Tuesday, March 22, 2011

CLAX: godsend or pipe dream?

With word that Paul St. John plans is to bring Canada a new professional lacrosse league, the message boards and blogs have been set ablaze with conversation.
This week St. John officially launched his new league’s website, www.clax.ca.

"First off we are not looking to compete with the NLL that is why we are starting in November and finishing in April, we'll have our championship day and than sit down and watch theirs," St. John wrote on the OLA Fan Forum. "We don't want to play in the summer that is saved for the MSL and the WLA to compete for the Mann Cup. 
"We all know for the most part the best players play in the NLL, that's no secret, but what CLax will allow is more players to have the opportunity to play pro lacrosse and be compensated to do so," he said. "CLax will also allow fans to cheer on their local teams and not just the one in the big centres. With the escalating costs of travel due to gas more and more fans are looking to watch games locally, CLax wants to give them that opportunity. I know travelling in from Ajax costs me over a $100 to watch a Rock game with my son so our league will give fans a different alternative. But we are not looking to take fans away from the Rock so I'm sure we'll be selective with our schedule."

From a fan's point of view, St. John's idea is a great thing for lacrosse. Hell, I, like many of you, am all-for watching more lacrosse.
But is it all a pipe dream?
When it comes to logistics, a lacrosse league running from November to April almost seems impossible, especially because it's hockey season and many of these potential centre's arenas are jammed with activity. If there were facilities like the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena all over the country, then yes, a league would be a huge possibility and more than likely a success. This would also completely eliminate one of the other big concerns - the playing surface costs and storage.
Unfortunately facilities like the ILA aren't that plentiful.
St. John did say he doesn't want to compete with the NLL, MSL and WLA, which runs from January to the beginning of September. And in the spirit of not wanting to compete for customers, that leaves September to December (with a small amount of overlap).
If arenas were available a small league could work in that sort of time frame. But again, the big question is if floor time is available.
From a player personnel point of view, a league running during these months would give the NLL, MSL and WLA time to evaluate players, whether they're up-and-coming or guys on the bubble of their respective rosters.
Another thing people on Twitter and forums wrote about were the type of players CLAX would house?
The NLL is considered 'the big time' for lacrosse - although someone referred to it as a 'glorified beer league' - there are lots of players in the WLA, MSL and top-notch junior players left off these rosters. One would argue and I do agree, that this year's NLL contraction has created more depth to the league. Despite that, there are former NLL players not in the league as a result, so an additional semi-pro league would be a great opportunity for those guys wanting to get back to 'the show'.
Finally, several comments pointed to compensation for players.
Let's face it, everyone in lacrosse plays for the love of the game. I don't see anyone getting rich playing the lacrosse. Despite some egos, I'm sure there are many quality players wanting to get their game on for a small stipend.
Regardless of what happens, I wish St. John luck with his league. As we all see what unfolds, lets hope it's for the betterment of the game because that's what we're all here for in the first place.

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