You know who Mike Grimes is, right? Sure you do. He’s the guy who came into the 2011 National Lacrosse League season with 11 goals in 4 seasons. Yeah, not too impressive. But when you’re a defender, scoring goals isn’t your job. Your job is to prevent them and you know that going in. Over the course of at least the last 2 seasons, Grimes is among the elite defensemen in the NLL and beyond. At 6-3, 220 pounds, he’s an imposing force and he knows how to use every bit of that force to his advantage, and his in-your-face style is a big reason he was named ILIndoor.com’s Defender of the Year last season. The biggest reason, though? He just gets the job done.
Stealth coaches have long known Grimes had the talent and athleticism to excel in the back end. But it took some time to mold that talent and the patience is paying off for Washington. The former first-round draft pick (No. 6 overall for Arizona in 2006) brings his Peterborough attitude to every game and anyone who dares challenge Grimes will pay the price, whether they beat him for a goal or not.
His level of play in 2011 was an extension of the fantastic WLA summer he had in Langley, where he was the 2010 Defender of the Year. And this past summer, he was a key part of a defense that powered the Thunder to their first appearance in the Mann Cup, where they lost to Brampton. There’s a trend here for teams with Grimes on the roster, and it’s a winning trend. First Mann Cup for Langley? The Stealth in back-to-back Champions’ Cup games? The constant here is Grimes and the bonus for the Stealth is that Grimes along the way has discovered an offensive touch.
Remember those 11 goals we mentioned? That was his total coming into the last NLL season but in 2011, he matched his career total with 11 in the single season. Throw in 10 assists for a total of 21 points and it’s not only a career-best, it makes him the highest-scoring defender in the NLL. All this scoring won’t go to his head, either. With 103 loose balls in 2011 and 93 the year before, he’s consistently among the team leaders in that all-important but underrated stat. And in the new category of forced turnovers, Grimes ranked No. 2 with 27, just behind Brodie Merrill’s league-leading 30.
Throw it all into one big mixing pot and what you end up with is one of the best defenders in the game today who also just happens to know what to do in the offensive end. It’s a combination that can’t go wrong.
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