Gavin Prout released from Team Canada and Toronto Nationals, Merrick Thomson also not on final roster, the reasons why

(from left to right) Jeff Zywicki, Geoff Snider, Gavin Prout and Gary Gait in London, Ontario four years ago after Team Canada won gold at the World Championships after an upset win over the Americans.
(from left to right) Jeff Zywicki, Geoff Snider, Gavin Prout and Gary Gait in London, Ontario four years ago after Team Canada won gold at the World Championships after an upset win over the Americans.

Earlier this week Team Canada announced the addition of Corey Small and Kevin Crowley to the 30-man roster that will be representing the country at the upcoming World Championships, which start next week in Manchester, EnglandGavin Prout and Merrick Thomson are no longer listed on the team’s previously announced roster.

Although Team Canada head coach Dave Huntley refused to comment on either player’s release from the roster when contacted by Insider earlier this week, it’s expected that Thomson’s recent post concussion issues, which also kept him out of the entire National Lacrosse League season with the Philadelphia Wings (and this Major League Lacrosse season thus far), is the reason for his departure. Team Canada previously noted via an earlier press release that a high hit during last year’s Major League Lacrosse season was the specific incident that has sidelined the former MLL goal-scoring champ.

“Missing the NLL season has been tough thus far and it hurts to not be playing with my teammates in Philadelphia,” Thomson said in Canada’s release back in March. ”This injury does require rest and I have done that and I am now in the process of healing fully due to several key people most notably my trainers, my acupuncturist and osteopath.”

Prout’s departure wasn’t as clear, however, when the roster moves were announced last week, and Team Canada again did not offer any explanation for the decision when contacted by Insider. The Edmonton Rush forward also is no longer a rostered player with the MLL’s Toronto Nationals, who are managed by many of the same staff currently operating Team Canada.

Huntley did say that Prout’s release with the Nationals was simply a routine roster move, not unlike any other the team has made over the past couple seasons.

Prout, who has played on numerous Canadian national teams over his career, including with World Field Championship teams in ‘02 and the gold medal winning team in ‘06, Canada’s U19 in ‘96, box lacrosse teams at both Heritage Cups held in Mississauga and Denver, and Canada’s World Indoor Lacrosse Championship gold medal winning side in ‘07, tells Insider that he was informed by Huntley and Team Canada Assistant GM Stu Brown that he would no longer be on the team on Monday, June 28, via conference call.

The former Champion’s, Mann and Minto Cup winner also tells Insider that the reason for his release, as told to him by the two Team Canada staff members on the call, was due to an issue of taking too many penalties earlier in the MLL season and also due to Prout’s disagreement and behaviour with a Toronto Nationals’ administrative staff member when Prout voiced frustration over changes made to the team’s flight arrangements earlier in the season. The former Team Canada player said he was told these actions were considered a negative influence on the Canadian team and he would thus no longer be included in the 30-man roster.

“I think the way this was handled was unprofessional and disrespectful,” said Prout, who is confused as to why the decision made to release him came so far after the incidents in question and just about two weeks prior to leaving for England. “If they told me earlier, I’d be fine with it; I just don’t appreciate it being such a last-minute decision with no previous indication that any such behaviour would jeopardize my standing with Team Canada.”

Prout, who has won MLL championships with Toronto, Rochester and twice with Baltimore, also expressed to Insider that he made a full effort to stay out of penalty trouble when the issue was first brought up earlier in the year, citing that other Nationals players, who currently remain on the Team Canada roster, have accumulated more penalty minutes. (Prout sits third among Toronto players with five penalty minutes in the six games he played, putting him tied for eighth overall in the league.)

Upon his release, Prout says he was in contact with other team management with both Toronto and Canada, people that he says were unaware of his release from either roster. “I don’t understand how my actions with the Nationals, who are completely separate from Team Canada, have such a barring on my standing with Team Canada,” he said. “These are two separate and distinct teams.”

The recently released defensive midfielder says he, his parents and girlfriend booked their work and summer schedule around supporting him and Team Canada in England and are now left with bills for non-refundable flights and various accommodations.

Prout does wish his former teammates all the best while in England, even though he will no longer be making the trip with them to defend the gold he helped win four years previous.

Various members of the Canadian roster will be playing in Saturday’s Toronto Nationals game against the Denver Outlaws; the team then leaves for Manchester on Sunday, where they will meet as a group on-field for the first time.

The Canadians first game will be against the Iroquois Nationals next Thursday, their other high profile group game against the US the following Saturday.

The foremost boxla writer, Tutka is a former NLL scout and a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at paul.tutka@nllinsider.com.

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