Hot Pot Of Lax: The Canadian Lacrosse League aka CLax

Oh, Canada!
Oh, Canada!

In this week’s Hot Pot we’re taking a quick look at the Canadian Lacrosse League, which is also known as CLax.  I don’t love the name CLax, but that’s not really something I’m going to focus on.  League names change, people adjust to new ideas and in the end, what matters is the product on the floor… so I’ll stick with that.

Basically, CLax is going to be open to anyone over the age of 18 as of December 31, 2011.  They don’t allow current NCAA athletes (or guys planning on playing in the NCAA) to participate, as signing a professional contract would nullify any NCAA eligibility a player might have.  Teams will eventually carry up to 20 players overall, and at least two of those players must be goalies.  Of these 20 players, teams will be allowed to dress 15 field players and 2 goalies per game.

The current schedule features 14 games in the regular season, which kicks off in January, with a bracketed playoff tournament scheduled for the end of the season, which is in April.  The playoffs will consist of Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Finals, and each will be decided by a single game.  There is no best-of-3 (or 5 or 7) series in CLax.  It’s one and done.

The six teams that will enter the CLL in its first season are set as well and they are: the Brampton Inferno, the Iroquois Ironmen, the Peel Avengers, the Durham Turfdogs, the Oshawa Machine and the Ohsweken Demons.  If you know anything about Canadian geography, you’ll notice that all of these teams are located in Ontario.  So for now it’s not really the Canadian Lacrosse League as much as it is the Ontario Lacrosse League, but I can see why the league founders would want to avoid a name with Ontario in it!  The OLA (Ontario Lacrosse Assoc) already exists over the summers, and many of the above named areas or clubs (like Brampton) already have teams in that league.  Having an OLA in the summer and an OLL in the winter might just be too similar.

It also stands to reason that since the league has named itself the Canadian Lacrosse League, maybe there will be expansion in the future, and I doubt teams in the Montreal, Vancouver or Edmonton areas would want to play in the Ontario Lacrosse League.  So while it’s the OLL for now, I see why the league went with CLax.  They’re clearly looking to the future.

CLax is also going to experiment with some rules that are a little different from what the NLL uses.  They’re going to limit substitutions, and try to cut back on purely offensive or defensive players, which I love.  Box lacrosse is still plagued by defensive goons without any skill, and I think this move could do a lot to phase those players out of the game.  Another rule change they are thinking about concerns players without the ball being able to move more freely.  Overall, crosschecks and off ball contact would be reduced for both teams, with the idea being that the game will flow better.  I’m very interested to see if this actually plays out!  For the full CLax Rules, check out their website.

Overall, CLax has some promise.  Recognized names from Canadian box lacrosse like Veltman, Toll, St. John and Beisel are involved and it will give more Canadians the opportunity to play box lacrosse during the same season as the NLL.  It could definitely act as feeder league for the first couple of years, and will give guys  who just barely missed out on making an NLL team a place to play, and I think that’s probably good for the game.

CLax still has a long way to go, but if they get the league up and running this first year, the possibilities are endless. After all, the NLL is far from perfect, and even further from being stable and sustainable.  I’d love to see the NLL shape up, and hope that CLax (and the NALL) help set the correct course for the future.

Main photo courtesy Map Of Canada



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Greg Bice and Anthony Kelly are excited to be back in Ohio playing some pro lax!!!!