Lacrosse Editorial – NLL Hands Out The Hardware

With the end of the National Lacrosse League (NLL) season came the year end awards.  This week the NLL handed out their awards in all categories. 

Most Valuable Player:  Dhane Smith

This is Dhane Smith’s second MVP award in his career. Smith shattered the single season assist record with 94, previously held by Mark Matthews with 84 in 2018-19. He also led the league in points at 135.

Rookie of the Year:  Jeff Teat

Jeff had three games with 10 or more points with a season high of 12 on January 9 against the Buffalo Bandits. Teat shattered the NLL record for points and assists in a season by a rookie.

Goalie of the Year:  Matt Vinc

The forever youthful 40 year old has won this award eight times with three different franchises (Orlando Titans, Rochester Knighthawks, and Buffalo Bandits). He was one of four goalies to surpass the 1,000 minutes played mark during the season and finished third in goals against average at 10.10. Vinc led the NLL in wins (14), saves (747) and save percentage (.807).

Transition Player of the Year:  Zach Currier

Zach led the league in loose ball recoveries at 237. He also set a record for most caused turnovers in a season with 62, the next closest recorded 39. Among defensemen and transition players, he ranked in the top 10 in points with 19, (10 goals, 9 assists).

Defensive Player of the Year:  Mitch de Snoo

Mitch was tied for second in the NLL with 39 caused turnovers.  De Snoo led the Toronto Rock with 185 loose ball recoveries and 18 blocked shots while also contributing 20 points (8 goals, 12 assists).

Sportsman of the Year:  Lyle Thompson

Lyle has continued to represent the game of lacrosse and the NLL to the highest degree.  Thompson has continued to be a spokesman for Native rights and education throughout the world. 

Lyle Thompson is the only player to win the award four times since its inception in 2002.

Teammate of the Year:  Jeremy Thompson

An extremely high honor as it is voted on by the players of the NLL, with each team getting one nominee.  The veteran helped lead a team that played ten rookies to a 7-11 record.

Les Bartley Award for Coach of the Year:  Tracey Kelusky

Kelusky is the third coach to win the award as a first-year coach and the first to win the award as a rookie coach for an expansion team.  Panther City started slow (1-8), but as he grew with the team, and the team grew with him, they won 6 of their next 7.  This placed them in the thick of the playoff hunt.

General Manager of the Year:  Steve Dietrich

Steve earned his third General Manager of the Year Award tying him with Saskatchewan Rush GM Derek Keenan for most all-time.  The team Dietrich assembled in Buffalo tied a franchise record for most wins in a regular season with 14.

Executive of the Year:  Jamie Dawick

Jamie made news prior to the season beginning, by moving the team to Hamilton.  The Rock were able to rebuild their season membership base, thus making First Ontario Centre in Hamilton an electric place to play. 

Dawick was very instrumental in the success of the NLL during the 2021/22 season.  At the end of 2021, Provincial guidelines put restrictions in place that did not allow fans to attend indoor events. Instead of postponing games, Dawick chose to play games without fans (losing revenue) in the best interest of all league partners. The decision allowed both television and regular season game schedules to continue without interruption. 

Tom Borrelli Award for Outstanding Media Coverage of the NLL:  Pat Gregoire

Pat has been part of the Halifax Thunderbirds broadcast team, a co-host of the podcast Off the Crossbar with Teddy Jenner, and a colour analyst for the ESPN/TSN broadcasts.  Gregoire was able to add poignant insight to each of the broadcasts, showing the brilliance of the NLL in the International spotlight.

Congratulations to all the winners on the well deserved honors. The league is in good hands for years to come!

Gary Groob
Gary Groob

Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.

An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.

Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.

In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.

Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).

Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.

Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.