16-Year Veteran Says The Time Is Right
Oakville, ON – Toronto Rock Owner, President and GM Jamie Dawick today announced that Rock forward Kasey Beirnes has decided to retire after sixteen seasons in the NLL, ten of them as a member of the Toronto Rock.
The sharp-shooting righty from Elora, ON enjoyed stops in Columbus, Arizona and Minnesota before landing in Toronto for the 2008 season. Over his sixteen seasons, Beirnes scored at least 20-goals a staggering thirteen times. He was one of the most consistent scorers of his generation without a doubt. Time does catch up to professional athletes in every sport and the 37-year old has decided that now is the right time to move on to the next chapter of his life and step away from the NLL.
“Every year it’s been getting harder,” said Beirnes. “Being away from the family when the kids were younger was difficult. The kids are getting older and it was becoming even tougher to dedicate the time to commit to play and prepare each week. Mentally, I am ready for the next phase to unfold.” Kasey and his wife Julie have two young sons, Brayden and Conner who are eight and five respectively and are both active in lacrosse and hockey.
Being a pro lacrosse player for well over a decade, Beirnes has seen a lot of changes in the game and believes the future is bright for both the Toronto Rock and the NLL.
“The league has evolved in a way that a part-time thing in the beginning has become a full-time thing,” explained Beirnes. “The commitment level is higher, there are better athletes now and you can’t just show up and play. The skill level is tremendous. To play in the league for as long as I did, it’s been a pleasure to see it grow and go through some high times and low times. But it’s nice to see the stability we now have in our league.”
Graduating from the Junior “B” ranks after playing five incredible seasons with his hometown Elora Mohawks, Beirnes thought of himself as a bit of an underdog to even play professional lacrosse. But anyone who saw him fill the net on a regular basis at the Elora Community Centre and other rinks across Ontario, all knew he had the scoring touch to make it to the next level.
“Coming out of Junior ‘B’ lacrosse and not having any Junior ‘A’ experience, just playing in the NLL was a highlight in itself for me,” said Beirnes who scored 485 points in only 108 Junior ‘B’ games, becoming a local legend in the process. “The chance to play in Toronto in front of family and friends and have the kids come to the games was also a real highlight. The last few years, the kids have been old enough to enjoy it and were really excited to come to the ACC to watch the games, which has truly been great.”
Beirnes will undoubtedly be remembered for his work off-ball, his ability to get open and a lightning quick trigger. Rock legend Colin Doyle and Beirnes had unbelievable chemistry on the floor, to the point that it would be completely conceivable that you could turn the lights out in the rink and Doyle could still thread the needle to Beirnes on the crease or cutting to the front of the goal.
“Kasey was an insurance policy for me,” said Doyle. “I knew if I waited long enough and bought enough time, he’d be open eventually. On top of that, he never missed. My standard for him was virtually unfair. I’d rip him if he missed a chance to score. Imagine that… I expected him to score on every shot. I held him in such high regard and trusted him more than most. I respected his game so much. He made me a more valuable player. He is a great friend and the game will miss him. They simply don’t make players like him. I wish Kasey well.”
When Doyle says he respects Beirnes, there’s some real depth to that between the two. The former Rock captain perhaps paid his former teammate the ultimate amount of respect when Toronto captured their sixth NLL title in 2011, the first for Beirnes.
“It was an extra special moment,” said Beirnes of the moment when both he and Cam Woods were the recipients of the first pass of the Champion’s Cup in the post-game celebration. “It was a complete class move by Colin and just showed who he is as a person and a teammate. It really was a complete shock. I still have the picture from the front page of the Toronto Sun in my office with us and the Cup. The final 30 seconds of the game is still crystal clear in my memory. I pull it up online every once in a while and re-watch it. It was an afternoon game so we got to spend a lot of time afterwards to celebrate with friends and family. It’s a special day that I will never forget.”
The focus and determination of the 2011 Toronto Rock is also something Beirnes won’t soon forget as he truly felt there was a special group from the moment training camp began.
“Coming off the disappointment of 2010, there was a real feeling that we let one get away,” Beirnes said of the narrow Champion’s Cup final loss to the Washington Stealth in 2010. “It was strictly business from the first day of camp before the 2011 season, with everyone buying into the program. We didn’t have the best record that season but we peaked at the right time. In a one-game playoff, it just goes to show what the outcome can be for a team with the right preparation and buy-in from everyone.”
Dawick has not known a Toronto Rock without Kasey Beirnes as he bought the team with Beirnes already two years into his decade-long stint with the club.
“Kasey is an ultimate professional both on and off the floor,” said Dawick. “He was a great teammate, a great performer on the floor. He understood his role and did it very well. Kasey made a huge impact on the team and he’s going to be missed. He retires as one of the best off-ball players the NLL has ever seen. Kasey always had the ability to just go off for five or six goals. He didn’t need to have the ball to be successful, but when he did have the ball, it usually ended up in the back of the net.”
A player doesn’t have the opportunity to enjoy a sixteen-year NLL career without a lot of support from friends, family, teammates and the fans. Beirnes is no different.
“I couldn’t have played professional lacrosse without the support at home from my wife Julie. She raised two kids on the weekends, until they were five or six. She was the one dealing with sick babies when you’re away and running the kids around everywhere, I can’t thank her enough! My mother, my dad and my brother… their support of 15 years to get to the pro level and then the 16 years of playing pro, that support system, including aunts, uncles, the support of the community, the flexibility from my day job, they are all puzzle pieces that need to fit. Jamie Dawick and the Toronto Rock office staff, thank you for making it feel like home. After ten years, it’s hard to walk away from that family and the camaraderie. The TRAC (Toronto Rock Athletic Centre) created a tight bond between the players and the office and it was a great thing to have. Finally, I just want to thank all of my teammates that I went to battle with. Thank you.”
Beirnes finishes his NLL career with 235 games played, 383 goals, 304 assists and 687 points. He has one Champion’s Cup to his credit, coming in 2011 when the Rock defeated the Washington Stealth 8-7 at Air Canada Centre. In the post-season, Beirnes was just as consistent of a scorer finishing with 32 goals, 13 assists and 45 points in 20 games. He finishes his Rock career in the top 10 in franchise history in games played (6th – 156), goals (4th – 245), assists (8th – 179) and points (7th – 424).
2018 Season Tickets are also on sale now. Please visit torontorock.com/tickets or call 416-596-3075 to purchase or for more information.