Cagey Kelusky covets NLL title

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:12 AM ET

A young Tracey Kelusky would have cared if he didn't get the most valuable player award last season.

But the older, wiser 30-year-old captain of the Calgary Roughnecks realizes all the goals and personal accolades don't compare to lifting the championship trophy.

That's where putting the team in front of personal goals comes in, said Kelusky.

"When I was younger, I measured success on accolades and on points but as you get older and wiser you change a little," said Kelusky, who scored a career-high 45 markers last season for the Roughnecks. "As you get older the points don't mean as much. It's what you do outside of (personal goals) that makes everything that much more special."

While many peers and pundits felt Kelusky should've been awarded the National Lacrosse League's best player over Toronto Rock standout Colin Doyle last season, the Peterborough, Ont., native simply deflects the praise and gives his league colleague his just due.

"Doyle earned it," said Kelusky.

"He's a great ball player and there's a couple of other guys that I would probably have put ahead me on that list.

"Yeah, I put a lot of balls in the net last year and I do do a lot of stuff that goes unnoticed -- setting hard picks -- but rightfully so, Doyle earned it. MVP, or no MVP, I'm still going to play the same way."

That elite style of play will once again be showcased tomorrow as the Roughnecks kickoff their season against the visiting Edmonton Rush.

Game time is 7:30 p.m., at the Saddledome.

As one of the last teams to start the 2006 NLL campaign, Kelusky and the Roughnecks are no doubt a favourite to win the Champions Cup, a feat they last accomplished in '04.

However, with a wealth of talent in the West Division this season, taking the soft approach to some of the so-called 'easier teams' will hurt them in the long run, according to Kelusky.

"In the West, everybody's strong and just about everybody can make the playoffs," explained Kelusky.

"If you take anyone for granted, you're going to find yourself fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot."

As for the lineup Kelusky will lead into action this season, the 5-ft. 10-in. 175-pounder is confident the team taking the floor will be a contender.

"We have a good group of core players returning, some good young guys and some D men, who are back in the lineup that didn't finish the season last year," said Kelusky.


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