When the NHL lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season I swore off hockey. Enter the National Lacrosse League (NLL) and the Edmonton Rush starting play in January 2006. When the team moved east to Saskatchewan, there was no swearing off the sport but it would take something big to reel me back me. With a fresh new CBA, the fish is back “in the box” (yes that’s a horrible analogy).
At first I was a “superfan” just below the late Arno Schewe and the legendary Grandma Rush in status.
In 2007, I became the organizer of the Rush Fan Bus to Calgary. Prior to the 2009 season I became an employee who kept getting parachuted back during the season to help out with the ticket side of operations. That was until the 2015 season when they finally had enough staff to cover all positions. I was so convinced that they would be leaving town after the season, I did not watch a game (even the Championship winning home game). On a side note that is when I started watching hockey again.
When I thought the National Lacrosse League itself was going to close its doors after some nasty labour negotiations, I find myself opening the door to another chapter of lacrosse fandom.
WHO TO CHEER FOR
Last season was the first time since the Rush left Edmonton that I sat down and watched a game. It was a “Twitter Game of the Week” match featuring the Colorado Mammoth. A fond memory of working for the Rush was when owner Bruce Urban flew us out to Colorado to feel what, at the time, was described as the best in-game atmosphere in the league. Almost missed the game as I got “throwing up on a patio drunk at noon” on game day but my fuzzy recollections were that Colorado earned that reputation. The score of the Twitter game eludes me but their goalie Dillon Ward was amazing. Plus it was nice to hear the voice of one of the original Rush players Teddy Jenner doing play-by-play. He may not remember me but I’ll always remember him and Chris McElroy as the best people in terms of taking time to chat with me.
This season I want to become more invested in the league I once loved so dearly so I’ve ordered the B/R Live app to watch games online.
You would think cheering for my former employers and current NLL Champs is the logical choice. There is no hot take on Urban on taking his team and moving them, it was the right thing to do for him and for the Rush but it still sucks as a fan to lose your team. Three full seasons of healing from the loss the only players who remain from my tenure as a fan/employee are Chris Corbeil, Mark Matthews, Curtis Knight, Kyle Rubisch, Brett Mydske and Jeremy Thompson. One of the Calgary Roughnecks I loved to hate in Jeff Shattler is entering his 3rd season with the team.
Speaking of the Roughnecks, my only real chance of catching a game live is by taking the 3-hour drive down the QE2 to be a part of the “rough house” at the Saddledome. Do I just always cheer for the opposition or do I become a fan of theirs? Bluntly, the decision to switch to Calgary or stay loyal to a team that left me in the Rush is equal weight on my conscience. Former Rush player Riley Loewen is there and they recently signed one of my favourite players who never wore the silver and back in Rhys Duch. Dane Dobbie is still there and was the player I loved to hate the most from the good ole days. “Superman” Curtis Dickson is not signed but if a guy could have a favorite player on the opposing team, he would be it.
Brodie Merrill and Dan Dawson both signing with @SealsLax seems like a good reason to post this picture again. Actually, any reason is a good reason. pic.twitter.com/1Tus2uOo3x
— Graeme Perrow (@GraemePerrow) November 30, 2020
The expansion San Diego Seals team intrigues me as they have Dangerous Dan Dawson and Brodie Merrill on their team. Now I do not know how the past three years have treated those boys but they were personal favourites of mine. With all due respect to current Rush mastermind Derek Keenan but if his predecessor Bob Hamley would have been successful in his attempts to acquire Dawson, Hammer would be the one with all the rings.
With the rebranded Vancouver Warriors trading away Corey Small, it is much easier to predict the Seals finishing ahead of the Warriors. I love Stone Cold Aaron Bold in net but there’s not much else on the team that I can relate to other than Ian Hawksbee. On paper they seem to be the most offensively challenged team and that does not bode well.
I do not know where this road will take me but I hope you join me as we travel through the 2018-19 NLL season. Let’s learn together, let’s debate, let’s have fun.
My coverage will predominantly be on the Western Division. If you are a fan of a team in the Eastern Divison and want to share your expertise, Win Column Sports has a platform for you to share, teach and learn. If you are craving more immediate information on the teams other than what I remember from my nine years when the Rush were in Edmonton please go here - - > NLL Chatter by Graeme Perrow. Once upon a time I could hold my own in a twitter conversation with the lacrosse guru, I look forward to once again having informed chats with him, and of course, all of you.
There is only one Western Conference match-up this opening weekend and it pits the Warriors versus the Roughnecks in Calgary. Seems like a no-brainer to pick the Roughnecks, so that’s where this vote is going. Even Graeme predicts the expansion Seals will finish ahead of the Warriors in the standings. Note to anyone else who is just coming back to the NLL, the Philadelphia Wings are not the ones we use to watch when the Rush were in Edmonton.