Roughnecks snub 'absolutely ridiculous'

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:09 PM ET

CALGARY - The Calgary Roughnecks seem to have the experts perplexed.

First, National Lacrosse League insiders predicted they’d lose a pile of games. The Riggers proved them wrong, rolling to a league-best 11-5 record and earning the top seed for the playoffs.

Thanks to that unexpected success, many of those same pundits had Roughnecks GM Brad Banister and head coach Dave Pym pegged as shoo-ins for the annual hardware handed out to the NLL’s top GM and best bench boss.

Wrong again.

On Thursday afternoon, the league announced Rochester Knighthawks skipper Mike Hasen was named the NLL’s coach of the year, while K-Hawks architect Curt Styres was voted the top general manager.

Pym and Banister finished second in the balloting, with representatives from every organization having a say. According to a league source, Banister (30) was three points behind Styres (33) in the final tally, while Hasen collected four more points (52) than Pym (48).

“I’m very surprised. I think both Dave and Brad deserved the awards,” said Roughnecks forward Kaleb Toth. “I’m sure the reason that they didn’t get it is either the league is trying to give Rochester a pat on the back, or they’re upset at Brad for selling the team.

“You look at the moves that Brad made in the off-season, trading Tracey Kelusky and Josh Sanderson and Jeff Moleski and Matt King — four excellent players and going with youth, and nobody expected us to do anything. Everybody thought we were going to have a rebuilding year, yet we were the best team in the league.

“And you don’t give a GM and head coach an award for that? That’s absolutely ridiculous.”

After an off-season payroll purge, the Riggers opened the season with 10 newcomers — including four rookies — on the roster. They gelled almost immediately, though, winning West Division bragging rights in convincing fashion.

The Knighthawks were also expected to endure a long winter but finished with a 10-6 mark and earned third spot in the East Division.

Despite the award snubs, Banister and Pym still have a shot at the Champion’s Cup, a claim Styres and Hasen can no longer make.

While the Knighthawks were eliminated by the Toronto Rock in last Sunday’s quarterfinal, the Riggers will host the defending champion Washington Stealth in Saturday’s semifinal clash at the Saddledome.

“I think all they care about is how we do, and that’s what makes them good at their jobs,” said Riggers faceoff ace Geoff Snider. “And that what makes them deserving of these awards. You look at coach and GM, and those guys are all about their teams and making their teams better and competitive, and Dave has obviously done that and so has Brad.

“But to be honest, I don’t think they really mind. They’re just happy we’re in the position we’re in.”

While the Roughnecks don’t seem too worried about personal accolades, they probably haven’t heard the last word on the awards snub. Pym will try anything to motivate his guys, and this is just more ammunition.

With Jeff Shattler considered a candidate for MVP and Curtis Dickson in the race for top rookie, there could be more to come.

“I’m sure it will probably come up,” said Riggers captain Andrew McBride. “But you know what? (Pym’s) a class guy that knows that it’s not about him, it’s about the team. Everybody talks about the losses we incurred this year, and we didn’t miss a beat. He was the first guy to come to camp and say ‘This isn’t a rebuilding year. This is a championship-quality team,’ and I think that was an important thing for the young guys to hear that we had a coach who has our back.

“But I don’t think the league really respects or likes what’s going on in Roughnecks land and that’s fine. We’re just trying to win a championship.”


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