2016 NLL Awards

As we do every year, the IL Indoor staff have each submitted our choices for a number of annual awards. On Addicted to Lacrosse a couple of weeks ago, the three of us went over our choices for those awards as well. Here are the picks I announced on A2L:

  • MVP: Shawn Evans, New England
  • Rookie of the Year: Randy Staats, Georgia
  • Transition Player of the Year: Alex Kedoh Hill, Buffalo
  • Defender of the Year: Chris Corbeil, Saskatchewan
  • Goalie of the Year: Nick Rose, Toronto

Not all of the IL Indoor winners have been posted yet, so I’ll just include the ones here that have. My choice is listed first, followed by the winner in brackets.

Goaltender of the Year hasn’t been announced yet but I’ll say here that when doing my IL Indoor picks, I changed my mind and voted for Dillon Ward (sorry Nick). I’m now… well, not exactly regretting that decision since Ward did have a great season but if I were to submit my picks now, I think I’d stick with Rosey (sorry Dillon).

But there are a couple of other awards that weren’t included in either list, so I wanted to cover them here.

Tom Borrelli Award (Media Person of the Year)

Teddy Jenner. I mean no disrespect to the recent winners of this award, all of whom are deserving, but I’ve had Teddy as my Borrelli pick for several years now. Given how much he does for lacrosse every year, I’m kind of surprised he hasn’t won this. He is an all-around sports guy for sure (from hockey to basketball to Teddy Jennerrugby – huddy huddy, whatever that means), but clearly lacrosse is his passion. He does colour for various TV broadcasts, he’s been doing his Off the Crossebar podcast for several years, he writes for IL Indoor (and his 30 Second Shot Clock articles this past season were awesome – insightful thoughts from his many-times concussed head), he had a lacrosse radio show (also called Off the Crossebar) in Vancouver for a couple of years, he was the on-floor host of the Stealth when they were in Washington, and he’s active on twitter. Did I miss anything? Probably.

He clearly knows the NLL but he’s just as knowledgeable (if not more) about the WLA, MSL, MLL, NCAA, as well as senior, intermediate, and junior A, B, C, and any other letters there are. He knows the game as well as anyone and loves to talk about it, and we love to hear him talk about it.

Full disclosure: I’ve never actually met the man in person but we’ve been Twitter-buds for a few years. Then again, Teddy’s Twitter-buds with everyone. He interviewed me on his radio show once, and I interviewed him for this blog a few years ago.

Honourable mention: Paul Tutka. Given his year-long twitter rant about how to improve the NLL (which came down to “change everything but the game itself, and even change some of that”), it’s unlikely that the league will honour him again, but three-time Borrelli winner Tutka is still one of the most knowledgeable lacrosse writers around. He wrote a preview of the 2016 Champion’s Cup series which is about as in-depth as any article you will ever see. I read stuff like that and think “WTF am *I* doing writing about lacrosse? I don’t have a hope of covering things to that level of detail.” The old adage about “he’s forgotten more about lacrosse than I’ll ever know” has never been more apt.

But I’ve decided that I cater to a different audience. I’m going for the “I want to read articles written by someone who doesn’t know anywhere near as much about lacrosse as Paul Tutka” demographic. And I’m killing it, thankyouverymuch.

I guess more full disclosure: The Money Ballers column that I’ve been writing on IL Indoor for the past five seasons was created and written by Tutka for the previous five seasons. Again, though, I’ve never met him personally.

Executive of the Year

Lee Genier, Saskatchewan Rush. The lowest attended game in Saskatoon this year was their second game, when they had 8,624 come out. Again, that’s the lowest attendance this year. The Edmonton Rush only had three regular season games higher than that in the previous six seasons. They went from 7th in the league in average home attendance to 3rd in one year. Saskatchewan averaged 11,737 per game, an average higher than every Edmonton Rush season – in fact the Edmonton team only had four games higher than that ever. One of those four was a Championship game and another was $1 ticket night.

Lee GenierWe certainly can’t give all the credit for the success of the team in Saskatchewan to Mr. Genier, the President of the Rush, but there’s no question that he’s been instrumental. The Rush didn’t have the crazy theme nights they had in Edmonton, when they put Twitter handles on their jerseys and brought in wrestlers and GSP (who, it turns out, is not me despite those being my initials) and the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders and other celebrities. Not that these were bad ideas, but if you’re filling your arena based solely on the lacrosse team, those extras just aren’t necessary.

They even held a rally on a Friday afternoon (not a game day) and got a thousand people out. Can you see that happening in Edmonton?

Now, Edmonton averaged over 10,000 per game in their first two seasons, and then it started to drop off until it was down in the mid-6,000’s by 2015. Could that happen here too? Sure it could. But the first season of the Saskatchewan Rush has been an unqualified success, regardless of how the team does in the finals.

Honestly, I have no way to know if Mr. Genier himself is the architect of the plan that brought in the big crowds. Maybe the award should go to owner Bruce Urban, or the entire Rush marketing team, or someone else. But Genier is one of the more public NLL team Presidents, popping up on social media and doing radio and TV interviews and such. The way that Saskatoon has embraced the Rush is partially due to lacrosse being an exciting sport and partially due to their team being the defending champs and one with a very good chance of repeating. But getting the word out to the public and getting the local businesses and politicians involved takes significant work and Genier and his team have done an outstanding job.

Sportsmanship Award

I have no particular opinion on this award, but I will fearlessly predict the three finalists for the 2016 NLL Sportsmanship award:

  • Eli McLaughlin, Colorado
  • Corey Small, Vancouver
  • Travis Cornwall, Vancouver

If they don’t want to put two Stealth players on the list, the third would be John LaFontaine from Saskatchewan.

It’s not really much of a prediction, it’s just the non-goaltenders with the most games and lowest penalty minutes. None of these guys picked up a single penalty in 2016. McLaughlin and Small played 18 games, Cornwall 15, and LaFontaine 13.

Liveblog: Calgary @ Colorado

I tried a “liveblog” last weekend and it was kinda fun, so I’ll try it again. I guess it’s similar to twitter in that I basically enter my thoughts as I have them, but this gets recorded all together.

This will be a little different though since I can’t actually watch the game. I’m at my parents’ cottage for the weekend and not only do they not get TSN2, their internet connection is maxed out for the month so I can’t watch the game online without serious overage charges. I set my phone up as a hotspot so I can get internet but I’m almost over on my phone’s data plan as well so I can’t stream the game that way either.

So I’m “watching” the game through twitter and Pointstreak. This might make the liveblog a little different since there are sometimes long pauses between updates. I also didn’t start until halftime so this will only be the second half.

Halftime

  • The Georgia / New England game yesterday (which I also didn’t see) was close throughout and ended in OT. Could we see another OT game tonight? That would be pretty awesome, at least for those watching it. And not bad for those of us who write weekly Money Ballers columns.
  • Raptors won tonight! Up 2 games to 1 over the Heat. I will freely admit that I’m on the Raptors bandwagon now that they’re in the playoffs. I’ve watched more Raptors games on TV (and listened on the radio) more times in their 10 playoff games this years than in the entire regular season.
  • Game on yet? Nope.
  • The PVR is on but the TV is off. I think my mom is recording something.
  • Looks like the game is starting again.

 

Third Quarter

  • Cam Holding got a holding penalty. I made a joke about this on @NLLFactOfTheDay a couple of years ago.
  • Shorthanded goal for Calgary! Curtis Dickson. I should do an article about the players in the league who are the most fun to watch. He’s near the top of that list. Tyler Richards would likely be there too. Not only is he a great goaltender who makes some outstanding acrobatic saves, but when he gets ticked off he’s very entertaining.
  • I need a snack. There are some peanuts in the kitchen, maybe I’ll have those.
  • It’s Mother’s Day tomorrow. Must remember to pick up a hanging basket for my wife on the way home tomorrow. I always get her a fuchsia for Mother’s Day.
  • Seems to have been a long time since the last update.
  • The Roughnecks just tweeted that they are on a power play. I refreshed the Pointstreak page to find that the Roughnecks took three penalties at the same time a couple of minutes later and avoided giving up a penalty shot because the Mammoth took one too.
  • Adam Jones scored on the PP. Tie game again!
  • And then Dickson scores again. Roughnecks lead
  • Is that a bug on the wall over there? Oh no, it’s a screw where a picture used to hang. Maybe we’ll get my folks another picture to hang there for their anniversary in July.
  • End of the third, 7-6 for the Roughnecks. Low scoring close game. Probably amazing to watch, but following along on Twitter is fine. Just fine.

fine

Fourth Quarter

  • I love the banter we’ve seen recently between the team accounts on Twitter. Even the Knighthawks got into it despite the fact that they’re out of the playoffs.
  • Jeremy Noble scores for the Mammoth, and we’re tied again.
  • Jones again and the Mammoth have the lead!
  • Haven’t heard John Grant’s name much. Checked Pointstreak – he has TWELVE shots and no goals. Noble has four goals on only seven shots.
  • Dickson again for Calgary. He’s the only Roughneck who’s scored in this half. Tied again.
  • My four-year-old niece has finally stopped calling me “Aunty Graeme”. It was cute for a while but kinda got old. My sister thought it was pretty darn funny though.
  • Digby scores for Calgary but it’s being challenged. Andrew McBride tweeted that it’s inconclusive and the call on the floor stands but I don’t know if that’s his opinion or the actual call.
  • Good goal. Then Cupido scores right away and it’s tied at 9.
  • Before I finished typing that, Jones scored again to give Colorado the lead.
  • No updates for a while. Those peanuts were pretty good. Might have a few more. #protein
  • Oh wait, hashtags aren’t used in a blog.
  • McBride just tweeted that it’s “Been a well refereed game so far!” I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen anyone talk positively about refs during a game.
  • I think it’s raining again.
  • Only a handful of minutes left. No updates. <whistles>
  • <more whistling>
  • Under a minute left now… Calgary needs a last minute goal. If only they had a clutch goal scorer on their team.
  • Guess who. Dickson scores with 25 seconds left to tie it up. I swear I wrote that bit about “if only they had a clutch goal scorer” before the goal was scored.
  • This is fine. <sigh>

 

Overtime

  • OT goal-scorer predictions: Gotta go with Rosey and say Jones for Colorado and Dickson for Calgary. Though part of me thinks John Grant will step up and finish it like we’ve seen so many times before…
  • John Grant has twice as many OT goals (9) since 2005 as anyone else (Duch, Evans, Tavares, Pollock have 4 each).
  • F5 F5 F5 <more whistling> F5 F5 F5
  • So if I’m reading this correctly, the Roughnecks won.
  • Dane Dobbie with the winner and the Roughnecks are off to face the Rush. The Mammoth are now 1-8 all-time against the Roughnecks in the playoffs, but 0-7 in their last 7 meetings. The Roughnecks have knocked the Mammoth out of the playoffs in each of the last four years.

So that’s it for the first round. I didn’t get to see either game, but on the upside, I’m 2-0 in my picks so far. I also found that the new NLLTV.com thing does seem to let you watch games on replay, so maybe when I get home tomorrow I’ll watch the 4th quarter and OT of both games. Sure I’ll know the outcome but from the sounds of things, it’ll be pretty exciting anyway.