HOW BOUT’ THEM TIGERS!
Hey folks, hope all is well with all the Rock fans out there! It’s been a while, but with so much going on we have lots to chat about in this edition of my blog.
First and foremost, how about the State of Michigan right now! Being a Tigers, Wolverine, and Lion fan it is safe to say it has been a good few months! I have been glued to the tube and or the radio watching and listening to my Tigers go on one hell of a run. I have always been a fan of playoff baseball. It may sound strange coming from a lacrosse player, but baseball is America’s pastime for a reason. Every single pitch in a game has huge implications and the Yanks/Tigers series and now the Tigers/Rangers series have exemplified that! I literally cannot leave the t.v. for one pitch. On my way home from the Habs/Leafs opener last Thursday (which was one of the worst sporting events I’ve seen in years by the way) I was about half hour from my house in the country and was losing the radio station that was airing the Yanks/Tigers game five. I had my four year old sleeping in the back as I pulled over to listen to the final two innings. Made me think of a simpler time, when radio would have been all people had to take in a ball game. It truly was an awesome moment. Safe to say, I have been enthralled by playoff baseball yet again. Not only because my Tigers are making a great run, but it offers yet another reason why baseball is the ultimate team game. I can do my best to put it into words, but playoff baseball is about as good as it gets. Go Tigers.
I won’t dwell too much on the Wolverines and the Lions, but c’mon both of them undefeated into late October! What a thrill. The Lions have won some of the best comeback games I have seen in years. Calvin Johnson and Stafford are lights out and they are something exciting to watch. What a turnaround from a team that didn’t even win a game some three years ago. It goes to show you that the NFL has things right. The free agent system and the importance of a good draft can turn a team around very quickly (if done properly…see Millen in years past). I was lucky enough to be at the Lions home opener, when they pounded the Chiefs. I can tell you, the passion is back in Detroit and I am glad to see it.
Lastly, the Wolverines have been both exciting and nerve-racking to watch. That is college sports I guess. The reality is that kids that age still make mistakes. That is why games are never over! See the College basketball tournament for more evidence of that! The incredible comeback against Notre Dame in the first ever night game in Ann Arbor was a game for the ages. Even last week, the Northwestern coach was asked about dropping a four point half time lead. He said something along the lines of “Denard Robinson happened, that is it!” What else can you say? This kid may never make the NFL, but that shouldn’t take away from what he has been doing for the last three years with the Wolverines. He is special and I am enjoying watching him do what he does. Good on ya, Denard keep it up as the schedule tightens up. It would be great to see another big bowl game……..oh yeah, beat Ohio State as well.
Moving on to lacrosse I guess. Aside from this being the best time of year for sports it has also been quite a pre-season for the NLL. Boston has officially folded, the dispersal and the entry drafts are done and teams and fans are starting to see what their teams are shaping up like. In Toronto, it is safe to say we are going to be a much better team, even without Whipper. I suspect Roiker will come in and give us some stability in the net. On top of that, once we get a few big pieces back from injury (Petkoff and Sharp) with the additions on our back end we will be solid there as well. I don’t know much about our draft picks, but as I’ve said before. If Terry drafted them, they will be there to earn a spot on our team. Simple as that. I do know Jesse Gamble, and from what I’ve seen this kid can play. He is undersized, but his athleticism and knack for the ball will make up for it in spades. I am excited to see him play in the NLL. We also just signed Bruce Codd, and as some of you know. You just can’t go wrong with a guy like Codd. He is the type of player that will do what is needed to win Championships! I am looking forward to playing with him.
On the offensive side of the ball, in addition to Carey who we’ve already talked about we added Josh Sanderson to our left side. It may be hard for some people to understand but even though we were great last year offensively, Josh will come in and make each of us better. He is also the ultimate winner who, pardon my assumption might be playing with a huge chip on his shoulder as some people out there are starting to question him. I am REALLY looking forward to having him back!
Like I said before, we are going to be a better team this year. Normally, for a championship team that is usually good news. The problem is, so did every other team in the league. With Boston dropping out and this being one of the best entry drafts in years, each team in the NLL has a legitimate opportunity to win the Champions Cup! If I’m a fan of the NLL, this is the year I go get all my friends and bring them to a game. This year’s product should be the best ever. Let’s make it our goal to sell this game to general public. The talent and emotion that is going to be showcased this year in a 16 game schedule will be unparalleled. I for one can’t wait to get going.
As far as getting going goes, I have been training hard in anticipation for our late-November training camp start. Camp is going to be much smaller this season, as there are really only a few jobs up for grabs, but it will be an intense camp with some surprise outcomes I am sure.
In the meantime, enjoy some baseball or football and keep counting the days until the NLL season gets underway yet again. I know I am really excited to get my 15th(?) season going.
See you all again very soon!
Hey all, hope all is well in the Yard! First off, let me say how excited I am to know that the NFL is back again! It would have been a very long fall without Sunday football, let me tell you that.
In my world, things are moving along steadily. We just finished up camp season and it was the best one yet. Camps in Waterloo, Orangeville and Oakville were the best we’ve had in years. The turnouts were top notch, as was the instruction as many of the Rock greats were there to help out the youngsters. One thing that made the camp unique this year was the addition of a “trick shot” competition that will wrap up online (at www.torontorock.com) at the end of August. This was new this year and the finalists certainly earned their spot by dropping some of the neatest stuff we’ve seen in years. Family, friends and fans can vote online to crown this summer’s champ. My personal favorite is the Flying Leprechaun from the Waterloo camp. This one had creativity, flare and great tricks! Best of luck to all the competitors.
As far as playing goes, we (Six Nations Chiefs) just wrapped up our first round in the playoffs against the KW Kodiaks. We beat them 3-1 in a very hard fought series. Many didn’t give them a chance, but they really made us work and we are hoping to carry that momentum into our clash in the second round with Peterborough. They are the favorites to win the Mann Cup again this year, but I like what our team is doing right now and if we want to be the best, we are going to have to beat the best at some point! Let’s go Chiefs!
It was an interesting end to the regular season to say the least. I have been answering a ton of questions as to why on earth I scored on my own net in our regular season finally against Brampton. Well, to answer the pundits….We needed to win that game by four goals to move up to second spot in the standings. That would have given us a bye, some rest and likely a different opponent in the second round. We valued all that stuff pretty high, and when it was apparent we were simply going to win the game by 2, it was suggested we score on ourselves and take the game into a full ten minute overtime to see if we can win by four. In the end, it didn’t work, but we did feel good about our game and have had a good playoff thus far. Like I said before, onward to Peterborough. It was however, one of the strangest games I have ever been a part of. I am sure if I was watching without knowing the full extent of the standings, I would have had some questions myself!
There have also been some pretty significant moves during the Rock’s off-season. Anyone who knows Terry Sanderson, the Rock’s GM, knows he is not one to stand pat! He is always trying ways to better his teams, and even after a championship this year will be no different. In his first big move, he got Dan Carey from the Colorado Mammoth in exchange for a few picks, Creighton Reid and Matt McLeod. It hurts loosing Cleody and Reider, but to get something you have to give something in the wonderful world of sports! In this case, did we ever get something! Dan has the potential to be a big time scorer for us this season. He is coming off some injury plagued seasons, but in my opinion is one of the smoothest shooters in the game. He has great game moxy and has won at many levels. Let me be the first to welcome another great part of the Toronto Rock. He will elevate the game of the other lefties, LeBlanc, Pascas and myself no doubt about it!
In the other move, Terry shipped Kyle Ross to Washington for goaltender Matt Roik. Again, very sad to see Rosco go. He was a big part of our championship and he is going to be missed. A great teammate. In return, we get another piece of what seems to be our goaltending situation. Matt is a great goalie who also has a winning pedigree. I believe he has won a Minto, a Mann and an NLL title. Due to the great play of Tyler Richards in Washington, I suppose it was time for him to find a new home. I welcome his play to our team. He is a fierce competitor and a great stopper. He will help fill the void left by Whipper in the upcoming season.
Speaking of Whipper, how nice was it to see him become a first ballot Hall of Famer? I know he never played for accolades, but now that his career is over, I am sure we can spend a night and reminisce about all he has accomplished as the Greatest Goalie the NLL has ever seen. He will be missed this year, but the Hall of Fame will be a great way to send him off. Well earned Whip! What an honor to see him elected the year after watching my other very good friend, Dan Stroup get inducted. Well done boys!
Anyway, it seems as though even on off-season for an NLL’er is filled with lacrosse. I guess that is the way it should be. I am off to Peterborough for our first of our seven game series. I expect one hell of a series. If you are in Ontario and want to see some fine lacrosse action, Six Nations, Peterborough, Brampton and Brooklin will have lots going on. As will Orangeville and Whitby which is shaping up to be a great Jr. A final as well.
All the best to all the lacrosse fans out there, we’ll catch up again soon.
Hey all, hope all is well. It has been a crazy month of May to say the least! I’ll be honest with you, with some much going on in my own life it has been tough to keep up with all the sports around me.
Lets start with the NLL. What a year! Simple as that. To win the Champions Cup and to see my boy Whip end an unbelievable career the only way he could, was simply a dream come true. It was a true honor to see the Rock hoist that trophy again. After being so close last year and knowing in my heart that if the game had been at home we would have won it, it was sheer delight to hoist it in front of 15,000 screaming Rock fans in the ACC. It was great to be the captain of such a deserving bunch of guys. We had set out, right from training camp to right our wrong from the year before, and to be able to actually see it through was amazing. One of my proudest moments of all time, no questions asked!
One side note from the NLL championship was the amount of media we recieved during the build up to the final game. It was crazy. Obviously, Toronto is Leafs Nation, but with them and the Raptors out we gobbled up the leftovers and then some. I was busy, literaly everyday with either television, radio or print. It was awsome! Cudos to all those who jumped on board, it helped put the game on the map and was a big reason why so much attention was focused on the game, and deservingly so, Toronto doesn’t have a huge line of teams in the winning circle! (I guess that is my shot at the Leafs).
Could you imagine being the best in your sport at your position and walking away from the game on your own terms. That sounds good enough, but what Whipper did in that final game is beyond amazing. I really haven’t even had much time to allow it to sink in. In his last ever lacrosse game, he played as good as I have ever seen him. Single handedly saving us time and time again, to help us hand on for an 8-7 win over the Stealth! Of course he was given the games MVP award. When it was all over, I was happy to see a friend with such a sense of accomplishment. For me, that was rewarding enough! What a day, what a game. I will never forget that championship, for as long as I’ll live!
Last point on the NLL. Our owner in Toronto, Jaime Dawick (i think I spealt it right) deserves a ton of credit. In sports, owners sometimes want too much credit and sometimes they get too much credit. This is not the case here. Lets call a spade a spade, shall we. This guy takes a, once very proud franchise pulls them out of a three year tailspin and in two years is crowned an NLL champ. That is pretty impresive, is it not? Of course he doesn’t call all the shots. He’s got good guys around him for that, but he trusts them to do their job and he vows to do his. Good on him. He promised the fans of Toronto a winnner and in two years he’s had his boys to two championships and the winner of the most recent. My hat goes off to him for being a man of his word. Good on ya Boss!
The only thing that could have made the NLL championship any sweeter would have been if I could have stuck around to enjoy it! The next day I was off to Prague for the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. Aside from a long, hungover flight, the chamionship was GREAT! Canada came away with gold, and the whole experience was second to none. It was tough being away from my family for nearly two weeks, but it was cool to have a lax famlily while we were there. The boys were great, and we had a focused bunch there for one reason only…the GOLD. The city is truly an amazing place and the culture is second to none. I amazed with the acheitect and the history it had. The buildings and the sights were awsome! All in all, a great experience.
Speaking of awsome, you aught to see sports fans in Europe! Lacrosse is a new sport in the Czech Republic to say the least, but you wouldn’t have known it if you had seen the home side represent themselves in this Tournament! The fans stood the whole game and seem to have a drum beat and or chant for everything that happened. It was unbelievable! Such a different feeling than being at an event in North America! That being said, they home side faired really well earning a fourth spot finish. To some that would be brutal, but I can remember their team eight years ago when the first ever WILC was held in Ontario. To say they were new, was an understatement! They really struggled,but they have come along way and will be even tougher in four more years. Cudos to them for putting in the time. They were truly great ambassadors for their Country.
To that point, the whole world seems to be closing the gap to Canada. Some still have lots of work to do, but the US and the Iroquois are well on their way. If the USA finds some goaltending, look out four years from now!
Either way, to captain an NLL champion and and a World Champion in just under two weeks is a pretty special feeling. I feel very lucky to have accomplished what WE did! I am going to enjoy three days off before being reminded what summer lacrosse is all about Thursday night in Peterborough! I’m sure they have me reminded nice and early!
To a great month!