Revamped Rush or Urban legend?

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

Bruce Urban won't go so far as to guarantee a long-awaited win for the Edmonton Rush.

He does, however, promise that the team that shows up at Rexall Place for tomorrow night's game against the Toronto Rock will be ready to roll.

"You're going to see a much different team," touted Urban, outspoken owner of the first-year NLL franchise.

"You're going to see a team playing with a lot more heart and emotion. Our goaltending and defence have been fantastic. We just need to get more offence going. I don't want this team to be written off."

Earlier this week the Rush made a move aimed at providing more firepower and leadership when they acquired seven-year veteran and former 30-goal sniper Mat Giles from the Rock.

Still, with the team at 0-5, GM/head coach Paul Day is pleading for patience.

"I think there's still a positive vibe," said Day. "I hope that people realize it's an uphill battle for an expansion team, and that it's going to take a little time."

The Rush are expecting at least 12,000 fans at Rexall tomorrow, which would be the club's largest crowd of the season. It would also help erase the memory of last week's dismal effort in a 7-6 loss to the Minnesota Swarm, in which the hip-hop theme and halftime show were almost as bad as the game.

"We won't be doing a promo like that again. Our demographic is a little older than we expected," admitted Urban. "I had no idea who the (band) Swollen Members were, and I wish I still didn't."

TOUGH SELL

It didn't help the game look any better having a season-low crowd of 8,745 - clearly indicating that a winless team is a tough sell.

"A lot of teams average 10,000 fans, but if we're going to compare ourselves to anything, it has to be the best," added Urban.

"I want 15,000 or 16,000 - even if we have to win them over one by one. Edmonton likes a winner. People are telling me that they really enjoy the game. It's two hours of hits, and there's been lots of goals with the exception of the last game.

"Except for hockey, everything else looks like it's being played by turtles in peanut butter."

While the arena was half-empty for the Swarm, Day figures a crowd of that size is respectable.

"I know in Rochester we didn't get 9,000 fans for a Minnesota game," he said. "I think anything close to 9,000 here for games when we're not playing Calgary or Toronto is decent."

If there's a hardcore group who've bought into the team, the next step is attracting those who've been on the fence since Day 1.

Erasing the zero from the win column would go a long way towards accomplishing that.

"We haven't won, but I'm sticking with the fact the rest of our schedule is much better. We're going to be entertaining people and we're going to be winning," said Urban.

STICKING

Rush president Duane Vienneau said he's still receiving calls and e-mails from fans who are sticking with the team through the dreadful start.

Just how determined those supporters will be if the Rush fall even farther off the pace is something that Vienneau doesn't want to contemplate.

"Tickets to our games in March are selling every day, and we haven't won yet. If we beat the defending champs on Saturday, then we'll go into our next game in Calgary with a tremendous mental psyche for both our fans and the players," he said.

The Rush will have to find a way to slow down the Rock offence, which clicked for 14 goals against both Edmonton and Calgary in back-to-back wins.

"We were minus six on special teams (four power-play and two shorthanded goals against), and we lost by six," said Day.

"We have to stay out of the box. I think we have to keep it a low-scoring game.

"We're giving up fewer than 11 goals a game and that's pretty good."


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