New coach, same gameplan

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

When Dave Pym took over the Calgary Roughnecks as head coach, there was ultimately going to be an element of change.

One important thing will remain the same for the National Lacrosse League team.

In winning the Champion's Cup last May, the Riggers used specific goals written out in their lockers as a way to focus on their task at hand.

Those mission statements were written by Pym, an assistant coach working with the offence.

Although head coach Troy Cordingley and assistant coach Terry Sanderson went to the Toronto Rock following the season, the Roughnecks will run the same systems on the floor under Pym, and they have the same motivation, as well.

"They are very particular, especially for the players," Pym said about the message sheets.

"A player might say he wants three goals a game and that's his performance goal. We break it down for how you are going to do it.

"What kind of angles do you take on picks, where do you set them, how are you going to get teammates open ... We define the process of how you play the game within the big picture of our system.

"It forces us to reflect and analyse what we do with our systems and the process we go through to reach the excellence we expect."

In hiring Pym, the Roughnecks have gone outside of the NLL norm by hiring an Alberta product. He's the first head coach from this province in the league.

Pym's method of creating short-term goals for himself and others has given him an opportunity to achieve a long-term one.

He started with the Riggers several years ago as a volunteer scout then was hired as an offensive assistant when Cordingley took over pior to the 2008 season.

"It's been a natural evolution, but an enjoyable one," said Pym, who has former Riggers forward Curt Malawsky and former Colorado Mammoth head man Rod Jensen as assistants.

"I've been given free rein to create a job description, which was nice. It was not just being a scout. I started doing video and a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff.

"It was a goal in the back of my mind when I started coaching. I wanted to coach at the highest level, and this is it. Coaching in the NLL ranks up there with putting the Maple Leaf on your shoulder."

Pym has a definite challenge in taking over the Riggers, which rolled through the playoffs to capture their second title in franchise history last May.

Talent won't be a problem, being that only Malawsky and defender Kyle Couling retiring are the notable deletions from the roster.

Motivation to repeat will be a tougher job, but choosing the right mix to make up the 18 active players also won't be easy. After one weekend of training-camp practices and another two tonight and tomorrow, the decisions on roster moves don't get any clearer.

The team added NLL veterans Rob Van Beek, Craig Gelsvik, Rob Kirkby, Craig Conn, Spencer Martin and Luke Forget this off-season, and none of them has a guarantee of a spot yet.

Pym needs to set his 23-man roster Dec. 23, and he's not looking forward to it.

"That's the most difficult task a coach has ... telling a guy he won't make a team," Pym said. "It will also be difficult saying who the starting 16 are each night, as well."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA

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CAMP ROSTER

PLAYERS BATTLING FOR JOBS

Campbell, Pat (G); Carnegie, Mike (D); Carnegie, Scott (D); Codd, Bruce (D); Conn, Craig (F); Coutts, Alex (G); Dobbie, Dane (F); Forget, Luke (D) Gelsvik, Craig (D); Heavenor, Nolan (T); Hinman, Greg (D); Henry, Joel (F); Kelusky, Tracey (F); Kilby, Mike (D); Kirkby, Rob (D); King, Matt (G); Lintz, John (D); Martin, Spencer (F); McBride, Andrew (D); McFetridge, Peter (D); MacIntyre, Casey (T); Manning, Curtis (D); Michaud, Dayne (D); Moleski, Jeff (D); Ranger, Scott (F); Ratcliff, Cayle (F); Sanderson, Josh (F); Sanderson, Nathan (F); Shattler, Jeff (F); Schuss, Carlton; Toth, Kaleb (F); Van Beek, Rob (T); Vetere, Joe (F); Werschke, Garrett (D)

Wray, Devan (T).


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