There’s some stability in the National Lacrosse League as it begins its 2013 season, as far as the number of teams in the league. The league is starting a season with the same number of teams it had at the end of the previous season for the first time since 2009, but commissioner George Daniel wants to see that number change. As in more teams. Exhibition games in Montreal and Langley, B.C., tested the waters, but Daniel told reporters last week that any major Canadian city is an expansion candidate. “We simply need more cities, especially in Canada, in order for us to gain the kind of critical mass and exposure we need to have with television networks and sponsors,” said Daniel on a conference call with media. “Three is not enough.”
Daniel said the games in Montreal and Langley “created momentum for dialogue,” and then mentioned U.S. cities in which he’d like to see the NLL. Pittsburgh and New York were mentioned by name, but he said the NLL will not expand for the sake of expanding.
“When we do expand we want to make sure it’s with the right ownership group, the right management team, the right arena deal and not simply expand for the sake of it,” he said, adding that there is no set timetable for growth. “So, we have been very cautious.”
Daniel also touched on the league’s playoff format in which 8 of the 9 teams qualify. It’s taken some heat since it was introduced last year, especially after the 2 finalists, Rochester and Edmonton, entered the playoffs with losing records from the regular season. But Daniel says the system is fine, and it’s what the NLL needs at this point.
“8 out of 9 is higher than most leagues, but this is where we want to be,” said Daniel. “It’s different, it’s unorthodox, but it’s where we want to be. It’s the right number. At the end of the day, the teams that are playing the best will play for the championship.”
He pointed to the New York Giants (2007) and Green Bay Packers (2010) winning recent Super Bowls as wild-card teams, and the Los Angeles Kings winning last year’s Stanley Cup as the No. 8 seed in the playoffs.
“We see it in every sport, where teams come in as the last seed and get hot in the playoffs,” he said.
The format remains the same for this season. And all season, fans can watch the road to the playoffs on YouTube as the league announced a deal to have all its regular-season games broadcast on the internet channel.
“We’re the biggest sports league streaming on YouTube,” he said. “And we’re real excited to bring the NLL to a whole new platform. We plan to be aggressive in this space, the digital platform.”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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