Bartley back in spotlight

RYAN WOLSTAT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

The Rock take on the Philadelphia Wings tonight at the Air Canada Centre, but before the game, the National Lacrosse League will take care of some important business.

The late Les Bartley, the coach/general manager who led Toronto to four championships from 1999 to 2003, became a charter member of the NLL's Hall of Fame last night, and will be honoured again tonight, along with fellow inductees Russ Cline and Chris Fritz, the league's founders, and former stars Paul and Gary Gait.

Rock forward Colin Doyle said all the honourees were well-deserving, but was sad about the circumstances Bartley, who passed away last May, would be entering under.

"It's bittersweet, but we'll have to take it for sweet today," Doyle said. "Les would be proud, there's no doubt about that. He'd have been honoured to go in with the names he's going in with and deservingly so."

Bartley won seven championships -- three with the Buffalo Bandits and four with the Rock -- in 12 NLL seasons and was instrumental in getting the NLL and the players' union to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement two years ago after acrimonious negotiations.

As for tonight's game, Philadelphia comes in with a 4-3 record and a different look from last year. Seven new faces joined the Wings this off-season, including goaltender Matt Roik, who replaced six-time all-star Dallas Eliuk and former Rock defensive mainstay Glenn Clark. Clark, forwards Jake Bergey and Dan Marohl and Philadelphia captain Thomas Hajek (starter) will play for the East Division in the all-star game tomorrow afternoon at the ACC. Head coach Lindsay Sanderson will be the East's assistant coach.

The Wings are coming off of a 15-12 loss to the Portland Lumberjax last Saturday. Sanderson said that game was Philadelphia's worst of the season, while his brother Terry, the Rock coach/general manager, said his team is ready to go after enjoying a rare week off following a brutal start to their schedule.

With many NLL stars already in town in advance of tomorrow's festivities, a skills competition will be held at half-time tonight.

Participants from the other nine teams, such as Buffalo's John Tavares, who recently tied Gary Gait as the NLL's career leading scorer, Rochester scoring machine John Grant and Portland rookie Brodie Merrill, will compete in goal scoring, hardest shot and creative breakaway competitions.

Rock adds Evans

The Rock have signed Steve Evans, pending league approval. Interestingly, Evans is the older brother of Rochester forwards Scott and Shawn Evans, who have both gotten under the skin of Toronto players this season.


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