Now that much of the off-season maneuvering is done, it's time to get down to the business of putting a team together that will compete for an NLL title once again.
My apologies for some of the lack of response in this forum, but there has been some use of my honest approach to this forum in the past that has been exploited by certain "elements" at work around the NLL, so I have chosen to keep our business internal, I did feel like our fans deserved an update on what we have been doing lately.
The Mammoth have enjoyed a tremendous off season with an abundance of very quality players becoming available to us, both the entry draft and the results of the dispersal of the Boston players have provided us with some excellent choices for the upcoming season.
Starting with the entry draft, here are some thoughts...
Bob Hamley spent two months in Ontario this summer watching a number of games at both the junior and senior level, he logged a ton of miles but knew the draft at a very high level in a strong/deep year. He and I also spent a good deal of time in B.C. as well, this summer and also watched a ton of games online. I felt like we were extensively prepared for this draft and beyond. Great job by Bob!
Adam Jones, what a competitor, a winner at every level, arguably the best lacrosse player in the draft, certainly the best left handed offensive player in the draft, this is a player that can take a team on his back and win games, a throwback to grit and toughness with great skill, a natural born leader. Obviously, his stock dropped in the draft because of the knee injury he sustained at Canisius early in their D1 schedule, we had the great opportunity to have him evaluated by our fantastic medical staff prior to the draft here in Denver and he was given a very positive progress report. He is on track and the expectations are that Adam will be ready to go for training camp, but we will be cautious with him as we expect he will be a force on the Mammoth for years to come and donÂ’t want to jeopardize that great future.
Contrary to what the parodies might say, we knew exactly who Dan Coates was at the draft. A very strong, very fast right handed defender with a good stick, will fit very nicely with an already strong defensive unit. Coach Randy Mearns at Canisius College loves DanÂ’s tenacity and tremendous leadership qualities. Both Dan and Adam have committed to living in Denver and will no doubt resume their roles as roommates as they lived together for several of their years at school.
We took some chances with the 8th pick and Dan Coates because we had our sights set on the next two players but knew that Dan would be scooped up by eastern teams that drafted from 9-12. We decided we couldnÂ’t wait to get a player of his quality and the next two would slide because of their western roots.
Jordan McBride has had a tremendous college career at Stony Brook where he did what he does best, scored goals!! A right handed offensive threat every time he is on the floor, has great hands, good feet, and an amazing, talented touch around the net. A very good shooter from mid to long range. People are saying, and we agree, he may be the most Â“NLL readyÂ” player at 25, he has spent 4 years at the Senior level with the WLA Salmonbellies, here he has played against men and been very effective. He probably dropped some in the draft because of his inability to relocate to Denver and will commute from Vancouver.
Jamie Lincoln is another talented offensive threat with flat out speed. The NLL game is very suited to his style, whether we choose to use him in the offensive end or as a transition player hasnÂ’t been decided, but he can do both extremely well. Jamie is gifted with his stick and can score. He struggled with injury early in the WLA season but really started to step his game up in the Langley Thunder run to the Mann Cup in Canada. We are hopeful for him to find his form early in his NLL career. Jamie will also live in Denver.
Tye Belanger finished his junior career in strong fashion with the Peterborough Junior Lakers, a very athletic goaltender with a nice stick. Tall and mobile, his game should translate well to the larger net in the NLL. Tye and Dan Lewis will battle for the back up position behind Chris Levis.
With 5 picks in the first 16 of this draft, we knew we were destined to pick some very strong players but to address every need and to get every targeted player on our list we couldnÂ’t be happier. Five players that can all start right away and donÂ’t need to be taught the game gives us a running start towards our goal.
As the draft went on we focused on the best players available in areas of need. Craig England is a big, strong and tough as nails, offensive threat with good hands that he isnÂ’t afraid to use to score or fight. Craig adds a level of toughness in the offense that we havenÂ’t seen in some time for the Mammoth. Committed to live in Denver, Craig will battle for a roster spot in training camp.
Joey Cupido is another great athlete that can also score goals. Another right handed offensive threat that just finished his junior career with the Six Nations Arrows. Not overly big, but has been described as Â“relentlessÂ”, this kid is tough as they come and plays with an edge. He plays the crease on the power play and scored 34 goals in 20 games last season in Junior. A two sport athlete at McMaster University, he plays football where assistant Coach Ed Comeau coaches lacrosse. He has aspirations to play in the Canadian Football League but could prove interesting at Mammoth camp.
Jovan Miller from the Syracuse Orange is one of our more intriguing picks. Moving to Dallas with a job later this year, I think he was looked over by most teams. When he was there with the pick in the 6th round we jumped at the chance and ran like bandits. With athleticism to spare, Jovan could bring a Josh Sims type game to the Mammoth. Fast, fast, fast. Can he adapt to the 9 team NLL?? Very exciting if he can.
That was the entry draft, the dispersal draft was exciting as well.
Rather than have a gun put to our heads again with a goalie that couldnÂ’t commit to play here in Anthony Cosmo or Casey Powell that wouldnÂ’t confirm if he would playing at all this year we decided to make the best possible move that we could by trading the dispersal draft pick. We had several discussions with three teams in particular, but finally settled on a fantastic deal with Minnesota. We decided that all our leverage for any deal was prior to the draft and not after the draft as we saw last season. Sean Pollack, Rory Smith and Jon Sullivan for that pick made our already good defense even better while adding a gritty, veteran right handed offensive scorer. Rory Smith brings some much needed toughness to our squad, developing into a premier defender he will have the back of every Mammoth player and wonÂ’t back down from anyone, but first and foremost he plays great defense. Jon Sullivan is a very steady, very stalwart defender that just doesnÂ’t get beat very often.
Ryan Hotaling was third in face off percentage last season in the NLL and reminds us of a young Jamie Hanford in the face off circle. A strong defender, will be another solid addition to the defense.
It was very difficult to say goodbye to Ned Crotty but with the understanding that we would have the chance to draft Adam Jones and possibly Jamie Lincoln in the entry draft, our offensive left side was getting quite crowded and felt we could get Ned closer to his eastern home with a trade. Ned was a fantastic competitor and a great player in the locker room and we will miss him, all the best to him in Philadelphia.
With that move we were able to secure one of the gameÂ’s premier defenders in John Orsen. John missed last season with an Achilles injury but is 100% and ready to go. He has also accepted a position coaching with Marquette University that is adding division I lacrosse in 2013, so 2012 he is dedicated to the Mammoth cause.
Interestingly enough, we got a call from Greg PeyserÂ’s representative prior to the dispersal draft that said he would only play in Philadelphia with his brother or in Colorado. With our coaching staff, former members of the Orlando Titans staff, they were very familiar with Greg. Another extremely strong and gifted athlete Greg could be reminiscent of Jay Jalbert and his athleticism. He also takes face offs and can be a force at either end.
Overall, we are thrilled with how training camp is shaping up. Lots of difficult decisions but only change can bring us back to the promise land!!!
With 9 teams in the NLL, teams have all improved. Rosters will be very challenging to make this year, camps will be very competitive and the level of play should only get better. Hopefully this gives some interesting insights into both the dispersal and the entry draft and some of the direction of the Mammoth for 2012.