CALGARY, AB — The 2016 Calgary Roughnecks defence will have a decidedly different feel this season, despite losing only two members.
The Necks defence lost their heart and soul in the off-season when lost long-time captain Andrew McBride retired.
His absence will be felt.
“Obviously, it’s impossible to replace a guy like Andrew McBride and his leadership,” said Scott Carnegie. “It’s going to be collective. A lot of different guys have to step up and be a voice and also be leaders on the floor. It’s going to be tough. A lot of young guys are going to have to make plays. We lost a lot of experience. It’ll be a quick learning curve and a trial by fire.”
Defenceman Mike Carnegie will try his best, though.
It was announced on December 19th that Carnegie would take over the responsibilities of being the new Roughnecks captain. Having had McBride as his captain for the last five years, he will bring many of the same ideals, but with his own twist.
“We are very excited to announce Mike as captain,” said Roughnecks head coach and assistant general manager Curt Malawsky. “Mike is a very dedicated, hardworking and committed athlete both on and off the floor. His exceptional character has earned the respect of his teammates, the coaching staff and organization.”
Calgary also lost 11-year veteran Jeff Moleski from the back-end. Moleski chose to sign with the Vancouver Stealth as a free agent this summer in order to be closer to his home and family.
Having lost 22 years of experience between two players, the Roughnecks defence will be relying heavily on some younger Riggers.
The Roughnecks drafted Tyson Bell and Kellen LeClair back-to-back in the third round of the 2015 NLL Draft and are asking them to step in right away.
“There’s a great mentality with a lot of them,” said Mike Carnegie. “They’re willing to compete and do whatever they need to do to makes this team. The two on D that I’ve noticed are Bell and LeClair. They’re big and strong and each bring something different, which I like. I like everyone that we got.”
“Super impressive,” added Scott Carnegie. “There’s two or three that are going to be able to play right away and we’re going to need that. They’re athletic and big and learning the systems quick.”
The rookies will join an already impressive group.
With Jon and Greg Harnett, Mike and Scott Carnegie, and Garrett McIntosh returning, opposing offences will have their work cut out.
In the last pre-season against the Vancouver Stealth, the Roughnecks tested out there new high-intensity, aggressive defence.
Along with numerous big hits, the defence managed to force 21 turnovers.
There were still some breakdowns in coverage and misplays that lead to goals.
That is expected though with veterans taking on new roles and the rookies trying to adapt to the NLL game and learn the new systems.
The 2016 version of the Roughnecks defence will certainly be entertaining to watch as they will be pushing the pace in transition and dishing out some monster hits.