New coach, old faces to guide Rock

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

With the Rock's 2010 National Lacrosse League campaign set to tip off tomorrow in Boston against the Blazers, this season's theme isn't hard to figure out.

Redemption.

The franchise that won five championships before plummeting to the bottom of the standings the past few seasons has completely revamped itself.

A new owner, Jamie Dawick took over the club, reigning coach of the year Troy Cordingley came over after leading the Calgary Roughnecks to the title last year, defensive stalwart Pat McCready and forward Mike Hominuck were also acquired and the club looked heavily to faces from its highly successful past.

Former MVP and 2009 NLL scoring leader Colin Doyle is back with the team he never wanted to leave, taking over as captain for the departed Chris Driscoll. He will be joined by three repatriated teammates; defenders Sandy Chapman and Phil Sanderson, along with forward Kim Squire, out of the league since 2006. All were brought back into the fold by new general manager/assistant coach Terry Sanderson, who was let go by the club just before Doyle was dealt away in 2006, despite leading the Rock to the 2005 championship.

In all, 12 players were not with the team last season. All are anxious to help the Rock regroup.

"We've practiced long enough, it's time to get started," Terry Sanderson said in a release.

Though the Rock lost four of its top six scorers from a season ago, Blaine Manning and Kasey Beirnes remain and will team with the newcomers -- including highly-touted rookie Garrett Billings -- to make the Rock a potent squad. Billings, the WLA's rookie of the year this summer after scoring 38 goals, likes what he sees.

"Terry and Troy keep preaching to have the right kind of guys, the ones that will hustle and make the right play every time, and aren't selfish," Billings said.

"If you can put a whole team together like that, things will turn out pretty good."

The club's defence appears solid, but the goaltending is a question mark.

Bob Watson and Steve Dietrich are two of the greatest goaltenders the NLL has ever seen, but both will turn 40 this season.

How well they defy Father Time could well determine whether Toronto makes a return to the playoffs in what will be a very tough East Division.

RYAN.WOLSTAT@SUNMEDIA.CA


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