There isn’t much question that fighting is on its way out of the game of lacrosse. Certainly that’s true in Canada, where the CLA has passed new rules for 2013 that impose harsher penalties on combatants (particularly instigators or aggressors). The National Lacrosse League doesn’t see a ton of fights these days, but when one does crop up there are still plenty of folks who enjoy a little boxing thrown in with their lax. Today, you get to pick who is the best of the bunch when the mitts come flying off. IL Indoor’s Fan Poll asks who is the best fighter in the NLL.
Supporting the theory that the pugilistic arts are on the decline in lacrosse, it’s hard to even round up a sizable field of candidates. There just aren’t that many guys going buckets these days. Two of the guys who would be natural contenders here really aren’t applicable. Brandon Francis is out for sure, because he was released by Buffalo and isn’t on a roster.
Rory Smith is one of the most feared combatants in the game, but think about the last time you saw him in a fight. It may take a while—he didn’t drop the mitts at all last NLL season. He did have one fight each in the MSL regular season and playoffs—against Kyle Termini of Ajax and then Dylan Evans of Brampton. But in the MSL finals against Peterborough—including noted tough guy and classic Smith dancing partner Andrew Suitor—not only did Smith not fight, he barely went in the penalty box at all. We’ll leave him in the poll, but it’s worth noting that while his fighting is going by the wayside he’s working his way up the list of the top defenders in the game. Pretty good tradeoff for his Mammoth employers.
There are another half dozen battling it out for the title of top fighter. There’s the young gun in Suitor, who definitely still enjoys a good tussle now and then. Then there’s the veteran who is well-known for his distinctive fighting style. Geoff Snider likes to grab hold of his opponent’s jersey with his left hand and wait patiently for an opening. He’s good enough at it that he often requires just one punch to score a decisive win.
Paul Dawson is big and strong and has a mean streak on the floor. Fighting, however, took him a while to really master—possibly because he entered the league as a goalie and they don’t tend to fight a whole lot (Paddy Campbell notwithstanding). He had landed some devastating punches over the last couple of years and not many people are keen to tangle with him these days.
Finally, we’ll include a couple of guys who may not fight often but who can do some serious damage when they do. Both are scary because of a similar trait they share when they fight: they are fearless, a bit wild and don’t care if they get hit, as long as they’re landing their punches–and they punch hard. Scott Evans and Billy Dee Smith are both big and strong and not someone you’d want to be in a dark alley with (unless they were on your side, in which case you couldn’t ask for a much better wingman than either one).
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