CALGARY, AB — When long-time Roughnecks captain Andrew McBride announced his retirement in the off-season, it sent shockwaves through the lacrosse world.
But no more so than throughout the Roughnecks’ locker room.
After taking part in the first training camp in 13 years without McBride, the teams’ veterans noticed a difference.
“It’s different, definitely,” said defenceman Dan MacRae. “I’ve never been on the floor without Andrew McBride as a Roughneck. It’s definitely different for myself.”
“It’s really weird for me not having Brider here,” admitted Jeff Shattler. “He’s been here every year since I’ve been here and it’s my 10th training camp.”
“Brider is a fantastic leader on and off the floor. He’s a special guy,” noted goaltender Mike Poulin, who watched McBride patrol the turf in front of him for the past five years. “It’s a different feeling without him around to keep things loose. Training camp is a tough time because guys are fighting for jobs or it’s an introduction to the league, or even if you had been around for years, it’s always a tense time and Brider found a way to keep things positive.”
“A little bit different. You don’t have his energy and positivity. He is always a loud guy and always brought a great team vibe to everything,” said Garrett McIntosh about his former captain. “It feels like a bit is missing, but everyone is having a great time.”
Calgary was not only missing their captain, but also long-time Roughnecks sniper Shawn Evans, Daryl Veltman, as well as veteran defenceman Jeff Moleski.
The team has an unfamiliar dynamic, for sure.
“We miss those guys because they are quality guys, they’re good people, they’re character guys,” said coach Curt Malawsky. “That parts tough. You look around and don’t see them out there and it’s a different era.”
“It definitely has a different feel to the floor. You can’t say that it’s the same. Anytime you lose a guy like Andrew McBride or Jeff Moleski, that’s big leadership,” noted MacRae. “They’re both very vocal guys on and off the floor. I don’t think one guy can fill those shoes.”
“It’s tough to replace those guys. They are character players and veteran presence to be sure,” said Curtis Manning.
Those three players take with them 28 years combined of NLL experience — 16 of which were spent with the Roughnecks. That experience will be hard to replace, but the team knows that it can’t dwell in the past.
They must accept the coming change and look to the bright future of the organization.
“I say with change comes opportunity,” Malawsky said. “When you make changes, there are opportunities for other guys and they are embracing it. They’re excited. It’s a young camp this year and guys are flying up and down the floor. You look at the guys we drafted; we’re a lot bigger. It’s exciting as coaches, we really have to step up our game.”
“It’s definitely a different feel. There’s a lot of young kids and new faces, but it’s a chance for the guys who have been around and not played as much to get a chance to fill a role and for the young kids to step in,” said Mike Carnegie about the available roster spots. “Team’s have to change and we’re going though it now.”
“It’s a little different feeling, a more exciting feeling. A lot of youth. It’s fast out there,” joked defenceman Scott Carnegie. “I think we’re really looking forward to see what we’ve got. The kids are good. They’re playing good and they’re impressive.
“It’s still lacrosse, it’s still your job, so you go out there and treat it as your business,” explained MacRae. “You’ve got to move forward.”