Captain Mac is optimistic

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

Chris McElroy has been through it all.

The Edmonton Rush captain was a member of the expansion club, just happy to be in the National Lacrosse League.

He was with the team the following season when optimism was high and they went on to win six games.

And he was there last year when things crumbled under the weight of expectation, necessitating a coaching change.

"Absolutely, there's pressure on us, going into our fourth year and not having made playoffs," said McElroy. "But that's the exciting part of being an athlete, the challenges that you face. That's what it's all about. I'm confident that this group has persevered through all that, and I think we're going to have a very successful season both on and off the floor."

McElroy, 26, is one of five players still around from the team that started the 2008 season and one of three left off the original 2006 expansion roster.

The Rush will be relying heavily on the six-foot-one, 190-pound transition player from Orillia, Ont., to solidify their back end and get the ball up the floor.

"Mac is a great captain, he's a leader on this team," said Rush head coach and general manager Bob Hamley. "He does so much off the floor for the team and the players and the coaching staff. I've actually asked him to tone it back a little bit this year to focus more on his game."

Last season, McElroy scored four goals and added three assists in 16 games for the Rush. His production was down from the previous season, having been used more in a defensive role.

This year he's expected to chip in offensively.

"He has great speed," Hamley said. "And we're going to need to score more goals on the transition to this year."

Along with playing with the Rush, McElroy is active in the community promoting the team and the sport.

"That's the part that I really enjoy, as much as anything," he said. "I obviously love playing lacrosse, that's my first passion, but it's really nice to be part of the sport's growth as well as the organization. I'm doing lots of clinics and trying to get more kids involved at the grassroots level. I think that's the best way to both support the game and support the organization."

Heading into Friday's home opener against the Portland LumberJax, McElroy is optimistic of the team's chances this season.

"I'm really excited about the group we have," he said. "We did a lot of team-building off the floor and have gone out and really worked hard. One thing we're really stressing is a strong work ethic, which is something we've always had here.

"But now we have some really great talent and I think if you go out and work hard, everything else will go out and take care of itself."


Videos

Photos