Toronto – Les Bartley, former Head Coach of the Toronto Rock and the Buffalo Bandits, passed away on Sunday at his home in St. Catharines, Ontario. Bartley succumbed to his 18-month battle with colon cancer at the age of 51. He is survived by his wife, Gloria, and his two children, Matt and Laura.
The Toronto Rock expresses its deepest sympathy to his family. “We would like to express our deepest condolences to the Bartley family on the passing of Les this weekend. Les was a tremendous friend and leader who had an immeasurable impact on the sport of lacrosse. He left an imprint of himself on everyone he met and he will be deeply missed. We wish the Bartley family well is this time of great loss and our thoughts are with them.” Brad Watters, Toronto Rock President.
Bartley’s contribution to the team, to the NLL, and to the game of lacrosse is immeasurable. Bartley served as Head Coach and General Manager of the Toronto Rock between 1999 and 2003. He posted a 51-19 regular season record and 9-1 post-season record in five seasons. He also led the team to an awe inspiring 37-5 regular season home record in the same time. Since he began his coaching career in 1991 with the Buffalo Bandits, Bartley has led his teams to eleven Championship games, winning seven League Championships. Four of those seven were with the Rock; back-to-back titles in 1999/2000 and 2002/2003. Prior to coming to Toronto, Bartley coached the Bandits to titles in 1992, 1993 & 1996.
Bartley’s contribution to the NLL and his success as a coach also prompted the league to honor him by naming the annual award given to the league’s top coach as the “Les Bartley Trophy” for the Head Coach of the Year.
Cancer did not stop Les from staying involved in the game and league that he loved dearly. Though the disease forced Bartley to step down from his duties as Head Coach and General Manager for the Rock prior to the 2004 season, he continued to serve as Vice President, Alternate Governor, and as an advisor to Team President Brad Watters. Bartley served on the National Lacrosse League’s labor committee, and was instrumental in the reaching of a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with the player’s association prior to the start of the 2005 season. “Les has significant experience as a skilled labor negotiator with the United Auto Workers”, said Jennings. “Les was instrumental in helping us reach an accord with the players’ association. The players hold him in such high regard that his presence at the table elevated the level of trust in the process.” Bartley was recently named the 2005 NLL Executive of the Year, the final of his numerous accomplishments in the league.
Bartley’s continued contribution to the NLL and lacrosse has been an inspiration to many. Thousands of fans from Toronto and across North America have rallied behind him, taking up the cause to raise money for cancer research and awareness. Fans created the “Les’s Fund Initiative” and have raised thousands of dollars for the fight against cancer. To make a donation to Les’s Fund, please visit the official website of the Les’s Fund Initiative, www.sportcares.ca.