Rush need to play with more heart

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:07 PM ET

Early in the season, Bruce Urban and Paul Day weren't exactly on the same page when it came to critiquing their team.

But after a brief spat (and Day's infamous "he's only seen four games" remark) the owner and head coach of the Edmonton Rush are now in total agreement when they assess the club. Neither were the least bit impressed by the Rush's performance last week against Calgary - an embarrassing setback that was the worst loss of the year for a team sitting with an NLL worst 1-11 record.

"It's a character thing," said Urban, whose club meets the Colorado Mammoth tonight.

NO PRIDE

"There were some guys out there who showed a lack of character and that's not acceptable. If they're not going to show any pride then they're not going to be on the team."

While Urban isn't afraid to let loose with his lips, Day is much more calculating and cautious in finding the right words. But even he couldn't contain his displeasure in the Rush's lack of effort against the Roughnecks. Day's immediate sentiment after the game was to suggest that some players better get their act together or they'd find themselves out of work next season.

And Day didn't back down from those emotions after having a week to digest the result.

"Our next four games will really tell us exactly where some players are at," said Day, who will miss the playoffs for the first time in his NLL coaching career.

"If guys are here to score goals then they better start scoring. If they're here to play tough defence then they need to do it."

The Rush don't have great sources of talent but they have shown some grit in several narrow defeats. But against Calgary they were out of it by halftime.

"These guys have to believe in giving a full effort every night," said Day. "We have to sell this franchise that way. In some ways it doesn't come down to wins and losses. They have to give an honest effort - that has to be there."

Despite their woeful record, the Rush are still among the better-drawing teams in the NLL. Edmonton sits sixth in average attendance with 10,633 which is only 200 under the league average and about 900 behind Calgary. The Rush's attendance numbers are ahead of fellow league newcomer Portland and well in front of Minnesota, Arizona and San Jose.

A point on which everyone agrees is that the fan base that has stuck with the Rush deserve to see a home-floor win.

"We have to show our fans that what we roll on is pride," said Rush forward Trent Smalley. "We all want to be back next year and we want all our fans to come back so we have to start playing with some heart.

"We've maybe let ourselves and other people down and we have to start giving something back to the fans."

TIME TO PUSH BACK

Having failed to win on their home floor hasn't only been a disappointment for the fans. By consistently giving away two points, the Rush have made Rexall Place a comfortable place for the opposition to play.

"We can't roll over and show the rest of the league that they only have to push us so far," said Rush goalie Pat Campbell. "If we get pushed and pushed we have to start pushing back and we have to start doing that now so that it carries over to next season.

"We downright embarrassed ourselves last week and nothing is going to boost our morale more than a home win."

The talk of physical aggression is something Urban has been waiting for all season.

"One of my biggest beefs is that we haven't played tough," said Urban. "Our advertisements talk about battles and warriors. Well, we have to start playing like warriors. This isn't tiddlywinks. If you play tough you're going to win some games."

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AVERAGE ATTENDANCE

1. Colorado: 16,369

2. Toronto: 15,994

3. Buffalo: 12,190

4. Philadelphia: 11,800

5. Calgary: 11,587

6. Edmonton: 10,633

7. Rochester: 9,942

8. Portland: 8,067

9. Minnesota: 7,554

10. Arizona: 6,414

11. San Jose: 5,686


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