Feeling the Rush

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:52 AM ET

He might have a skewed point of view, considering who signs his paycheques, but Jimmy Quinlan figures the Edmonton Rush are in for some happy days.

The first-year franchise in the National Lacrosse League has all the makings for success.

They have a winning lease agreement with a top-notch venue (Rexall Place), have one of the league's all-time winningest coaches and a crafty GM (Paul Day) and have landed some of best available talent available.

But mostly importantly, figured Quinlan, the Rush - like their NLL brethern - are blue-collar professional athletes.

The team is made up of working-class stiffs who just happen to pick up a few extra thousand playing a game. None of them drive Cadillac Escalades, own palatial summer cottages or wear diamond-encrusted Rolex watches.

"It's real nice on weekends just to be able to do something that no one else gets a chance to do,'' said Quinlan as he joined a handful of Rush players in a select-a-seat campaign at the arena yesterday. "I have a regular Monday to Friday life, and then on Saturday I get to do something I love."

During the week, Quinlan, who was acquired by the Rush in a trade with the Toronto Rock during the NLL's expansion draft in July, works part-time doing deliveries for Baseline Wine & Spirits in his hometown of Sherwood Park. Coming back home to play for the first time in six years has allowed the 23-year-old to register at the University of Alberta to finish off an education degree specializing in math and phys-ed.

With the league-champion Rock last season, Quinlan made the rookie maximum of $6,500 US and his salary with the Rush won't exactly break the budget. The average salary in the NLL is about $12,500, with stars raking in the max of $23,000.

The NLL's cast of characters includes students like Quinlan, teachers, firemen and police officers.

Quinlan has led the typical nomadic life of a lacrosse player. He played his first few years in Sherwood Park and Mill Woods, graduating to the Edmonton Miners and then moving on to New Westminster, B.C., Orangeville, Ont., Toronto and this past summer to Coquitlam.

"When you've got a good thing like playing for the Toronto Rock, that's a good thing and staying there would have been a good thing but I had no qualms about coming home,"said Quinlan, who will be getting his 2005 championship ring from the Rock by mail in January. "I'm excited to play in front of hometown fans and just to be home for a winter."

QUICK STICKS: According to Rush president Duane Vienneau, the team is aiming to fill the lower bowl of Rexall Place with season-ticket holders - roughly 6,000 - and shoot for at least 10,000 in the building when they open their season Jan. 6 against the San Jose Stealth.


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