News from the National Lacrosse League this offseason has been understandably quiet. With the NLL opting out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, player movement and signings are pretty much on hold until the labor issues are sorted out. But the news on Tuesday of the Calgary Roughnecks not renewing the contract of coach Dave Pym was a bit disheartening. Pym loved the game. He loved his players. He loved the competition. And when you’re watching the game coached a man with so much love for it, it’s difficult to not get caught up in the moment that his team creates. Because what Pym’s teams created was winning and excitement. Apparently, just not enough of it.
Pym was 33-15 in his 3 regular seasons as Riggers coach and that looks great, but playoff success plays an even bigger role. The Riggers were 12-4 this past year, 11-5 last year and 10-6 the season before. But losing in the first round in 2 of those 3 seasons and losing in the division final the other year does not boost confidence in the front office.
Calgary GM Mike Board told various media outlets that there was more to it than regular-season records and playoff performances. And it does make you wonder just a bit, considering Calgary’s 33 wins over the last 3 seasons are the most of any NLL team. But that playoff record sorta sticks out like a sore thumb at 1-3, especially when the weight of the NLL world is on your shoulder like it was this past season as the Riggers tore into the postseason as heavy favorites before being stunned by an upstart Edmonton team.
As you’d expect, though, Pym took it all on him. “We’ve been down this road three years in a row under my tutelage and it’s obviously not good enough so we’ll see what happens. It’s on my shoulders 100 percent,” Pym told The Calgary Herald after the 19-11 loss to a Rush team that advanced to the NLL final. “Three years we’ve been in the playoffs, three years we haven’t got the deal done, so it’s on my shoulders.”
But as much as he loved to win and despised losing, he didn’t want the focus on him. He wanted it on the floor, on the men absorbing the checks and paying the price for clearing space and making saves. Sacrificing their bodies. “Unfortunately, it didn’t happen for me, and most importantly, it didn’t happen for the (players),” Pym told the Calgary Sun. “They deserved it.”
Fair or not, that’s the way Pym sees it. And today he’s saying he got the message from the Roughnecks through voicemail, a claim the Riggers deny. But whoever you believe regarding that, the fact of the matter is that Pym is gone. And the NLL will miss him. He’s on point, he’s direct and he demands passion and energy. It’s a respect thing. No matter where your skill level is, he expects 100 percent of whatever you’ve got. It’s a slap in the face to the game if you bring anything less.
And for that approach, outside of wins or losses, the game of lacrosse is better because of Pym. Sure, he may have inherited a system installed by Troy Cordingley and Terry Sanderson that brought a Champion’s Cup to Calgary in 2009. But Pym took that system and extended it. He was smart enough to leave well enough alone and he continued to maintain the system with new talent and new faces.
He didn’t meet with the playoff success that was expected of that system, but he came close. Real close. But you know where close counts, and while horseshoes may not be an uncommon sight in Calgary, hand grenades in the hands of civilians could become a matter of national security.
It’s unfortunate Pym didn’t get a chance to work more with what he had in Calgary. Here’s hoping his time away from the lacrosse bench is a real short one.
Plus the links
The Philadelphia Wings have named Thomas Hajek as defensive coordinator for next season as the longtime defensive standout joins the ranks of retired NLL players. “Being part of the Wings organization for much of the last decade, I’m very familiar with the high expectations of the owners and fans on and off the field,” Hajek said in a release. “I look forward to the challenge of helping the team win as a coach rather than a player.” … Colorado Mammoth GM Steve Govett recently was named chairperson of the NLL’s Board of Governors, meaning he’s the main consultant to NLL boss George Daniel on behalf of the governors for each NLL team. “My goal is to strengthen all nine franchises and ensure the long-term vitality of the oldest and most respected professional lacrosse league in the world,” Govett said in a statement. … Chris O’Dougherty, defenseman for the Washington Stealth, was named Assistant Coach of the Year in the state of Washington for his work with the Bellvue Wolverines. O’Dougherty coached the defense in Bellvue, which won the Division I state championship by holding opponents to fewer than 7 goals a game … The 11th edition of the Fann Cup is set to take place July 28 in Blaine, Minn., and National Lacrosse League fans will gather for the annual tournament to have fun playing the game as well as raise money for charity. The event has raised more than $50,000 for various charities through the years … Toronto Rock owner Jamie Dawick is back at the World Series of Poker and you won’t have any trouble spotting him if you’re there. He’s the one rocking the Rock gear. “It’s another opportunity to get our logo out there in the mainstream. Any publicity and brand recognition we can get for the team is a positive for the lacrosse club,” he told TorontoRock.com … Where in the world is Dane Stevens? The Rush forward skipped this past season to get some traveling done and he spent a couple of months south of us hiking and traveling, including stops at the world-famous Machu Piccu. He’s back on the floor now as the leading scorer for the Burnaby Lakers and is hoping for a return to the Rush next season. “I really feel like this was such a worthwhile experience,” he told EdmontonRush.com. “I’d like to come back and battle for a spot. We’ll see what happens.” … What’s on the mind of Swarm coach Joe Sullivan this offseason? MNSwarm.com catches up with the coach for a bit of a Q&A … If you watch HGTV and are up on the Dream Vacation homes the network showcases from time to time, here’s your chance to win a 2-night stay through an eBay auction. All proceeds from the auction benefit the family of Mammoth forward Sean Pollock and his wife, Jenna, who is battling breast cancer. The auction runs through July 10.Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to RochesterSports.com.
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