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Twenty-one Canadians Cross the Border for 2020 MLL Season

The number of Canadians in the MLL would have been one higher if it wasn’t for the birth of Kyle Buchanan’s daughter a week ago keeping him at home. Aside from the exciting family addition to serve as a late minute excuse, another 21* Canucks are heading to Annapolis for the eight day tournament serving as a condensed 2020 Major League Lacrosse season. Hopefully their work visa paperwork is all in order, because it’s time for everyone to start making the trek south to Maryland.

While the returning champion Chesapeake Bayhawks have imported a league-high six Canadians, the New York Lizards opted for a strictly American offering. With the sub-par season the Lizards had in 2019 and the departure of Rob Pannell, it would have made a lot of sense to load up with guys who have made a career putting the ball in a much smaller net behind much larger goalies. Maybe it’s the often laid-back nature of Canadian field lacrosse players that doesn’t gel well with the intensity Joe Spallina expects on his sideline.

Teams had to cap their rosters at 25 athletes for the shortened season and with 21 total Canadians this summer, we almost had enough bodies for a whole team of their own. Of the entire list, only a single Canadian will be making their rookie debut in 2020, the Barrage will run undrafted Ryan MacSpadyen from Mercy College (DII).

The last time there was a professional field lacrosse franchise north of the border was 2013 when the Hamilton Nationals packed up shop after five seasons in the Greater Toronto Area. Although the team was still American-heavy, the final roster sported seven Canadians and was coached for three seasons by the late, great Dave Huntley.

In the 20 year history of the MLL, Canadians have claimed the MVP title four times, starting with Gary Gait in 2005 and most recently with Kevin Crowley in 2013. Living legend John Grant Jr. has won the award twice, in 2007 and 2008, since joining the league in its inaugural season in 2001. Mark Cockerton was a finalist for the honor in 2019, being surpassed by Lyle Thompson as recipent.

Grant also won the league’s first Offensive MVP in 2001, capturing the title again in 2007 and 2008, and the only Canadian to claim the crown aside from Crowley in 2013. Brodie Merrill is the only Canadian to win the Defensive MVP, taking the rights for an astounding six-straight seasons from 2006 through 2011.

Canadians in the MLL

Shayne Jackson – Barrage
Mark Matthews – Barrage
Anthony Joaquim – Barrage
Tyson Gibson – Barrage
Ryan MacSpadyen – Barrage
Andrew Kew – Bayhawks
Nick Chaykowsky – Bayhawks
Shane Simpson – Bayhawks
Warren Jeffery – Bayhawks
Holden Garlent – Bayhawks
Leo Stouros – Bayhawks
Mark Cockerton – Cannons
Bryan Cole – Cannons
Challen Rogers – Cannons
Kyle Jackson* – Cannons
Matt Gilray – Cannons
Dan Lomas – Hammerheads
Kyle Buchanan^ – Hammerheads
Trevor Smyth – Hammerheads
John Grant Jr. – Outlaws
Ryan Lee – Outlaws
Taylor Stuart – Outlaws

*Kyle Jackson competed on Team Canada for the 2012 U19 World Championships before joining the Iroquois Nationals program. Since he has competed with two national programs, he is listed under both nationalities.

^Kevin Buchanan is still listed as Active for the 2020 season although he has confirmed to that he is not going to compete.