Dawn of a new Day

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

The Edmonton Rush will live under Paul Day's golden rule: treat others as you wish to be treated.

It's a simple philosophy, but it's gained Day a reputation as a player's coach - a bench boss who doesn't push his players around.

"I treat them like men," said Day. "They have a lot of responsibility, but they're held accountable for that responsibility.

"I work a full-time job like most of these guys and I know with the travel and going to the gym, the toll it can take on their relationships at home. I want them to be happy at home because then they'll be happier at the rink."

When Edmonton was touted as a possible expansion team, several players in the NLL, especially those from the hotbeds in B.C., said they were keen on coming here. When Day signed on as head coach, the list of interested players grew even longer.

'BUILDS YOU UP'

"He doesn't talk in a condescending way to you," said Rush forward Jordan Cornfield. "He builds you up and talks to you so that you feel you're on an even level with him."

Rush goalie Pat Campbell had played under Day's watch the past four seasons in Rochester. The two live only 10 minutes apart outside Toronto and Campbell was thrilled to find out their relationship would continue on after he was selected by the Rush in the NLL Expansion Draft.

"It's the way he looks after his players," said Campbell.

"Tyler Heavenor lost his ID and Paul was on the phone right away working it out with the airline so Tyler could still fly home without any ID.

"He makes sure that every player's needs always come first."

Day will crack the whip when required, but he saves the tough-guy role for when he's on duty as a detective with the Niagara Regional Police.

"I'm not a real short-leash guy. But there are some nights when things don't go well," Day explained.

"They're working hard, but maybe they're not scoring.

"My thinking is that if a guy is contributing in some way - like picking up loose balls, which is a huge part of the game - that's a good thing."

Day's approach has obviously given him some measure of success.

He's been behind the bench for four NLL all-star games, was named the league's coach of the year in 2004 and led Rochester to three Champion's Cup finals - winning the 1997 title.

But after 11 years of guiding the Knight-hawks and never missing the playoffs over that tenure, the coach with the second-most wins in NLL history needed a new challenge.

The Rush provided it by casting him in the dual role of head coach and GM.

DOUBLE THE PRESSURE

That also means double the pressure.

When you're a new team in the self-proclaimed City of Champions, there isn't a whole lot of grace time for building a winner.

Excuses won't be tolerated for long, even in a league where 50% of the games are decided by one or two goals.

Welcome to the jungle.

"I think we're going to surprise a lot of people," offered Day, who just smiled after reading Inside Lacrosse magazine's prediction that the Rush would finish last in the NLL's West Division.

"That's great. I'm used to being on a team that's picked to finish first.

"I'm going to be very satisfied because this team is going to get better every night. The players believe in themselves."

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ALL ABOUT DAY

POSITION: Head coach

PREVIOUS TEAM: Rochester Knighthawks

DID YOU KNOW? Paul has the second-most wins of any coach in NLL history and was NLL Coach of the Year in 2004.

HOMETOWN: St. Catharines, Ont.

DRIVES: Ford Escape

IF HE WASN'T IN LACROSSE HE'D BE: A hockey coach

FAVOURITE NLL ROAD TRIP: Philadelphia

FAVOURITE VACATION SPOT: Myrtle Beach


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