Roughnecks re-jig lineup

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

No matter how good you are, you can always get better. That was the simple mantra of Calgary Roughnecks GM Dave Bremner yesterday on the National Lacrosse League trading deadline.

Despite being the defending NLL champions with an 8-3 record, good for first in their division, the Riggers were very active over the last two days.

"I mean, it's like 'what do you do?,' " said Bremner, whose team takes to the floor against the Arizona Sting tonight in Glendale (7:30 p.m., Ch. 30). "How much do you want to tamper with an 8-3 team?

"That being said, I feel we improved the club."

Perhaps bigger than what they did was what they tried to do.

Bremner made a pitch to reacquire all-star defender Rob Kirkby from the Sting and fought hard to land ultra-talented sophomore Craig Conn from the Minnesota Swarm.

Neither deal panned out.

"We talked to Arizona briefly about Rob Kirkby but the bottom line is they didn't want to trade him to a divisional opponent they may meet in the playoffs," said Bremner.

"We were hot and heavy into Craig Conn until about 11:30 p.m. (Wednesday night). It was us and Arizona down to the wire with good deals being offered by both sides.

"For whatever reason, they decided to go with a couple of draft picks from Arizona."

Bremner wouldn't say what Calgary offered for either player.

After reacquiring veteran sniper Ted Dowling from San Jose and signing former Vancouver starting goalie Dwight Maetche Wednesday night, the Roughnecks made additional moves yesterday.

To make room for Dowling on the roster, the team released forward Chris Gill, who didn't live up to expectations after being signed in the off-season to replace Dowling on the left crease.

The team moved forward Kyle Neufeld, acquired in the Rob Kirkby trade with Arizona in the off-season, from the physically unable to perform list to the active roster and released forward John Olson, who had been with the club since its expansion season in 2001.

And, in a bid to add some toughness to the club, Calgary signed Chris Kinnear to the practice roster.

On laxmag.com's list of top lacrosse heavyweights, Kinnear -- whose nickname is No Fear -- is ranked second behind only the Toronto Rock's Tim O'Brien.

"Chris Kinnear is a good addition to our club," said Bremner.

"We have a tough schedule coming up with Toronto twice and Buffalo once and they're big rough-and-tumble clubs.

"Lacrosse hasn't progressed that much that you still don't need someone who can handle the tough, physical part of it.

"With the addition of Chris Kinnear, maybe other teams won't be taking as many liberties with guys like Tracey Kelusky and Kaleb Toth."

The last time Calgary played Toronto, a 16-10 loss Feb. 12, there were five fights in the last minute of play -- including O'Brien and Calgary rookie Ryan McNish.

Kinnear, a veteran of the Sr. A Western Lacrosse Association where he plays for the Victoria Shamrocks, has not played in the NLL before.

He spent much of last summer's WLA season and playoffs sidelined after being suspended for a high cross-check that injured an opponent.

- - -

BROTHERLY LOVE: In a stunning move yesterday, the Colorado Mammoth announced Paul Gait -- who retired after the 2002 season -- will return for the final four games of the season to play alongside his twin brother Gary, who will retire after this season.

Paul, who sits third all-time in NLL career scoring, was named the league's MVP in his final season in 2002 after scoring 54 goals and 60 assists.


Photos