The Crawford suspension: dangerous

You probably haven’t heard much about this issue – it’s kind of flown under the radar. Well, other than being talked about by just about every lacrosse writer and fan (and many players) on social media. Of course I’m talking about Callum Crawford’s suspension.

In case you missed it, Black Wolves forward and potential MVP candidate Crawford was given a major penalty for a high hit on Toronto’s Brad Kri back on February 24. The week after the game, the penalty was upgraded to a match penalty by the league, which gives Crawford an automatic one-game suspension. He appealed, allowing him to play in New England’s next game against Colorado (in which he scored four goals and added seven assists), but the match penalty was upheld the week after that, and he sat out last weekend’s game.

Rule 41.4 in the NLL rule book is called “Repeat Offender” and states: “Any player who is assessed a second match penalty, a second Dangerous Contact to the Head penalty (Rule 77), or a combination thereof within a two year period shall be assessed an additional five (5) game suspension.

Very clear and unambiguous. This matters because in January of 2018, Crawford was given a match penalty for a similar hit on a Roughnecks player. That’s two match penalties within two years, so Crawford gets an automatic five games, right? Not this time. The same arbitrator who was brought in to decide on the match penalty announced that he was not ruling on the extra five games until later, though nobody could figure out why. Then on Friday, the answer came down: Crawford will sit out one game rather than five.

Photo credit: Garrett James

The PLPA released a statement from the arbitrator on why, but the statement is puzzling. The arbitrator, Andrew Brandt, mentions a similar situation two years ago when Calgary’s Greg Harnett received his second match penalty in two years, and was given a five game suspension by that arbitrator, a Mr. McGuire. Brandt says “Mr. McGuire correctly concluded that the league had no other choice than to impose an additional five game penalty. However as the rule was unilaterally adopted by the league and not a part of the CBA, it was not binding on an arbitration officer.

Why would rules in the rule book not be binding on an arbitration officer? I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that by agreeing to play games (more than half the season so far) with this rule book, the PLPA has implicitly agreed to all of the rules in the rule book. This is not a rule that was added mid-season without the PLPA’s knowledge or consent. If there are rules in there that they don’t agree with, that should have been ironed out long before the season started. And yes, I do remember that they were busy trying to make sure there was a CBA so that the season could happen, but I have not heard any complaints from the PLPA since then (before this incident) that this rule was unfair and should be changed.

Mr. Brandt also states “And in his testimony for the league, Mr. Lemon [Brian Lemon, NLL VP] explained how he did not believe the foul should result in a two-game penalty, one reserved for more severe infractions.” I agree, that one hit by itself does not deserve a multiple-game suspension. But the five game suspension is not for that one hit, it’s for the fact that there were two such hits within two years. A subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.

He continues: “The decision to lessen Mr. Crawford’s additional five-game suspension in no way diminishes the league mission to eliminate reckless and endangering play, nor does it undermine the league’s authority.” In my humble opinion, wrong and wrong. The rule says that receiving two match penalties within two years will get you a suspension. It was written that way intentionally, even clarified this past off-season, to say that this behaviour will not be tolerated regardless of who the player is. The arbitrator’s decision says that this behaviour may or may not get you a suspension and thus it may or may not be tolerated, depending on… what? It’s not clear what. How long you’ve been in the league? How many points you have?

It also says that some of the rules in the rule book don’t hold if someone else decides they shouldn’t. I wonder what other rules are not in the CBA and are thus of questionable value?

The PLPA did everything they could to stand up for Callum Crawford. That’s their job, to represent the players, and I get that they did not explicitly make this decision. But who stood up for Brad Kri? Who’s out there trying to make sure that these kinds of hits don’t happen again?

I love watching Callum Crawford play lacrosse. He’s fast, skilled, dynamic, and exciting. I don’t think he’s a dirty player. But he made two bad decisions resulting in two dangerous hits. Those hits were close enough together in time to trigger rule 41.4, so he should be sitting out for five games. Yes he’s a veteran and yes he’s having an MVP-type season, but suspending him anyway would have sent the message that the NLL will not accept these types of hits regardless of who you are. Now, the message they are sending is that if you are a veteran or a great player, you can get away with stuff that other players can’t.

Not only does this make the league look unprofessional, it’s a very dangerous precedent to set.

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Rochester’s trade frenzy

Wednesday was a bit of a crazy day in the NLL – more trades happened on that day than the rest of the season combined, and all of them involved the Rochester Knighthawks. According to sources, they’re not even done.

It began with Joe Resetarits being sent to the New England Black Wolves in exchange for a couple of draft picks – a second round pick this year and a first in 2022. Perhaps Joey Res was uninterested in playing for a Halifax-based team. Maybe they were having trouble deciding who they would protect in this summer’s expansion draft and figured they could get a couple of draft picks for him and help make the decision easier. Either way, it’s a great deal for the Knighthawks on the assumption that they are admitting defeat for this season.

The deal makes a ton of sense for the Black Wolves, who will likely be without Callum Crawford for most of the rest of the season. Crawford was on pace for another hundred-point season before his six-game suspension, so bringing in another righty who got 100 last season is logical and makes the Black Wolves that much more dangerous once Crawford returns. If Resetarits can help the Black Wolves even go .500 for the six games Crawford will be out and then they get to have Resetarits and Crawford for the playoffs, that’s easily worth a couple of draft picks.

Joe Resetarits

The next deal announced was defender Paul Dawson being sent to play with his brother Dan in San Diego. The Knighthawks get another two draft picks for Dawson, and the Seals get a big, strong, tough veteran defender to help in their playoff push. Another good deal for both teams, again assuming the Knighthawks are building for next year.

The third one was more surprising. The Knighthawks send Cory Vitarelli to the Mammoth in exchange for Ryan Benesch, one for one. No draft picks going in either direction. Another great deal for the Knighthawks, who get one of the top scorers in league history. However I’m not sure of the incentive for the Mammoth to make this trade. Vitarelli and Benesch are both lefties and they’re about the same age (Vitarelli is five months younger). Vitarelli is a very good player who can score some acrobatic goals, but he’s no Ryan Benesch. Think of it this way: Vitarelli’s best season by average was 2015 when he scored 39 points in 12 games. That’s 3.25 points per game. Benesch has only had one season in his twelve-year career as low as Vitarelli’s best, his lone season with the Edmonton Rush in 2009. His career average (4.95 points per game) is almost double Vitarelli’s (2.68).

Of course, numbers aren’t the only thing to use to compare players. Vitarelli generally serves a different purpose than to be the primary scorer, so you don’t expect 90 points from him. You expect hard picks, digging in corners, making space for the primary scorers, and scoring the occasional jaw-dropping goal, and he excels at those jobs. But they just traded away Stephen Keogh, who also excels at those jobs. It’s puzzling.

Here’s one possibility: Vitarelli is listed as 5’10” but a very solid 220 pounds. That’s an inch taller and forty pounds heavier than Benesch. If you look at the other forwards on the Mammoth, there’s a pattern: McLaughlin and Ruest are 185 pounds, Lee and Wardle are 175, Noble is 170, and Kyle Killen is only 150. Vitarelli is thirty five pounds more than biggest forward the Mammoth have. Perhaps they decided that they really needed some more size up front but if that’s the reason, I still think they overpaid. But when you’re 3-7, maybe you have to overpay.

As for the Knighthawks, was this a fire sale because they’re most likely out of the playoffs, or more of a moving sale because they’re heading to Halifax after the season? Probably a bit of both. My guess is that Matt Vinc didn’t want to move to Halifax or be a fly-in, so he opted to leave Rochester. Maybe Vitarelli and/or Resetarits were in the same boat and Rochester GM Curt Styres decided he could get something for them now rather than have them leave later.

The Knighthawks are 2-8 and the odds of them making the playoffs are not great. Trading players for picks is an odd (and likely ineffective) way to improve your team enough to rebound and make the playoffs, so it’s likely that Styres is indeed building the best team he can for next season in Halifax. If there are more Knighthawks deals coming before Monday’s trade deadline, perhaps those will help to reveal his strategy.

Top ten surprises of the NLL 2019 season

Surprising things happen every year in every sport. This is partially why we love sports, isn’t it? If all of your predictions were correct every year, it’d get pretty boring pretty quick. Here are my top ten surprises from the 2019 season so far. At least these were surprises to me, you will probably have different opinions. Feel free to leave a comment if I missed any.

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Game report: Saskatchewan @ Toronto

The defending champion Saskatchewan Rush made their way to the 6ix on Friday night, only their 6ixth game against the Rock in their history. They probably should have been the favourites in this game, not only because they are the defending champs, but also because of their 4-1 lifetime record against the Rock. But the Rush were 3-2 at the start of the game, second in the West, while the Rock were 5-1 and leading the league.

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The NLL Pronunciation Guide 2019

It’s back and better than ever! The complete list of NLL people with weird, hard-to-pronounce, and not-that-hard-to-pronounce-but-people-get-it-wrong-anyway names, and how to say them properly. I’ve basically copied last year’s list, moved players to their new teams, added some rookies and players I missed, and added an entire paragraph on the word “Saskatchewan” which I’m sure some people will tell me is still wrong. I also added a few First Nations terms commonly heard in the lacrosse world.

Thanks again this year to Stephen Stamp for confirming these pronunciations. Stamper and I both confirmed many of these with the players themselves or their families, so thanks to them as well.

Names are organized alphabetically within teams.

Buffalo

Kevin Brownell – brow-NELL. brow rhymes with “cow”. Not BROWN-ull.

Josh Byrne – BURN

Jordan Durston – DER-stun

Chase Fraser – FRAY-zer, not FRAY-zher

Matt Gilray – GILL-ray

Zach Herreweyers – HAIR-wires (not HAY-wires as many say and as I had in previous years)

Thomas Hoggarth – HO-garth

Steve Priolo – pree-O-lo

Dhane Smith – DANE

Matt Spanger – SPANG-er. Like hanger but with an SP instead

Mark Steenhuis – STAIN-house

Matt Vinc – like the name “Vince”. Not VINK.

Nick Weiss – WEES

KYLE muh-TEASE (Photo: HamiltonLacrosse.com)Calgary

Chris Boushy – BOO-shee

Reece Callies – REES CAL-ees

Mike Carnegie – CAR-nuh-gee (hard g)

Christian del Bianco – dell bee-AHN-ko

Dane Dobbie – DOUGH-bee. Not like Dobby.

Rhys Duch – REES DUTCH. Frequently pronounced through sobs in Vancouver this year.

Greg Harnett – har-NET

Anthony Kalinich – KAL-in-itch. I had ka-LIN-itch last year, but that’s wrong.

Riley Loewen – LOW-en. LOW is like the word “low”, not rhyming with “cow”. Interesting aside: the original German pronunciation would be like “LER-ven” but without pronouncing the R (there’s no really good equivalent in English). Loewen is an alternate spelling of Löwen, the German word for “lions”.

Ryan Martel – mar-TELL

Eli Salama – sa-LA-ma

Colorado

Ryan Benesch – buh-NESH

Scott Carnegie – CAR-nuh-gee (hard g)

Joey Cupido – koo-PEE-doe. Not KYOO-pid-o or KOO-pid-o.

Julian Garritano – gar-uh-TAN-o

Jordan Gilles – GILL-ess. Not the same as Brad Gillies on Rochester.

Stephen Keogh – KEY-o

Eli McLaughlin – E-lie muh-GLOCK-lin

Jacob Ruest – roo-EH where EH is pronounced like the e in “best”. Not roo-AY.

Dillon Ward – WOL

Georgia

Holden Cattoni – ka-TONE-ee

Alex Crepinsek – CREP-in-seck

Kevin Orleman – OR-luh-min

Mike Poulin – POO-lin

Randy Staats – STOTS. Rhymes with “slots”. Not STATS.

Leo Stouros – STIR-us. According to Leo, it “rhymes with thermos”.

Jerome Thompson – Prefers to to be called Hiana, pronounced HY-nuh

Adam Wiedemann – WEED-uh-min

New England

Alex Buque – boo-KAY. However apparently when playing in junior, he pronounced it rhyming with “spook”.

Nick Chaykowsky – chay-KOW-skee

Callum Crawford – CAL-um. Not CAY-lum.

Dave Emala – EM-a-la

Ryan Fournier – FOORN-yay

John LaFontaine – LA-fon-tane

Stephan Leblanc – STEFF-in luh-BLONK. Not steh-FAWN and not luh-BLANK.

Jackson Nishimura – ni-shi-MOOR-uh

Philadelphia

Trevor Baptiste – bap-TEEST

Doug Buchan – BUCK-in

Liam Byrnes – BURNS

Steph Charbonneau – STEFF CHAR-buh-no

Chris Cloutier – CLOO-chay

Kevin Crowley – KROW-lee. Not like the bird. KROW rhymes with “cow”.

Davide DiRuscio – DAY-vid dih-ROOSH-ee-o

Vaughn Harris – VON

Anthony Joaquim – JOKE-um, unlike teammate Joakim Miller

Chet Koneczny – kuh-NEKTS-nee. Direct from Chet: “connects-knee”

Kiel Matisz – KYLE muh-TEASE

Joakim Miller – YOKE-um, unlike teammate Anthony Joaquim

Adam Osika – o-SEE-kuh

Blaze Riorden – REER-dun

Eric Shewell – SHOO-ull

Rochester

James Barclay – BAR-klay

Eric Fannell – fuh-NELL

Brad Gillies – GILL-ees. Not the same as Jordan Gilles on Colorado.

Graeme Hossack – GRAY-um HOSS-ick

Luc Magnan – LUKE MAG-nun

Greg Puskuldjian – pus-KOOL-jee-in. Thanks Connor Wilson

Joe Resetarits – res-uh-TARE-its

Pat Saunders – SAWN-ders. Not SAND-ers.

Luke Van Schepen – van SHEP-in

Cory Vitarelli – vit-uh-REL-ee

San Diego

Brandon Clelland – CLELL-and

Garrett Epple – EPP-il. Sounds like a South African saying “apple”.

Rylan Hartley – RY-lin. There’s an L in there. It’s not Ryan.

Connor Kearnan – KEER-nin

Tor Reinholdt – RINE-holt

Mike Schlosser – SHLOS-er

Ethan Schott – SHOT

Frank Scigliano – shill-ee-ANN-o

Adrian Sorichetti – sore-i-KET-ee

Austin Staats – STOTS

Saskatchewan

Nik Bilic – BEE-leech according to Nik himself. Many people say bee-LEETCH which he’s apparently OK with. Not BILL-ick or BILL-itch.

Chris Corbeil – cor-BEEL

Nick Finlay – FIN-lee

Tyler Gaulton – GOLL-tun

Matt Hossack – HOSS-ick

Mike Messenger – MESS-in-jer

Brett Mydske – MID-skee

Kyle Rubisch – ROO-bish

Adam Shute – SHOOT. I love that there’s a goalie named SHOOT. Like former major league pitcher Bob Walk.

Saskatchewan – Well, it’s complicated. I got in trouble last year because I listed it as “sas-CATCH-uh-won” which is how I’ve been pronouncing it all my life, but apparently that’s wrong. The last syllable shouldn’t be “won”, and it shouldn’t really be “win” either. It should be “wən” where the ə symbol is a “schwa”, indicating an “unstressed and toneless central vowel sound”. Say it like there is no vowel there at all, like “sas-CATCH-uh-wn”. And some locals pronounce the first syllable as “sis” rather than “sas”, though I’d say the first vowel should also be a schwa. The end result is səs-CATCH-uh-wən. Or just say “the Rush” or do like Brian Shanahan and say “Saskatoon”.

CHA-lin and VINCE

Toronto

Phil Caputo – ka-POO-toe

Scott Dominey – DOM-in-ee

Latrell Harris – la-TREL

Billy Hostrawser – HO-straw-zer

Brad Kri – KREE

Dan Lintner – LINT-ner. There are two N’s in there, not LINT-er or LIT-ner.

Kieran McArdle – KEER-un muh-KAR-dl

Creighton Reid – CRAY-ton REED

Challen Rogers – CHA-lin

Tom Schreiber – SHRY-ber

Jay Thorimbert – THOR-im-burt

Alec Tulett – TULL-it (not TOO-lit like I had before)

Vancouver

Keegan Bal – BALL

Jean-Luc Chetner – ZHON-luke CHET-ner

Tyler Codron – COD-run

Dan Lomas – LOW-mus

Joel McCready – muh-CREED-ee

Reid Mydske – MID-skee

Chris O’Dougherty – O DORT-ee. Or O DOUGH-erty if you say it slowly.

James Rahe – RAY. Not RAY-EE or RAY-HE.

Logan Schuss – SHUSS (rhymes with BUS). Not SHUSH, SHOOSH, or SHOOS.

Warriors – WOR-ee-ers. It’s a pet peeve of mine when people say it quickly enough that it sounds like WOYERS. Three syllables, people.

Coaches & Execs

Ed Comeau – ko-MO. Swarm head coach. I’ve had this as KO-mo for years but apparently that’s wrong.

Jamie Dawick – DOW-ick. DOW rhymes with “cow”. Owner & GM of the Rock.

Clem D’Orazio – duh-RAZZ-ee-o. Black Wolves assistant coach.

Steve Govett – GUV-it. President of the San Diego Seals.

Mike Hasen – HAY-zen. Not HAN-sen. Knighthawks head coach.

Tracey Kelusky – kuh-LUSS-key. In the past I’ve included that kuh-LOOS-key is wrong, but apparently Tracey himself doesn’t care how you say it. Wings assistant coach.

Darris Kilgour – DARE-iss KILL-gore. Not DARE-ee-us. Former Bandits coach/GM.

Dan Ladouceur – ladda-SIR. Assistant coach of the Swarm.

Curt Malawsky – muh-LAW-skee. Roughnecks head coach.

Nick Sakiewicz – sic-KEV-itch. NLL commish.

Kaleb Toth – KAY-leb TOE-th, not TAW-th. Former NLL player and coach. Hearing Toth’s name mispronounced on a broadcast (after a decade as a star in the league) was the inspiration for the very first pronunciation guide.

First Nations terms

Haudenosaunee – HO-dun-uh-SHO-nee. The collective name for the people belonging to the Six Nations: Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora.

Iroquois – In Canada it’s EAR-uh-kwa, in the US it’s EAR-uh-kwoy. Another name for the Haudenosaunee people.

Tewaarton – tuh-WAHR-tun. The Mohawk name for the sport of lacrosse and the name of the award given annually to the top American college lacrosse player.

Other

Steve Bermel – BERM-ull. Rhymes with “thermal”. IL Indoor writer and occasional Bandits colour commentator.

Brad Challoner – CHALL-ah-ner. Brad says it’s like “challenger” without the g. Warriors broadcaster.

Melissa Dafni – DAF-nee. One of my co-hosts on Addicted to Lacrosse.

Tyler Fitch – TY-ler FITCH. My other co-host on Addicted to Lacrosse.

Tyson Geick – GUYK. Like Geico without the o. Former NLL host. Big team guy.

Pat Gregoire – greg-WAHR. Alternate pronunciation: SMO-kin PAT. IL Indoor writer.

Marisa Ingemi – muh-RISS-a in-JEM-ee. Boston Herald hockey reporter. Did you know: she used to be a lacrosse player writer!

Tehoka Nanticoke: day-HO-ga NAN-ti-coke. No, he’s not an NLL player but he will be someday and if you follow lacrosse at all, you’ve likely heard his name.

Graeme Perrow – GRAY-um PAIR-o. Yours truly.

Craig Rybczynski – rib-CHIN-skee but apparently “rib-ZIN-skee” is acceptable. Knighthawks broadcaster.

Evan Schemenauer – SHEM-en-our. Lacrosse blogger over at laxallstars.com and co-host of the Lacrosse Classified podcast.

Stephen Stamp – STEE-ven. STAMP-er is also acceptable. IL Indoor writer and editor, podcaster, name pronunciation verifier.

I’m on hold

When recording the Addicted to Lacrosse podcast, we recently changed from using YouTube Live to a service called UberConference. It allows us to set up conference calls but we can use our computer (à la Skype) or a regular phone to join the call, and then we can download an MP3 (assuming one actually clicks the “record” button before we start…) immediately after we’re done. This is much easier than waiting for YouTube to process the video, downloading the multi-hundred megabyte video mp4 file, and then extracting the audio from it. It also has the advantage of not being a video chat, so I don’t have to worry about cleaning up my office before we record. We usually start recording around 10pm EST but if we’re starting late, I can record in my pyjamas – and I have. The downside of not having video is that you don’t see which current or classic NLL jerseys we’re wearing and we won’t get any more cameos from Tyler’s cat, though we did have Melissa’s dogs make an audio appearance in one show.

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