February 22, 2007

Feb. 22, 2007

by Tom Borrelli, Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

One played and coaches with such fire that he normally makes few friends outside his own dressing room. And that suits him just fine.

Another excelled with flash and pizzazz, dazzling fans, teammates and opponents and earning the nickname Hollywood along the way.

The third was a member of the inaugural group of players in 1987, before the National Lacrosse League or even the Major Indoor Lacrosse League had been born. This latest honor is just the most recent in his unprecedented list of enshrinements.

Darris Kilgour, Tom Marechek and Mike French last Friday were inducted as the second class of the NLL Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia.

Rich Kilgour, Darris' older brother and the captain of the Buffalo Bandits squad coached by his sibling, wondered exactly who did the voting for the Hall of Famers.

"Obviously it wasn't the referees," said Rich Kilgour, who presented his brother. "His style certainly didn't earn him many friends, and he was fine with that."

Passion is the name of the game for Darris Kilgour the former player, as well as Darris Kilgour the current coach.

With an arthritic left hip that eventually required replacement surgery and forced him out of the sport prematurely at age 31 following the 2000 season, Darris Kilgour left the NLL as the leader in career penalty minutes. But he also scored 144 goals and 312 points in 76 career games, with 418 loose balls and 255 face-off victories.

"When he retired at the age of 31, his doctor told him he had a pair of 60-year-old hips," Rich Kilgour said. "So he traded two hips in order to play two more years. I know he'd do it all over again."

Eight of Darris Kilgour's nine NLL seasons were spent with his hometown Bandits, who he led to championships in 1992, '93 and '96. He finished his playing career wearing the jerseys of the Rochester Knighthawks and Albany Attack before coming back to coach the Washington Power for two years. In 2003, he took over behind the Bandits' bench. He has led every team he has coached into the playoffs.

"Standing up for yourself and being a man, that's what I thought lacrosse was all about," he said. "Hopefully, my Buffalo Bandits will get the same message. If that rubbed people the wrong way, I don't apologize for it."

Jewelry is something Kilgour will never have to worry about. He played for six consecutive championship teams, winning the 1990 and '91 Minto Cup as a junior player in Canada, and the 1992 and '93 MILL and Mann Cup titles.

"Just for good measure he went on to win four more championships," Rich Kilgour said. "That's a total of 10 rings, enough for all eight fingers and both thumbs."

Darris Kilgour's No. 43 jersey was retired to the HSBC Arena turf in 2002, making him the first player to have his number retired by an NLL team.

Marechek's No. 42 is also retired at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, where he spent all 12 of his pro indoor seasons. The former Syracuse University All-American ranks third on the NLL career list in points with 773, fourth in goals (399) and sixth in assists (374). He helped the Wings win championships in 1994, '95, '98 and 2001.

"When he got here in 1994, he was the final piece of the puzzle," said Marechek's presenter, former Wings teammate Kevin Finneran. "He got us over the hump that was the Buffalo Bandits."

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