Let’s talk about Flow in the NLL. Relax lacrosse fans; this is not a reincarnate of The Chavez chronicles from last year. I’m more interested in the flow of the game. It has been documented already that the challenge reviews seem to be taking much longer than previous years. Tom Ryan mentioned that some refs were fined for last year’s mistakes so they are taking much more time than they had to make sure they make the correct call during the review. While this hurts the flow, it seems to be a necessary evil.
What needs to go is the constant discussions between the Referee and the head coach. There are going to be times in most games where the Official feels compelled to explain a call to the coaches. They run over to one coach, tell them what’s going on and then over to the other coach with the same message. Again this is sometimes necessary, but what bothers me is when they do it every call. The Buffalo at Toronto game a week and a half ago is a great example. The first period took forever to play in part because of all the fights and penalties, but also because of the constant travel across the floor to the benches. Mark Gardonio is a good referee, but it seemed that he felt he had to explain every single call to Troy Cordingley. Even after watching him explain a call to Captain’s Chris White and Colin Doyle, Cordingley would still find away to get Gardonio back over at his bench so he could hear the explanation and then tell him how he feels about the calls. What was even more comical was when he would go over to tell Darris Kilgour something and Kilgour would turn away from him like he didn’t want to hear anymore.
That reminded me of a story of a current NLL coach that a few years ago spent most the game yelling at NLL referee Tom Sutton. Sutton refused to acknowledge the coach, ignoring the yelling from the bench. Finally late in the game Sutton went over the bench to have a discussion with the coach and as soon as he got to the bench, the coached turned around and looked at the crowd, ignoring him as he had done to the coach all game.
Back to Gardonio, while I think he may have gone overboard in the number of times he felt he had to explain the calls; he was at the very least conscientious of making sure that both benches were getting the same story. I remember a game in Toronto in 2005 when I was coaching with Calgary and it was a very chippy game with a lot being let go and every time something was called, the head referee would go over to Toronto coach Terry Sanderson to tell him what was going on. Chris Hall would yell from the Calgary bench asking for the same courtesy, but it was not given. Chris eventually got tossed and the game got out of hand with 5 fights in the last minute.
Speaking of referees, it is a thankless job and one I know I could not do. This past summer I got to know a referee better and after ‘counseling’ I finally came to the conclusion that refs are not always out to get ‘my’ team. I really think that I have become better at watching a game and seeing the calls for what they are. I still think there are some referees that make a lot more mistakes than they should, but it’s not all doom and gloom as I may have thought in the past! In fact this past weekend I saw a call made for the first time that I could not believe. It was a call that I had harped on with officials in the past that often resulted in a, what the heck are you talking about look. In the Boston/Toronto game the combo of Jason Wiswell and Bob Hollingsworth called Nick Cotter with Delay of game for cutting through the Toronto crease to gain advantage to get to Toronto player Sandy Chapman who had the ball. I talked to some coaches this week that told me the referees were directed to look at this call as it had been missed the previous week in a close game where the offending player created a turnover to get a shot even though he should have been penalized as Cotter was last weekend.
Team Canada Fall out
Thanks to Stephen Stamp for another great read on Team Canada this week. Also, there was refreshing, honest answers from GM Johnny Mouradian. Everyone has their favourite players and that includes coaches. While there are some names missing from the team that I and many others thought would be there, the players selected are all worthy and will do everything they can to help Canada win. As Johnny mentioned, the coaches will almost always take the player they are familiar with when they are comparing two evenly matched candidates. The players that were ‘on the bubble’ may still have a shot at representing Canada in Prague. In 2007, Andrew Turner was unable to attend because of a new career and Chris Driscoll got the call. With every player playing in the NLL there is always a risk of injury. We recently saw Boston Blazer/Team USA defender John Orsen go out with a season ending injury that will keep him out of the games as well.
Start of Trades…
Some interesting trades over the last couple of weeks may be the start of something as teams that have been struggling start to figure out what they need and as injuries make changes necessary.
Ryan Dilks was picked up by Boston from Toronto and has played well in his first 3 games with the Blazers including a hat trick game against Rochester. I played in Fergus with Dilks’ uncle Dan Armstrong. Dan also had some breakaway speed, but not the finish of his nephew. 3 of Dan’s other Fergus teammates (Hamley, Comeau & Ferris) will be trying to stop Ryan this weekend.
Scott Evans was traded from Rochester to Edmonton for Rory Glaves. The trade suits both team’s needs as Edmonton needed more offense and Rochester had offense to spare. When he puts his mind to it Scott is a premier scorer, and Rory has been a steady defender his whole career.
Yesterday Timmy Campeau and a 2nd rounder were dealt to Colorado with Minnesota netting Jamie Shewchuk and a 4th round pick. Shewchuck had been rumoured on the block for a couple of weeks with speculation that his hometown Rush would be the ideal destination. The trade is a swap of two young offensive left handers with different styles. Shewchuk put up big numbers last year as the main left hander, but the acquisition of John Grant, the move to straight O for Cliff Smith and return of Dan Carey pushed Shewchuk down on the depth chart and limited his touches. Campeau is an energetic player, always moving, picking, bumping in the offensive end with a nice touch. He will be a good fit with the Mammoth.
Glad to see the return of the all star game and hope it is a good one for Versus to air. While the Turning Stone Casino may seem like an odd choice, the league has had this game at a casino in the past. In 2002 the North beat the South at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Personally I like the location. I was there for two nights this week and saw the ads for the game around the resort. There are lots of slots and tables and a poker room (where I can’t catch a card on the river). Fantastic restaurants and the rooms in both the original 4 floor hotel and the newer tower are pretty nice. Tiger Woods even had some fun there back when he was playing well.Dowling, a regular contributor on NLL Insider, brings a wealth of knowledge and analysis of the NLL having served as a head coach, assistant, scout and personnel director with such teams as the Calgary Roughnecks, Anaheim Storm, Columbus Landsharks, New York Titans, Buffalo Bandits and most recently with the San Jose Stealth in '09.
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