Is Mike Powell Really Returning To Lacrosse?

Mike Powell Burning Orange Lake Placid Lax Lacrosse
Mike Powell playing at Placid.

Mike “The Future” Powell is back to lax!  Or at least he was during the Lake Placid Lacrosse Tournament.  And while he’s not quite as quick and explosive as he used to be, he can still ball at an extremely high level.  Not bad for a guy that’s been skateboarding, doing carpentry and playing a lot of music, instead of taking 111 shots before and after practice.  His flair for the dramatic was on display as always and he threw more behind the back passes in one game than many people would throw in an entire season.  Yes, the passes were on point.  He also managed to tuck a couple of sick goals.  So is Mike Powell really back to lax?

Mikey Powell Nicky Polanco Syracuse Hofstra lacrosse
Powell v. Polanco in college. Is MP coming back?

Maybe.  Of course it’s not certain, and we’ve heard rumors like these in the past, but it does seem like MP’s interest in lacrosse may have been rekindled.  When he’s interviewed by Inside Lacrosse he talks a little bit about doing something with “stick tricks” but in typical Mike Powell fashion, he was less than forthcoming with details.  So he’s keeping us on our toes.  Keeping the interest level high.  Sounds like the recipe for a comeback to me!

Last year, MP played in a tourney down South.  He played with a couple of other Cuse grads, and then also put on a musical show at a concert series that ran the same weekend as the tourney.  It was small-time lax and the point was to have fun, not make a re-entry to the lax scene.  But this tourney and appearance seem a little different.  Maybe it is only because Lake Placid is such a huge tourney, but people have definitely noticed MP’s return to the game more than in the past.

Placid features some truly excellent lacrosse.  Years ago, when the MLL had just come to life, the talent on the top teams at Placid rivaled those of the pros, and while it isn’t quite the same now, the level of play is still extremely high.  Outside of the Top D1 teams, the MLL, NLL and FIL games, Lake Placid is probably some of the best lax you can find on the planet.  And with very little time to prepare, Mike Powell was still able to dominate.

He was hyper critical of his own play, and to me, this says he’s taking it a little more seriously.  It would have been easy for him to just say, “I was here for fun.  I was here to play with other Cuse alums.  I’m not coming back.”  But he didn’t do that.  He seemed into it, he seemed interested, and challenged.  And that is a great scenario for a comeback.

– Mike Powell and Burning Orange took down Raymour & Flanagan in the finals of the Lake Placid Lax Tourney via  Check out MP’s moves.  Still got it.

– Interview with Mike Powell on Inside Lacrosse.

Now I’ve heard rumors that he’s going to come back and just play in select tourneys.  I’ve heard he’ll be playing in the MLL next Summer.  I’ve heard he will only do stick tricks.  I’ve heard he wants nothing to do with lacrosse.  But what seems to make the most sense is that he’s coming back.  At least in some way.  Casey Powell has proved that even at a more advanced age, one can still dominate on the lacrosse field, so Mike has seen firsthand that it’s never too late to come back.  Ryan Powell has proved that you can stay relevant even if you don’t play in the MLL, so Mike also knows that he can make his own path.

Mike Powell Burning Orange Lake Placid Lax Lacrosse
Mike Powell playing at Placid.

Photo courtesy Lake Placid News

The freedom and ability to do things his way could be enough to get Mike Powell back in the game consistently.  His legacy as a lacrosse player is cemented though, so the “greater glory” pull won’t be that strong for him.  It makes me think he might play in the MLL, but only if the fit is right.  It also makes me think that he has to be considering LXM Pro.

LXM seems like it is much more flexible than the MLL when it comes to schedules and an individual’s commitment to the league.  The skill level is still very high, and whereas MP might have to work his way back into the MLL, or a team’s starting line up, he would most likely be featured heavily in a promotional aspect by LXM Pro.  First off, he plays music.  Secondly, he’s still a HUGE name to laxers of all ages, across the country.  He speaks directly to the crossover potential of lacrosse and, in this case, music.  Mike Powell is just what the LXM Tour should be looking for.

Of course I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see him play in the MLL, because I truly do want to see that.  The MLL is the best lax on the planet, and when MP was in his prime, he was the best player on the planet.  I’d love to see him get back to that level, continue to have fun, AND dominate in the pro game.  Heck, he doesn’t even have to dominate.  He just has to play and be good.  After all, this is the pros, not college, and even guys like Paul Rabil get shut out from time to time.

People say he might be worried about his legacy within lacrosse.  That maybe he won’t ever return because the less he plays now, the more his legend in college grows.  But I don’t buy it.  Lax is one of those sports where if you’re not in the limelight, people forget about you pretty quickly.  I remember Powell in college.  I saw it and will never forget some of the moves I saw, but a 12 year old kid today?  He’s probably never seen MP play a whole game.  He’s maybe seen highlights.  He knows who Mike Powell is, but probably doesn’t respect his game the way he might respect a player like Ned Crotty.

Crotty deserves all the respect in the world.  I’m not saying he doesn’t.  But watching MP play was different.  Maybe not better, but definitely different.  Powell played the game with more flair, creativity, and flash for the dramatic than anyone else, at least in recent memory, and he brought something to lax that few others did.  He was shorter than most, skinnier than most and until you saw him play, appeared very unassuming.  He proved the edict that ANYONE could excel at the game (even though he was a super-freak athlete in a smaller package) and he did things (like front-flips in games) that were really for the fans, and for fun.

Mike Powell brought a swagger to the game that wasn’t cocky.  It wasn’t self-righteous.  It wasn’t self-serving.  He just loved to play the game of lacrosse, and it showed in everything he did on the field.  For a brief weekend in Lake Placid, we got to see that again.  And I think we’d all love to see it some more.


  1. Really interesting, Powell’s legacy to me as a 24 year old is huge. I had just begun my freshman year of High School and saw Powell play in the Final Four because that’s all we got here in Mn. I still remember watching him and having my mind blown, after the games all the lax kids in the area talked about was MP and ‘Cuse. I was so happy to see him actually playing again but he has most definitely changed since his college days. I was disappointed to see him playing in the MLL with his focus being more on tricks and gimmicks. Hopefully if he does come back he will take it more seriously, especially as the MLL’s level of talent has increased tremendously if he chooses that route.

  2. I got to watch Burning Orange play Steelheads, which was a great game.  It’s so cool to watch so many great players so up close.  You just set up your chair next to the sideline and watch.  
      I remember a lot of people being upset that he didn’t want to play in the MLL after college, but I get why he wanted to pass on it.  Everyone knows he’s a special player, and I’m sure he gets that too, but people are looking to him like he will be the savior of lacrosse and I get the feeling that isn’t something he wants, at least not the pressure.  You could draw a contrast between MP and Rabil; both great players, but Rabil wants the attention, he wants to to be the face of the game, whereas I think MP just wants to play.  The really sad thing is, for someone as good as Mike Powell, that might not be possible.  

      • That’s the thing, I think he wants to play at the highest levels, but at the end of the game he wants to walk out of the locker room and be a regular guy.  As soon as everyone starts up with the “he has the responsibility to be a role model” stuff he’s going to grab his guitar and take off. 

        A aside, I can’t find his music on Spotify, is it worth listening to?  Where can I find it?     

    • While he didn’t play directly out of college, you have to remember that he graduated when the league was still in its infancy, so the popularity wasn’t at the point it is now.  The first 3 seasons, the championship game was between the same 2 teams!  He played in 05 with the Bayhawks, won a championship, then 07 and 08 with the Cannons.

      The thing you have to remember is that Mikey was ALWAYS expected to do great things.  He was the #1 recruit in the country coming out of high school. At Syracuse, he met these expectations – 4x 1st Team All-American, 4x Trumbull winner, 2x Tewaaraton winner, 2x NCAA tourney MVP and rings for 2 fingers.  Statistically speaking, he is the greatest player to ever come through the Carrier Dome.
      What people forget, is that pressure of that intensity on a young athlete is very hard to deal with.  If you look at Mikey’s academic record at Cuse, he was constantly in and out of academic eligibility and struggled while he was in-season to keep his grades at a point where he could play Fall Ball.  This is pretty indicative that the ONLY thing he cared about in season was lacrosse, so that he could meet those expectations.  While this still happens today, I feel that it is handled better than it was in the past.

      I interned with the Cannons in 08, and saw first hand the hype behind him as a player.  Pre-game he would come out of the locker room and there would be an immediate crowd.  If I remember correctly, there was a camera crew following him around for some documentary.  As he left the field his path would be blocked and he would be swarmed by a thousand fans.  (Some people don’t know this, but he struggled with cramps and needed a ton of treatment before and after games)  You could see how much the pressure was affecting him.  It was no shock to me that he stepped away after that season.

      Will Mikey return?  Perhaps.  Maybe this time off was what he needed to finally get the chance to be himself and not have expectations to live up to.  However, once he returns, he will be thrust right back into the spotlight that seemed to drive him away from the game.  Time will tell, I hope that he can find a happy medium where he can still play and keep his sanity.
      Because, honestly, who didn’t enjoy watching him play??