NLL OFF-SEASON REPORT
By Ted Montour
Much has happened in the 2002 Indoor off-season. The Montreal Express will suspend operations for the 2003 season, while president Brad Watters looks for a buyer for the year-old club. Head Coach Terry Sanderson has gone upstream (on the Ottawa River), to take over the reins of the Rebel from his brother Lindsay, who will remain General Manager. The Rebel's leading scorer, restricted free agent Mike Benedict, has been traded to the New Jersey Storm, in return for Jersey's two selections in the dispersal draft of the Montreal roster. The Storm have also announced that Interim Head Coach Jim Brady has been confirmed as Head Coach and General Manager.
Wanna buy a lacrosse team?
Express' leading goal scorer Ted Dowling has signed with expansion Colorado; while Dowling was an unrestricted free agent, and therefore not part of the dispersal draft, NLL rules stipulate that Colorado must forfeit its first dispersal draft pick as a consequence of this signing. Look for Colorado to also go after University of Denver grad and Vancouver Ravens' rookie surprise Mike Law.
Some tidbits from Jim Jennings' first NLL Commissioner's monthly State of the League conference call:
- Vancouver Ravens founding partner Tom Mayenknecht will sell his share of the club to partner Paul Reinhart and his group, subject to NLL Governors' approval, for $1.4 million U.S., a tidy return on the original $500,000 U.S. franchise fee;
- The Scoop 'n' Shoot program for kids will be back, beginning in the second half of the season;
- NLL Edge clinics, for boys and girls aged 7 - 17 years, are scheduled for a number of non-NLL U.S cities, featuring Tom Ryan and Kevin Finneran of the Philadelphia Wings - check the NLL Web site, www.nationallacrosse.com for details;
- The NLL still plans for the addition of two U.S.-based expansion franchises in time for the 2003-04 season;
- Talks are ongoing with three U.S. television carriers for a live, eight-game NLL Game of the Week package this season - expect an announcement in about two weeks;
- Colorado has sold some 1,500 season tickets so far;
- Every NLL arena will have protective netting behind the goals this season.
Last Years Scoop & Shoot Finals!
Most speculation around the dispersal draft has focused on Express Captain Tracy Kelusky. Kelusky took a pass on Major League Lacrosse this summer, opting (along with the Knighthawks' John Grant) to play for Coquitlam of the Western Lacrosse Association. Avoiding the MLL stricture against releasing players for the World Championships, Kelusky and Grant lead Canada to a silver-medal finish at the Worlds.
While Calgary and Ottawa, with the first two dispersal draft selections, can be counted on not to pass up Kelusky, here's a bit of totally unsubstantiated speculation. The brothers Sanderson trade their second-overall dispersal pick, along with whatever Western Canadians on the Ottawa roster (think of goal-tenders Matt Disher and/or Andrew Leyshon, 45-goal scorer Ryan Painter, second-leading point getter Chris Konopliff) that it takes to sweeten the deal, to Calgary for the first pick. They then trade the first pick to Albany, for Attack Captain and Champions Cup hero Josh Sanderson.
Albany takes Kelusky, Ottawa gets leadership, scoring, and the proverbial "bag o' chips" in the coach's son, and the rest of the NLL is left wondering (with the draft clock ticking) what the hell happened. This is a finagle worthy of "Turk", and would be one dandy kick-off to draft-day festivities. Think about it.
DID YOU SEE THOSE JERSEYS?
Carc's sporting the new REBEL/STX Uniforms!
September 19, 2002