Edmonton in a Rush

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:16 AM ET

Oh, what a Rush!

With a nickname now attached to the club, Edmonton's expansion entry in the National Lacrosse League can now begin to create a team with management, coaches and players all in place to start the 2006 season.

The Rush was officially launched yesterday by owners Bruce Urban and Craig Anstead, who also suited up Duane Vienneau as team president and A.J. Jomha as director of lacrosse operations.

After many delays and much frustration, the name game ended in Jomha's law office just 45 minutes before the press conference at the team's home, Rexall Place.

"We had close to 1,000 different entries for names and Rush was very popular," said Urban, who had hoped to unveil the name at the NLL final more than a month ago.

"Every time we had a shortlist for names, (the league) would come back with 69 pages of possible conflicts. It was quite an experience and something we didn't think we'd run into. We didn't expect any hiccups so we're happy to have it finalized."

NO TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT

Thankfully for Urban's boys, who will decide on team colours and a logo in the near future, the Arena Football League's Chicago Rush didn't protest any potential trademark infringement and the NLL brass gave its OK.

Rush beat out the other final contenders -- Edge, Speed, Extreme, Vault and Crude.

Jomha now steps to the forefront of the team's most important manoeuvres. The longtime head of the Edmonton Miners has narrowed down the choice for the head coach/GM spot to four candidates with the selection to be made within 10 days.

Once Jomha has his man, the two of them will start a wishlist of players, some of whom will come from the expansion and dispersal drafts scheduled for July 13-14. "We're not looking at building something from the ground up. We want to be competitive immediately," said Jomha, who will represent the club in the competition component of the NLL meetings next week in Las Vegas.

"We certainly want to have a local presence, not just with our coach but our players as well. There are some players already in the league who we'd like to have come back here if we can get them and there are some very good players from around here who haven't been given the chance to show what they're made of.

"If we can get some of those players back, we could have four or five local players on the team -- maybe more. To begin with we'll have a lot of fly-in players but as we go on we'd like to have our draft picks move to Edmonton because we think we can help them get their (non-lacrosse) careers going."

TURN ON HIS CHARM

That's where Jomha has to turn on his charm and get Buffalo to part with Jon Harasym, Colorado to release Ben Prepchuk and maybe even twist the Rock's arm into letting Jimmy Quinlan and Blaine Manning come home.

On the business side, more than 1,000 deposits have been plopped down for season tickets and interest from corporate sponsors has increased. Combine that support with a healthy league TV deal (on Sportsnet and the Score) and those are the makings of a successful first-year franchise.

This is the best of the best in lacrosse, guys who bust their butts for a league-high salary of $23,000 and provide a product that will certainly impress the uninitiated.

"There's so much interest in soccer here but it's for the European and South American teams. People would rather watch Ronaldo than the local players. Our players are at the highest level," said Jomha.

"Toronto and Calgary have done a good job. We think we can do a better job. It's going to be a lot of fun to be at our games."

Fun and the Road Runners went together hand in feather and look where it got them. In this market, the fans are greedy. They get their jollies seeing victories mount.

For the Rush, the game plan should be simple. Just win, baby.


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