Andrew McBride doesn’t plan on playing lacrosse into his 40’s.
“Definitely not,” said McBride when asked if he plans on emulating Buffalo Bandits forward John Tavares, age 46, who was placed on the Injured Reserve List – Second Level on Jan. 24. “I will not be playing until I’m 40 years old, I can say that now. We’ve got too many young studs coming up in our young guys. I’ve had a pretty good run right now in 13 years – 40 is not an option.”
In his 24th NLL season, Tavares isn’t racking up points the way he used to on his way to becoming the NLL’s all-time leading scorer. But that’s not to say he’s not still an effective – and offensively dangerous – player.
“I think he’s an inspiration to a lot of people playing,” said McBride, who’s 14 years younger than the man often referred to as the Wayne Gretzky of lacrosse. “When you get a little bit older, you’ve got to work harder in the gym. To be able to see John Tavares still doing it at a championship and elite level is something very amazing.
“He not only brings a lot for the Buffalo Bandits, but he brings a lot for the lacrosse community in getting the name and the word of lacrosse out and to be able to see someone compete at that high level, to still have the intensity, to still have that ultimate skillset is remarkable. No one is ever going to play for as long as he did, no one is ever going to play for one team as long as he did, so he’s definitely one of the most pioneering, most iconic figures of lacrosse in the history of it.”
Calgary general manager Mike Board referred to Tavares as a special athlete.
“When you look at the average age of players in our league and longevity, he’s sort of the king I suppose,” Board said. “He’s obviously not as productive as he was in his earlier years. It’s not like he’s a detriment to anybody’s team by any means. He’s just one of those special athletes that come along every once in a while.”
In addition to being the NLL’s all-time leading scorer, Tavares sits second behind Jim Veltman in terms of collecting loose balls.
“It’s a testament to the level of athlete that he is and ultimately how much a student of the game he is,” said Roughnecks transition player Geoff Snider, who’s third on that loose ball list behind Tavares and Veltman. “He’s constantly evolving. He’s a shooter, a playmaker, a finisher. He’s a leader and he’s a guy that’s really established his identity and redefined it multiple times. He’s certainly on our radar and if you don’t pay attention to John Tavares, he’s going to sting you.”
“You try to always be aware, because he’s one of those guys that if you fall asleep and you say, ‘Oh, he’s John Tavares, he’s 40-plus years old,’ he’s going to burn you, so you’ve really got to be aware of the skillset he brings to the table,” said McBride, while adding it’s unlikely that anyone will play in the NLL for as long as Tavares has. “The way the league’s going, you’ve got these young up-and-comers that are in shape, that are really pushing the veterans. Especially with lower roster sizes I think you’re going to see the career length of some players really kind of lower a little bit. The players that have played for multiple years is something you’ve got to take a lot of pride in. The 40-plus years are done I think.”
“Start from the goalie out. They’ve got a world-class goaltender in Cosmo. They got a big, physical, strong defence and you’ve got to earn everything you get,” said coach Malawsky. “They protect the middle of the floor very well. If you’re settling for the outside shot, their transition game is one of the best in the league. They had six goals in the game against Minnesota and another four against Rochester. They get up the floor really, really well and they got a lot of guys that can put the ball in the net when they get up there.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Tavares recorded his first point (an assist) in his first NLL game back on Jan. 4, 1992 when McBride was just 9 years old. He’s played his entire career with the Bandits winning four Champion’s Cup titles along the way, the last one in 2008. He’s also won a record eight Mann Cups (the Canadian senior lacrosse title) with four different teams (Brampton Excelsiors, Six Nations Chiefs, Victoria Shamrocks and Peterborough Lakers).
PLAYER PROFILE – #15 Shawn Evans
Height & weight: 5-8, 175
Birthdate: April 28, 1986
Hometown: Peterborough, Ont.
Fast fact: Has the distinction of being the only player in history to win the Minto Cup (Canadian junior lacrosse title), the Mann Cup and the Champion’s Cup all within 12 months of each other.
Stat attack: Evans owns the Roughnecks single-season record for both assists (80) and points (112) in a season, which he accomplished in 2013. He’s also second on the list with 79 assists and 105 points, which were his totals from last season. Only Garrett Billings of the Toronto Rock has ever assisted on more goals in one single season when he had 82 helpers in 2012.
Occupation: Runs Nationwide Lacrosse in Peterborough and area with Brad Self of the Rochester Knighthawks
Family ties: Shawn and his wife Cayla have three kids – Paityn, 6, and twins Ella and Emery, 6 months
Notable quotable: “Basically what we do is we travel to elementary schools to introduce kids to summer’s national sport (in Canada),” said Evans in regards to Nationwide Lacrosse. “You’d be surprised how many people don’t know that lacrosse is our summer national sport. We run camps and we run leagues around the (Peterborough) area. Just to see the smile on the kids’ faces and to try and help out as much as we can to better the sport and to get kids to be learning at the highest level from the best coaches who are playing at the highest level is a great reward to us.”