Syracuse Stingers: We Hardly Knew Ye
Only lasting one season of play in the original NLL, the Syracuse Stingers had an exciting start in 1974 only to take a bumpy ride to a rough ending. Excitement around the Stingers instantly surged after the league’s initial player draft, selecting one of the most electrifying rosters at the time, featuring all-time legends like Gaylord Powless, Johnny Mouradian, Terry Sanderson, Travis Cook, Bob “Buff” McCready and the greatest living lacrosse stick maker Alf Jacques.
Then the troubles began. The Stingers had a never ending plague of issues surrounding the coaching staff that was supposed to be led by Cornell Hall of Fame coach Richie Moran at the end of the Big Red season. Moran was to replace friend Jim Higgs behind the bench, but the NCAA and Cornell stopped the plan in its tracks, already into the NLL season. Higgs turned to the floor as a plan, as planned before the season, leaving the Stingers to scramble to list anyone as the coach, while Higgs and Jacques led from the floor. The Stingers would eventually assign NHL and NLL referee as a head coach mid-season and that’s where positive results start to register.
The game play in the early season suffered due to the lack of organized leadership. Syracuse lost their first eight games, one to at least every team in the league. Things eventually turned around by July of 1974 and the Stingers rode a five-game win streak at home in the War Memorial before a los the Montreal Quebecois would squash any hopes of a postseason.
Once the dust settled, the Syracuse Stingers were in last place of the newly formed NLL, suffering the second-worst attendance and were immediately announced to not be returning to Central New York the following season. Team spokesman Hank Wells attempted to drum up support locally and within the league to keep a team in Syracuse, but ultimately the team was moved to Quebec to play as the Carribou. The league focused on making changes to propel the legitimacy of pro lacrosse and didn’t see Syracuse as a legitimate host city.
Wells spoke to the media of the failure after the season, as transcribed by CrosseCheck.com:
“I haven’t see the final figures yet, so I’m not sure, but we lost between $200,00 and $250,000 this season,” Well said. “And even after the club is sold, we’ll probably end up with a loss because the money market is so tight now we probably won’t see a lot of cash right away.”
In their lone season of NLL action, the Syracuse Stingers amassed a record of 12 wins, 27 losses and 1 tie. The team would be revived in different factions as a senior box lacrosse club in years following. Most recently, the Syracuse Stingers competed in the 2018 LaxAllStars North American Invitation box lacrosse tournament on the Onondaga Nation Territory.
Syracuse Stingers Roster – 1974
- Ken Alexander
- Ron Burrows
- Paul Cioci
- Travis Cook
- Ron Cree
- Pat Differ
- Ken Fougnier
- Russ George
- Sid George
- Allan Herrington
- Jim Higgs
- Bill Hope
- Alf Jacques
- Jerry Kustaksi
- John MacDonald
- Mike McMahon
- Jim Miller
- John Mouradian
- Glen Mueller
- Bruce Murdock
- Frank Oda
- Rick Palla
- Robbie Patten
- Gaylord Powless
- Dave Roach
- Chris Rudge
- Terry Sanderson
- Jim Shaw
- Larry Smeltzer
- Bruce Todman
- Steve Wood September
- Ken Wright
- Tom Wright
Syracuse Stingers: Lacrosse History
Via Justin Skaggs, WoodLacrosseSticks.com
Let’s bring you guys a Lacrosse History episode on the NLL’s Syracuse Stingers.
The National Lacrosse League had a couple different incarnations. If you guys ever wanna hear a little bit more about the history of professional box lacrosse, we have an entire series about it, it’s super interesting. A lot of balls being dropped, but a lot of really valid efforts, and without all of those people trying their hardest, we wouldn’t have the sport we have today.
This team was born in 1974, and it was an inaugural team in the NLL. They’re one of the first teams ever.
They only lasted one year in Syracuse. Their color scheme was really rad, and all these cool old vintage posters come up when you search for them. They only lasted one year, and they ended up moving to Quebec as Les Caribou, which is a really awesome logo in its own right.
An interesting fact about the Stingers is that a lot of people attribute their quick demise to the fact that they couldn’t land steady coaching. And they actually had a couple of players step up and do the coaching, but that was against the NLL rules.
So, they actually had to decommission themselves as players to coach, but that was a really interesting tidbit. That’s the drive of these players in the amateur-turned-pro kind of leagues of their day. They’re not going to let their lack of a coach stop them from playing and finishing their season. They will decommission themselves as a player to be the coach to finish the season. You see a lot of those stories pop up then you’re diving into this.
Get ready to grab yourself a complete limited edition Stingers shirt dropping along with this article. We’re only printing thirty of them because this really isn’t about printing a bunch of shirts and making a bunch of loot. This is really just me wanting a Stingers shirt, and you can’t really just print one shirt.
It just doesn’t work that way.
Until next time, guys, take care. Keep laxin’.
Credit lacrosse library CrosseCheck.com for digitizing the game’s history to share with the community. For more on the Syracuse Stingers and the teams of lacrosse’s past, dive into their archives.