Ready to rumble

JASON HILLS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

The Edmonton Rush wanted nothing to do with cancelling the 2008 National Lacrosse League season.

This was going to be their big year, after two seasons of growth the Rush are ecstatic to have the season back on.

"There were a lot of sleepless nights. We came to Edmonton with a mission of taking professional lacrosse to the level of being a household sport," said Rush owner Bruce Urban.

"We are not quitters, we came here with a plan and we were very concerned. It looked like it was going to be a lost season."

The NLLPA and it's owners came through with a late night deal Thursday night. It's a seven-year deal, which is the longest in NLL history

"The league needed a strong partnership with it's players and we achieved that with a long lasting agreement, ensuing the long-term stability of the league to take it to the next level," said Rush president Duane Vienneau.

Urban was very vocal with the rest of the National Lacrosse League's owners in making sure they could get a collective bargaining agreement.

After two seasons of missing the playoffs, GM and head coach Paul Day made some key acquisitions to help bolster the Rush lineup.

"It was a real struggle. A lot of the owners had said unless everything in the deal was presented the league would be better off sitting out a year," explained Urban.

"A few of us owners felt otherwise and we were having to tell some of them that the only way to continue to grow this game is to have a season."

The Rush also unveiled the logo for the 2008 NLL all-star game, which Edmonton will host in March.

The tentative date was set for the Mar. 15-16 weekend, however with the delay in getting a new CBA, there could be some changes to the league schedule.

"There are some things that will need to be ironed out in the next few weeks," said Urban.

Edmonton lacrosse fans haven't put a grudge towards the Rush and the league. According to Urban the Rush had their largest contingent of season tickets sold in a three hour period.

"That was the scare, we were in new territory with this sport. We weren't sure how they would react. We didn't know if we would loose half our fan base or half our sponsorships.

"We are very grateful they have stuck with us," added Urban.

The owners are happy, the players are happy, it will be interesting to see how the NLL will grow with their new deal in place.

Jimmy Quinlan, who is entering his third season with the Rush, admits it was tough to think he may not have been able to play this winter.

"You want a deal that's fair for everybody, but when they initially cancelled the season, it really hits you," said Quinlan. "For most of us players we love the game and we want to see it grow and to sit back and not have a season would have been detrimental for the league and for many of the teams."

The Rush begin training camp in late December and will open their third NLL season in January.


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