November 28, 2012

Will Powell, Hall Help Repeat Effort in Roc City?

by Neil Stevens | LaxMagazine.com

Jordan Hall, the No. 1 overall pick in 2007 and the Knighthawks’ best transition player, missed Rochester’s run to the Champion’s Cup after he tore an ACL in a March 24 game against the Toronto Rock.
© Larry Palumbo

Casey Powell is making a comeback and Jordan Hall is healthy, two developments that could make the defending National Lacrosse League champion Rochester Knighthawks even better in 2013.

Rochester acquired Powell, the top-scoring American player in NLL history, in the dispersal draft of the Boston Blazers, but he did not play in 2012. Powell focused instead on his role as the director of lacrosse at St. Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, Fla.

But he wants to give the NLL another whirl.

“I have expressed my interest in playing this year,” Powell said in mid-October. “I’m working with my agent, Rich Furlong, in hopes of reaching a deal that will satisfy both myself and the Rochester Knighthawks.”

The sides reached that agreement Oct. 29, and Rochester announced Powell's one-year deal in November.

General manager Curt Styres wants Powell to play.

“I’d love to see Casey in a Knighthawks uniform and playing every game,” Styres said.

“Casey Powell’s record speaks for itself,” said Rochester head coach Mike Hasen, who was Powell’s teammate 15 years ago when Powell broke into pro indoor lacrosse as the No. 1 draft pick by Rochester. “He’s a ball-carrying righty we need on that side. He knows a lot of our guys fairly well.”

Powell has one of the hardest and most accurate long-range shots in the sport. He last played a significant indoor game at the world championship in Prague in May 2011. He was named the tournament’s most valuable player in leading the U.S. indoor team to a bronze-medal finish.

Hall, the No. 1 overall pick in 2007 and the Knighthawks’ best transition player, missed Rochester’s run to the Champion’s Cup after he tore an ACL in a March 24 game against the Toronto Rock. Despite the season-ending injury, he still finished sixth on the team with 31 points and figures to be an integral part of the attack.

Meanwhile, Paul Rabil’s status remained uncertain at press time. Rochester acquired his rights from Edmonton in exchange for Jarrett Davis during the offseason. Rabil declined to join the Rush after they acquired him last winter from Washington, saying he needed to play for a team in the East.

“His agent said he’d play in Rochester, so we made the trade for him,” Styres said. “I talked to him during the championship weekend [in May] and told him I’d like him to play for us.”

But Rabil could be flipped to another East Division club. Philadelphia may be the right place for the American transition speedster, as 75 percent of the Wings’ players come from the U.S.—an exception in the Canadian-dominant NLL.

Styres has demonstrated a preference for local talent, especially Six Nations players like Cody Jamieson and Craig Point. “I can call up Cody and ask him if he wants to work out and he’ll say, ‘What time?’ I can talk to Craig about working on some plays and he’ll say, ‘I’ll be right over.’ That’s the new NLL professional lacrosse player. Even during the four short years I’ve been involved in the NLL, guys are taking more ownership of their positions. If they don’t, there are guys lined up who will try to take their place.”

Styres cautioned against putting too much stock in players like Powell and Rabil who have had on-again, off-again relationships with the indoor game.. “Lose a year, you lose a bit,” he said. “You’ve still got the first name and last name, but your gift isn’t the same after that.”

One staple for the Knighthawks has been captain Pat McCready, but he’s an unrestricted free agent. “I ask him all the time, ‘Are you playing are you retiring?’ I’m not sure if I got an answer from him or not,” Styres said.

Added Hasen: “Pat is a last-minute guy. Patty has been a big factor for our team. We want him here.”

Neil Stevens has covered pro and Canadian lacrosse since 1971. He and the late Tom Borrelli — a longtime Lacrosse Magazine contributor — are the only media members recognized by the NLL Hall of Fame.


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