Back from the brink

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

A.J. Shannon is a four-year National Lacrosse League veteran.

But this weekend he'll feel like a rookie.

He'll be tentative, at times hesitant, and perhaps even a little bit insecure.

"It's been a long time, I'm actually a little nervous," Shannon said.

"It'll be my first game in a year. I think the biggest thing will be mentally believing that my leg can absorb the impact. That will be the biggest hurdle."

Last season Shannon, 26, ripped up his knee as a member of the Buffalo Bandits.

He needed surgery to repair a torn ACL, then had to undergo eight months of rehab. He's been on the Rush's unable to perform list all season.

"I've never had an injury of this magnitude," Shannon said. "I've always had bumps and bruises throughout my career, I think everybody does playing a contact sport. I twisted my MCL, but I came back within eight weeks from it.

"This one was obviously a bit more of a hit. This is the first major surgery I've ever had."

Regardless, the Rush still traded for him in the off-season.

"He was a guy we were really looking at," said Rush head coach and general manager Paul Day. "He's young, strong, has good speed and has a cannon from the outside. He's a guy we wanted to bring in."

MODIFIED DEAL

The Rush acquired Shannon along with a first-round pick in the 2007 NLL draft for a first-round pick in the 2006 NLL draft. It was a deal that was modified after he got hurt. The Rush then went on to use the first-round pick they acquired in a package to get forwards Chris Gill and Dan Stroup.

"Basically for that third pick we traded, along with Mat Giles and Jason Clark, we ended up getting A.J, Chris Gill, Dan Stroup, Ryan O'Connor and a second-round pick next year," Day said. "So him getting hurt actually helped us."

Prior to his injury last season, Shannon had seven goals and 16 assists in nine games for the Bandits.

The previous year he scored 25 goals and added 15 assists in 16 games.

"I wasn't surprised I was traded." Shannon said.

"I was going to be a restricted free agent and there were a lot of things coming down. It was one of those things that was best for all parties involved. I think I would have been better elsewhere than in Buffalo and in the role I was being used."

MORE OFFENSIVE ROLE

With the Rush, Shannon is expected to take on more of an offensive role.

Especially considering the Rush have lost two offensive players to injury in O'Connor and Randy Daly. Neither are expected to play this weekend.

"A.J.'s a guy that's going to help our power play," Day said.

"He's an outside shooter and that's one thing we're lacking on our power play. If teams sit back while we're on the power play and let us shoot, he's a guy that can shoot the ball high and hard.

"He likes to shoot and he's got a cannon. We hope to use that this weekend."

Shannon will make his debut in New York against the Titans on Saturday and then see if his knee holds up well enough to play the next day in Chicago against the Shamrox.

The Rush have five road games before finishing the season out at home against the Calgary Roughnecks on April 14.

"I think over the next couple of games I'll settle in and start playing like I used to play," Shannon said.

"I think the first two games will be a little bumpy. But if I can get some shots on net, maybe get a couple of goals early or something like that, I think I'll settle in.

"We need these two wins, and hopefully I can contribute."


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