It didn't take long for Bob Hamley to put his stamp on the Edmonton Rush roster.
Since taking over the team in February last year, the new head coach and general manager has brought about wholesale changes. Even the uniforms are different this year.
Only five players remain from the roster he took over from Paul Day, and heading into Friday's home opener against the Portland LumberJax (7 p.m.) at Rexall Place, Hamley is confident a playoff spot is attainable this season.
"It's important for us to win this year, we have to show the fans that we're serious," Hamley said. "We've tried to change the culture, we tried to change the dressing room.
"It's been so far, so good. Our camp was one of the most competitive camps I've ever been involved in. Obviously with Chicago folding this year, it made it a little more difficult on some guys, but we're really fortunate to have a group that is focused and I'm expecting good results early."
FANS WERE PATIENT
Rush fans won't have it any other way. They were patient during a 1-15 expansion year, and were teased the following season when the Rush earned six victories and just missed out on a playoff spot.
Last year was supposed to be the year, but after stumbling out of the blocks, losing their first five games of the season, Hamley was brought in.
"Bob really interacts with the players really well," said Rush captain Chris McElroy. "He's a great motivator too. He knows each player's strengths and he knows their role on the team. He's good at bringing the group together, keeping us focused on our goal and keep us working hard.
"He makes it fun as well. He's done a lot of great things with our team and the best is yet to come."
A former player, Hamley won a pair of championships with the Buffalo Bandits before moving behind the bench.
He was an assistant coach when the Albany Attack went to the 2002 NLL championship against the Toronto Rock, then became head coach of the Columbus Landsharks, who relocated to Arizona and became the Sting.
Two years later, the Sting made it to the NLL final and Hamley was named coach of the year and general manager of the year - the first time one person has won both awards in the same year.
When the Sting suspended operations for the 2008 season, Hamley went to the Colorado Mammoth before being hired by the Rush midway through the year.
"Bob is just a great guy," said Rush forward Andy Secore. "Personally you can talk to him. He gets down to business when it's time, but you can also definitely joke around with him."
Secore is one of the big names Hamley has brought in this season.
A Hamilton native, he led the Minnesota Swarm in scoring last year with 76 points.
"Going back to our Arizona days, we used to call him 'Greasy' there," Hamley said. "He's always open, always finding ways to get open. He really has a good knowledge of the game."
Secore is one of a number of players who have past experience with Hamley.
It's only natural in an effort to turn things around quickly the new boss would bring in personnel he's familiar with.
"He's a fantastic coach, he's very, very smart and is very articulate when he's trying to get his point across to the players," said Rush goaltender Steve Dietrich. "He's a players' coach. All you can ask for as a player is to be playing with a guy you can respect and play for a guy that you know where you stand. He's a great coach to play for."