Hamley takes fall for Rush follies

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

The announcement came as a surprise.

Despite not making the playoffs this season, the Edmonton Rush appeared to have laid a solid foundation for the future of their franchise under Bob Hamley.

Yet it wasn't good enough for the head coach and general manager to keep his job.

"It's unfortunate we had to release Bob today, but we felt we had to move in a different direction," said Rush president Gord Sawyer. "We feel we have the pieces in place, but we just lacked offence last year and we felt we needed a coach that could take us to that next step."

Hamley was hired five games into the 2008 season replacing Paul Day. He took over a team with an 0-5 record and guided them to a 4-7 mark the rest of the way, while at the same time making drastic roster changes.

This year Hamley and the Rush went into the season with high expectations, despite the high turnover. But the team took a while to gel and finished with a 5-11 record and were out of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.

"We're looking for more direction in adjusting to situations during the game," said Sawyer, who recently joined the organization, replacing Dwayne Vienneau. "Our offence got bogged down and we kept on attacking in the same manner too much. We need a guy that is going to react better on the bench and be more reactionary on the bench.

"We've very happy with our players. We think we're a couple of adjustments from being a very good lacrosse team. Defensively we were relatively solid last year.

"Transitionally, moving to the offence we were relatively weak."

Hamley had been an assistant coach with the Colorado Mammoth before joining the Rush. He was hired by the Mammoth after the Arizona Sting ceased operations prior to the 2008 season. Three years previously, as their head coach and general manager, Hamley guided the Sting to the NLL championship game.

For his efforts, he was named both coach and GM of the year, becoming the first person to ever win both awards in the same season.

Sawyer is hoping to have a replacement prior to the NLL draft this summer.

"It was definitely a surprise," said Rush captain Chris McElroy. "But at the same time, I knew there was a possibility of changes. Being in Edmonton, I've been kind of used to changes.

"I know coaches are always evaluated by their records and obviously ownership thought moving forward with a new head coach and general manager was the answer."

Despite their record, the Rush did come close to qualifying for the playoffs. They needed a win in their last game of the season in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, but fell by a goal, on the road, to the Colorado Mammoth.

It was one of a number of one-goal games the Rush lost during the year.

"With both Paul Day and Bob Hamley, the players have to shoulder some of the responsibility," said Rush forward Jimmy Quinlan. "Bob was a pleasure to work with, he understands and knows the game extremely well, but at the end of the day, we just didn't get the results the team was looking for."

As is usually the case when coach gets fired, there are always questions as to whether his message was lost in the dressing room or the room was divided.

McElroy said that wasn't the case with Hamley who was considered a player's coach.

"That's completely false," he said. "We had a great group of guys. I hope this core group stays together, because that's the thing we never had in Edmonton. We've always had a revolving door of players and I think it was really coming together and we just lost some tough games in the end."


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