Six degrees of Kevin Buchanan

A recent conversation about how small the lacrosse world is got me thinking, and I came up with a fun game which I call “Six degrees of Kevin Buchanan”.

The idea is to pick two players A and B, and make a chain of players starting from A and ending with B. Every player in the chain must have played on the same team at the same time as the player before and after him. Unlike the Kevin Bacon game, you don’t actually have to include Kevin Buchanan – if that was the case, I might have picked Mat Giles (12 NLL teams) or Chris Panos (10) rather than Buchanan (5). But their names don’t sound nearly as much like “Kevin Bacon”.

I’ve stretched the rules a touch: if two players played for the same team in the same season, I’m calling that a link. This is only because I don’t have sufficiently accurate data so in some cases (anything before 2005) I don’t know if they actually both played on the same team at the same time – for all I know, one might have been traded for the other in a mid-season deal.

As an example, let’s pick the player with the coolest name in NLL history: Mikko Red Arrow, who played with the New York Saints from 1993 to 1996. We’ll try and match him up with one of the youngest players in the league, Rob Hellyer.

Mikko Red Arrow –> Rob Hellyer

  1. Mikko Red Arrow played with Pat O’Toole on the New York Saints in 1995.
  2. O’Toole played with Josh Sanderson on the Knighthawks in 1999.
  3. Sanderson has played with Rob Hellyer on the Rock from 2012-2015.

So Hellyer is three links away from Red Arrow.

Let’s go back even further, to 1992 and another player with a cool name, Butch Marino. I had never heard of him before this exercise, and picked him at random. He played from 1992-1994 and again in 1996. The target this time is another young player picked at random, Miles Thompson of the Swarm.

Butch Marino –> Miles Thompson

  1. Butch Marino played with Chris Gill on the Baltimore Thunder in 1996.
  2. Gill played with Colin Doyle on the Toronto Rock from 1999-2001.
  3. Doyle played with Ethan O’Connor on the Rock in 2014.
  4. O’Connor plays with Miles Thompson on the Swarm in 2015.

Thompson is four links away from Marino. Note that this is the shortest list I found while just looking over team lists and going by memory. There may be shorter ones.

Here’s one more, starting from Brian Lemon, the current NLL VP of Lacrosse Operations. Let’s try and link him to Edmonton goalie Aaron Bold.

Brian Lemon –> Aaron Bold

  1. Brian Lemon played with Kevin Finneran on the 1992 Detroit Turbos.
  2. Finneran played with Dave Stilley on the 2002 Philadelphia Wings.
  3. Stilley played with Gavin Prout on the 2006 Mammoth.
  4. Prout played with Corey Small on the 2010 Rush.
  5. Small played with Aaron Bold on the 2013 Rush.

So Bold is five links away from Lemon. But there’s a faster way:

  1. Brian Lemon played with Randy Mearns on the 1995 Knighthawks.
  2. Mearns played with John Tavares on the 1993 Bandits.
  3. Tavares played with Jeremy Thompson on the 2012 Bandits.
  4. Thompson has played with Aaron Bold on the Rush since 2013.

Of course, anyone who’s ever played for the Bandits is at most 2 links away from anyone else who’s ever played for the Bandits, since they both played with John Tavares. In addition to JT, there are players like Shawn Williams, Colin Doyle, and Josh Sanderson who have had very long careers with multiple teams and allow you to jump 10-15 years in one step. Thanks to guys like them, I’d be surprised if anyone who’s ever played in the NLL is more than five links away from anyone else. In fact, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a player who has never played with a former Bandit and given Mr. Tavares’s longevity, I imagine that finding two players with a count no lower than five is almost impossible.

Hey Kevin, what do you think of this game?

Any other pairs of players you want linked? Do you know of shorter chains than the ones I have above? Leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter!


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