On January 9th, I asked St. Albert Sr. B Miners General Manager Jordan Cornfield, Edmonton Sr. B Warriors Coach Jordan Wheaton and Sr. B Beaumont Outlaws President Stu Sterparn, “What if the NLL and RMLL seasons run parallel to each other?” On February 3rd that question was erased as the National Lacrosse League cancelled their 2021 season.
Here is a part of NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz’s statement:
“Our goal was to play, clearly, we’ve been working literally 24/7, seven days a week. Our staff is really exhausted from this effort but unfortunately there were just too many factors that went against us. The most recent enhanced travel restrictions that came out on Friday of last week making it impossible to cross the Canadian Border made the challenge impossible for us to execute. Those restrictions go into force this week, when we analyzed the situation including the calendar, the pandemic circumstances and the resources required there was just too much uncertainty to make it happen.
And quite frankly there’s unique factors at play with the NLL including the fact that 70% of our players live in Canada and most of them have other work obligations there. Those factors are different than any other league. We are not like other leagues where players live in there own markets. Our players fly in for games from many other places and have to cross borders and it just made it very, very difficult. It would require players to quarantine in situations where they weren’t able to quarantine.
Moreover the league’s revenue requires fans in the arena as well. In some cases you’ve seen other leagues talk about the huge amounts of money that they are losing as a result of lost revenues. In our league the proportion of our revenue is even more dependant on live events. It’s really overall disappointing but the circumstances were such where we just couldn’t move players around and we couldn’t cross borders.”
Upon hearing this news I reached out to the three gentlemen mentioned in the opening line of this article. I asked for their reaction to the NLL news and the effect of it on their respective teams. Just in case you missed it, Alberta Series Lacrosse is the re-branded name for the RMLL Sr B Division.
Jordan Cornfield, Miners:
It’s really unfortunate that we won’t get to see pro lacrosse this year. It was a light that everyone was looking forward to. Our team motto does not change, “Our goal is to prepare as if we are going for a National Championship, we will do everything we can to compete once again for the title.”
Jordan Wheaton, Warriors:
As fans it’s pretty disappointing to not see the best league play again, but hopefully we see a full return in the fall for the NLL. Nothing really changes for us. We are still planning for the upcoming draft and putting the best product we can on the floor when the season starts.
Stu Sterparn, Outlaws:
Unprecedented times, that’s all anyone can say. Hard for us to predict anymore. At this point I’m concerned about our season going forward here in Alberta. I think a lot has to go right for lacrosse to be played this spring/summer. I’m thankful our team and their families are safe & healthy.
The Western Hockey League recently announced the following:
“…it has been granted approval by the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health to return to play, which will enable the WHL’s Alberta-based teams in the Central Division to open their season on Friday, February 26…Five WHL Clubs, which operate in Alberta, will form the Central Division, including the Red Deer Rebels, Edmonton Oil Kings, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Medicine Hat Tigers, and Calgary Hitmen. The WHL has agreed that all Central Division games during the 2020-21 Regular Season will be played exclusively within the provincial boundaries of Alberta.”
This sparks hope that the Alberta Series Lacrosse Division featuring home arenas in Beaumont, Calgary, Fort Saskatchewan, St. Albert and Rockyview will be able to obtain the same approval.
Stay safe everyone.