Thank you for the question. I am sure many people are asking similar questions so this is a good forum for me to address these concerns.
As I said in the previous response, we will select the best team in order to compete for a championship in 2011.
Hopefully my response can bring some clarity to the restless.
Just so we are all on the same page and no one is confused, lefties may play on the right side, but we say the lefties play on the left side because we are fairly simple lacrosse folk, and itÂ’s just easier. This is pretty standard Canadian lingo in box lacrosse.
I can assure you; the decisions up to now have been challenging and won't get any easier as we get to the 23. Good players around the League are being released this season, we are down to 10 teams from last season, everything is a factor: salary, fly in status, age, health, etc. all will be contributing factors as well as the player's relative contributions. This has been a tremendously competitive training camp here and throughout the NLL.
We feel our left side right now is the strength of our team, John Grant, Jamie Shewchuk, Cliff Smith, Dan Carey are all very solid. Dan Carey is progressing quickly and MAY be ready soon. Ned Crotty has had a very successful camp and is turning into quite an indoor player. Time will tell. Jason Jones continues to impress and has done everything to stay on this team. All 6 give us great depth.
Our right side continues to be very solid. Brian Langtry has had a great camp and looks like he is ready for another stellar campaign, Alex Gajic is ready to go, Mike McLellan is exactly what we are looking for, an amazing finisher, he may have the ball in his stick for 25 seconds all game but will have 4 goals, Coach Ed Comeau calls him 7-11, he is always open, call him a throwback to Dan Stroup. Jamie Floris popped three goals the other night on Richardson and Roik in Washington, just because he kept working and getting open inside. Connor Martin also continues to impress, a goal in each of the two preseason games, great hands and just never stops working.
On offense itÂ’s very important not to have a bunch of players that do the same thing; we have strived very hard this offseason to create chemistry with a group of offensive players that all complement each other by doing something that will make someone else better. As the offense comes together you will find that you need 4 on one side and 3 on the other, for us it looks like our depth is with lefties so we will keep more of them to go 4 left/ 3 right. Keeping 6 and 4 is the most logical for the Mammoth right now. Keep 10, 7 play.
Craig Conn was a tremendous player, great at one point in his career. Coach Hamley loves him as a player from his experience in Arizona, as do I, and he has had some phenomenal games in the NLL. We had very high expectations for what we thought Craig could bring to the table, we just feel that he has more physical limitations than what we thought and wasnÂ’t able to play the type of up tempo style that we are looking for this season from our players. We know his heart and mind are there but just werenÂ’t able to see it in the on-floor contribution during the training camp process. Craig is a good man and I wish him all the best in his future whether it be in the NLL or not.
After a great competition by four outstanding netminders, Levis and King have emerged as the two that will carry the mail. Regardless of what some might say, both have different styles and can show different looks to the opposing offenses. I have a great respect for Curtis and wish him well in his retirement.
With 10 forwards and 2 goalies, we have a competition for the remaining 11 spots. We are still evaluating in areas like the back end and transition but things are coming clearer. Ilija is moving to a more transition type role, where his skills can better translate in both ends of the floor. Ilija thrives in between the lines and we are anticipating great things from him as a healthy player this year.
The remaining players have made for a tremendous camp and have pushed everyone to see greater possibilities. Unfortunately there are casualties in a 10 team League on a team that has added talent on the reamining teams.
Ryan McFadyen became one of those casualties. I like Ryan a great deal, he is an outstanding young man, but after evaluation of his play in camp and the two preseason games it became evident that he was not going to mesh with the current group of Mammoth defenders. We have to be able to defend in the two man game and experience is key in that process, and although his great athleticism and size was a huge bonus, he struggled in the 5 man defense of indoor lacrosse. Certainly we know that inexperience played a role but we just donÂ’t have available time to develop his raw talents in a world where winning is a priority. Ryan played 6 games last season and made some solid progress, he also lived here last season and was able to commit fully to the Mammoth, his personal life took him back east this year with a new job and we feared that flying in from the east coast every week was taking a toll on the challenge of competing in the NLL. No doubt Ryan should find his way back into the NLL soon, it just wasnÂ’t in the cards for us right now.
We are confident that things are progressing for the Mammoth and our ability to compete at the highest level in the NLL is coming together. Obviously we have some very good players in camp and there will be more cuts to come. Nothing is easy in the Mammoth camp right now, the players are making the decisions extremely difficult for the staff.
Hope that clears up some of the questions out there. Let me know if you need more!!