More awesomes than not this week, though that’s usually the case. I try to be positive.
Week 4 had no games anyway, week 5’s were postponed, and week 6 was crazy busy. Here’s wassup.
Traded from Panther City to the Albany FireWolves, Beni joins his ninth NLL team (or eighth if you count the old Knighthawks and Halifax Thunderbirds together). Here’s how long Benesch has been around: when he was playing in his ninth season in the league, only one FireWolves forward (Joe Resetarits) had ever played a game in the NLL. There are only five franchises in the league he’s never been a part of: Philly (2.0), Rochester (2.0), Calgary, San Diego, and New York. He’s one of only 11 players to crack the 1000 career point plateau, and a sure-fire Hall of Famer. But more important than any of that for the FireWolves: he’s still an impact player who can help their offense. Benesch scored a couple in his Albany debut.
Colorado @ Vancouver
Vancouver started out with a 7-0 lead after less than five minutes. Dillon Ward wasn’t seeing the ball well, and everything the Warriors threw near the net went in. The over/under for this game was 21, and we hit that before halftime. But Colorado did the best thing they could have done – stay positive and keep chipping away at the lead. Before the third quarter was done, Colorado had tied it and taken a lead, and they ended up winning the game. Obviously the game (other than the first quarter) wasn’t awesome for the Warriors, but it certainly was for the Mammoth and for any non-Warriors fans watching.
Georgia @ Philly
After seeing a ton of goals scored on Friday night, we were treated to a defensive gem in a rare Saturday afternoon game in Philly. Only four goals were scored in the first half, and each team held the other scoreless in one quarter. Things opened up a bit in the second half but the game was tied at 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, and 10 before Ben McIntosh gave the Wings the lead with only a couple of minutes left. Lyle Thompson had five goals by that point, and the Wings wanted to make sure he wasn’t given the opportunity to score his sixth but to pay special attention to one player, you have to take your eyes off all the others just a little. Brendan Bomberry took full advantage of that and scored the game-tying goal with 0.6 seconds left on the clock. OT only lasted 15 seconds before Blaze Riorden scored to give the Wings the win, but the whole game was close and neither team was out of it until it was literally over, and you can’t ask for more than that.
Tucker out Lymphoma night
Not talking about the game here, just the event. (In fact, as a Rock fan, the game was definitely in the “not awesome” category. See below.) Hats off to the entire Bandits organization for doing this every year. Shawn Williams is one of the most well-respected players in league history, and what happened to his family must have been unbearable. But the Bandits have turned that tragedy into something positive for the Williams family, the lacrosse community as a whole, and the cancer hospitals that all the donation money goes to. It’s heartwarming to hear the players talk about it as not just another game, not just another fundraiser, but an important event. It really has turned into one of the biggest NLL events of the year, and it’s great to see the opposing teams (Toronto in this case) getting involved as well.
Every Child Matters
Speaking of important events… all of the NLL players wore special orange “Every Child Matters” shirts during warm-ups this past weekend. Panther City coach Tracey Kelusky even wore his under his blazer during the game. During halftime of all the games, there was an interview with Lyle Thompson talking about his family’s experiences with residential schools and why this day was so meaningful to them. This was a Halifax Thunderbirds initiative that the league adopted so shout out to the T-birds staff and all involved. If you don’t know anything about residential schools, go do some Googling and find out. If you’re not outraged when you’re done reading, go read it again since you obviously missed something.
These shirts are available for purchase so head over to the NLL Store and order one. FYI, I do not get commission or any kind of kickback for promoting that. I bought one myself.
Yes, once again we have an entry that basically boils down to “Pandemics suck”. All three games from week 5 and one from week 6 had to be postponed due to the skyrocketing numbers of the omicron variant of Covid-19. Once again, it sucks but it was the right decision. In addition to the players who have tested positive, it’s starting to hit broadcasters as well, as both Brendan Glasheen and Pat Gregoire have tested positive. As a result, we had some guys have to come in and do the broadcasts on a couple of days notice, and one guy (Dave Leno) did two different games on the same day. That part is awesome (and he did a great job on the games too), but the fact that it was required because of Covid is not.
Now we just have to hope things quieten down a little or we might be looking at another… no, I’m not going to say it.
Rock and Rush offense
The Rock were without two of their top offensive stars, as Dan Dawson was on the Covid protocol list and Tom Schreiber was with his wife who’s expecting their first child. As a result, Rob Hellyer had to shoulder a lot of the load and Challen Rogers had to move up front. In addition, they decided to shake things up a little (more) by having one player, usually Rogers, stand behind the net and quarterback from there. You see this in hockey all the time but I haven’t seen it much in lacrosse. It didn’t seem to work though, as the Rock could only scrape together 6 goals. The whole game, it seemed like the Rock were killing a penalty, even when playing 5-on-5. It’s like they just couldn’t keep up with the Bandits. Nick Rose played well and other than the first quarter, the Rock defense also played well or this could have been a real blowout.
As for the Rush, they set a new team record by only scoring five goals against the FireWolves. Robert Church scored three but nobody else scored more than one and nobody else had more than 5 shots on goal. I didn’t see much of this game so I can’t comment on what went wrong. Obviously Ben McIntosh and Marty Dinsdale are missing from last season but the team has had some time to deal with that. However Jeff Shattler was also out due to Covid and that had a big impact as well. The Rush are 1-3 to start the season and it’s a little early to be hitting the panic button in Saskatchewan just yet, but I’m sure Jeff McComb and Derek Keenan are keeping an eye on things.
Here it is: a complete summary of all the roster changes for each team, all in one place.
Note that these are the changes as of the final roster from last season, so a player might be listed as “In” even if he played for that team during 2020 (eg. Dhane Smith). And a player who’s injured but still part of that team will be listed as “out”. Not all teams have announced who’s on their IR, PUP, or holdout lists so take “None” with a grain of salt.
Teams and players are each listed in alphabetical order. This article will be updated as things change up until about a week into the season.
In: Curtis Conley, Charlie Kitchen, Jacob Ruest, Adrian Sorichetti, Tanner Thomson, Garrett Thul
Out: Adam Bomberry, Callum Crawford, Mack Mitchell, Tristain Rai, Creighton Reid
IR: Eric Shewell
PUP: Adam Bomberry
Holdout: Johnny Pearson
Practice Roster: Jackson Brown, Curtis Romanchych, Brad Smith
In: Kyle Buchanan, Connor Fields, Brad McCulley, Tehoka Nanticoke, Ethan O’Connor, Justin Robinson, Devlin Shanahan, Dhane Smith, Jordan Stouros
Out: Garrett Billings, Frank Brown, Doug Buchan, Mitch de Snoo, Matt Gilray, Jon Harnett, Dan Lintner, Ian MacKay, Corey Small
PUP: Frank Brown, Ian MacKay
Practice Roster: Tye Argent, Nolan Clayton, Sam LaRoue, Dalton Sulver
In: Tanner Cook, Landon Kells, Jesse King, Marshal King, Liam LeClair, Harrison Matsuoka, Carter McKenzie, Andrew Mullen, Ethan Ticehurst, Kyle Waters
Out: Tyson Bell, Tyler Burton, Chad Cummings, Dane Dobbie, Dereck Downs, Rhys Duch, Greg Harnett, Anthony Kalinich, Tyler Pace, Tyler Richards
IR: Tyler Burton
Practice Roster: Adam Bland, Lyndon Bunio, Tyler Pace, Cole Pickup
In: Jalen Chaster, Ron John, Sam LeClair, Connor Robinson, Erik Turner, Zed Williams
Out: Dan Coates, Brett Craig, Kyle Killen, Jake McNabb, Jacob Ruest, Jeff Wittig
Practice Roster: Nate Faccin, Noah Lebar, Brett McIntyre
In: Tanner Buck, TJ Comizio, Vaughn Harris, Jeff Henrick, Robert Hudson, Connor Kirst, Ethan Riggs, Thomas Semple, Ethan Walker, Craig Wende
Out: Alex Crepinsek, Zach Miller, Jason Noble, Kevin Orleman, Connor Sellars, Randy Staats, Leo Stouros, Miles Thompson, Zed Williams
Practice Roster: Laine Hruska, Russ Oakes, Aden Walsh
In: David Brock, Rhys Duch, Aaron Bold, Stephen Leblanc, Tyson Bell
Out: James Barclay, Ryan Benesch, Mike Burke, Pete Dubenski, Chet Koneczny
IR: James Barclay
Holdout: Brandon Robinson
Practice Roster: Cory Becker, Braden Hill, Ryan Terefenko, Connor Watson
New York Riptide
In: Andrew Borgatti, Callum Crawford, Scott Dominey, Damon Edwards, Leroy Halftown, Connor Keanan, Matt Marinier, Mack Mitchell, Steven Orleman, Adam Perroni, Darryl Robertson, Leo Stouros, Larson Sundown, Jeff Teat, Jay Thorimbert, Bryce Tolmie
Out: Tyson Bomberry, Alex Buque, Jean-Luc Chetner, Ryan Fournier, Scott Johnston, Myles Jones, Connor Kelly, Dan Lomas, Travis Longboat, Cody Radziewicz, John Ranagan, Pat Saunders, Ethan Schott, Andrew Suitor, John Wagner, Alex Woodall
IR: Ryan Fournier
PUP: Dan Lomas
Practice Roster: Will Johnston, Ty Thompson, Kris Veltman
Panther City LC
IR: Harrison Smith
Practice Roster: Taite Cattoni, Cam MacLeod, Ryan McLean, Liam Phillips
In: Alex Crepinsek, Angus Goodleaf, Kyle Marr, Ben McIntosh, John Ranagan, Jackson Suboch, Corey Small
Out: Kevin Buchanan, Liam Byrnes, Josh Currier, Brandon Miller, Liam Patten, Eric Shewell, Nate Wade
Practice Roster: ?
In: Charlie Bertrand, Dan Coates, Shawn Evans, Matt Gilray, Thomas Hoggarth, Evan Kirk, Ryan Smith, John Wagner, Jeff Wittig
Out: Dallas Bridle, Dylan Evans, Steve Fryer, Julian Garritano, Dan Michel, Liam Osborne, Darryl Robertson, Craig Wende
PUP: Mike Manley
Practice Roster: Tyler Halls, Mitch Ogilvie, Joel Watson
San Diego Seals
In: Dane Dobbie, Jacob Dunbar, Tre Leclaire, Mac O’Keefe, Patrick Shoemay, Chris Origlieri
Out: Kyle Buchanan, Nick Damude, Connor Fields, Connor Kearnan, Garrett MacIntosh, Austin Staats
IR: Tyler Garrison, Mikie Schlosser, Austin Staats
PUP: Tyson Bomberry, Jay Carlson, Teddy Leggett, Danny Logan, Devyn Mayea, Mike McCannell
Practice Roster: Mathieu Biossenault, Reed Rezanka, Skylar Whinery
In: Matt Beers, Josh Currier, Pete Dubenski, Bobby Kidd, Dan Lintner, Mike Mallory, Connor McClelland, Marshall Powless, Tristan Rai
Out: Travis Cornwall, Marty Dinsdale, Matt Hossack, Evan Kirk, Ben McIntosh, Austin Murphy, Connor Robinson, Justin Robinson, Jeremy Thompson
Practice Roster: Cameron Dunkerley, Clark Walter, Keegan White
In: Mitch de Snoo, Jamieson Dilks, Aaron Forster, Latrell Harris, Jason Noble, Justin Scott, Brandon Slade, Chris Weier
Out: David Brock, Sheldon Burns, Scott Dominey, Damon Edwards, Johnny Powless, Taylor Stuart, Alec Tulett
IR: Sheldon Burns
PUP: TD Ierlan
Practice Roster: Troy Holowchuk, Phil Mazzuca, Jordan McKenna
In: Reid Bowering, Alex Buque, Adam Charalambides, Marty Dinsdale, Steve Fryer, Anthony Kalinich, Kyle Killen, Garrett McIntosh, Brett Mydske, Justin Salt
Out: Matt Beers, Keegan Bell, Lyndon Bunio, Sam Clare, Nolan Clayton, Ian Hawksbee, Mike Mallory, Chris O’Dougherty, Eric Penney
Practice Roster: Keegan Bell, Isaac Bot, Brody Harris, Ryan Martel
When I posted my Who’s In, Who’s Out article last week, loyal reader Mike suggested creating a list of all family members in the NLL as well. I thought that was a fun idea, so here you go.
I’m only listing relationships if both players are on active or practice rosters or are NLL coaches or GMs. I made a couple of exceptions for IR or holdout lists too, but if I start to get into retired players, we’d be here all day.
The majority of these I’m sure of but there are a few that I’m only mostly sure of. I tried to confirm as many as I could but if I have any wrong, or I’m missing one, please leave a comment or find me on twitter and let me know!
Jon Harnett – brother of Greg Harnett, Calgary
Quinn Powless – cousin of Johnny Powless, Toronto
Dhane Smith – cousin of Billy Dee Smith, (assistant coach) Halifax, also cousin of Tyson Bell, Calgary
Tyson Bell –
nephew cousin of Billy Dee Smith, (assistant coach) Halifax, also cousin of Dhane Smith, Buffalo, also cousin of Latrell Harris, Toronto
Zach Currier – brother of Josh Currier, Philly
Greg Harnett – brother of Jon Harnett, Buffalo
Jesse King / Marshal King – brothers
Update: Tyson Bell’s mom told me that there was an article a few years back saying that Billy Dee Smith was Tyson’s uncle, but that was incorrect – they are cousins. That article is where I originally got my information from. Thanks for the correction!
Scott Carnegie – brother of Mike Carnegie, San Diego
Justin Goodwin – brother of Brandon Goodwin, Vancouver
Will Malcom – brother of Tony Malcom, New England
Brendan Bomberry – cousin of Adam Bomberry, New England and Tyson Bomberry, New York
Jason Noble – (twin) brother of Jeremy Noble, San Diego
Kevin Orleman / Steven Orleman – brothers
Randy Staats – brother of Austin Staats, San Diego
Lyle Thompson, Miles Thompson – brothers of Jeremy Thompson, Saskatchewan. The fourth Thompson brother, Haina (aka Jerome), also played for Georgia last season.
Graeme Hossack – brother of Matt Hossack, Saskatchewan
Cody Jamieson – nephew of Curt Styres, (GM) Halifax
Brandon Robinson – brother of Justin Robinson, Saskatchewan
Billy Dee Smith (assistant coach) –
uncle cousin of Dhane Smith, Buffalo, also cousin of Tyson Bell, Calgary
Adam Bomberry – cousin of Brendan Bomberry, Georgia and Tyson Bomberry, New York
Tony Malcom – brother of Will Malcom, Colorado
Tyson Bomberry – cousin of Brendan Bomberry, Georgia and Adam Bomberry, New England
Tyson Gibson – son of Darryl Gibson, (assistant coach) New England
Gale Thorpe – son of Regy Thorpe, (GM / head coach) New York
Josh Currier – brother of Zach Currier, Calgary
Paul Dawson – brother of Dan Dawson, Toronto
Shawn Evans / Turner Evans – cousins
Mike Carnegie – brother of Scott Carnegie, Colorado
Zack Greer – brother of Bill Greer, (assistant coach) San Diego
Garrett McIntosh – brother of Ben McIntosh, Saskatchewan
Brodie Merrill – brother of Patrick Merrill, (GM / head coach) San Diego
Evan Messenger – cousin of Mike Messenger, Saskatchewan
Jeremy Noble – (twin) brother of Jason Noble, Georgia
Tor Reinholdt – brother of Reid Reinholdt, Toronto
Austin Staats – brother of Randy Staats, Georgia
Travis Cornwall / Jeff Cornwall – brothers
Ryan Dilks – brother of Jamison Dilks, Toronto
Matt Hossack – brother of Graeme Hossack, Halifax
Ryan Keenan – son of Derek Keenan, (GM / head coach) Saskatchewan
Ryan Keenan / Luke Keenan – cousins
Luke Keenan – nephew of Derek Keenan, (GM / head coach) Saskatchewan
Ben McIntosh – brother of Garrett McIntosh, San Diego
Mike Messenger – cousin of Evan Messenger, San Diego
Justin Robinson – brother of Brandon Robinson, Halifax
Brett Mydske – brother of Reid Mydske, Vancouver
Jeremy Thompson – brother of Lyle Thompson and Miles Thompson, Georgia
Dan Dawson – brother of Paul Dawson, Rochester
Jamison Dilks – brother of Ryan Dilks, Saskatchewan
Latrell Harris – cousin of Tyson Bell, Calgary
Johnny Powless – cousin of Quinn Powless, Buffalo
Reid Reinholdt – brother of Tor Reinholdt, San Diego
Brandon Goodwin – brother of Justin Goodwin, Colorado
Reid Mydske – brother of Brett Mydske, Saskatchewan
Yesterday I started with the North division, today we’ll cover the East. Where I think they will end up in the standings and who might have a breakout year.
Take a team that finished second in the division last year, add Joel White and Jordan Hall, and give their goalie a ton of confidence with a Mann Cup, Mann Cup MVP award, and a WILC Championship over the summer and what do you get? The top team in the east, that’s what. Lyle and Miles, Randy, and Shayne already made an impressive top-four, possibly the best in the league, and adding Hall and two former transition guys in Zed Williams and Bryan Cole rounds out an amazing offense. Their D is mostly the same as last year and transition has been improved as well with the addition of White and Kason Tarbell, who impressed at the WILC’s.
Look out for
Zed Williams has flown under the radar for a while as a scoring threat but no longer.
First in the east.
New England has added a few players to their offense that could make a significant difference. Andrew Kew was expected to be the #1 draft choice and while New York seems quite happy with Tyson Gibson, I think the Wolves are equally happy that Kew fell to third. Losing Tyler Digby’s size and strength will hurt but the additions of Jordan Durston and Tony Malcom will offset that. Durston, in particular, is good at digging out loose balls and creating space up the middle, and giving guys like Stephan Leblanc and Callum Crawford extra chances or more space is not good for opposing goalies. After an excellent 2018, Joe Resetarits picked up 34 extra points in 2018 over 2017, but dropped 33 in 2019. One of those two years was probably an anomaly, so perhaps a full season with the Black Wolves will tell us which.
Defense consists of three seasoned veterans in Manney, LaFontaine, and newcomer Creighton Reid along with a bunch of guys under 25. The goalies are young too – Doug Jamieson will be in his second season as a starter, but he’s only 24 and backup Ethan Woods is a rookie.
Look out for
Jordan Durston won’t score 100 points, but he could climb back to the 60-70 point range that he hit in 2018 with the Bandits.
Second in the east.
Last season we talked about the Seals as “not looking like an expansion team”, and they finished above .500 and hosted a playoff game. The Rochester Knighthawks, in my opinion, may not have quite that level of success but they look pretty good too. The Riptide look a little more like your typical expansion team – some vets here and there but lots of unproven players with a year or two of experience and a bunch of rookies. That’s not to say they’re definitely going to suck. Guys like McArdle and Digby know how to find the back of the net, and Tyson Gibson was selected first overall for a reason.
Ranagan, MacRae, Suitor and Manley are all solid veteran D guys, but I have concerns about Alex Buque as the starting goalie. He had that job in both Buffalo and New England and lost it in both cases. He’s obviously a year older and more experienced now so maybe this is his shot – and maybe on a team with no expectations, he’ll get consistent starts and minutes which can only help.
Like I said, I’m not saying they will definitely be bad, but there are too many question marks for me.
Look out for
Tyler Digby had a resurgence in New England last year. He has the most NLL experience of any forward and so is likely to become the de facto leader of the offense.
Fourth in the east.
The Wings have made a lot of changes this year. Both goalies are out, and guys like Dylan Evans, Jordan Hall, and Vaughn Harris are also gone. But the Wings will get Brett Hickey back after missing most of last year, and have also added Cory Vitarelli and Kevin Buchanan to their offense. Along with Kevin Crowley, Blaze Riorden, and Josh Currier, that’s a pretty decent offense. Matt Rambo was a Rookie of the Year candidate last year and then was the scoring leader, league MVP, and Championship game MVP over the summer in the PLL – if he can inject some of the intensity and raw skill he showed in the PLL into the Wings, look out.
The new faces on offense will allow Kiel Matisz to stick with transition, not that having him play offense was a problem.
All three goalies from last season are gone, replaced by Zach Higgins and the un-retired Brandon Miller. I expect Higgins to get most of the minutes with Miller as backup and part-time unofficial goalie coach. Higgins was a starter for the 2015 Swarm but has been a backup ever since. The defense in front of Higgins or Miller is quite young and inexperienced with the exception of Matisz and 13-year veteran Ian Llord. When Llord played his first NLL game, Wings rookie Alex Pace was eight years old.
Look out for
Brett Hickey, I’m sure, has been itching to get back on the floor since he was injured in the third game last year. I expect him to put up some serious numbers this year.
Third in the east.
Here are my predictions for the final regular season standings as well as the major annual awards. The “Dark Horse” predictions are my “not as likely but could happen” picks.
I’ve also included my picks for overall standings in parens after the team name.
- Toronto Rock (4)
- Buffalo Bandits (7)
- Halifax Thunderbirds (9)
- Rochester Knighthawks (10)
- Georgia Swarm (1)
- New England Black Wolves (6)
- Philadelphia Wings (11)
- New York Riptide (13)
- Calgary Roughnecks (2)
- Saskatchewan Rush (3)
- San Diego Seals (5)
- Colorado Mammoth (8)
- Vancouver Warriors (12)
Goaltender of the Year
Winner: Christian Del Bianco
Short list: Dillon Ward, Mike Poulin, Matt Vinc
Dark horse: Frank Scigliano
Defensive Player of the Year
Winner: Kyle Rubisch
Short list: Graeme Hossack, Steve Priolo
Dark horse: Brad Kri
Transition Player of the Year
Winner: Zach Currier
Short list: Challen Rogers, Joey Cupido
Dark horse: Kiel Matisz
Rookie of the Year
Winner: Andrew Kew
Short list: Ryland Rees
Same disclaimer as previous years: I don’t follow MSL or WLA in enough detail to really have a good idea. Just going by what I’ve heard on podcasts and read on IL Indoor and Twitter and such.
Les Bartley Award
Winner: Ed Comeau
Short list: Derek Keenan, Pat Coyle
Dark horse: Mike Hasen
GM of the Year
Winner: Patrick Merrill
Short list: Rich Lisk, Dan Richardson if the Warriors finish above .500
Dark horse: Dan Carey
Here it is: a complete summary of all the roster changes for each team, all in one place.
Note that these are the changes as of the final roster from last season, so a player might be listed as “In” even if he played for that team during 2019. And a player who’s injured but still part of that team will be listed as “out”. Not all teams have announced who’s on their IR, PUP, or holdout lists.
Teams and players are each listed in alphabetical order. This article will be updated as things change up until about a week into the season.
In: Doug Buchan, Steve Dietrich (coach) Marcus Minichiello, Brent Noseworthy, Quinn Powless
Out: Jordan Durston, Shawn Evans, Zach Higgins, Rich Kilgour (coach) Thomas Hoggarth, Ethan O’Connor
PUP: Thomas Hoggarth, Ethan O’Connor
Practice Roster: Okaeme Chukwuemeka, Devlin Shanahan
In: Haiden Dickson, Marshall King, Liam LeClair, Ryan Martel
Out: Reece Callies, Rhys Duch, Riley Loewen, Dan MacRae
IR: Reece Callies
PUP: Rhys Duch
Practice Roster: Travis Getz, Landon Kells, Nick Scott, Sean Tyrrell
In: Tyler Carlson, Brett Craig,
Carter Dickson, Warren Jeffrey, Dylan Kinnear, Will Malcom, Dylan Molloy, Josh Sullivan
Out: Steve Fryer, Julian Garritano, Steven Lee, Ian Llord, Jeremy Noble, Brad Self, Cory Vitarelli,
Chris Wardle, Jeff Wittig
Chris Wardle, Jeff Wittig
Practice Roster: Carter Dickson, Ilija Gajic,
Justin Goodwin, Jake McNabb, Erik Turner
In: Jordan Hall, Ryan McSpadyen, Kason Tarbell, Joel White
Out: Holden Cattoni, Tyler Ferreira, Haina Thompson, Joel Tinney, Craig Wende
IR: Zach Miller
PUP: Jordan Gillis, Justin Lemcke
Practice Roster: TJ Comizio, Steven Orleman, Sergio Perkovic
In: Cory Becker, Scott Campbell, Pete Dubenski, Eric Fannell, Stephen Keogh, Clarke Petterson, Trevor Smyth, Nonkon Thompson
Out: Angus Goodleaf, Oran Horn, Mike Manley, Darryl Robertson, Brandon Robinson, Dawson Theede, Mike Triolo, Luke Van Schepen
IR: Luke Van Schepen
Practice Roster: Johnny Jimerson, Chet Koneczny, Brandon Robinson, Clay Scanlon
In: Jordan Durston, Andrew Kew, John LaFontaine, Ty Logan, Tony Malcom, Joe Nardella, Creighton Reid, Ethan Woods
Out: David Brock, Kevin Buchanan, Alex Buque, Joel Coyle, Tyler Digby, Greg Downing, Ryan Fournier, Andrew Suitor
PUP: Greg Downing
Practice Roster: Bailey Brown, Mike Byrne, Tristan Rai, Joel Tinney
PUP: Ryan Brown, Angus Goodleaf, Matt Kavanagh, Jack Rowlett
Holdout: Brier Jonathan, Dawson Theede, Kurtis Woodland
Protected: Myles Jones
Practice Roster: Jake Fox, Scott Johnston, Adam Osika, John Wagner
In: Kevin Buchanan, Nick Finlay, Brett Hickey, Zach Higgins, Anthony Joaquim, Ian Llord, Brandon Miller, Alex Pace, Liam Patten, Cory Vitarelli, Nate Wade, Ryan Wagner
Out: Gowah Abrams, Matthew Bennett, Frank Brown, Doug Buchan, Dylan Evans, Justin Guterding, Jordan Hall, Vaughn Harris, Chet Koneczny, Adam Osika, Eric Shewell
Practice Roster: Matt Mariner, Kyle Marr, Austin Pifani, Daryl Waud
IR: Tyler Biles
PUP: Frank Brown, Travis Burton, Zac Reid
Practice Roster: Julian Garritano, Adam Perroni, Dustyn Pratt
In: Wes Berg, Graydon Bradley, Mike Carnegie, Nick Damude, Garrett Epple, Mark Glicini, Eli Gobrecht, Zack Greer, Evan Messenger, Jeremy Noble, Matt Sykes
Out: Garrett Billings, Tyler Carlson, Dan Dawson, Paul Dawson, Turner Evans, Kyle Hartzell, Casey Jackson, Connor Kelly, Brendan Ranford, Adrian Sorichetti, Joe Walters
IR: Casey Jackson, Johnny Pearson, Austin Staats
“Inactive Roster”: Oliver Bolsterli, Zach Bryant, Austin Divitcos, Devyn Mayea
Practice Roster: Jules Heningburg, Dylan Riley, Mikie Schlosser, Ethan Schott
In: Ryan Dilks, Holden Garlent, Ryan McLean, Austin Murphy, Justin Robinson
Out: Nik Bilic, Scott Campbell, Nick Finlay, Curtis Knight, Brett Mydske
Holdout: Jeff Cornwall
Draft list: Luke Keenan
Practice Roster: Cameron Dunkerley, Zach Gould, Tanner Thomson
In: David Brock, Dan Dawson, Scott Dominey, Damon Edwards, Josh Jubenville, Zach Manns
Out: Phil Caputo, Dan Lintner, Kieran McArdle, Creighton Reid, Brock Sorensen, Jay Thorimbert
IR: Aaron Forster
PUP: Brock Sorensen
Practice Roster: Jamison Dilks, Mitch Gustavsen, Troy Holowchuk, Alec Simons
In: Nik Bilic, Sam Clare, Derek Lloyd, Riley Loewen, Mike Mallory, Chris O’Dougherty, Patrick O’Meara, James Rahe, Justin Salt, Bob Snider
Out: Jean-Luc Chetner, Zac Christianson, Brody Eastwood, Tony Malcom, Reid Mydske, Zack Porter, Jarrett Toll, Dallas Wade, Nate Wade
IR: Andrew Gallant, Joel McCready, Zack Porter, Mason Pynn
Practice Roster: Keegan Bell, Lyndon Bunio, Reid Mydske, Tyson Roe
The Calgary Roughnecks signed Dane Dobbie to a multi-year contract last week. Considering Dobbie had a career year in 2019 and was deservedly named both season MVP and Championship MVP, it’s hard to argue against this, regardless of the term or money he was asking for. But when the NLL tweeted about it, they used a goat icon and I had to roll my eyes.
GOAT stands for Greatest Of All Time and it’s become a term that, in my opinion, is thrown around far too easily in the sports world. By definition, there can be only one GOAT in each sport. There may be controversy as to who it is, but there aren’t lots of them. I don’t think it’s a hot take to say that Dane Dobbie is not the greatest player in NLL history (despite his teammates saying he is). The hot take might be: he’s not even in the top ten. But that’s an article for another time.
Of course you can add your own qualifiers, and a player may be the GOAT of a certain subset of players. As Jake Elliott pointed out, the NLL probably meant that Dobbie is the Roughnecks GOAT, not the GOAT. That’s totally fair and Jake is quite likely right.
But that got me thinking: what about the other teams? Who is their GOAT? Some are obvious – Buffalo comes to mind – while others are more contentious.
One question we have to answer first is what do we mean by this? Is it the best player to ever wear that uniform, or is it the best player to ever have an impact in that uniform? For example, you could argue that the second Dan Dawson takes the floor as a member of the Toronto Rock this coming season, before he’s even touched the ball, he’s among the top three players ever to wear the Rock jersey. But is that meaningful?
For this article, I’m going to say that it’s not good enough to simply have worn a team’s jersey, you have to have played there for a significant amount of time. However I’m not going to define “significant” with specific guidelines (e.g. you have to have played x games or x seasons or have won some sort of major award). Just going with my gut here.
I’m going to skip the expansion Knighthawks 2.0 and Riptide for obvious reasons and also the Wings 2.0 and Seals since they have only played a single season.
Buffalo – Tough one, but I’m going to go with someone who many consider to be the GOAT of the league, if not the entire sport of box lacrosse. Of course it’s John Tavares.
Calgary – My “tough one” for the Bandits was obviously in jest but this really is a tough one. If you go with the “just wearing the jersey” rule, I’d put Josh Sanderson and Shawn Evans at the top of that list. Sanderson played two full seasons and part of a third and while they were outstanding seasons and included a championship, he’s more associated with the Rock. Evans is a tougher call because he played four seasons including two with 110+ points and one MVP trophy. The guy who started this whole conversation, Dane Dobbie, has played 12 seasons (all with Calgary), won two Championships, and is the incumbent MVP. Jeff Shattler was an MVP and played eleven great seasons in Calgary so he has to be considered. Kaleb Toth was never an MVP but was the quintessential Roughneck for years. What about Tracey Kelusky? Higher point averages than Shattler or Toth, and team captain for their 2009 title.
Given his longevity, I’m going with Dobbie.
Colorado – Is it John Grant or Gary Gait? Gait only played three years with the Mammoth while Grant played seven (well, six plus two games in the seventh). Interestingly, their points-per-game numbers are almost identical: Grant averaged 5.632 points per game over 98 games while Gait averaged 5.625 in 48 games. If Gait had played 98 games with the Mammoth like Grant did, he’d have 551 points. Grant has 552. Both won an MVP award with the Mammoth and neither won a Championship (Gait did as a coach), so basically, they were the same guy. Grant played twice as long in Colorado as Gait did so I’m going with Grant.
Georgia (including Minnesota) – If you just consider the four seasons in Georgia, I think the obvious choice would be Lyle Thompson. But if you include the Minnesota years, Callum Crawford and Ryan Benesch jump into the mix. They each had slightly higher points-per-game numbers than Thompson, but even at their peak, I don’t think either of them were as good overall as Thompson is.
Halifax – (as the Rochester Knighthawks) John Grant is the obvious choice because he’s one of the best players in the history of the league. But Matt Vinc has to be considered here. Grant won one Championship and an MVP award in his ten seasons with the Knighthawks. Vinc won three titles and about a hundred Goaltender of the Year awards. Grant’s dominance with the Knighthawks cannot be overlooked (he had an eight-year stretch with seven 90+ point seasons and only played five games in the eighth) but Vinc is probably the best goaltender of the last decade and definitely top three all-time. I honestly cannot decide so I’m taking the easy way out and calling it a tie.
New England* – Again Shawn Evans jumps out. He only played 2½ years in New England but averaged over six points per game in the two full seasons. Another candidate would be Kevin Crowley, who played most of four seasons with the Black Wolves. He wasn’t quite as dominant with the numbers but Crowley is great off-ball and defensively as well so his numbers don’t show how good he is. I’m going to go with Evans here.
Saskatchewan (including Edmonton) – Mark Matthews was my first thought but Kyle Rubisch is probably the better choice. Matthews has been a top-10 offensive player for his entire career (top 5 for most of it) but there was a four year period where Rubisch was hands down the best defensive player in the league, and he remains in the top three now.
Toronto – I’m going with Colin Doyle not only because he was an outstanding player (#4 in career scoring) but a great captain as well. Like Matt Vinc in Rochester, Bob Watson also needs to be considered. Josh Sanderson is right up there too, and Jim Veltman and Brodie Merrill were also great players and great captains.
Vancouver (including the entire franchise history) – I wondered about Lewis Ratcliff, Gary Rosyski, Colin Doyle, and even Josh Sanderson from the Albany Attack days. But in the end, it’s got to be Rhys Duch. Duch averaged about 5.4 points per game over ten seasons with the San Jose, Washington, and Vancouver Stealths. He led the team in goals, assists, and points in four straight seasons and was either first or second in those categories in three more. He was the face of the Stealth for a decade which is why it was so surprising that they unceremoniously released him before last season. Hey, can someone remind me who scored the OT goal that gave Calgary the 2019 Championship? I forget.
* Maybe others don’t have this problem, but I find it hard to think of the Black Wolves as a continuation of the old Philadelphia Wings. As a result, I didn’t consider Wings players for the Black Wolves GOAT, even though I did consider previous teams in the Vancouver and Georgia franchises. But the Wings were around for 28 years, so they shouldn’t be just tossed aside. For the Wings, I’d have to choose between Tom Marechek (12 years, four Championships, 773 points) and Dallas Eliuk (again, top 3 goalie of all time). Gary Gait only played five seasons in Philly but was named MVP in three of them (in a row), so he’s got to be up there too. I’m going to go with Eliuk.
Winter is coming.
And this is good, because winter is NLL season! The 2019-2020 NLL season begins on November 29, which is only eleven weeks from now. In fact by the time you read this, it will be less than eleven weeks from now. The league released the schedule for the upcoming season this week, just ahead of next week’s entry draft. Of course the timing is done by design since now that the summer championships (President’s Cup, Minto, Mann, etc.) are done, there ain’t much happening in the box lacrosse world right now.
I imagine the last few weeks have been a nightmare for NLL GMs, and the next couple won’t be much better. The second expansion draft in two years is coming up in a couple of weeks so each GM had to go through their roster and choose eleven players to protect, knowing they could lose anyone not on that list. Then you need to call more than half of your players and tell them they’re not protected. Then you will lose two of them and need to adjust your team afterwards. Luckily they have five months or so before the season starts to do that. Just like last year’s draft, some GMs will have some big holes to fill after the draft, others might barely notice the difference.