Coaches cornered

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:02 PM ET

PORTLAND -- The inaugural year of the Edmonton Rush has seen the club accomplish a handful of highs, but they've been outnumbered by the lows - primarily the lowly "1" in the win column.

Although the Rush have managed to build a solid fan base and optimism exists for the future, the first and foremost memory of Year 1 will be the team's dismal 1-15 record.

Rush GM/head coach Paul Day sat down with the Sun to reflect on Edmonton's first campaign in the National Lacrosse League.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you rate this season?

A: I guess it would be about a five. I have a lot of good feelings about the way some of the young guys have progressed. I feel it should be more because of the effort we've put in, but ultimately it comes down to wins and losses.

Q: At the beginning of the year, you predicted the Rush would make the playoffs and have an 8-8 or 7-9 record. What went wrong?

A: I don't think it went as bad as our record shows. We expected to score more goals out of our transition. And I think about halfway through after the Toronto and Calgary games we seemed to get banged up and we didn't have the bodies to generate some offence. Probably the first half of the season we were winning those games in transition, but the last five or six we were losing them. I think where we went wrong was experience and depth.

Q: Was there anything that you'd say was a mistake on your part?

A: I thought our special teams would be better. Some guys were spares on power plays with other teams in the NLL and in summer ball, and I thought they'd be important guys on our power play. It was probably an unfair expectation by me.

Q: Considering what was said by both of you early in the season, how is your relationship with Rush owner Bruce Urban?

A: (laugh) I don't think it's ever been bad. Sure, we were both pretty honest in the (Sun) earlier. He wasn't too happy with our effort and when he's not happy with our effort, you can imagine that I'm not happy with it either. It's been a learning curve for everybody. I'm definitely not used to losing games and I'm sure he's not used to losing anything. He obviously treats the guys well.

Q: Name a highlight and a lowlight of the season.

A: The game we won for sure even though the Toronto home game was our best four quarters of the year. And the (second) Calgary home loss. It was horrible. I never even watched the tape of the game.

Q: How does it feel that this is going to be your first time missing the playoffs in your NLL career?

A: It's kind of strange. I've never been on a team that's missed the playoffs or not had a .500 record or better. It's a good learning experience for me - one that I wouldn't have wanted to have five years ago. I don't know if I'd have been able to handle it. We've been able to keep it pretty positive and guys still want to practice and come to the rink at 1-14. It could have been very destructive to young guys' confidence. We've been a very cohesive group. I've never been on a 1-14 team before so I didn't know how it might be, but it's not what I expected. I've been on 13-3 teams that didn't get along as well as we do.

Q: Which guys have had a good year for the Rush?

A: Jimmy Quinlan did an excellent job for us defensively when we needed him to run out the back door, and he was a bright spot all year for us offensively. Rory Glaves has played basically with one arm for the last two months and done a fantastic job - and he's only 23. Cam Bergman is another guy. Chris McElroy, we put him in a lot of positions and he was good in transition. Pat Campbell. At the start of the year, probably our biggest question mark around the league was our goaltending and it's been one of our strengths.

Q: How would you define the changes you have in mind for the off-season?

A: I'd say it's between a retooling and an overhaul. We need to be generous with our changes. Guys like Cam Bergman and Chris McElroy were put in roles that they weren't used to like our first short-man (penalty kill), and that helped them. I would definitely love to get a couple of veteran guys who'd like to play close to home.

Q: Rush president Duane Vienneau said the team will make the playoffs next year and be a contender the following year. How long before the Rush win the Champion's Cup?

A: Calgary and Rochester both won it in their third year. Arizona made it to the final last year in its third year. The third year seems to be the benchmark.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, how busy is the off-season going to be?

A: It's going to be fun and it should be quite good with new expansion teams coming in. I'd say an eight.


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