Gavin Prout is convinced he still has a couple of good years left in him and he’s waiting as patiently as he can for the phone to ring when a National Lacrosse League team decides it needs help on the right side of its offence. There was much speculation about Prout’s status when he wasn’t in camp with the Colorado Mammoth, with whom the 35-year-old had one year left on his contract. Neither the team nor Prout was saying much about the situation, but now that he has officially been released, the full story is coming out.
“What happened was, one snowy November evening before training camp I got a phone call from [Mammoth Head Coach] Bob Hamley,” Prout told IL Indoor. “I answered and he was silent for the first 30 or 35 seconds, then he said this is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do. I figured they’d traded me somewhere. He said we’re not going to bring you into camp. I was stunned. I wondered to myself, well why not?”
The Mammoth had decided they were better off moving forward without Prout. In respect to his long career and everything he had done for the team, Colorado gave Prout permission to talk to other teams. If he could secure a deal somewhere, they would then grant him his release so he was free to sign with that team. In the meantime, the Mammoth didn’t discuss Prout’s status with the media. “They’ve been respectful enough in that manner where [GM Steve Govett] didn’t want to announce it until I’d made my decision and I applaud him for that,” Prout says.
Of course, while Prout appreciates the way the team has handled the situation, that doesn’t mean he agrees with the decision. “I’m healthier than I’ve ever been, I’m more active than I’ve ever been and I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been. I still think I can bring at least a year or two more of quality lacrosse to any lacrosse team out there,” he says.
Prout has played 12 seasons in the NLL, scoring 301 goals and 621 assists for 922 points in 184 career games, the majority of them spent with the Mammoth. He helped lead Colorado to a Champions Cup in 2006, scoring 10 goals and 15 assists in the three playoff games and leading the Mammoth in scoring in all three.
If no one calls, Prout says he will be satisfied with what he’s done, but he definitely feels like he has more in him. “My career, I’m happy with what I’ve done. Even though it seems like a long career with the 11 or 12 years I’ve been a part of this professional lacrosse now…you lose track of time. But it just seems that it wasn’t long enough,” he says.
He also didn’t like the way last season ended for him, with some healthy scratches and not getting a chance to play the role he believes he still can. It helps that he had a strong summer season with the Brooklin Redmen of Major Series Lacrosse, which helped him rebuild his confidence, but so far he hasn’t found any takers.
“My agent’s been burning the wires, asking different GMs, and some are interested and some aren’t,” Prout says. “The people who aren’t have mentioned that they’re under a strict budget and those types of things, and they felt they couldn’t offer me what they thought I’d be worth so they didn’t want to insult me, more or less.” Prout says he understands the constraints under which teams find themselves with the new salary cap and the reduction of active rosters from 23 to 20 players. All he can do now is stay in shape and be ready if and when someone calls.
At this point, that’s not likely to be until after the season has started, Prout acknowledges. “That’s definitely something that I’m convinced of. I’ve convinced myself as well as my agent that everyone’s pretty happy with their lineups as of Monday. Until there’s injuries or if there are players that aren’t fulfilling their potential, that’s when I think there may be a call. Maybe couple of games into the season. I’m hoping sooner rather than later.”
Prout says he’s willing to play for any team in the league, he just wants to go somewhere that he can help a team try to win a championship. Who knows, it could even be Colorado now that Casey Powell has announced he won’t be playing this year. “If another righthander in Colorado goes down, you never know, they may be the first team to give me a call,” Prout says with a bit of a laugh. “But right now the team looks pretty strong, a lot of guys who were there last year and some new mix, with some young legs, and I wish them all the best in their season.”
Best wishes and all, though, Prout would love a chance to prove the Mammoth wrong by getting back on the floor and showing the lacrosse world that he can still contribute. For GMs of all the teams in the NLL, Prout has a simple message. “I’m ready, willing and able to help teams when they need it. Keep my number on your speed dial.”Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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