So the news has broken, and it’s now been out a couple of weeks. But there are still a number of folks out there wondering just what the heck this Clax is all about. Is it another NLL? Is it competing with the NLL? Will it end the MSL / WLA?
Paul St. John has been involved in the game of lacrosse for over 35 years. He’s won Founders Cups, Minto Cups, Mann Cups, and has played in the East and in the West. He’s also been involved in the NLL as an Assistant Coach with the Minnesota Swarm. By his own admission, even when playing, he has always had dreams of bettering the game, and creating a league to provide more players an opportunity to play professionally. St. John believes that there are far too many players that stop playing because of the limited playing spots available. There is only one National Lacrosse League, and other than that, professionally there is nothing. St. John is the General Manager of the Ajax Rock, a Senior A club here in Ontario. And he sees many of his own Summer team members falling into that group that, at this point just cannot make the cut.
As a part of the launch, he created a web site http://www.clax.ca/, which was available just as the news broke about his league. St. John has met with potential owners, and admittedly will be a very busy man over the coming months. He plans to visit Ownership groups in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia.
One of the hot topics being debated by many are the proposed rule changes, from those in the NLL, MSL, and WLA. Easily the most debated is the apparent removal of the Offense / Defense system currently employed by all teams from Midget and beyond. St. John proposes that after losing possession of the ball, only one offensive player is allowed to go to the bench for a change. Others include changing the shot clock rules when a team is short handed. All of these rules can be viewed at the Clax site.
The haters will say that St. John is living in the past, trying to take the game back to the 80’s, and that it won’t happen. Well call me old fashioned and living in the past, but I have to admit that the best lacrosse I was ever involved with, saw players play at both ends of the floor. The passion in the game created an excitement that fans truly enjoyed. The problem is that so many new fans of lacrosse have never seen that so they don’t even know what they are missing. If that is living in the past then so be it. This rule change would present all fans with more skill and athleticism on the entire floor. Players would need to have both basic offensive and basic defensive skills, or they would be a liability to their team. This required athleticism from each individual player would be a positive fan experience. And fans drive the success of the game.
If you look at the entire package, he has definitely done his homework. He is trying to open an avenue for more players to play, and has a vision that when you read it, and hear him speak about it; is a real possibility. In a nutshell, it is about smaller hometown venues, lower travel costs, and lower salaries for players. The trade off for players and Coaches, is the far less travel and time away from homes and jobs.
I met with Paul St. John about 6-7 weeks ago to talk about Clax and get more information. It was very apparent to me that it was his passion and he was going to do what he had to, to at least say he tried to launch Clax. Will it happen? Only time will tell. But at the end of the day I am sure of one thing; St. John is listening to all of the comments (good and bad), and responding to the lovers and the haters. That is a good sign. Taking input and having fans involved is a step in the right direction.
**Update: I chatted with Paul just today and he stated that in the first two weeks, he is very impressed with the feedback. So far he already has over 100 players signed up as interested as well as 11 referees. Not a bad start. Paul admits that the month of April will be crucial, as there has been a keen interest, and April will be the time to hopefully turn interest into Ownership.