as possible to make the saves, Boychuk moves around a lot more. Not that either style is better or worse – whatever works.

The Rock’s play did improve over the next few quarters but still not up to the level of the Rush, who were simply dominant. Matthews didn’t have a huge game stat-wise, three goals and an assist, but he anchored the offense. And “anchor” is a pretty accurate description of this big guy – he can plow through defenders like they’re not there. His presence forced the Rock to focus more on him and allow the rest of the Rush forwards some good looks, but it was their defenders and transition guys that provided much of the scoring. Chris Corbeil and Kyle Rubisch, two of the best defenders in the game, contributed at both ends of the floor with two goals each, and Mydske, Dilks, LaFontaine, and Thompson each scored as well.

Jeremy ThompsonI’ve always liked Jeremy Thompson as a player. He can score, he can defend, he’s fast, he can fight (as we saw – see below), he can do faceoffs, and he has a very cool twitter profile picture (right). On Sunday, he displayed another skill: getting under the skin of his opponents, which directly resulted in at least two power plays for the Rush. On the opening face-off of the second quarter, he said or did something to Patrick Merrill. From what I saw, the ref blew the whistle to start the quarter and then immediately signaled that the Rock should have possession. Merrill suddenly walked away from the ball and started cross-checking Thompson across the chest. Thompson simply walked backwards taking the hits until Merrill was given a penalty. Not a smart play by Merrill. Then just a few minutes later, Thompson said or did something to Scott Evans, who dropped his gloves and went after him. Again, Thompson did nothing and Evans went to the penalty box. To add insult to injury, Thompson himself scored on the resulting power play. Surely after watching the Bandits implode year after year after year by taking stupid penalties, the Rock would have learned to let the other team do that and not to do it themselves. Actually the Rock are usually pretty good for keeping their heads on straight, but not on this night.

All in all, it was a rather ugly game for the Rock. But they ran into a hot Edmonton Rush team, who have replaced the Rock at the top of Brian Shanahan’s power rankings list. I saw a few tweets before the game that this game might have been a Champion’s Cup preview. If so, the Rock will have to keep their heads on straight and clean up (or cut down on) the fancy passing in the rematch.

Other game notes:

  • The Edmonton defense was very strong. There were times that I was waiting for the whistle and the “too many men” call, because there were seven or eight defenders out there. But no, there were only five.
  • In one play in the second quarter, Kyle Rubisch approached a group of three players all huddled together and checked them all at once, knocking two of them down.
  • After being pulled in the second quarter, Nick Rose sat on the bench for the rest of the game with his helmet on.
  • The fight: in the third quarter, Scott Johnston grabbed Jeremy Thompson and wouldn’t let him go. He held Thompson by the facemask and eventually pulled his helmet off. Thompson looked like he had no real interest in the fight, but after Johnston finally threw the first actual punch, Thompson pulled Johnston’s mask off and got a few punches in before Johnston suplex’ed him to the floor. Decision: Thompson.
  • The Rock’s transition game (defense-to-offense) is one of the best they’ve had in years. But their offense-to-defense is a bit more of a problem. There was a fair bit of lollygagging by the offense on their way back to the bench. You know what that makes them? Lollygaggers.

Week 12 picks

For the second straight week, I was 2-2 with my picks. Starting out under .500 and continually getting .500 will get you towards .500, but you’ll never get there. That’s math. Luckily, there are 3 games this week so I won’t be going .500. Let’s hope for a 2-1 or 3-0 week to bring up that average!

Record: 20-29 (.408)




EDM @ BUF Edmonton has won 5 of 6 and scored 14+ goals in four of them. Buffalo has lost three straight but only really got crushed in one of them. Given the events of the past couple of weeks, I’m wondering if Bandits will act like angels this weekend (not wanting to lose more people to suspensions) and stay out of the penalty box. If they can do that, they stand a good chance of beating the Rush. But notice who I’m picking. Rush
COL @ CAL This pick is closer than I would have thought a few weeks ago. The powerhouse Roughnecks against the lowly Mammoth? Not so much. The ‘Necks have had defensive troubles all year and are dead last in goals allowed, though they’re first in goals scored. The Mammoth are coming of two solid wins against Buffalo and have growing confidence in their young goaltenders. But I still gotta go with Calgary though it’s my least confident pick this week. Roughnecks
EDM @ TOR I saw Mark Matthews play in a pre-season exhibition game in Toronto and had to agree with all the experts saying that Matthews was going to be a force in the NLL. Obviously they were right, and I’m looking forward to watching him again, not to mention defensive stud Kyle Rubisch. But the Rock are on a roll (man, that joke just never gets old, does it?), and three wins in their final five games will give them their best record since 2005. Since this is the best Rock team since 2005 (including a team that won a championship), that would be fitting. Rock

The NLL rules

(Thanks to my son Nicky for the title of this article. I asked him for a good title for an article about the NLL rule book and he said “The NLL rules. And it does.” Clever kid.)

The Official 2013 NLL Rule Book is available on the NLL’s web site, and it’s a bit of an interesting read. There are 127 pages of rules, including pictures of the ref signals for various penalties (apparently if a ref calls head butting or “spearing with head” he has to smack himself in the face), the 2013 schedule, and the official dimensions of the floor and crease area. Did you know that the crease is 18’6″ wide and the goal line is 12′ from the back boards, also called the “dasher boards”? I did not.

NLLRulesThere are exactly 100 rules in the book, broken up in to the following categories:

  • 8 rules on The Arena
  • 7 rules on Time Factors
  • 7 rules on The Officials
  • 6 rules on Composition of Teams
  • 7 rules on Equipment
  • 8 rules on Penalty Definitions
  • 14 rules on Flow of the Game
  • 43 rules on Infractions

Most of the rule book is spent describing things players shouldn’t do and what the refs should do if they happen. While looking up a couple of rules, I happened across a weird one and thought I should write about it. Then I found another, and another, and…

These are in no particular order. Any emphasis is mine.

Rule 21.3: SHOT ON GOAL – When a shot hits a part of the goal post, does not go in and the ball continues in play, a shot on goal is awarded and a save is credited.

Said another way, the goalie gets a save if you beat him with a shot but hit the post. The assumption here is obviously that the goalie sees the ball coming, knows that it will hit the post and not go in, and therefore doesn’t bother moving to stop it.

Rule 20.1: PUBLIC ADDRESS ANNOUNCER’S DUTIES FOR AWARDED GOALS – The name of the scorer and any player entitled to an assist will be announced by the public address announce system. Public address announcers shall not communicate derogatory or disparaging comments towards any individual players on the opposing team and towards the officials. Failure to do so will result in a fine to the announcer by the League.

The PA announcer in Colorado, a guy named Willie B, continually pronounces Rhys Duch’s surname like “douche”. So obviously, one of the following three things must be true:

  1. Calling someone “douche” is not considered by the league to be derogatory or disparaging.
  2. The league believes him when he says he keeps forgetting how to say it properly and it’s an honest mistake. In every game. For five years.
  3. He pays a lot of money in fines.

Rule 80.6: SWEATER REMOVAL DURING A FIGHT – Shall be [assessed to] a player who deliberately removes his sweater prior to participating in a fight. A player who engages in a fight and whose sweater is removed (completely off his torso), other than through the actions of his opponent in the fight or through the actions of the referee, shall be assessed a minor unsportsmanlike penalty.

So if your sweater is pulled up in front of your face during a fight and you pull it off so you can see, you get a penalty. That said, I’ve never seen this happen. I’ve seen players’ jerseys removed during fights, but I’ve never seen a player take his own jersey off.

Rule 80.7: EQUIPMENT REMOVAL PRIOR TO OR DURING A FIGHT PENALTY ASSESSMENT – A player who removes his equipment prior to or during a fight on his own accord shall be assessed a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Any combination of the jersey removal and equipment removal will result in a minor penalty being assessed. This is in addition to other penalties to be assessed to the participants of a fight.

According to this, all fights should be done with full equipment on, including helmets and gloves. This is interesting, considering the next one:

Rule 80.8: INSTIGATOR WITH FACEMASK ON – Any player who instigates a fight with a face mask on against an opponent who already has his facemask off will be deemed an instigator.

So according to this rule, if you start a fight with your helmet on, you get a penalty. But according to the previous rule, if you remove your helmet before a fight, you get a penalty. Basically, every fight should result in seven minutes of penalties for one of the players involved – five for the fight, and two for either removing or not removing their helmet. There are plenty of fights where players drop gloves, helmets, sometimes even elbow pads. Never seen them get penalized for that.

But even ignoring the apparent contradiction here, this rule is irrelevant. Read the beginning: “Any player who instigates a fight…” Regardless of whether the helmets are on or off, if you “instigate” a fight, you’re an “instigator”.

Rule 91: HELMET LOST DURING PLAY – When a player in possession of the ball loses his helmet he must immediately release the ball by passing or shooting.

It’s happened a number of times in games I’ve seen – someone with the ball gets his helmet knocked off and immediately shoots and scores, and the fans around me start yelling that the goal shouldn’t count “because you’re not allowed to play without a helmet”. That is true, but as long as you shoot right away, the goal counts. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Rule 25.3 (also 95.12): CAPTAIN COMMUNICATION WITH OFFICIALS – A complaint about a penalty is NOT a matter “relating to the interpretation of the rules” and a minor penalty shall be imposed against any Captain or other player making such a complaint.

So every time you see a penalized player look at the ref and hold their arms out in a “what did I do” gesture, that player should be given an extra penalty. This is related to the next one:

Rule 95.4: DISPUTES CALL BY BANGING THE BOARDS – A misconduct penalty shall be imposed on any player or players who bang the boards with their sticks or other objects at any time, showing disrespect for an Official’s decision.

Obviously, the refs never look in the penalty box once the player has arrived there. It’s not uncommon at all for the player to get in the penalty box, slam the door, and then pound on the glass or throw a water bottle.

Rule 47.1: 8-SECOND COUNT PROCEDURE – The 8 second time shall be kept by the trailing referee on the floor by a chopping wave of the hand for each second.

The ref manually counts 8 seconds starting from when he waves his hand to tell the shot clock operator to restart the shot clock. This makes total sense, since we don’t have any sort of computerized time-keeping device nearby that could possibly be used for this. And this is totally fair because all refs count at exactly the same speed every time.

Rule 55.11: DIRECTED INTO NET – If the ball is loose in the crease a player may not direct the ball into the goal.

I’m sure I’ve seen players dive at a loose ball in the crease trying to simply poke it past the goalie, though I cannot say for sure that such goals have counted. But why would a player bother trying to do this if the rule book says it wouldn’t count?

Rule 63: ILLEGAL CROSS-CHECKING – A defender who cross-checks a player, who is in a stationary position and not in possession of the ball shall be assessed a penalty.

Yup, you never see this in a lacrosse game.

Here’s a “rule” only notable by its absence: There is nothing in the rule book that says what happens if a penalty is called on the defensive team and then a goal is scored. In practice, the penalty is simply waved off as if it never happened, but in my opinion the penalty should still be recorded. They can skip putting the offender in the penalty box because of the goal, but I think a record of the penalty and the offender should still be made.

Week 11 picks

I tried something different this past week since the previous weeks hadn’t really gone so well. I reversed my picks – if I thought team A would win, I picked team B. I did this for all four games and after starting 0-2 (and thinking this was the dumbest idea I’d had in years), I went 2-0 in the last two games, thus ending the weekend 2-2 and rendering my experiment pointless.

This week I’m back to my regular picking strategy. Next year, I think it would be interesting to actually flip a coin each week and see how many people the coin can beat.

Record: 18-27 (.400)




BUF @ COL This one will be weird, since with all the injuries, trades, and suspensions, the entire game will be Tye Belanger and Anthony Cosmo lobbing the ball back and forth to each other, with John Grant and Mark Steenhuis trying to intercept the passes. Steve Dietrich will replace Cosmo in the fourth just because now he can. Bandits
WAS @ MIN Stealth fans yell at me when I pick the Stealth, which I guess is understandable given my overall record. But I’ve picked Washington to win 7 times this season, and they’ve won 4 of those games. So when I pick them, they win 57% of the time. That’s the highest percentage of any team in the league. You’re welcome. Stealth
TOR @ PHI Brandon Miller will not be playing this weekend (unless he appeals his suspension), so backup Kevin Croswell will be starting. But facing the backup goalie isn’t always the good news that you might think. Last year, the Rock faced Washington’s backup goalie when Tyler Richards was injured and he played a great game, giving the Stealth the win. That backup goalie was Kevin Croswell. Rock
EDM @ ROC Rochester now has Purves and Sullivan on their D – but both are suspended. They’ve also added defensive stud Scott Self who is not. They’ll be without Casey Powell, which I think is a good thing for their offense overall, but it might take a bit of time to reorganize. Edmonton has scored 14+ goals in 4 of the past 5 games and have won all four. Rush

The Casey Powell trade: Good or bad for the Mammoth?

Considering I’ve only known about the Casey Powell trade for about twelve hours, I’ve changed my mind about it a surprising number of times. First it was great because it shakes up both offenses. Then it was dumb because Casey Powell is old. Then it was smart because he’s not that old. Then it was dumb because even if he’s not that old, he’s unlikely to play for long, making this a rental move. Now I’m back to good.

The offense for both teams did need a shake-up, and this deal will certainly provide that. Casey Powell wasn’t having an outstanding season – 22 points in 7 games, which would be a 50 point season over 16 games. This is far from terrible, but it would be his lowest point total since 2000. The Knighthawks offense was getting a little crowded, with Powell, Dan Dawson, Cody Jamieson, Mike Accursi, Johnny Powless, Cory Vitarelli, Stephen Keogh, and Craig Point. This move takes Powell out of the mix, giving the rest of them a little more floor time, which if nothing else changes the dynamic. It might allow the Knighthawks to see a little more of the 8-10 point Dan Dawson and less of the 2-3 point Dan Dawson. If the Knighthawks offensive problems were a case of too many cooks, this may help the broth turn out a little better. Hopefully better than that metaphor just did.

Casey Powell

In the case of the Mammoth, John Grant is having a very good season, a little down from last year’s outstanding season, but that’s to be expected. Unfortunately, pretty much everyone else in the offense is down from last year as well. Adding Casey Powell to that mix will have the opposite effect than in Rochester. Rather than having too many people to pass to, the Mammoth only had one, and I’ve heard a lot of Mammoth fans talk about how all their offense flows through Grant. I’ve even heard suggestions that maybe sitting Grant for a game might be a good idea, just to let the offense know that it’s possible to take a shot yourself, even if Grant is on the floor. Adding Powell will change their dynamic as well, allowing them to not put Grant out there on every shift if they don’t want to. This also reduces the possibility of Grant being what we in the computer industry call a “single point of failure” – if Grant gets injured, the Mammoth offense might have fallen apart. With Powell in the lineup, they should be able to adapt a little easier. In fact, there is talk that Gavin Prout is injured and may miss the remainder of the season, in which case Powell simply replaces Prout.

There’s also the mentoring aspect – if you’re a young offensive player, particularly an American, it’s hard to imagine not being excited to have arguably the greatest American lacrosse player in history playing beside you.

The reason I thought this was a bad idea for a little while was based on an assumption that I do not know to be true – the assumption that Casey Powell will retire at the end of this season, or maybe next season at the latest. He just turned 37 and missed all of last season due to injury, so it stands to reason that he may not play much longer. If that’s true, then the Mammoth have given up Jon Sullivan (from a defense that could really use him) and a pick for at most a season and a half of Powell. Is he enough to turn the team around and make them contenders? If not, the deal makes no sense. They didn’t get Powell so they could be contenders for the next five years, this is a move for right now, and the Mammoth are in last place so there may not even be a “right now”.

But there are two reasons I changed my mind on this. First, 37 isn’t that old (right, John Tavares?). In fact, Powell is a year and four months younger than John Grant. Powell has retired from the MLL but he could play another few years if he can stay healthy. It’s a bit of a risk to assume that though.

The other reason is that in the current NLL, as long as you don’t finish dead last, you’re in the playoffs. And as Edmonton showed us last year (and several years ago in the NHL as well, now that I think about it), once you’re in the playoffs anything can happen. If Grant and Powell have a couple of very good games, Lewis and Belanger don’t have to be outstanding. If they’re just “good enough”, we could be talking about the 2013 Champion Colorado Mammoth. Weirder things have happened though admittedly, not many.

It’s likely that Powell is a rental player and will retire after this season. If the Mammoth get a Championship out of it, obviously it’s a good deal for them. Even if they just make the playoffs, you could argue it’s a good deal considering that they’re the team on the outside looking in at this point. If the Mammoth get a second season out of Powell, so much the better for them. It’s really only if he doesn’t play (or tanks) and they miss the playoffs that this doesn’t work out as as even a small win for the Mammoth.

As for the Knighthawks, the offense gets better through addition by subtraction, and they pick up a good experienced defender and a draft pick, so it’s a win for them as well.