Toth dreaming of title

Roughnecks Kaleb Toth celebrates his 300th career goal with teammates Curtis Dickson and Dane...

Roughnecks Kaleb Toth celebrates his 300th career goal with teammates Curtis Dickson and Dane Dobbie against the Washington Stealth earlier this season at the Saddledome. (QMI Agency/Mike Drew)

 STEVE MACFARLANE

, Last Updated: 4:06 AM ET

Two more victories will mean a fourth NLL championship for Calgary Roughnecks forward Kaleb Toth. 

And the 33-year-old knows he may never get another title shot. 

“It’s one of those things where you win once and it’s totally addictive. You just want to keep winning and winning and winning,” said Toth, who won it all with the Toronto Rock in his rookie season in 2000 and twice more with the Riggers in 2004 and 2009. 

“Once you start getting older, you don’t know how many more opportunities you’re gonna get. This is definitely a good chance for not only myself but for this team to do something special. 

“To be able to win a third (in Calgary) would definitely put the icing on the cake.” 

Both for a Roughnecks franchise celebrating its 10th and maybe final season in Calgary, and the 12-year veteran whose future is equally uncertain. 

Toth has a bad hamstring, and while the wily forward has adapted his game to remain effective, he’s playing hurt. He has no intention of suiting up for another year if he can’t be at his best. 

“I haven’t really made up my mind what’s going to happen. I know at the end of the season, I’ve got to get my hamstring fixed — that’s top priority — and how many years of lacrosse I have left depends on what happens with that,” Toth said Tuesday while looking ahead to Saturday’s NLL Western Final at the Saddledome against the Washington Stealth. 

“I’m trying to stay positive and hopefully I can get it fixed, I can get it back to 100% and I won’t have to worry about it. I can continue playing.”

In the meantime, he’s finding ways to be effective. 

Despite scoring fewer than 20 goals in the regular season for only the third time since his rookie year, Toth has helped the offence in less obvious ways while playing through pain.

“It definitely impacted my numbers, but I tried playing smarter, letting the young guys do all the dirty work, go to the net,” Toth said. 

“I just tried to free up spaces and set picks for guys and get them open rather than get myself open.” 

Leaning on those aspects of the game hasn’t been difficult. Toth was already committed to those kinds of less-recognized contributions as an older, wiser player in the later stages of his professional career. 

“I thought the last few years I’ve been the guy that’s kind of been doing that for Tracey (Kelusky) and doing it for (Scott) Ranger,” Toth said. 

“Before, I used to be able to have the speed and the power in my legs to run around guys. I was healthy. I’d do the picks, I’d do the dirty work, but I also had the opportunity to go one-on-one and beat guys. 

“Now I just don’t have that speed or push-off that I used to because of my hamstring. I just don’t have that initial two steps, the two power steps you need to get up to 100%.”

There’s a chance he never will. 

But by avoiding surgery and going with Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections after the season — a process used by top athletes such as Teemu Selanne and Tiger Woods — Toth hopes he’ll be able to run with the best of them again next year. 

“Basically what they do is take blood out of you, they spin it, and they re-inject the healthy white blood cells back into you,” he said. “My doctor says if we do surgery, we’re probably looking at me being out an entire season. At my age, being out for a full year isn’t what I want to do. 

“They’re pretty confident it will work.” 

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca 

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve 

 


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