The Buffalo Bandits need a general manager, so the search is on. The team last week parted ways with Derek Graham, who had served as the team’s associate GM with coach Darris Kilgour, and Kilgour now is solely the coach. The Bandits said in a release that they were looking for changes in the wake of a 7-9 season that had more downs than ups. But who out there is ready to tackle this challenge? It’s not as if the Bandits need a complete overhaul, but it is an aging roster that will need to start infusing some young legs in order to catch up to what is quickly becoming a young National Lacrosse League. ILIndoor takes a look at some of the possible candidates who might serve Buffalo well in the capacity of general manager.
This is by no means an all-inclusive list, nor is it any kind of order. We’re just taking a stab or two in the dark with a few names who could do well in directing player personnel as well as work the telephones for trades and free agents. The history in Buffalo is long and proud, and the Bandits and their fans are not accustomed to mediocrity, or worse. Let’s take a look at the names that could help fix what’s ailing Buffalo.
Marty O’Neill: He’s got to be the strongest candidate available, and he wants to return to the NLL. The former Wings GM and Swarm GM is the only man to be named GM of the Year twice in the National Lacrosse League. And even though the Swarm let him go last summer, his impact is all over a team that was the NLL’s biggest surprise this past season. The Swarm ran a lot of rookies in 2012, but Ryan Benesch (trade), Callum Crawford (trade) are in Minnesota because of O’Neill, and the impressive draft picks who are still with the team include Tyler Hass (2006), Andrew Watt (2008), Joe Cinosky (2008), Matt Kelly (2009) and Andrew Suitor (2010). Kevin Ross, who just had a career season offensively, was signed as afree agent by O’Neill. There are more, many more, as in trades and deals that ended up being draft picks to stock the Minny roster with what it has today. Suffice it to say that O’Neill did his homework and set up Minnesota very well for the future. Not all are superstar players, but they are players who work well together, and much of the credit for the chemistry experiment gone right in Minnesota is due to O’Neill’s diligence.
Steve Dietrich: He’s a former NLL player. He played for the Buffalo Bandits. He won NLL championship and was an MVP. For the last few summers, he’s been a general manager for his hometown Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks. There’s no doubt Chugger’s got the resume, but there’s more: He was a goalie, like O’Neill. What better position to be in over the course of a playing career? As a goalie, he directs the defense. As a goalie, he’s got to know how an offense works and better yet, how to stop it. Chugger knows the game inside and out and more importantly, he knows today’s game and what it takes to win. Given the resources he could have to work with in Buffalo, Dietrich could be a good fit. The bonus is that he’s nearby and wouldn’t need a big move to relocate.
Jamie Batley: What he’s done in Peterborough is no secret. The man knows how to put together a winner and he has 4 Mann Cups in 11 seasons to prove it. As far as the NLL goes, he’s a former Bandits player, so he knows what the expectations are there. As an NLL coach, he led the Colorado Mammoth to the playoffs in 2004 and 2005 before he was let go and the 2006 Mammoth team, with many of the parts in place because of Batley, won the 2006 NLL title. He built the Chicago Shamrox from the ground up and led them to a pair of respectable 6-10 finishes before that team folded. He’s a tireless competitor and the way he’s juggled the “All-Star” lineup in Peterborough shows he knows how to keep egos content. And again, he’s relatively local.
Adam Mueller: He hasn’t coached in the NLL since he parted ways with the Titans after the 2008 season in which he was named the NLL’s Coach of the Year, but some say he’s one of the game’s brightest names not involved with the league today. The Titans were 10-6 in 2008 – after a 1-4 start – and the team was a perennial Champion’s Cup contender from there on out, even after he left the team. The playoff appearances with the Titans made him the first NLL coach to lead 3 different teams to the NLL playoffs after he made playoff teams of Philadelphia (2002) and Minnesota (2006). And although he hasn’t been involved with the NLL in 4 seasons, he told ILIndoor in 2010 that he hasn’t shut the door on a possible return if the situation were right. He’s been coaching kids near Philadelphia, so commuting to Buffalo wouldn’t be a huge chore.
Duane Jacobs: The former NLL scoring star spent time in Detroit, Rochester and Buffalo as a player before launching his coaching career with stops in Minnesota and Buffalo. He was head coach in Minnesota from 2006-2009, where his 25 wins are tops in Minnesota history. He was then an assistant with the Bandits until this past season, when he took GM duties with Six Nations of Major Series Lacrosse. Add to that his work with various Iroquois Nationals teams and you’ve got a man who has experienced all facets of the game. Dewey is smart and methodical in his approach to the game and his days as a player command respect from today’s player.
Dave Pym: The former Roughnecks coach was relieved of his duties in Calgary after 3 seasons, where he won more games than any coach in the game in that span. He was an assistant with the team before that and a scout even earlier. He’s a lacrosse lifer, having been involved with the game since he was a kid whether he was playing, coaching or doing the front office paperwork. He’s never been a GM in the NLL, but he’s a great motivator and settles for nothing less than 100%. Rumors were rampant after a Twitter picture surfaced with him wearing a Bandits lid, but 3 days later he was rockin’ a Wings t-shirt in a picture. The downside here is the potential commute from West to East.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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