|Rush forward Jimmy Quinlan chases Swarm defender Callum Crawford during a game at Rexall Place in March. (Perry Nelson/QMI Agency/Files)
EDMONTON - Hate is such a strong word.
But Jimmy Quinlan is no weakling, either.
So it would be safe to assume the Edmonton Rush captain would at least check the box under 'strongly dislike' when it comes to the Calgary Roughnecks, whom they will open the post-season against in the Saddledome on Saturday (7 p.m., NLL Network at nll.com).
After all, no Rush player has been involved in every one of the NLL’s Battle of Alberta other than the last remaining member of the original 2006 Edmonton franchise.
In that time, Quinlan has faced defeat on 20 occasions compared to just five victories.
Toss into the mix the fact that he was originally drafted by Calgary as part of their inaugural NLL team in 2001 — only to be released in training camp — and you’ve got the perfect recipe for despising them.
Except for one thing: Quinlan doesn’t hate the Roughnecks.
“I made it to main camp and I didn’t stick. I wasn’t there that long,” said Quinlan, who was just 19 at the time. “It’s behind me. If anything, I use it as a story and a learning experience in terms that maybe I wasn’t prepared.
“You’re never entitled to anything. I think at the time I felt like I deserved a better fate, but in reality it was probably one of the better things that happened. It created the type of player I am today.”
Quinlan, who grew up on an acreage in Strathcona County playing minor lacrosse in Sherwood Park before joining the Edmonton Miners, ended up playing out his junior career with the New Westminster Salmonbellies and two years of senior lacrosse in Orangeville, Ont., before being picked up by the Toronto Rock in 2005.
The next season, he found himself back home where he currently teaches math and instructs the lacrosse program at Vimy Ridge Academy.
“I’ve got a pretty good gig,” said the 30-year-old, who is in his seventh season with the Rush and is just the second player to captain Edmonton into the post-season. “So I don’t ever think of it as ill-will toward Calgary. I was an Alberta guy who was drafted by Calgary and I was happy at the time.”
The last time Quinlan was happy with the Roughnecks was also the fifth and last time he beat them — an 11-7 win over the then-defending champions at the Saddledome in the Rush’s inaugural playoff appearance in 2010.
“The elation and the feeling in the room … it was absolutely huge,” Quinlan said. “I see a lot of similarities with this team and that team in terms of not having success in the regular season against Calgary and struggling and not playing 60 minutes.”
But they found a way to beat the Roughnecks in their biggest meeting to date, going on to end up an overtime goal shy of hosting the Rock in the Champion’s Cup that year.
How far the Rush go this year is up to them, but Quinlan learned an important lesson from his first experience with the Roughnecks back in 2001.
“We can’t be afraid to play, we can’t be afraid to make mistakes and we can’t be afraid to take chances,” he said. “We’ve got to be aggressive and not stand around and expect things to happen.
“We’ve got to make them happen.”
It's worked the Rush captain’s career so far.