After over 600 days, and numerous shut downs, lockdowns, and false starts, the National Lacrosse League (NLL) finally got back to the business of regular season lacrosse this past weekend.
Since we last had a regular season, we’ve added an expansion team (Panther City Lacrosse), we’ve announced another expansion team for the following year (Las Vegas). The NLL relocated two teams with Toronto moving to Hamilton, and New England moving to Albany, and the biggest announcement of them all…added TV contracts in both the US and Canada. It seems if you blinked or sneezed, you missed an important announcement from the league.
The First Weekend:
Aside from very happy people all over North America…Owners, Players, Front Office people, as well as fans (attendence spiked all over the league), we had a weekend of extremely competitive and exciting games. Of the seven games played last weekend, five of the games ended in a one goal victory, and three of THOSE games were decided in overtime.
We had individual player successes in week one. Two players (Mitch Jones, Ryan Lee) score five goals in their respective games, and six players had four goals in their games. Dhane Smith from Buffalo led everyone with nine points in his first game (3g,6a), while Brett Hickey had eight (3g,5a).
Were there blowouts?
While Buffalo vs. Calgary had the biggest goal differential, three of the four quarters they played ended tied up. The third quarter in which Calgary gave up seven unanswered goals, was the difference in that game. The only game that wasn’t really close was the Georgia vs. Colorado game, where after an opening Georgia goal, Colorado never looked back going wire to wire from that point on.
Things for the league to look at:
While coaches challenges have added a new dimension to the game in making sure the calls are correct, the league needs to put a time limit on how long the review can go on for. Sitting at the Toronto Rock game on Saturday night, Albany challenged a goal. The review took over four minutes to complete. While you may say that the end justifies the means, and the call needs to be correct, my counter argument is if it takes this long to figure it out, the call is most likely inconclusive. What did happen was the momentum the one team created was now gone, and worse, players started to cool down and tighten up, which is a risk for injury.
The other thing the league needs to look at is incidental contact on a check. Mitch de Snoo of the Toronto Rock gave a solid body check to Tony Malcom of the Albany FireWolves. Because Malcom was leaning forward with his head down, the hit (a shoulder check) got under his helmut becoming a lower head shot. The play ended in de Snoo receiving a five minute illegal body check call, plus a game misconduct. Was it intentional? No! Was it head hunting? No! It was a bang bang play that resulted in a hit coming in high. Does it deserve a penalty? Yes, maybe two, or even four minutes, but five and a game I felt was excessive.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am fully in favor of protecting players safety, but players need to keep alert also, as this is the fastest game on two feet. I was taught from a very young age, never run (or skate) with my head down! Nothing good will ever come from that, and the same is true, even more so in today’s game, as players are bigger, stronger, and faster now.
A Huge Success:
The first weekend was everything the league could ask for and more. Great games, with great coverage. The broadcasts were clear, precise, and insightful, with good play by play and color people. The on-field interviews were done very well, and very timely as well.
My experience in finding the games on the TSN website was…easy to find, and enjoyable to watch. The league and networks obviously did their homework, being prepared for any and all wrenches that would be thrown in along the way.
I am elated that the real season is back, and that things went so well. I truly am looking forward to next week’s games, already anticipating what could, or should happen.
Lacrosse is back! We are all winners as a result of it!
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 10 years ago. Through the podcasts, he made an association with Kevin Neibauer of Lax Philly, who convinced him to come on board and write for them. The rest 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.
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).
Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.