Lacrosse 101

If you’re new to the National Lacrosse League, it can sometimes be difficult to watch a game on NLL TV or Twitter Live because the broadcasters use terms you might be unfamiliar with. Many of the terms are similar to hockey or basketball and those ones are usually obvious. Sometimes a broadcaster will explain lacrosse-specific (or NLL-specific) terms, rules, and strategies, but not always.

If you’re in that category, don’t worry. At NLL Chatter, we’re here to help. I’ve done research on some lacrosse terms to find out what they mean so we can all be informed viewers.

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NLL Alternative Fact of the Day

It’s difficult to believe that these are all absolutely true:

  • John Grant Jr. won the Rookie of the Year award a record four straight years from 2000-2003.
  • The Toronto Rock used to have the highest attendance in the NLL, but dropped in the late 2000’s once the team’s dynasty ended. The attendance hasn’t recovered because people are still afraid Two for the Show will return.
  • Along with Gary and Paul, there is a third Gait brother, Steve. Unfortunately, he was a goalie and played against his brothers. His confidence was shattered at an early age and he never played again.
  • The Buffalo Bandits won 22 straight games from 1992-1994. 17 of these were defaults because the other team was too scared to show up for the game.
  • The Georgia Swarm have relocated more than any other team. They used to be the Washington Stealth and before that, the Arizona Sting, the Baltimore Thunder, and the Montreal Expos.
  • Kevin and Kyle Buchanan are the first father and son to play in the NLL together. Some people think it was Josh and Phil Sanderson but they’re brothers.
  • John Tavares is the all-time NLL leader in points, goals, assists, power play goals, loose balls, penalty minutes, faceoffs, saves, goals against average, rebounds, rushing yards, and slugging percentage with runners in scoring position during afternoon games on artificial turf.

One of the Buchanans. Don't know which.

Disclaimer of sorts: the Toronto Rock one is kind of an inside joke. Two for the Show are a “group” (two guys) who used to play between quarters at Rock games. One guy played bass and sang and the other played guitar and sang, and they had a drum machine behind them. They were pretty good music-wise (especially when the guitarist’s teenage daughter joined them to sing – she was really good) but because of a complicated situation at the All-Star game in 2006, my friends got the impression that I hated them.

Behind the scenes at the trade deadline

Phone rings

Curt Styres: Hello?
John Arlotta: Hi Curt, John Arlotta here, down in Georgia. How’re things up in Rochester?
Styres: Fine.
Arlotta: That’s great. Listen, we’ve only got an hour until the trade deadline. The Swarm are not currently in a playoff position so you know, we gotta do something. Also, I noticed that Cory Vitarelli seems to be hurt so you guys might be looking for a little bit more offense. I think maybe we can help each other.
Styres: OK.
Arlotta: Tell ya what. We’ll send you Josh Gillam for, say, a first round pick?
Styres: Dreaming.
Arlotta: Well, maybe that was a bit optimistic. What if we give you Gillam and Joe Maracle?
Styres: Nope.
Arlotta: What if we add in <shuffling papers> Randy Staa—OW! Ed, what’d you do that for? He’s a rookie? Oh. Sorry Curt, never mind that last idea. How about Gillam and Maracle for a couple of second round picks?
Styres: Third.
Arlotta: A second and a third? <mini-fist pump> OK, you drive a hard bargain, but we’ll call that a deal. Thanks man, but I have a couple of other calls to make so I’ll get my assistant to give you a call back to finalize things. See ya Curt! Nice talkin’ to ya.
Styres: Bye.

Phone rings

Steve Dietrich: Hello?
Arlotta: Hey Steve, John Arlotta calling.
Dietrich: If the word “Dhane” even comes out of your mouth, I’m hanging up.
Arlotta: No no no, I’m not after Dha… uh, him. Listen I was talking to a couple of my players, I don’t want to disclose any names you understand, but they were talking about this guy you’ve got on your roster but isn’t getting much playing time, and they thought maybe he might be a good fit with them.
Dietrich: Jerome, right?
Arlotta: Yeah, actually! You nailed it!
Dietrich: OK, so who are you thinking you’d send my way?
Arlotta: Well, <sniff> I just strongarmed a deal with Curt Styres and I have one other phone call to make, so I’m actually pretty happy with my roster right now, at least once we add Jerome in. So I was hoping a draft pick.
Dietrich: So Jerome and a draft pick for who?
Arlotta: No, you send us Jerome and we’ll send you a draft pick.
Dietrich: <silence>
Arlotta: Steve? You still there?
Dietrich: You’re sending me a draft pick?
Arlotta: Yeah, in exchange for Jerome Thompson. He’s not playing much right now so I’m thinking sixth round?
Dietrich: You are sending me a draft pick?
Arlotta: That’s the deal so far, is that OK?
Dietrich: Yeah, just let me confirm. I’m sending you Jerome Thompson and you’re sending me a sixth round draft pick? And I’m not sending you any draft picks? At all?
Arlotta: Yup, that’s it.
Dietrich: Ohhhhhh….kaaaaay.
Arlotta: Great! Listen Steve, love to chat but I have one more call to make so I gotta run.
Dietrich: Um, OK, bye John.

Phone rings

Derek Keenan: Hello?
Arlotta: Hey Derek, it’s John Arlotta. I was wondering if –
Keenan: No. <hangs up>

Rules of the NLL Drinking Game

How to get completely plastered while watching an NLL game:

  • When a player is referred to as a “weekend warrior” or his off-the-floor job is mentioned, DRINK. If he’s a firefighter or teacher, DRINK again
  • When the goaltender calls the trainer out to look at his equipment and the trainer simply applies more tape to his shoes, DRINK
  • When you miss a goal or great play because the online feed is showing the kiss cam or dance cam or some other shot of the audience, DRINK
  • When John Tavares is referred to as “ageless”, DRINK
  • When a player commits a blatantly obvious penalty and then stands looking at the ref with his arms outstretched in the classic “what did I do?” pose, DRINK
  • When a player’s name is mispronounced, DRINK
  • When the announcers try to explain a rule and get it wrong (or play is stopped or a penalty is given and they have no idea why), DRINK
  • When nobody is near the benches during play but the bench door is open, DRINK
  • When a goal is scored that the goalie wants back, DRINK
  • If a player and his brother are both playing in the game, DRINK
  • If a player is from Orangeville or Peterborough, DRINK
  • When a player or coach being interviewed talks about “sticking to our game plan” or “playing our game”, DRINK

Drink twice if it's the coach

How to stay completely sober while watching an NLL game:

  • When Major League Lacrosse (MLL) is mentioned by name, DRINK
  • If a head coach smiles during the game, DRINK. If he laughs, DRINK again. If it’s Troy Cordingley, CHUG the bottle

The Fresh Prince of Saskatchewan


Now, this is a story all about how
My lacrosse life got turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute, sit wherever you want,
And I’ll tell you how I became the prince of Saskatchewan.

In Edmonton, Alberta born and raised
In the boardroom was where I spent most of my days
Chillin’ and businessin’ all throughout the year
And watchin’ some lacrosse when the weekend’s here

For the first buncha years the team was no good
Hard to make money in this neighbourhood
But then Matthews, Church, and McIntosh came out the front door
Boldy, Dilks, ‘n Rubisch guard the far end of the floor

But the people never came and the city said no
And that’s when I figured that we had to go
Called a moving van, said “better be here soon”
Then I told the driver “Yo, home to Saskatoon!”

We pulled into the province down Highway 16
And I yelled to the people “Gotta brand new team!
We’re the best in the league, the best team in town,
And they’re owned by the Prince of Saskatchewan!”

(with apologies to Will Smith)


Many thanks to my friend John Lepp for the photoshop work!

NLL musical selections

Many teams play music in the dressing room to get ready for games, and I imagine every team makes different choices.

Here are the favourite musical selections for each NLL team in 2015.

Buffalo Bandits



Calgary Roughnecks



Colorado Mammoth

Mr. Jones


Edmonton Rush

We Are The Champions


Minnesota Swarm

Georgia On My Mind


New England Black Wolves



Rochester Knighthawks



Toronto Rock

Mr. Crowley


Vancouver Stealth

Pass The Dutchie

Top 5 good things about the NLL season being over

I love the NLL season. But there are some advantages now that it’s over:

1. I focus so much on lacrosse during the winter that I don’t have time to pay much attention to hockey. Now that lacrosse is over, I can get back to cheering on my beloved Maple Leafs!

Waiting for the Leafs game to start

2. On Saturday nights, instead of watching lacrosse games in BC and Alberta that don’t start until 10 pm, I can stay out and party until 3! Or go to bed at 10:30, which is far more likely. #OldGuyProblems

3. I can actually do real work while at work rather than watching replays of NLL games and writing blog posts while sending emails containing lots of computer-y buzzwords and hoping they make sense. “What did I do this week? I converted the RDBMS’s transactional compilation module using the latest encrypted LDAP SMTP synergistic managed portal.”

4. I can continue to work on my PhD dissertation in anthropology, entitled “Are sports fans more likely to cheer for teams whose names do not end in ‘s’?”

5. After five months of playing hard, it will be nice for the players to be able to relax instead of playing lacrosse all the time. Enjoy a few months of R&R boys, and you can dig your lacrosse sticks out of the closet around November for training camp.


Only 7 months until NLL season begins!

Shawn Evans: MVP? Maybe not

Shawn Evans has had an excellent 2015 NLL season. That’s unquestionable. But is he the league’s MVP? Some would argue yes, others may disagree. The Roughnecks are certainly campaigning in that direction. But you can’t just look at the points and assists records, there are other things to take into consideration. Let’s examine the pros and cons:

Pro: Outstanding offensive numbers:

  • Set a new record for points in a season with 130
  • Tied record (set the day before) for assists in a season with 83
  • 6th in league in goals (48), 1st in shorthanded goals (5)

Con: Some numbers not so great:

  • Only 4 power play goals, second-lowest among Calgary forwards
  • Only one forward (Cody Jamieson) spent more time in the penalty box
  • 0 face-off wins
  • 0 saves

Pro: Team player: led his team from 0-6 start into the playoffs

Con: Is he really a team player? He played ZERO games as backup goalie. Corbyn Tao has him beat there.

Pro: Three cute daughters, including twins born last year

Con: That was last year. Nothing this season. Plus, his wife arguably did most of the work

Pro: Already has his name on the trophy so getting the engraving spelled correctly won’t be an issue

Con: Already has his name on the trophy. NLL doesn’t like to give the MVP award to the same player more than once

Pro: First in every category among Shawns in the league.

Con: Middle of the pack among current or former NLL players named “S. Evans”, when listed alphabetically

Pro: If the other team has quick transition, can play pretty good defense

Con: Steals valuable playing minutes from Roughneck defenders

Pro: Proved that you don’t need to be big to be a great offensive player

Con: Josh Sanderson proved that years before

Pro: Good lookin’ dude.

Con: No cool braid like the Thompson boys.


Hmmmm… looks like the jury’s still out.


How do you say no to that?

(Photo credit: 120 Sports)

NLL players and their alternate careers

We all know that NLL players frequently have other jobs outside of being a lacrosse player. A number of them are teachers or firefighters. Former Toronto Rock players Dan Ladouceur and Bob Watson are police officers. There are white-collar and blue-collar workers. There are university and college students. And there are entrepreneurs who run their own businesses.

But some of the players external jobs are a little more unusual. For example, everyone knows that legendary Bandits forward and captain John Tavares is also the captain of the the New York Islanders in the NHL. Here are a few others you may not have known about.

Buffalo’s Shawn Williams is also a safety on the Cincinnati Bengals.

Rock captain Colin Doyle is not only a part-time lacrosse goaltender but also a full-time soccer goaltender in Ireland.

2012’s Rookie of the Year Adam Jones is a very busy guy. Not only does he play with Shawn Williams on the Bengals as both a cornerback and a video game character, but he also plays center field with the Baltimore Orioles in the summer, and in whatever spare time he has left, he’s the guitar player for the band Tool.

Jones is not the only part-time musician in the NLL; Buffalo’s Anthony Cosmo is the former rhythm guitar player of the band Boston, Bob Snider is a folk musician, and both Shawn Evans and John Grant are singer-songwriters. Both Snider and Grant look older with beards.

Calgary’s Andrew McBride does a little bodybuilding on the side. See his picture on the right. Hair makes a big difference in his case as well – he looks quite different with the short hair and without the ‘stache.

Edmonton forward Mark Matthews is a glass artist while teammate Jeremy Thompson is a former football player, having played for the Green Bay Packers back in 2008.

Toronto goalies Nick Rose and Brandon Miller are also both former football players. In 2013, Rose was a kicker for the University of Texas Longhorns, while Miller is a defensive end who’s played for the Falcons and Seahawks.

Paul Dawson has a Ph.D. in food science and when not protecting the Knighthawks from opposing forwards, he’s either teaching food and nutrition at Clemson University or producing hip hop artists under the name “Hollywood Hot Sauce“.

The most famous aside from Adam Jones is likely Vancouver forward Cliff Smith, who made a name for himself as rapper and producer Method Man before chucking it all for the relative obscurity of pro lacrosse.

And the oddest of them all: When Rochester’s Jordan Hall isn’t playing lacrosse, he transforms into a building, spending his time hosting concerts in Boston.

The twelve days of Christmas – NLL style

On the twelfth day of Christmas, George Daniel gave to me:

Twelve behind-the-back passes
Eleven goals against
Ten minute misconduct
Nine home games
Eight second rule
Seven big defenders
Six goals for socks
Five for fighting
Four air Gait’s
Three loose balls
Two guys named Dawson
And a seven-year CBA!

Merry Christmas to all from NLL Chatter!