For many people, the Ohio Machine lifting their first Steinfeld Trophy marked the last time they would pay attention to the MLL until the season starts again in the spring.
If you are one of those people, you are definitely missing out!
I’m here to bring you up to speed on some of the major stories so far in the offseason. Everything from who will be in a different uniform next summer, are the Ratz moving south, what’s up with the security breach, and more!
Players who have signed with other teams in the offseason:
- Josh Hawkins: Boston to Denver
- Kyle Denhoff: Rochester to Boston
- Tom Palasek: New York to Atlanta
- Matt Gibson: New York to Atlanta
Each of the four players who have signed with another team did it for slightly different reasons. You have Hawkins actually moving from Boston to Denver, Denhoff who signed with the team where he now lives, Gibson flying to any game no matter what, and Palasak who seemed like a Long Island lifer opting to play in the land of sweet tea and hush puppies.
Denhoff may be the type of signing most people had in mind when the Player Movement Policy was announced. While he entered the league in Rochester, where he is both from and went to college, he now lives in Boston. Being able to make all those practices, drive a few minutes to half of your games, and participate in local community events should not be dismissed by anyone.
For any on-field benefit you can name, there are probably three off field. This has already paid off (literally) as the Cannons have been involving him in local community events and clinics. Those type of opportunities were not on the table before.
For Hawkins, the move out to Denver is a big switch and more like a classic “free agency” type of move. He, like the others, was in conversations with several teams. Denver was a personal destination for him, not including lacrosse reasons, and the on field results of the team speak for themselves.
He will join a group that is going to be one of the best defensive midfields in lacrosse. A big factor for him moving out as part of this is that he does feel that he is at his best when living in the market with a team. He’s been able to try both, and thinks this will produce his best result.
Tommy Palasek x Matt Gibson
What is interesting is that all four of these players left their “hometown” teams. Both Palasek and Gibson are native Long Islanders. Hawkins is from Massachusetts, and got back after a trade with Charlotte. Denhoff is from the Rochester Area and played his college ball around the corner from the Rattlers stadium.
What drove them to new locations was different for each. What pulled them was also different.
Multiple teams were in contact with these players and the reasons ran the whole list of everything you could think of: position upgrade, retirements, NLL coverage, pending trades, busted trades, familiarity with coaches, familiarity with GMs, and many more reasons. Teams were very up front with each player about what they were expecting and why they saw them as a good fit. These guys were all able to make informed decisions that can help advance their personal life and professional lacrosse careers.
While many of their departing coaches would have preferred they never left, these were some great examples of how the player movement policy gives power to the players.
You can follow the movement yourself, by keeping tabs on the entire field.
A really big trade went down that helped answer one the largest question marks after last season. Greg Gurenlian announced before the season started that he would be making 2017 his last year in the MLL. This allowed fans to embrace to the last professional run of one of the sport’s all-time greats.
When New York did not draft one of the many FOGOs available in the draft, we knew there were two options left. One was a trade for an established veteran player, or run with one (or more guys) to start the year, before they position themselves to draft Trevor Baptiste out of Denver.
Joe Spallina went for the first one.
In what I personally feel is one of the best all-around trades I’ve seen in a while, New York sent SSDM Jake Richard and the 14th overall pick in the 2018 collegiate draft down to Charlotte for Brendan Fowler.
Fowler has been a solid producer in the league, and fill the exact need New York has. Charlotte has options at the position, but needed a SSDM. New York had options at SSDM, but needed a FOGO. It was a match made in heaven.
The pick exchanged helped even things out a little, too. As good as Richard is, he does not rank among SSDMs where Fowler does among FOGOs. Win-win.
In the annual ritual as regular as the changing seasons in Brighton, MA, the MLL teams had to cut their rosters down to 23. Many of the cut names are going to just wind right back with those tams again via the Supplemental Draft, which is scheduled for Friday, December 8th.
Athletes in Player Movement are still able to sign with teams during this period, so as you look through those rosters, keep in mind who has entered Player Movement.
That will save you some moments of “WHAT ARE THEY THINKING BY DROPPING _____?!?!?!”.
This has been the largest knock against the league this year, and it is not even close. Unlike Equifax, Yahoo, or Target, the data breach for the MLL was not from a malicious hack trying to steal information. Instead, it was an administrative “oops” that put every player and potential player at risk for identity theft. Basically, a spreadsheet of player pool members was posted on the public internet for a brief period. That spreadsheet contained names, addresses, phone numbers, and in some cases social security numbers.
That last bit was the game changer. According to the league, no players have had their identities stolen, and the league has offered credit monitoring services for all those affected as a precaution. This entire story could change drastically if a player has their identity stolen due to this incident.
Thankfully, that is not the case as of right now. The short term fix provided by the league was credit monitoring. The long term fix was that “preventative measures were taken to ensure it never happens again”. I don’t think you will ever hear anyone from the MLL willingly talk about this again. It is in their best interest to just carry on, which is effectively what they have done.
New MLL Commissioner
Perhaps the biggest news waiting to happen or the league is the pending announcement of a new league commissioner. The selection process has been very secretive so far, and I have not heard much in terms of names, or even broad profile of who they are looking for.
The official word from the league office is “The interview process is ongoing and is progressing as planned.” It is expected that we should hear something in November, if not a little earlier. I would not hold your breath just yet.
Another year, another offseason of whether or not Dallas is going to happen. The league was thrilled with how the Championship went down in Frisco, Texas this past season.
Their official statement back on October 6th was, “There is nothing to report in regards to Dallas. Given the success of our Championship Game and the popularity of the sport in that area, it is certainly a market that we’re interested in.”
The venue is truly world class, and there seems to be a healthy lacrosse community waiting for a team. There is no question that the league wants a team in Dallas. The question is when and how?
With the league owning a stake in several teams, and many having their own attendance issues. Moving a team is not out of the question. The biggest target has been the nomadic Rattlers, who have been bouncing around to different stadiums each season.
And then October 20th happened. Jack Goods provided sample logos from the US Trademark office via Twitter:
— Jack Goods (@GoodsOnSports) October 20, 2017
That captured some attention. A quick search by other found social media account for DallasRattlers, a website already registered, and the digital footprint seemed created.
That prompted the league to provide this statement to Inside Lacrosse:
“The potential option of having the Rattlers in Dallas has been openly discussed for a couple of years now. As with keeping all potential options open we filed for a trademark, have obtained a domain name and social media handles. This is not the first time the league has done this as a way to keep our potential options from being encumbered.”
Doing this legwork makes sense, but if you look around at other trademarks for the MLL, you don’t see many teams that do not exist, or at least did at one point. If it were the logo for a new team, this would have created all sorts of excitement. Carrying over the Rattlers name changed the mood entirely.
The tough part about moving the Rattlers is they have always been an upstate New York roster. Most of them are from, or live in, Upstate, so flying to Dallas for half of your games is a major change and a significant cost. In a perfect world, Dallas would be an expansion team, bringing us to 10 total teams in the league.
This is still speculation at this point, but a Dallas team is not just on the table… it looks like Rochester will not be around next summer, either.
What’d We Miss? What Do You LOVE?
So that should have you caught up with the league for now. Stay tuned for movement on the Dallas front, the Supplemental draft, and perhaps more player signings.
There is no such things as down time!