Kaleb Toth was speaking from his hometown of Calgary, Alberta, after returning from the gym. He sounded like a player preparing for his rookie National lacrosse League season, not his 14th. “I don’t know what the Roughnecks are planning to do with me,” he told ILIndoor. “But I’m going to be in shape and ready to go if and when they call.” On this day, Toth remembers at his first NLL camp in Toronto, calling his dad to tell him “I feel like I can score 50 goals in this league with these huge nets.” His tune soon changed when those huge nets were filled by professional goalies. He also remembers being awed as Jim Veltman ran the “beep test” and coaches saying “That’s enough Jim. We’re running out of time and you might run forever.”
Toth reflects on that rookie year of 2000 as a member of the Toronto Rock. He won a Champion’s Cup with the team and Toth scored what many are calling the greatest clutch goal in NLL title-game history. With just 5 seconds left in a tie game against Rochester, the Rock designed a play to get the ball to Dan Stroup, who already had 5 goals in the game. But Stroup was covered, so Colin Doyle passed it to an open Toth. “I had a look so I just stepped up and ripped a shot,” he said. It found a hole on Knighthawks goalie Pat O’Toole for the win and was the final goal in the history of Maple Leaf Gardens.
His time in Toronto was fun, flying in to spend a couple of weeks here and there to work with other younger players to do camps for kids. “I was the youngest and had no job, therefore I would have to cook for them,” he said, laughing as he recalled the early years of his NLL career. He’s pretty tight-lipped about varied specific memories, but does say that Tracey Kelusky “is one of the funniest cats out there, a fierce competitor on the floor and kept the room loose off of it.”
But Toth is in Calgary now, and would like to be back. His playing time diminished last season and he repeatedly said he understood, and didn’t complain. But he’s kept himself in shape for the 2013 season, not sure of what plans the Roughnecks, or any NLL team, may have for him.
“I would like to continue to play but if there isn’t any interest, Calgary or elsewhere, then I’m OK with that as well,” he said. “I’m very proud of my career. It’s been filled with numerous titles, 1 Minto, 2 Mann Cup and 3 NLL Champion’s Cups.”
Winning an NLL title with his hometown Roughnecks, just 3 seasons after helping the team get off the ground in Calgary, remains one of his fondest memories.
“I am proud of being an original Roughneck and if I retire as one I am cool with that too,” he said.
He wants to stay in the pro game as a player or coach.
“I really enjoy working with young athletes and I feel I have a lot to give back,” he said. “I love it so much I even helped coach Deo’s (his son) mini-tyke team this past summer.”
What’s next for Toth remains up in the air. Another NLL season to add to his 713 career points? A coaching gig? A call from the NLL Hall of Fame? Niner, as he’s commonly referred to by friends, has done a lot but says he still has more to do.
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