It’s a question that’s made its way around the sporting world recently so we decided to give it a go here at ILIndoor. Who would you put on your Mount Rushmore of lacrosse? And since our sport is so unique, we went at this in 2 different ways. In the first round, we limited ourselves to National Lacrosse League players only. So check it out as staffers Bob Chavez, Stephen Stamp, Ty Pilson, Teddy Jenner and Marty O’Neill give it a go and let us know what you think, or who you’d have on your Mount Rushmore of lacrosse over at the ILIndoor message board.
CHAVEZ: Let’s take a break from Xs and Os this week and tackle a topic that’s been popular recently in sports. Who would be on your Mount Rushmore for the NLL? For me, it’d be John Tavares, Gary Gait, Jim Veltman and John Grant Jr. And because lacrosse is so unique, we’ll start with NLL players only, then do a second Mount Rushmore for all of box lacrosse.
STAMP: What a great question. It’s so hard to keep it to just four. It would also be really easy to just go for offensive guys, but it would be great to keep a balance. So I’ll go with Tavares, Gary Gait, Veltman and Dallas Eliuk. I still love watching highlight reels of Eliuk’s acrobatic saves.
PILSON: For me, it’s Tavares, the Gait brothers and Veltman. Eliuk would be No. 5 on my list for his storied NLL career. The four I listed are no-brainers for me.
O’NEILL: Since you guys are going to cover all the obvious choices I’m going to take all goalies. Eliuk, who started his pro career about age 26 and missed out on a good 5 years of games because of the era he came up in is No. 1. Watson and his championships define him and his career. I also like how he went out on top, not struggling or playing for another organization. Larry Smeltzer is the name I hear every time I have ever talked lacrosse with the 70’s guys. They all say he was the best hands down. Then you can flip a coin between Pat O’Toole and Steve Dietrich. Two guys who went from Junior to the pro’s and played over 15 years of solid lacrosse.
JENNER: You creative genius … I’ll go with Paul and Gary Gait along with John Tavares and Jim Veltman. Funny enough, having grown up watching the Gaits, I never got a chance to play with them, only against them. However, I did get the honour to play along side JT and JV en route to the 2003 Mann Cup and they were legends both on and off the floor.
CHAVEZ: Leave it to the goalie union to stick together like that! This question has so many correct answers, even when we keep it to just the NLL. So let’s have even more fun and open this Mount Rushmore question to all of box lacrosse. MSL, WLA, NLL, everything, along with a very brief explanation of why you think he belongs. I’m going with John Tavares (fantastic scorer and very durable), Gary Gait (another fantastic scorer who helped revolutionize the box game as well as field lacrosse and continues to have an impact as coach of the Syracuse women), Wes Patterson (Native representation is a must for me, and he was the man who started the Iroquois National Program and the Can-Am League), and Jim Veltman (he’s the definition of what it takes to be a team player, doing the dirty work to set the table for everyone else on the team to do their jobs).
PILSON: Tough for me, growing up and living in Alberta, the far-flung Siberia of the lacrosse world. That said, here goes: Tavares, Gait, Kevin Alexander and Jack Bionda. The first two speak for themselves. I’ve heard many stories of Alexander the Great’s heroics and have watched old videos, read stories and seen his stats, including his record 217 points in one junior season!! I was lucky enough to see Bionda come to Calgary and do a demonstration when I was young lad. Amazing guy and amazing skill.
STAMP: I’ll start with Moon Wootton, the legendary goalie who won three Mike Kelly awards as Mann Cup MVP, once with Owen Sound and twice with Peterborough. Plus one of the coolest names ever. When you hear stories about Gaylord Powless, they sound like myths, but they’re about a real man and player. The OLA Jr A award for best combination of ability and sportsmanship is named after him, along with many other things in the world of lacrosse. Johnny Shooter Davis scored 118 points in his WORST Senior A season. He set all the records that the great John Tavares has broken, but he did it in 10 senior seasons. Jim Bishop rounds things out. So many coaches and players trace back to him not only their development in the game itself, but how they believe the game should be played.
O’NEILL: None other than John Tavares gets the nod for the best player to play the game in my mind. For so many different reasons he is the ultimate lacrosse player and teammate. It would be hard to pick one Gait and not the other but I’ll take GG for his elongated career and successful coaching stint that made him slightly more well-rounded. I’m biased toward Victoria players and can’t relate to anyone past the early 70s so I will take Kevin Alexander not only for his creativity on the floor but also for the things he brought the game from his mind, like the pinched plastic head. I have to admit that there are many guys like John Grant Sr. and Wayne Goss that are legendary but one player I have never heard one bad word spoken about from East to West is Ivan Thompson. People loved his game and his attitude and he encompassed what the game is all about to me so I’ll take him with honorable mention to Jim Bishop.
JENNER: I wanted go this way the entire time but since you’re the boss B.C., I complied. So for an all time Mount Rushmore I’ll go with the following: Jack Bionda. In an era of hockey playing lacrosse players, Bionda was a legend in his own shoes. His stick skills wowed crowds even during the 1994 Commonwealth games. Minto and Mann titles as well as a member of three Hall of Fames. Jim Bishop. Probably the greatest coach the game has ever known covering nearly six decades and championships at every level. Kevin Alexander. Alex the Great was just that. Silky smooth, great hands, lacrosse IQ above no other. Plus we need a mustache on the mountain. Gaylord Powless. A name associated with lacrosse greatness, Powless won four straight Minto cups with the Oshawa Green Gaels. When you think of legends of the game and people who pioneered the sport to where it is today, these four make the mountain.
CHAVEZ: Ya know, this may have been the most thought I’ve put into something in quite some time. There really are so many worthy names so narrowing this down was tough, and all the different names to come up pretty much proves that point. We’re fortunate to be fans of a game that has such a storied history and it’ll be interesting to revisit this question years from now to see if any current players have made a case to be included on a Mount Rushmore of lacrosse.
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