Youth movement for Rush

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

This is Bob Hamley's team now.

The new head coach and general manager of the Edmonton Rush made a series of moves prior to yesterday's National Lacrosse League deadline.

The biggest involved trading away two of their most prolific scorers Chris Gill and Mike Accursi.

"I wanted to get back in the draft in the next few years and obtain some youth, while at the same time make sure we don't mix things up too much so we don't have a shot to make the playoffs," Hamley said. "I still think we're a good enough team to make the playoffs and catch Portland or Calgary by making these moves. But at the same time, I think we're very well set up for the future with the draft. I think that was very important for our franchise that we have a couple of pick in the first round of the 2008 and 2009 draft."

OFF TO MAMMOTH

Hamley dealt Gill to the Colorado Mammoth, along with a second-round pick in this year's draft for a first round pick.

Gill, 36, who won an NLL championship in the past with the Mammoth, had 12 goals this season tying him for the team lead. The 12-year veteran entered the season eighth on the league's all-time scoring list and holds a number of Rush franchise records.

"They were tough calls," Hamley said. "Both Mike Accursi and Chris Gill are good lacrosse players and are even better people. They were a pleasure to be around. But when other GMs phoned and offered what they were offering, I just couldn't turn them down."

Accursi, 33, was traded to the Buffalo Bandits in exchange for forward Dan Teat and a second-round pick in this year's draft.

In nine games with the Rush this season, Accursi lead the Rush in scoring with 11 goals and 22 assists and representing the team in the recent NLL All-star game.

He was originally acquired in an off-season deal with the defending league champion Rochester Knighthawks.

Teat, 36, had 11 goals and 23 assists in 12 games with the Bandits this season.

"I'm very familiar with Dan," Hamley said. "I coached him in Albany a few years ago, I played with him actually near the end of my career. He's just a great off-ball player, a lot like Mike Accursi. He was available from Buffalo and I wanted to make sure we didn't lose a whole lot when we lost Mike."

Also prior to the deadline, Hamley sent goaltender Matt Disher and a fourth-round pick to the Portland LumberJax for goaltender Matt King, defenceman Ian Crashley and a first-round pick in the 2009 draft.

"Crashley was a big part of that deal, he's only 21-years-old," Hamley said.

"He's six-foot-five, runs very well and has played a lot of games with Portland in the last two years.

"That's the way we have to go. We have to keep trying to get good, young players and he fits that bill."

Hamley has made a number of moves since taking over the post from Paul Day just over a month ago.

He's also coached the Rush to their first two wins of the season and currently has the team sitting half a game back of the Calgary Roughnecks for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Conference.

NEXT GAME SATURDAY

The Rush host the San Jose Stealth (7:30 p.m.) at Rexall Place on Saturday.

"I'm a big believer of youth and speed," Hamley said. "I thought when I first got here our five-on-five offence was very stale and very slow.

"So I tried to tweak that a little bit and we also now have draft choices that gives us leverage down the line where can go out and get somebody or build through the draft. Having picks is very important to me."

Despite trading for a number of draft picks, Hamley is not calling this a rebuilding project and giving up on this season. The 2005 NLL head coach and general manager of the year believes his team can still make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

"I don't want to have that perception out there," he said. "We think we're good enough to beat Calgary, we proved it by beating Rochester and we proved it by beating Portland.

"I think we're still good enough to make the playoff and that's going to be our focus now that this is all over. I'm glad this day is done and we can now focus on the group we have and moving forward."


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