NLL: Offseason Moves in Front Offices Around the League

Posted on Jul 23 2012 - 4:47am by Jim Flannery

As the National Lacrosse League’s offseason moves on, three front offices are staying active.

The Calgary Roughnecks have decided not to renew the contract of head coach Dave Pym.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bandits have removed Darris Kilgour from the General Manager position and replaced him with former goalie Steve Dietrich.

And most recently, the Edmonton Rush have renewed the contract of GM and head coach Derek Keenan for 2013.

“Decisions like this are always difficult to make,” said Roughnecks General Manager Mike Board. “Over the past five seasons, Dave has made significant contributions to our club as a scout, assistant coach and a head coach. I thank Dave for his commitment and hard work and wish him every success in the future.”

In three seasons as head coach, Pym has amassed a 33-15 record in the regular season. What he hasn’t done is bring Calgary another championship.

In spite of guiding the Roughnecks to the best record in the NLL for the last two years, Pym has not translated that success into the playoffs, where the team has gone 1-3.

Pym can hardly be blamed for all of Calgary’s post-season woes, however. This past year, the Riggers were without their second-best sniper, Curtis Dickson, for the playoffs.

Additionally, goalie Mike Poulin, who was named NLL Goaltender of the Year, came into the game after missing the last two of the regular season due to injury. The time away showed as he was less than sharp in Calgary’s first-round drubbing at the hands of the Edmonton Rush.

Add in the ongoing absence of Jon Harnett, who suffered a mid-season concussion and was not able to get back into the lineup, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Assistant coaches Curt Malawsky and Bob McMahon are considered the front runners for the head coach position. Both have experience, both are respected and both know the Roughnecks inside and out. 

In Buffalo, the head office has decided to reduce Darris Kilgour’s duties. He retains the head coaching responsibilities while Steve Dietrich has now taken over the GM job.

Kilgour is the all-time winningest coach in NLL history, with 108, although his 2012 season was well below expectations for the Bandits, who just squeaked into the post-season with an anemic 7-9 record.

The move allows Kilgour to focus on what he does best—coaching—while Dietrich can take care of the day-to-day running of the team. 

“I’m excited to return to Buffalo, a place that I called home for six years,” Dietrich said. “The Bandits’ coaching staff includes three guys I went to battle with during my career. They bleed orange and black, and I’m confident that together we can bring the Champion’s Cup back to Buffalo.”

Finally, the Edmonton Rush have extended head coach and GM Derek Keenan’s contract to cover the 2013 season.

Keenan guided the Rush to an improbable title run in 2012, taking the 6-10 squad all the way to the Champion’s Cup where they fell just short against the Rochester Knighthawks.

Keenan has twice been awarded both the General Manager of the Year award and the Coach of the Year award in the NLL. He pulled both awards while running the Portland LumberJax in 2006 and repeated the feat in 2010 with Edmonton.

Said Keenan, “There is really no other place I want to be. Edmonton is a top notch sports city and I think we are on the verge of augmenting the ‘City of Champions’ moniker. The ownership is solid and together we have built a talented and athletic young core group of players. There is still a lot of work to be done but I really look forward to that challenge.”

Retaining him for another year shows much deserved confidence in Keenan’s performance with the Rush and could hint at bigger and better things to come from Edmonton in the near future.

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Jim has been a sports junkie for as far back as he can remember. Over the years, he has been in the stands for virtually every sport he has ever had access to, including hockey, football, soccer, basketball, curling, stock car racing, volleyball, netball, badminton, lacrosse, and probably a few more as well. Jim has been coaching high school-age baseball for a quarter century, is a competitive curler in the winter, and would spend every other waking moment watching or writing about sports if he could.