New clubs to raid rosters

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:06 AM ET

The National Lacrosse League has welcomed its 12th franchise and first female owner.

Twenty-four-year-old Angela Batinovich will serve as the majority shareholder and managing partner for the yet-to-be-named franchise officially awarded to Portland, Ore., yesterday.

The new club will play out of the 20,000-seat Rose Garden and begin operations next season.

The announcement comes less than a week after Calgary businessman Bruce Urban bought the dormant Ottawa Rebel and moved the club to Edmonton.

The addition of Portland, signifying a break into the northwest region of the U.S., is considered a boon for the NLL.

However, it means the league's current 10 clubs -- including the Calgary Roughnecks -- will almost certainly lose more players in an upcoming expansion draft.

And the league might not yet be done expanding for 2005-06, as rumours continue New York and Hartford, Conn., are still in the running for new clubs. NLL commissioner Jim Jennings wouldn't comment on either of those two cities yesterday.

"June 1 is our deadline for expansion so I never say never until that day," said Jennings. "That's a hard deadline."

Roughnecks GM Dave Bremner said the addition of Portland, while welcome, does give the Riggers' brain trust additional headaches.

"With every team, it does scare you a little bit because you know you could, and most likely will, lose more players now," said Bremner. "We've started to look at the roster and decide who we have to protect and what we would do under each scenario. But, the bottom line is, we have to wait and see how many teams will be coming into the league before we can get that final picture in our heads."

The other worry will be the likely loss of the parity the NLL enjoyed this season with 28 of 80 regular-season games being decided by a goal.

However, Jennings said he's confident there's enough talent to stock both new clubs and have them competitive, especially given both Portland and Edmonton's relatively close geographic position to the lacrosse hotbed of B.C.'s lower mainland, which is without a team right now.

On that subject, Jennings was asked about the chances of a team coming back to Vancouver in the near future. The hometown Ravens ceased operations due to financial reasons prior to this season.

"I can tell you we'll be back in Vancouver eventually," he said. "Whether or not it's next year, I don't have an answer on that yet."

STAR QUALITY: Calgary Roughnecks captain Tracey Kelusky was named an NLL second-team all-pro yesterday.

It was the fifth straight time the 29-year-old Riggers captain was named to either the league's first or second all-pro teams.

"It's one of those things that's nice," said Kelusky. "It's gratifying to be recognized but I think I still could have done more this season to help the team. I did well with goals but maybe I could have had some more assists or done something else. Still, it's nice to be recognized and acknowledged with players of that calibre."

Kelusky, who finished third in league goal scoring with 45, was joined on the second team by F Gary Gait (Colorado), D Jim Veltman (Toronto), F Blaine Manning (Toronto), F Josh Sanderson (Toronto) and G Bob Watson (Toronto).

Buffalo G Steve Dietrich led off the first team along with D Andrew Turner (Rochester), F Dan Dawson (Arizona), F Colin Doyle (Toronto), F John Tavares (Buffalo) and F John Grant Jr. (Rochester).


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