The Edmonton Rush's inaugural season roster isn't set in stone, but the carver is starting to chisel down most of the names.
With the expansion National Lacrosse League team getting its first of three training camp weekends underway today at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park, there is time for a few players to attract some attention from GM/head coach Paul Day. They'd better not linger, however, as Day has a pretty fair idea of who is going to fit where in his band.
23 QUESTION MARKS
"With a new team, I think there are 23 question marks," said Day. "But I think there are 17 of the 23 guys we'll have on our roster that as long as they come to camp as close to fit as they can be, they can expect to be there."
That leaves six spots up for grabs, including three on the Rush's taxi squad. The goaltending is pretty much set with Pat Campbell and freshly signed veteran Dwight Maetche taking the two starring roles and Edmonton Miners draft pick Jon Marrese likely holding down the reserve spot.
A strong defence crew anchored by NLL all-star Andrew Turner along with Rory Glaves and Ted Jenner will be the heart of the Rush while the offence features local products Jamey Bowen, Jordan Cornfield, Jimmy Quinlan and Kevin Howard. Factor in a couple of standouts from the team's free-agent camp and that leaves only a few holes to be filled. And without any minor-leagues like hockey or baseball to groom a potential prospect, a lacrosse bench boss has to be bang-on in his selection process.
"A lot of the guys are young and even when you're taking a guy who's had some big Mann or Minto Cup playoff games, you're never quite sure how he's going to step up," figured Day.
"He may have been better in a summer league or even in this league in the past but you don't really know until he's put out there."
With some uncertainty, there's an opportunity for an unexpected someone to shine.
"I think there will be a surprise or two especially after the (free-agent) tryout camp we had," noted Day.
"There were a lot of good quality players at that camp and we saw some surprises there."
One thing Day is sure of is that there will be a high intensity level when the players hit the floor for the first of two intersquad games tonight.
"Everyone is itching to get going," said Day.
"We're going to be a team that's tough and fast and very strong defensively.
"A lot of guys that we went out and recruited or traded for are guys who are on the cusp of being impact players in this league. Some of them like Kevin Howard and Jimmy Quinlan have played well in the seven to 12 games they've been put in or they've been on deep teams and haven't played that much. Those are the guys that are really itching to become impact players in Edmonton and that's the kind of flavour we wanted to bring to the table."
QUICK STICKS: The training camp runs again next weekend and then concludes Nov. 26-27 including a final practice at the West Edmonton Mall Ice Palace ... Toronto Rock star Blaine Manning, a native of Sherwood Park, has reached celebrity status by appearing in national TV ads for Esquire watches.