Calgary Roughnecks won’t renew contract for coach Dave Pym, search for replacement

Dave Pym was 33-15 as Calgary's head coach since his hiring in 2009. Photo: Larry Palumbo)
Dave Pym was 33-15 as Calgary's head coach since his hiring in 2009. Photo: Larry Palumbo)

The Calgary Roughnecks announced today that they will not be renewing the contract of coach Dave Pym. “Decisions like this are always difficult to make,” said Roughnecks general manager Mike Board. “Over the past five seasons, Dave has made significant contributions to our club as a scout, assistant coach and a head coach. I thank Dave for his commitment and hard work and wish him every success in the future.” Board will now focus on identifying candidates for the head coaching position.

After being named the head coach of the Roughnecks in the summer of 2009, Pym came in under a bit of uncertainty from those outside the Calgary, Alberta, lacrosse community. Many said that not having a high level coaching resume was going to by Pym’s downfall and that the Roughnecks were making a poor choice in appointing him as their head coach. Well, in three years as the main man behind the bench he amassed a 33-15 record, winning the NLL’s West regular season crown the last two years.

However in sports, winning isn’t the only thing that matters if you aren’t bringing home banners and shiny trophies and it appears that was the downfall for Pym. His coaching strategy wasn’t the most orthodox but what he was, was a coach that tried to get the most out of all his players through mental stimulation much like Phil Jackson did with the Chicago Bulls and  LA Lakers.

“I think the day of coaching by intimidation and belittlement and yelling and screaming and those type of things (is over),” Pym told IL Indoor’s Ty Pilson in an article earlier this year,. “They might be good for a short-term fix but if you’re expecting to have a long-term sustainable, viable program that exceeds expectations you have to have them all on side and treat them with dignity and respect. They will go that extra mile for you when it’s time. I firmly believe that.”

One has to wonder if this press release would be out today had the Roughnecks not been hit by the injury bug late in the season that saw Curtis Dickson miss the West Division semifinal game and goalie Mike Poulin playing not at 100%.

Now the search begins for a new head coach and really, do the Roughnecks have to look very far? With Curt Malawsky and Bob McMahon already in the stable, GM Mike Board might just have to make a quick phone call and they can move on with their off-season work.

Malawsky has often been talked about as the next name to get an NLL coaching job and many thought he’d get it over Pym back in 2009. He knows the team inside and out, knows the system they’re running and commands the respect of everyone on that bench.

McMahon is an experienced NLL coach with a winning pedigree and would also be a solid choice to lead the charge for the Riggers having won an NLL Coach of the Year Award back in 2002.

Coaches like Dave Pym are very tough to find; he’s charismatic, passionate and has a true love for the game of lacrosse that is fresh. With three successful years in the NLL as head coach, Pym may get a phone call soon from another NLL team but one silver lining is that it shows that you don’t have to be from a major hub of lacrosse to be a successful coach in this league.

Teddy Jenner is one the leading sources for lacrosse information. He comes by his love of lax honestly with a lifetime of experience, two Mann Cup championships and six years of play in the NLL. Email him at ted.jenner@ilindoor.com, follow him on Twitter @OffTheCrosseBar or catch him on Team 1410 radio in Vancouver, B.C., as the host and producer of the Off the Crosse-Bar Radio Show In 2012, he was awarded the BCLA's Norm Wright Merit Award- handed out to a member of the media deemed to have have contributed to the promotion of lacrosse.

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