It’s that time of year, to reflect. On this, the first day of 2013, let’s take a look back at the year that was 2012 through the eyes of our favorite game, lacrosse. To be sure, our game was all over the map and it was a fun year to track. Then again, the downside of reporting is that not all news is good news and some of the headlines in the past year were frustrating and downright maddening. But don’t despair, there were plenty of good headlines as well. So today, we kick off our look back at 2012 with a look at the first half of our list. We’ll be back tomorrow with our Top 10 stories.
20. Adios, and fare thee well: How’s this lineup look for a pick up game? Mikey Thompson in goal, Bruce Codd and Ryan Sharp on defense, Pat McCready in transition and Cam Sedgwick and Kaleb Toth as forwards. And on the bench we’ll have Dan Carey, Jason Bloom, Pat Maddalena, Pat Campbell, Chris Schiller and Jed Prossner. That’s the team that can be formed with the guys who say they retired from the NLL. Thanks, one and all, for your roles in helping to make the NLL into what it is today.
19. A new era: The 7-9 record for the Bandits was their first under coach Darris Kilgour and first since going 4-8 in 1999. The season included a 6-game losing streak and nearly cost Kilgour his sanity as he wasted few words in describing the team as pathetic after a couple of losses and questioned the heart of his team on more than one occasion. Simply put, this was not acceptable in Buffalo and the Bandits went out and hired former goalie Steve Dietrich to be the general manger in charge of rebuilding the team, and the team’s attitude. Chugger was busy in the offseason, orchestrating trades, free agent signings and a draft strategy to overhaul the roster. We’re a little more than a week away from the start of the discovery process to find out if all those changes worked.
18. Welcome back, CP: Perhaps the best American to play in the National Lacrosse League, Casey Powell is back after taking a year off. The right-handed forward was property of the Knighthawks last year after the team claimed him in a dispersal draft for the Boston Blazers. He is the first American to be named MVP of the NLL (2010) and his break from the game has recharged his motor. He’ll be a solid addition to the offense for the defending champions and with NCAA and MLL titles already on his resume, he’d love nothing more than to add his first NLL title.
17. Not pretty: We’re used to hearing about stuff like this in other professional sports, but not the NLL. After a February game against the Swarm in Minnesota, 5 Knighthawks players were charged after an incident at a local restaurant. It was basically a fight and afterwards became a he-said, he-said kind of deal as to how it all started. It was not the sort of news the Knighthawks, the NLL or the game needed, but considering some of the stuff that goes in the world of professional athletes as a whole, it could have been a lot worse.
16. New start: The news out of Calgary in July that Dave Pym had been relieved of his duties as coach of the Roughnecks was a surprise and then again, it wasn’t. Professional sports is a result-driven industry and anyone who steps into knowingly accepts that risk. Still, that didn’t make Pym’s dismissal any easier to accept. He’s an intense and knowledgeable coach who demands top effort. But a lack of playoff success coupled with new ownership of the team didn’t add up for Pym’s employment status with the team. In steps his former assistant, Curt Malawsky, who begins the season with high expectations while Pym takes on a new role as a scout with the Toronto Rock.
15. Onward with the new: Three new leagues kicked off in 2012 and by far, CLax enjoyed the most success if only because it had more than 1 or 2 teams. That’s not to mock the NALL or PLL, the 2 leagues that are the result of a split of the original plans for an NALL. The latter two, based in the U.S., went ahead with plans for seasons although they were a bit abbreviated and short-handed on teams. But both the NALL and PLL are in better shape for 2013 with more teams and plans for full schedules. CLax, meanwhile, is gearing up for its second season and has 7 teams after adding a new one and shifting a couple of others. The Toronto Shooting Stars are even bringing lacrosse back to the Maple Leaf Gardens, known today as the Mattamy Athletic Centre. Here’s hoping all 3 leagues the best in 2013, and the realization of the goals set forth.
14. Close call: The last thing any sports fan wants to hear about is labor unrest for their favorite game. The ugly topic crept up a few times during the 2012 season as NLL management and the players were closing in on a deadline after the NLL’s Board of Governors voted to opt out of the final 2 seasons of the then-current Collective Bargaining Agreement. But in July, the sides announced an agreement for a new 1-year deal that will allow for a 2013 season while also allowing the sides to continue negotiations for another long-term deal.
13. Nice save, dude: We joke at times about how there’s nothing more important in life than lacrosse. But in late October came news that Colorado Mammoth transition man Joel Dalgarno had been credited with saving the life of a woman who was drowning. Dalgarno, who sat out of the NLL last season to train as a firefighter in Coquitlam, B.C., put that training to use and used CPR to save the woman’s life. Bravo.
12. Another ugly mark: The week the Minto Cup was to begin in August came word out of Durham, Ont., that Stanley Mark Brown had been arrested on counts of gross indecency, indecent assault and sexual assault. Brown, president of the Whitby Warriors Jr. A lacrosse team, was accused of these charges while he was Boy Scouts leader in Oshawa in the 1970s and 1980s.
11. The winds of change: We could see it coming but could hardly believe it. As the MSL season unfolded and the losses and offensive struggles mounted for the Brampton Excelsiors, many started to wonder just what an MSL postseason might look like without the Excels. Then again, all 6 teams qualified for the playoffs, but it was definitely surreal to see the Excels exit after the semifinal round, courtesy of Six Nations. It was the first time since 1995 that an MSL finals had been played without the Excelsiors. Brampton was just 1 season removed from winning the 2011 Mann Cup, but it just never came together for the Excels in 2012, at least by their standards.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 email@example.com or go to RochesterSports.com.
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