|The Edmonton Rush unveil their new jersey Wednesday. Alberta's Minister of Tourism Cindy Ady is on the left, player Ryan McNish is wearing the jersey, and team owner Bruce Urban is on the right. (PERRY MAH/EDMONTON SUN)
EDMONTON - The first five years showed so much promise that the Edmonton Rush signed on for another five years.
After the Rush came so close to getting into its first National Lacrosse League final, owner Bruce Urban knows he finally has something promising to sell.
Urban's operation has lost money in its first five years of existence, but he's convinced his team is now on the threshold of something special.
"Basically, there's been two sports teams that have made it in this city -- the Oilers and the Eskimos," said Urban. "Every other team has come and gone. I'm sure when the Edmonton Rush announced they were bringing in lacrosse, the naysayers were saying 'how long will this sport last in Edmonton?'
"My answer to that is that the sport will be here for many, many years."
Urban does know that this market demands a winning team and he was quite willing to get it to the point where this version of the Rush has reached championship-level calibre.
"The reality is (winning) is more important than anything," said Urban. "We've turned the corner now. We have a top-quality team on the field now and that's so exciting."
In addition to the lease extension with Northlands, the team unveiled its third uniform.
Scheduled to be unveiled Jan. 7 in Toronto, the road uniform has elements on it that are a tribute to Alberta's blue-collar nature.
"This is our way of giving back to the energy industry," said Urban, about the ambassador role he sees his team playing.
The road-only uniform features Alberta and Canada shoulder patches and an oil derrick on the front.
"This is the first year we're going into the season without a complete overhaul," said Rush defenceman Ryan McNish, who modelled the new uni.
"Now, we're got the chemistry. I've got so much confidence going into the season."
In addition, the Rush announced they'd signed free agent veteran defender Bruce Murray, who'd spend last season in Colorado.
Murray is a six-foot-five, 265-pound behemoth with an intimidating physical presence.
"He's probably one of the largest guys in the league, but he moves like a cat," said McNish. "For the size of the man he is, it's going to be great having him back there. It'll help the physicality of the team."
Rush assistant coach Todd Lorenz is happy to have Murray wearing Rush silks.
"He really is a stay-at-home, kind of control the slot area in the middle of the floor (player)," said Lorenz. "You won't see him go out of his way for the massive killing hit but he's very solid technically and he'll drop 'em when the need be."
Murray should help a solid returning nucleus.
"The turnover ratio was always huge here -- trying to bring a band-aid," said Lorenz. "Now, the turnover ratio is nil. It's the same core group of guys. They know the coaching staff, they know our
philosophies and what we expect of them.
"We came so far as a tight-knit group. Now that we have the nucleus, we can got the extra step."
Which should make it an interesting season once the new year rolls around.
Expect star player Brodie Miller to sign a long-term contract. The only detail to be worked out is the length of his new contract.
Another five years?