NLL Week 1

Finally, the NLL is back! In previous years, I wrote an article on each game I attended (last season, not so much) but I saved the commentary on other games and such for the Addicted to Lacrosse podcast, which I hosted for about eight years along with Tyler Fitch and Melissa Dafni. We’re not doing that anymore, so I need a place to vent talk about the goings-on in the league, so that’s here. I’ll do a wrap-up article each week, summarizing my thoughts on what happened the previous weekend.

I’m going to do this using an Awesome / Not Awesome format like we used to do on Addicted to Lacrosse. Awesome is, obviously, things that were awesome. Not awesome is everything else – not necessarily things that suck, though they’d be included, but there may also be things that happened that I’m just not sure about. In general, I try to be positive and have more awesomes than not, but I can’t guarantee that.

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Game report: Albany @ Toronto

Saturday night began the next chapter in the story of the Toronto Rock, their first game at the First Ontario Centre in Hamilton. The team made no secret of the fact that this was a cost-cutting measure; Scotiabank Arena is one of the most expensive arenas in North America to rent, and owner Jamie Dawick has said that he needed attendance of 12k just to break even there. That requirement is almost certainly lower at First Ontario Centre.

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2022: Who’s in, Who’s out

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.

FireWolvesAlbany FireWolves

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


BanditsBuffalo Bandits

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
IR: None
PUP: Frank Brown, Ian MacKay
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Tye Argent, Nolan Clayton, Sam LaRoue, Dalton Sulver


RoughnecksCalgary Roughnecks

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
PUP: None
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Adam Bland, Lyndon Bunio, Tyler Pace, Cole Pickup


MammothColorado Mammoth

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
IR: None
PUP: None
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Nate Faccin, Noah Lebar, Brett McIntyre


SwarmGeorgia Swarm

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
IR: None
PUP: None
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Laine Hruska, Russ Oakes, Aden Walsh


ThunderbirdsHalifax Thunderbirds

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
PUP: None
Holdout: Brandon Robinson
Practice Roster: Cory Becker, Braden Hill, Ryan Terefenko, Connor Watson


RiptideNew 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
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Will Johnston, Ty Thompson, Kris Veltman


Panther CityPanther City LC

In: Everybody
Out: Nobody
IR: Harrison Smith
PUP: None
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Taite Cattoni, Cam MacLeod, Ryan McLean, Liam Phillips


WingsPhiladelphia Wings

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
IR: None
PUP: None
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: ?


KnighthawksRochester Knighthawks

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
IR: None
PUP: Mike Manley
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Tyler Halls, Mitch Ogilvie, Joel Watson


SealsSan 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
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Mathieu Biossenault, Reed Rezanka, Skylar Whinery


RushSaskatchewan Rush

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
IR: None
PUP: None
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Cameron Dunkerley, Clark Walter, Keegan White


RockToronto Rock

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
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Troy Holowchuk, Phil Mazzuca, Jordan McKenna


WarriorsVancouver Warriors

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
IR: None
PUP: None
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Keegan Bell, Isaac Bot, Brody Harris, Ryan Martel


The Rock Relocate: Thoughts from a Hamiltonian

It’s a little bit of hyperbole, but not a lot: the lacrosse landscape in southern Ontario changed dramatically this week.

Of course, we all know now that the Toronto Rock are sort-of relocating, and by “sort-of” I mean that they are remaining the Toronto Rock but will be playing their home games in Hamilton for at least the next five years. The jersey and logo will be the same, the staff and roster will be the same, everything to do with the TRAC will be the same, but when the team bus leaves the TRAC for home games, it’ll head west on the QEW instead of east.

For me personally, this is great news. I live in Waterdown, which is part of the city of Hamilton, and my house is about 10 km from the First Ontario Centre. If a game ends at 10:30pm, I’m easily home by 11, and that’s if I stroll to the parking garage. There are not that many people who can say that the relocation of their nearest NLL team is good news, but I imagine Rock fans anywhere from Oakville to Kitchener-Waterloo to Six Nations are all pretty pleased with this move. Fans in Banditland who like to cross the border for Rock games just found their travel time cut in half.

Downtown Hamilton

(Image: downtown Hamilton. The tall black building in the middle is Stelco Tower. Just to the left of it, you can see part of the white roof of the First Ontario Centre.)

Of course, that’s not the case for thousands of others coming from north or east of Toronto. I know my friends in Newmarket and Stouffville have decisions to make, not to mention my friends downtown who used to be able to walk home after Rock games. There are likely a ton of people from Peterborough who are willing to make the hour-and-a-half-in-good-traffic drive downtown for Rock games, and they will all have to decide if they are willing to add an extra hour-in-good-traffic to each direction of that trip. Remember too that most NLL games occur in the dead of winter, and so the “in-good-traffic” part can really come into play.

The Rock have said that they plan to have most home games on Saturday evenings, so the Monday-Friday 9-5 crowd won’t have to worry so much about getting from work to the arena. But make no mistake, I’m not dismissing the additional travelling a great many fans will have to do if they want to see the games in person. It’s a big deal and I wouldn’t blame anyone for deciding to either scale back from season tickets to going to a game or two per season, or just not going at all.

Rock owner and GM Jamie Dawick said that ticket prices will be lower in Hamilton, and things like parking and concessions will be cheaper as well. I am looking forward to paying less than $6 for a can-sized bottle of Coke Zero.

The Rock are returning to the same place where the franchise began, as the Ontario Raiders back in 1998. But they only played there a year before moving to Toronto where their popularity skyrocketed. But after five Championships and seven straight years of 15,000+ attendance, the Rock’s numbers dropped to around 10,000 in 2010, and haven’t recovered, which brings us to where we are now. I’m pretty sure Dawick said a few years ago that he needs attendance of 10,000 per game just to break even. [Aside: I have a feeling I’m misremembering that and the number is actually higher.]

Half of the 65 Rock home games since 2015 have been below 10k and only two have been above 12k. Surely nobody expects Dawick to continue losing tons of money every year renting the Scotiabank Arena. Does it suck for many Rock fans who don’t live west of the city? Absolutely it does, but it’s a business decision. I’m impressed he stuck it out this long.

Another odd part of this whole scenario is the fact that Toronto and Hamilton have been sports rivals forever, mainly the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats. This is a rivalry that compares to that of the Maple Leafs and Canadiens, and so I’ve seen comments that this endeavour will fail because any real Hamiltonian wouldn’t be caught dead supporting a team with Toronto in the name.

But I’ve lived in Hamilton for almost 25 years. I don’t buy it.

No, I don’t see a lot of Argos gear around town, but that’s because Hamilton has its own team. I do see Leafs, Blue Jays, and Raptors gear all over the place. I personally have worn shirts and jerseys from all three of those teams (plus the Rock of course, and I even have a Toronto FC hat), and nobody in Hamilton has ever mentioned anything to me about having a problem supporting Toronto teams.

Nonetheless, the fact that a team with Toronto in the name will play its home games in Hamilton is a little unusual. According to people on twitter, only the San Francisco 49ers play their home games further away from the city they’re named for (in a normal non-pandemic year, anyway). Now, the Vancouver Stealth didn’t pull in great numbers when they played 40 km away from Vancouver in Langley, but let’s be honest, the team wasn’t very good. The Chicago Shamrox also didn’t pack the building in Hoffman Estates, 53 km away, but they weren’t great either and they were only given two seasons to figure it out.

The Rock were 7-4 during 2020’s partial season and 12-6 in 2019. There’s no reason to believe they won’t at least contend in the North division next season. The team may not be the powerhouse team they were in Toronto in 1999, but Toronto fans who make their way down the QEW for Rock games next season should still see a strong team and entertaining games. Other than transportation costs, they’ll also spend less money to do it.

I have intentionally refrained from making any predictions about how successful the team will be in Hamilton. The Ontario Raiders averaged 4,810 people per game in 1998. But that was an expansion team in an unknown league. Thanks to 22 seasons of the Toronto Rock, the lacrosse scene in southern Ontario is quite different now, and so I don’t think comparisons to the Raiders are really meaningful. Even if they don’t pack the building every night, the lower arena costs will hopefully mean the team can stay alive. Moving the team to Hamilton may not be good news for many Rock fans, but I’m sure most will agree that it’s preferable to losing the team entirely.

I did not grow up watching the Rock play. I was in my early thirties before I ever saw a lacrosse game. But an entire generation of lacrosse players, broadcasters, and fans have grown up in southern Ontario with the Rock as a major part of their lacrosse world. Things will be different going forward but hopefully the new location will allow the Rock to continue to be a huge influence on the lacrosse community in this area.

Game review: New England @ Toronto

Lacrosse is back! The 2019-2020 NLL season started last weekend and the Rock’s home opener was Saturday night. Dan Dawson and David Brock both made their debuts with the Rock, while Jordan Durston and rookie Andrew Kew made their Black Wolves debuts. This was a back-and-forth game for a while… until it wasn’t.

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Family connections in the NLL

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!

Buffalo

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

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!

Colorado

Scott Carnegie – brother of Mike Carnegie, San Diego
Justin Goodwin – brother of Brandon Goodwin, Vancouver
Will Malcom – brother of Tony Malcom, New England

Georgia

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.

Lyle, Miles, and Haina Thompson (photo credit: Corey Knapp)

Halifax

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

New England

Adam Bomberry – cousin of Brendan Bomberry, Georgia and Tyson Bomberry, New York
Tony Malcom – brother of Will Malcom, Colorado

New York

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

Philadelphia

Josh Currier – brother of Zach Currier, Calgary

Rochester

Paul Dawson – brother of Dan Dawson, Toronto
Shawn Evans / Turner Evans – cousins

San Diego

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

Saskatchewan

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

Toronto

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

Vancouver

Brandon Goodwin – brother of Justin Goodwin, Colorado
Reid Mydske – brother of Brett Mydske, Saskatchewan

2020 NLL North preview

This is my first-ever NLL North division preview! Here’s where I think each team will end up in the standings and who might have a breakout year.

BanditsBuffalo Bandits

The Bandits went to the finals last year, but have since lost Shawn Evans, Jordan Durston, and Thomas Hoggarth and replaced them all with Quinn Powless. That’s not to say that Dhane Smith, Corey Small, Chase Fraser, Josh Byrne, and Chris Cloutier aren’t a formidable offense, but that’s a lot of firepower to lose in one year. Defense looks pretty good and transition could be excellent. Back in the net, Matt Vinc is still Matt Vinc.

Look out for

Josh Byrne was headed for an excellent season in 2019 but missed half the season with an injury. Assuming he’s fully healthy, he could blow the doors off the East North division.

Prediction

Second in the north.


Thunderbirds-smallHalifax Thunderbirds

Last year’s Knighthawks had a lousy season up until April, when they won four of their last five. Halifax has made a few changes throughout their roster, but if you take Jamieson, Shanks, Boushy, and Jackson and add a full season of Ryan Benesch and Stephen Keogh as well as the highly touted Clarke Petterson, that’s a pretty solid group of forwards. Defense has lots of young guys and a few vets to show the way, but they also have Graeme Hossack, probably the best defender in the league right now. Warren Hill started last season as the backup but finished strong, playing every minute of those late-season wins with a save percentage above 80% in all of them (and almost 90% in one). Playing at that level for the entire season is a tall order but he’ll need to be in that ballpark for the Thunderbirds to compete with the Bandits and Rock.

Look out for

Warren Hill. In his first year as a bona fide starter, he’ll keep the Thunderbirds competitive and might even steal a game or two.

Prediction

Third in the north.


Knighthawks-smallRochester Knighthawks

Is Steve Fryer ready to be a #1 goalie in the NLL? Signs say yes and I hope they’re right, because his two backups have a total of 17 minutes of NLL experience between them. Dan Carey has put together quite a nice little team here, so we might see something similar to last year’s Seals – an expansion team that doesn’t really look like an expansion team. Lots of strength up front with Shawn Evans, Turner Evans, Cattoni, Knight, Lintner, and Caputo, and some vets on D as well. They have eight players listed as transition, but other than Frank Brown (starting the season on IR) and Zac Reid, only one has any NLL experience – Adam Perroni played in three games over two seasons.

Look out for

Curtis Knight has been an important role player for the Rush for years, but now out of the shadow of Matthews, Church, and McIntosh, he has the ability to be one of the top point producers on the Knighthawks.

Prediction

Fourth in the north.


RockToronto Rock

The Rock lost Dan Lintner in the expansion draft and Brock Sorensen got injured, so they went out and got a different Dan and a different Brock.

I’ve been able to see the Rock play three times already this season, though of course you can’t take much away from pre-season exhibition games. Nick Rose didn’t play in one of them, Tom Schreiber didn’t play in any of them, and while the Rock kept their roster size down, other teams were fielding what seemed like dozens of players. But that said, I really liked watching Dan Dawson on the Rock offense. After about 68 seasons in the NLL, he’s still a force to be reckoned with, his passing ability is amazing, and his floor vision is off the charts. The loss of Creighton Reid and Brock Sorensen will hurt the D, but the big veteran David Brock will make up for some of that. Like I said, Tom Schreiber didn’t play in any of the Rock’s pre-season games, so hopefully his addition on the same side as Dawson won’t mess things up. However, it’s hard to imagine two unselfish players with their skill levels wouldn’t mesh reasonably well.

Look out for

Damon Edwards only missed one game last year but his points dropped by half and his penalty minutes almost doubled. I’d love to see a resurgence from Edwards, if he can stay out of the box (though he couldn’t at last weekend’s game against the Rush).

Prediction

First in the north.

2019-2020 NLL Predictions

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.

Final Standings

I’ve also included my picks for overall standings in parens after the team name.

North

  1. Toronto Rock (4)
  2. Buffalo Bandits (7)
  3. Halifax Thunderbirds (9)
  4. Rochester Knighthawks (10)

East

  1. Georgia Swarm (1)
  2. New England Black Wolves (6)
  3. Philadelphia Wings (11)
  4. New York Riptide (13)

West

  1. Calgary Roughnecks (2)
  2. Saskatchewan Rush (3)
  3. San Diego Seals (5)
  4. Colorado Mammoth (8)
  5. Vancouver Warriors (12)

Individual Awards

MVP

The picture came from a Google link to an article from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix but the actual article doesn't have the picture, so I have no way to give photo credit.Winner: Mark Matthews
Short list: Callum Crawford, Cody Jamieson
Dark horse: Zach Currier

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

2019-2020 NLL: Who’s in, who’s out

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.

BanditsBuffalo Bandits

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
IR: None
PUP: Thomas Hoggarth, Ethan O’Connor
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Okaeme Chukwuemeka, Devlin Shanahan


RoughnecksCalgary Roughnecks

In: Haiden Dickson, Marshall King, Liam LeClair, Ryan Martel
Out: Reece Callies, Rhys Duch, Riley Loewen, Dan MacRae
IR: Reece Callies
PUP: Rhys Duch
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Travis Getz, Landon Kells, Nick Scott, Sean Tyrrell


MammothColorado Mammoth

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
IR: None
PUP: Chris Wardle, Jeff Wittig
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Carter Dickson, Ilija Gajic, Justin Goodwin, Jake McNabb, Erik Turner


SwarmGeorgia Swarm

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
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: TJ Comizio, Steven Orleman, Sergio Perkovic


Thunderbirds-smallHalifax Thunderbirds

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
PUP: None
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Johnny Jimerson, Chet Koneczny, Brandon Robinson, Clay Scanlon


BlackWolvesNew England Black Wolves

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
IR: None
PUP: Greg Downing
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Bailey Brown, Mike Byrne, Tristan Rai, Joel Tinney


Riptide-smallNew York Riptide

In: Everybody
Out: Nobody
IR: None
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


WingsPhiladelphia Wings

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
IR: None
PUP: None
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Matt Mariner, Kyle Marr, Austin Pifani, Daryl Waud


Knighthawks-smallRochester Knighthawks

In: Everybody
Out: Nobody
IR: Tyler Biles
PUP: Frank Brown, Travis Burton, Zac Reid
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Julian Garritano, Adam Perroni, Dustyn Pratt


SealsLogoSan Diego Seals

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
PUP: None
Holdout: None
“Inactive Roster”: Oliver Bolsterli, Zach Bryant, Austin Divitcos, Devyn Mayea
Practice Roster: Jules Heningburg, Dylan Riley, Mikie Schlosser, Ethan Schott


RushSaskatchewan Rush

In: Ryan Dilks, Holden Garlent, Ryan McLean, Austin Murphy, Justin Robinson
Out: Nik Bilic, Scott Campbell, Nick Finlay, Curtis Knight, Brett Mydske
IR: None
PUP: None
Holdout: Jeff Cornwall
Draft list: Luke Keenan
Practice Roster: Cameron Dunkerley, Zach Gould, Tanner Thomson


RockToronto Rock

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
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Jamison Dilks, Mitch Gustavsen, Troy Holowchuk, Alec Simons


WarriorsVancouver Warriors

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
PUP: None
Holdout: None
Practice Roster: Keegan Bell, Lyndon Bunio, Reid Mydske, Tyson Roe


The GOAT

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.

Dane Dobbie (Photo credit: Greg Southam)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.