Lumberjax Looking To Rebound in 2008

Portland LumberjaxOne of the surprise teams of the 2006 National Lacrosse League season was the Portland Lumberjax.  In their first year of play, they far exceeded expectations going 11-5 and winning the Western Division.  Going into last season expectations were high in the West, but the 2007 campaign turned out to be a major disappointment as the Lumberjax fell to 4-12 and failed to make the playoffs.

However, the staff  have made some off-season moves that they hope will bring the team back to the top of the West, and contending again for the Championship this coming year.

We spoke with Head Coach and General Manager Derek Keenan to get his thoughts on the coming `08 season: 
 

GM:  Welcome back to another year; you’ve been busy in the off-season. Can you speak about some of the moves Portland has made?

DK: Yes, it has been busy but not in the conventional kind of way. We went through a very difficult collective bargaining negotiation and we’ve lost 2 teams and 46 player jobs. Now all teams have had to quickly turn the switch back on and prepare for an exciting season. We have made significant changes in all areas of our team. We’ve added offence, a couple of strong transition players and defenders and most importantly we’ve added grit in all areas of our team. We also drafted a young goalie for the future in Joel Weber.

GM: Portland fans should be excited to see Dan Dawson (Arizona) in a Portland uniform this season. He will certainly help your offense.

DK: We got Dan through the dispersal of Arizona players which obviously is not the way we would like to have obtained him. It’s never good when teams fold and players lose jobs but we’ve taken the position that we might as well take advantage of the opportunity while it’s in front of us. I think Dan is without question one of the top 2 or 3 offensive players in all of lacrosse. He instantly makes us a better team and makes everyone around him better as well.

GM: How do you see your top pick, Tyler Codron helping the team?

DK: I think he was the best athlete in the draft. He will step in right away and play a significant defensive and transition role. He’s a big, strong, fast, tough kid who knows how to play the game. I think he has the tools to be a right handed Brodie Merrill-type player.

GM: You start your camp this coming weekend. Where is it located and what do you look to accomplish in these camps?

DK: All of our camps this year will be in Portland. We have only 5 camp weekends so we need to accomplish a lot in a very short period of time. This weekend we will ensure our players have prepared properly by doing fitness testing. Then we’ll get right into game situational drills. We’ve got some very difficult roster decisions this year so we need to see if guys can play at a high tempo, under pressure right away. We hope to have our team picked after our second weekend. The last 3 weekends the entire time will be spent implementing our systems.

GM: The team had a pretty disappointing 2007 season. Do you feel the additions and acquisitions you’ve made can put you back competing for top spot in the Western Division?

DK: It really was disappointing; especially following the success we had in year 1 in Portland. There were a lot of factors but there are no excuses. Like any sport or business, lacrosse is performance based and we just did not perform well.

GM: What do you feel will be the biggest change in the team this season compared to last?

DK: I think there will be 2 major changes to our team – offence and grit! Last year we had a hand full of guys that just did not show up to play consistently. I don’t see that happening this year. I know guys like Codron, Spencer Martin, Mike Kilby, Dan Dawson and Derek Malawsky are going to show up to play hard every week.

GM: Thanks for your time and good luck this season.

DK: Thank you.

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