The Canadian Lacrosse League (CLax) is ready to start making some noise. After an admittedly difficult period in which they’ve had to reconfigure the league several times, Commissioner Paul St. John and Deputy Commissioner Jim Veltman have announced some of the management staff for their teams, and the names carry instant credibility in the lacrosse community.
Steve Toll will be the Director of Operations for the Durham and Oshawa franchises, both of which will play out of Oshawa’s GM Centre. Toll, who was surprised to hear recently that he had been released by Colorado since his one-year contract had expired and he was an unrestricted free agent, has retired from playing after a long and successful career in the NLL and MSL.
After the jump, hear what he has to say about his new role with CLax and find out what other recognizable NLL names are on board for the Durham and Oshawa teams.
Toll says he’s excited to be part of the new league, which he sees as a stepping stone to the National Lacrosse League for some players and just a good place to keep playing lacrosse for others. With the NLL down to nine clubs, Toll says, “There’s limited spots with so few teams, there just aren’t enough spots for all the good players. To me there’s some guys who’ll be right on the bubble and if they get sent down hopefully they’ll come play with us and keep playing.”
I look at the list of guys who have registered with us to show they have an interest in playing with the league, and there are going to be some really good players. It’s going to be good lacrosse. Some of those players will include future NLL stars looking for a place to keep their careers moving forward while they work their way into the top pro league.
“If you’ve got guys you’ve drafted who don’t make team, why wouldn’t you want those guys playing,” Toll says of young players who don’t crack NLL rosters right away. He points to one young player signed by the Mammoth, and a teammate of his in Peterborough, as an example of who could benefit from CLax. “I think of a guy like Mark Farthing. I think the kid has a lot of potential. Obviously Colorado’s deep in defence and he probably is gonna have a tough time making it.
“He was in and out of the Lakers roster but if he comes into this league he’s probably gonna be one of the better defenders cause the kid’s a good player. He plays all winter with us, all summer gets on with the Lakers and then next year who knows with Colorado.”
Toll says CLax will also be a great opportunity for goalies who may struggle to get regular playing time in the NLL right away but who could have a chance to play a lot and face very good shooters in CLax. “I think it’ll be a good stepping stone for a lot of the boys and with the coaches we’ve got here in Oshawa and Durham, you don’t get any better than those guys.”
The coaches he’s referring to will be familiar names to NLL fans. Former Toronto Rock head man Glenn Clark will be the Head Coach and General Manager for Oshawa. “Glenn is one of the smartest guys I’ve ever known in lacrosse,” says Toll. “I think he’s gonna do a fine job with Oshawa. He’s a real asset for the league.”
The coach and GM of Durham will be Jason Crosbie, who played 134 NLL games for six teams, finishing his career in 2010. Crosbie played Junior A for Whitby, MSL for Brooklin and Peterborough and has been the coach of the Junior B Clarington Green Gaels since 2002. Now he lives just a few minutes away from the GM Centre where his team will play home games. “Whitby, Brooklin, Clarington and Oshawa, that is the Durham region,” he says.
His team is also expected to draw players from Peterborough, which was originally slated to have a team in CLax but wasn’t able to because the city wouldn’t allow them to use the Memorial Centre after the Lakers and the Ontario Hockey League’s Peterborough Petes expressed concern about the competition.
“During my career,” says Crosbie, whose Gaels won a Founders Cup Canadian championship in 2004, “I’ve watch good, talented young kids who need a little extra time to develop and they have nowhere to develop. My profession is teaching, and coaching the Gaels, those kids that didn’t make Junior A come to me and they need the development.
“Seeing them grow, especially this year with the Whitby Warriors winning the Minto Cup, I had 18 kids that I coached in the last two years on that team and I saw them develop and I saw them win a championship. That sort of stuff spurs you to want to do that. I’m all about development, I’m all about teaching the game.”
Crosbie says CLax, with its rules intended to force players to play offence and defence and to promote a fast-paced transition game, will be a perfect breeding ground for the type of player NLL teams want more and more. “Seeing the way the game is developing, it’s kind of going back to the 60s and 70s with the run and gun style, going both ways.”
Combine to be held October 29th
The league will hold its players combine at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena in Ohsweken on October 29th. The combine will feature fitness testing, lacrosse drills and scrimmages in front of coaches and GMs from all six league teams.
The first CLax draft will the weekend of November 5/6. Players need to register by October 31 to be eligible. Information is available at the CLax web site.
Coaching and management staffs for the other four teams (Brampton, Peel, Iroquois Ironmen and Ohsweken Demons) are expected to be announced next week…Yvonne Fox, former executive assistant with the Toronto Rock, has assumed the same role with Clax…The Oshawa and Durham teams’ game day operations will be managed by Krista Jasmer and Kym Coe, who have had the same positions with the Peterborough Lakers for several years…St. John said the coaches and GMs for the Brampton and Peel teams will be ready to announce early next week, but that the teams are still in need of a Director of Operations. He’d like anyone interested in the position to contact him at email@example.com.Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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