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PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:09 am 
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Steve:

Since the boards are shutting down, can you care to explain some of the decisions you have made over the past off season??

1) Trading a first round pick for Drew Westervelt. Yes, Westervelt has demonstrated he can play in NLL, but is he really worth a first round pick. Will he fit in with our offence? What is his commitment to the team, when he requested the Outlaws trade him so he can be on the East Coast?

2) Drafting a Goaltender in the first round? I thought Tye (Belanger) was our guy? He played well and will only get better. With the exception of a very elite few like Eluik and Vinc their careers seem short and limited at best. Are you trying to bring competition to training camp or mess with Belanger's confidence? A lot of the goaltender's game is mental..what are you really telling Belanger?

3) Drafting defence and transition? This was an area that was not addressed over the offseason. Period. Park, Gallant, Morgan, and Orsen, are not getting any younger and have been hampered with injuries. Our goalies faced way too many shots and we seemed to get really beat in the looseball game. Why did you not look at Tucker Durkin when you had a chance? I am sure Minnesota will be happy with the pick. I am not sure about how you address Transition with picking up Cody McMahon?? Can he score, does he have the hustle and the aggressiveness to pick up loosies?

One Last Question...

The Stealth moving to Langley, BC. Steve I believe you are from the Lower Mainland and I am originally from Bellingham, WA. I do not get this move at all. Granted the Stealth did very poorly in San Jose and not much better in a Seattle suburb. I thought the Vancouver area was going to be "reserved" for a new expansion team? Is the Stealth really the organization to be in the Vancouver area? I have been to Stealth games, and I am not impressed. I am not talking the product on the field (which is good, they win games), but a terrible and unprofessional fan experience. Denise Watkins staff does not know how to put tails in seats or even maintain professionalism..something the Mammoth do very well. Wille B does have his detractors here in Denver, but I think for the most part he does put people in seats and they have fun (and want to come back). I never felt that way when I went to a Stealth game.

Hop


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:31 am 
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Steve:

Since the boards are shutting down, can you care to explain some of the decisions you have made over the past off season??

1) Trading a first round pick for Drew Westervelt. Yes, Westervelt has demonstrated he can play in NLL, but is he really worth a first round pick. Will he fit in with our offence? What is his commitment to the team, when he requested the Outlaws trade him so he can be on the East Coast?

Drew Westervelt is a marquee player in this League and has scorched the Mammoth over the years a number of times. Drew was a 30 goal scorer last season and has been a consistent 30 goal scorer in the NLL throughout his career. There were a total of 15 players that scored at least 30 goals in the NLL last year, out of 207 players, 15 is the top 7% of the NLL, exclude the goalies and you are at the top 10% in the NLL. Of those same 15 goal scorers in the NLL, Drew was 6th in shooting percentage. A top 15 goal scorer that is 6th in shooting percentage, I believe should be worth a first round draft pick. Westervelt shoots more efficiently than Evans, Ratcliff, Billings, Crowley, Shattler, Matthews and is equaled by Dickson. The question shouldn’t be… is he really worth a first rounder? the question should be why wasn’t he worth two and how can we get him more shots!! By all accounts, (and not that we measure ourselves by this, but), every NLL lacrosse person, to a man, that we discussed this with throughout the League thought we stole Drew from Philly.

As for his commitment, all I can do is go by how he has carried himself since the trade, he’s extremely excited, thrilled to be here and was a standout at camp this past weekend. At one point he said, “I should rent my house out in Baltimore and move to Denver for the season”!! I have no idea what the situation was with the Outlaws and don’t really care, he seems pretty elated to be a member of the Mammoth.


2) Drafting a Goaltender in the first round? I thought Tye (Belanger) was our guy? He played well and will only get better. With the exception of a very elite few like Eluik and Vinc their careers seem short and limited at best. Are you trying to bring competition to training camp or mess with Belanger's confidence? A lot of the goaltender's game is mental..what are you really telling Belanger?

Let me be very clear, Tye is our guy and we love him, he will be a fixture for the Mammoth for a very long time if it is up to us. He had a great weekend this past weekend and was stellar for us once he earned the starting position halfway through last season. That being said, Dillon Ward was the best player available in the draft, and we couldn’t be happier to have him here.

Tye was included in the decision about the draft, he was there when he was selected and has welcomed him to the team with open arms. Last I checked, you must have two on your roster. You might as well have two good ones. In order to be successful they should have a good relationship and they should like each other. Competition at any position is a good thing, two young promising goaltenders pushing each other to be better never hurts. Interestingly, and amazingly, their styles are eerily similar.
You almost answer your own question though, when you suggest that careers are short for goaltenders, that may be the case, we expect both of these goalies to last forever, the fact is that approach can be dangerous in the NLL. We have had the rights to two of the best in the NLL over the course of the last few years; both Matt Vinc and Anthony Cosmo could have been Mammoth players from the Titans and Blazers dispersal drafts respectively. Both told us they couldn’t commit to playing for us because of other commitments in their personal lives with work and family, etc. such is life in the NLL, different than other Leagues. That can happen at any time, finding quality goaltending can only be done in the draft and they don’t come along very often, so when they do, you have to jump at the chance and we have over the last few years. Other commitments happen as well, so having two or three good young goaltenders is paramount to our future success, just in case one goalie makes a decision that he has to leave the team for a great job or god forbid, gets hit in the head and breaks an orbital eye bone and can never play again.

Let’s face it; the last 4 championships have been won by teams with GREAT goaltending, Rochester with Vinc, Washington with Richards and Toronto with Watson. Gee Nash was outstanding in 2006 and lead us to the promise land, and as a perfect example of why we drafted Dillon Ward, a back injury to our starter has sidelined the Mammoth playoff hopes since then. Laser focus on the goaltending position in the last couple of seasons has brought us to three very good, very young and very promising future net minders for the Mammoth.


3) Drafting defence and transition? This was an area that was not addressed over the offseason. Period. Park, Gallant, Morgan, and Orsen, are not getting any younger and have been hampered with injuries. Our goalies faced way too many shots and we seemed to get really beat in the loose ball game. Why did you not look at Tucker Durkin when you had a chance? I am sure Minnesota will be happy with the pick. I am not sure about how you address Transition with picking up Cody McMahon?? Can he score, does he have the hustle and the aggressiveness to pick up loosies?

To suggest that we didn’t address defense or transition in the offseason “period”, as you put it, is a bit misleading. Goaltending is the cornerstone of great defense and it was our sole focus for the first round! However, because of the Westervelt trade, which I explained above, we didn’t have 2nd round picks and weren’t able to select Tucker Durkin, as he was selected 19th by Philadelphia (not sure what you mean when you say that Minnesota will be happy with the pick?). I have no doubt that Tucker Durkin will be a nice player in the NLL, if he plays, which is always a crap shoot with American players that have never played a day of indoor lacrosse in their lives. The gamble is always a little high, you just never know. Even Philly, the only eastern US based team with a history of working with US players passed on him twice before they selected him at 19. That is the challenge with the draft, you make the decisions with the information you have at the time that you make the decision, I guess only time will tell if we selected properly.

That being said, we did address the defensive end. A very well timed trade for a young player from Calgary’s system in Jackson Decker is a strong defender with great speed and strong offensive upside. We also signed a strong, very big defensive player in Patrick O’Meara at 6’5 as a free agent. We also added Cameron Mann in the third round, long after Durkin was selected, a player that by all comparisons around NLL staffs is comparable to a young Sandy Chapman, well respected transition player in Toronto or Jesse Gamble, another Toronto transition player that excited the NLL last year with a number of transition player of the week honors. And if for some reason that Cameron Mann doesn’t make the team, then we must feel pretty good about what we already had in camp.

Keep in mind, rosters have been reduced by 3 players and dressing rosters by 2, fewer players have to contribute more. I can assure you that offenses will retain the same amount of players on the active roster and the dressing roster, but defenses will be reduced. Faceoffs become much more vitally important as they were with Jamie Hanford, Bobby Snider will give us increased possessions and first shots and an opportunity to compete against Calgary and his brother as opposed to simply conceding possessions.

I am a little confused by your comment about shots, we outshot our opponents by 22 over the course of the season, we shot 1,100 times compared to our opponents 1,082. We did get out loose balled without question, but only by 6 per game, face offs were the single biggest contributing factor to that number and that has been addressed.

I would also suggest that after Tye entered as the starter, our save percentage sky rocketed from a dismal 59% and 71% with the former starters to 77.6%!! that in and of itself, makes the defense and the goals against much more understandable. Shots that go in from the restraining line, can’t be defended very well by any defense. Defenders are forced to push out to stop long shots that are going in, this exposes them to being beat into space in the middle, until you are confident and comfortable that your goalie will make the saves, you have to second guess everything done in the defensive end. An entire season of goaltending that eclipses last season’s end, with 10.77 goals against, 4th overall in the League, and a save percentage of 77.6%, which is also 4th overall, among all starters in the League, will produce much different results than the skewed early season results that we saw last year.
I am still very confident that watching young players like Coates, Reid, MacCleod, Cupido, Holding and Lincoln mature into strong, very athletic defenders that handle the ball and start (and finish) the transition will gel very nicely with veteran leadership in the defensive end.

I don’t think that disparaging young Cody McMahon is fair; Cody was drafted as an offensive lefty that may one day compare to a player like Josh Sanderson. He had a fantastic Junior career in Orangeville winning two minto cups and contributing with great lacrosse iq and timely scoring. Don’t let this kid’s size fool you, his heart is twice the size of a lot of current NLLers.


One Last Question...

The Stealth moving to Langley, BC. Steve I believe you are from the Lower Mainland and I am originally from Bellingham, WA. I do not get this move at all. Granted the Stealth did very poorly in San Jose and not much better in a Seattle suburb. I thought the Vancouver area was going to be "reserved" for a new expansion team? Is the Stealth really the organization to be in the Vancouver area? I have been to Stealth games, and I am not impressed. I am not talking the product on the field (which is good, they win games), but a terrible and unprofessional fan experience. Denise Watkins staff does not know how to put tails in seats or even maintain professionalism..something the Mammoth do very well. Wille B does have his detractors here in Denver, but I think for the most part he does put people in seats and they have fun (and want to come back). I never felt that way when I went to a Stealth game.

I am certainly not going to say one bad thing about Denise or Bill Watkins, a wonderful lacrosse family that has sacrificed millions of dollars to keep the Stealth alive in San Jose then Everett, now the Lower Mainland/Vancouver region. They deserve a tremendous credit for their continued commitment to the NLL.

Now the Vancouver region / Langley is an interesting decision. Since the disappointing demise of the Vancouver Ravens in a completely undercapitalized attempt to bring the NLL to BC, the League has always had a focus to return. Because it’s my hometown, I want to believe that it will work there; the challenge has always been that the area doesn’t support the lacrosse that is played there now. Some of the best lacrosse in BC is played in arenas around the lower mainland in front of crickets, Canucks hockey is king, with soccer and football professionally dominating the market place. I don’t know if there is a place for lacrosse in the lexicon of sports in Vancouver, sad to say, but I am just not sure. When the community can’t support the Minto Cup, the National Junior Championship of the nation, played at the 3500 seat Queen’s Park arena last summer, what does that say for the support of the lacrosse community itself. I attended this fantastic tournament of wonderful junior lacrosse and I, literally, counted 246 people in the seats for one of the round robin games. Blame it on "marketing" if you want, but the lacrosse community knew the Minto Cup was being played and stayed away.

I do have to say, I like the Langley Events Center, I wish it had about 2,500 more seats for the NLL, it doesn’t. The challenge with the Vancouver market is that the NLL was, in fact, reserving that market for an expansion team, unfortunately, no one has shown the interest in the market for expansion. The Canucks have shown little to no interest, the Pacific Coliseum has a major tenant that is not interested, and is somewhat restrictive when it comes to sharing the space. The venues are limited, Abbotsford may be a more suitable building but it’s too far from the demographic core. Langley is right in the heart of the growing lacrosse community (see above for my hope that they support the NLL and the Stealth). The Burnaby lacrosse community is slowly dwindling, Coquitlam is robust as is Surrey/Langley and the suburbs, if it’s going to work in Vancouver then Langley is the right site. With a 5500 seat venue, the hope is that it can be filled and generate twice as much revenue as Everett was with expenses that are significantly decreased with a built in player base and travel savings.

The city of Langley (owner of the Events Centre) has been a strong supporter of the NLL and has expressed a passion for having the product there for a number of years. Three exhibition games and an NLL Championship game have been well attended and supported financially. The City was willing to take on a number of operational functions for the team so that the Stealth could more acutely focus on what they were good at, by putting a competitive team on the field.

The Stealth was not going to continue in Everett, Langley was the only alternative considering the choices. With no other interest in the market, and an owner that was willing to continue in a better situation with a partnership in a city that was passionate about the product it was an easy decision for the Watkins. The NLL had to support the move and wanted to support an ownership that has been a good partner for a number of years. The hope is that with the Events Centre taking a significantly active role in the success at the box office, by growing the product in the Vancouver area would be easier in a smaller venue that will burst with excitement rather than a large, expensive venue that had no stake in the matter.

There are a number of economies of scale that make sense in Langley, lower costs, lower travel expenses, local access to players. I think by far the most intriguing is the possibility that TSN has taken a significant interest in the NLL and the potential that our property is entrenched in many major cities in Canada, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto with renewed interest in Montreal, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and Halifax for potential expansion, has them contemplating a relationship for NLL content. A national television deal in Canada with a significant broadcast partner could change the face of our game forever, so if Langley is a lynch pin in that process, I am all ears.

The city has already completed a practice facility for the team and has jumped into the NLL with both feet, the Watkins family is now in a partnership with an engaged entity in a market that, I hope, has a passion for the game, with a team that will contend for a championship as they have done for the past few years. I wish them all the best in Langley and hope that it proves fruitful for the entire NLL.


SG


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:07 pm 
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Thanks for the response, Steve. Your input is certainly one of the biggest reasons why I'm glad the forums will be sticking around. :)


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 29, 2013 3:42 pm 
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Steve:

Thank you for keeping the boards up and responding to my post! Please excuse me for taking the time to write you back and respond. There is little doubt that you have one of the most difficult jobs in all of Lacrosse. I really think the only ones that have tougher jobs are Coaches Dave Pietramala (Johns Hopkins) and John Desko (Syracuse). I appreciate that you have always taken the tome to engage the fans. It is one of the several reasons the Mammoth are the envy of many Lacrosse teams.

It is interesting to hear your input on some of the upcoming NCAA Based Talent. Let's talk about players like Jay Jalbert, Tom Ethington, or Josh Sims. While many disagree with me, I think having the top US NCAA Talent playing in the NLL will help the promote the game. With many US kids now playing box, I think the game will have a chance to grow as well.

I am looking forward to this coming season. Hopefully I will be able to come out and catch a live game..

Thanks!

Go Mammoth! Go Hopkins!


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:44 am 
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While I don't disagree that having quality/top NCAA based talent, (which I will interpret your meaning to be US kids, there are lots of Canadians that are considered top NCAA based talent now), but the real bottom line here is creating success for our fan base. I believe that most other NLL teams are thinking the same way, the best indoor players means exactly that, the best and now, the 9 teams with 20 spots each have to find the best 180 players for indoor lacrosse success this season. Origin is irrelevant to that process in most cases.

Of course, we would all agree that we want the sport of indoor lacrosse to grow; however, it is not our prime directive to do that artificially with the parent club. We do participate in plenty of initiatives to help grow the game at the youth level and those have been wildly successful. But, if those players at the highest level are good enough help us win and available then I want them. The Mammoth have never made the decision that we had to have a player because they were from a "certain" location, the players we have had in the past have been chosen based on what they could contribute at the time we needed players in the positions that we needed them.

Jalbert, Stilley, Hanford, Sims, Ethington, Law, Prossner, Park, Orsen, Powell, Westervelt, and the list goes on and on, are players that we felt, or feel, could, or can, help us win. And I have loved every one of those guys, and loved watching them play. Their heritage is/was unimportant.

Acquiring or training new indoor players is a tricky process, especially for players that have never played the indoor game. "Potential" is a dangerous thing. We have drafted a number of solid US field players with big names only to find out that their skills didn't translate or that we couldn't take the time to develop them in order for them to translate. That didn’t make them bad players or us bad evaluators of players. Keep in mind, we practice once a week, and although the player may suggest that they are committed at the draft, once they get on a plane for the first few weeks of camp and games and they start flying all over North America to sit on the bench after a super star career in the NCAA or MLL, commitment wanes and egos are bruised, attitude develops in some cases and you start to see a big bottom lip. And it’s not because they aren't talented enough, it’s simply because we can't accelerate the development process fast enough.

Recent developments in the scheduling of the MLL and the NLL are going to make the process even more difficult. Looking for talented players in Div II and III might be a better way to go in the future, talented players that want to stick with it and battle through the grind that is the NLL.

Good, committed field players with little experience will tell you themselves that it takes about 3 years to really get it and be able to contribute to their potential, sometimes for defensive players that process is far less, and some coaches/GMs/teams are more committed to the payoff at the end, others need immediate impact. What we are in that mix, depends on the situation and the available talent at hand.

Sometimes, allowing another team to develop that player and grow with them is the way to go, take for instance the acquisition of Drew Westervelt, drafting him at the time was a gamble, looking back it could be considered a mistake, when you look at who was drafted before him; but every draft in every pro sport is littered with would've, should've, could've and busts a mile long. He comes to us now as a fully developed indoor player that scores, the fact that he is from south of the border is irrelevant, can he help us win now in the role that we need, is the only question to ask?

And big name NCAA talent doesn't guarantee the growth of the game or box office success either. The Washington Power had the biggest names in lacrosse, with Paul and Gary Gait, and a list of who's who in the NCAA, the entire team was the most recognizable names and it didn't sell us one ticket, some might say that was because of a number of other reasons and they might be right, but big names don't guarantee anything. Look at the Philadelphia Wings that filled the building in Philly for years, big names of the NCAA haven't made the connection that some thought and haven't equaled box office success.

I had the great fortune to play on Wings teams that boasted great players from the US, but the backbone of that Wings dynasty was not Syracuse and Hopkins, it was Washington College, Vermont, Villanova, Radford, Ohio Wesleyan, Towson, Hobart, Loyola, and YES, Syracuse and Hopkins were represented, but even most of those guys were Canadian! Gait, Gait, Marechek!! And the building was full because it was a fun product to watch and the team won, thank you Dallas Eliuk!!

It's safe for me to say that success for the Mammoth is to provide a great entertainment product as a whole, winning is a major part of that formula. We will continue to strive to acquire the players that will help us do that in a new NLL. I believe Mammoth fans will continue to fill the Pepsi Center only if we are winning games and winning in a way that entertains them, that is our goal, and that is what we have to do, their college affiliation means little if we are doing just that.

I do agree 100% that more kids playing indoor lacrosse as a means to improve their outdoor game will be the single biggest contributing factor to the growth of indoor lacrosse. And I try to enhance that growth every chance I get with kids here in Denver.

Hopefully that addresses your concerns.

SG


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