It’s been a little over a month since the shutdown of the world of sports has left everyone guessing as to when they will make their return and even curious as to if some leagues will put off a comeback until their next scheduled year. But now, if we’re looking at just last week, the National Lacrosse League made the tough decision to cancel the rest of their 2019-20 regular season with hopes that playoffs could be a possibility sometime in the future.
With that being said, we all know that the Rochester Knighthawks were in the midst of their inaugural season as a brand-new franchise right here in the Flower City. This new squad brought a brand-new color scheme to the mix, a roster full of more rookies than veterans and countless professional firsts that made for a year to remember whether or not they finished out those final six games of its inaugural campaign.
Nevertheless, none of that made it any easier for Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey to make the call and tell his players that their regular season was officially over.
“Just watching the news and understanding the scope of this and how things were trending, I think it was all something we knew would be difficult to come back from. The guys handled the news well and they’re still wanting to get back out there,” Carey said.
Now the Knighthawks regular season record most certainly wasn’t indicative of what the team was capable of through their first 12 games as an expansion franchise. With a 2-10 record, Rochester had five games that were decided by just a one-goal difference with all five coming in its last nine matchups. On top of those tight contests, the Knighthawks had one of the league’s top point-getters in Holden Cattoni, a roster with three active goaltenders fighting for a starting spot and NLL staples like Paul Dawson and Shawn Evans leading the way on opposite ends of the playing field.
And as the new team was really beginning to come together on and off the floor, the Knighthawks general manager was most disappointed in not being able to watch the continual progression that his squad has made each time that they hit the floor.
“We were really excited about where we were getting to and we had a few injuries and those players were ready to return within a couple of weeks of when we had to put things on hold, so there were a lot of positives going into the last part of the season. This is difficult, this is our inaugural year, so to have it cut short isn’t ideal.”
As difficult as it’s been for Carey to come to terms with the fact that the 2019-20 NLL regular season is officially over, this time period has presented a number of opportunities to make light of the situation that he has at hand. For someone who’s usually on the go year-round because of the season extending from fall to spring, and summers that are made up of travel and scouting, Carey now has time to spend with his family and dive into various hobbies around the house. With his two kids being more than excited that dad is home all of the time now, Carey’s latest project has been building a new swing set that he hopes to have done within the near future.
Along with ample time to spend with his loved ones and dive into his woodworking skills, the Knighthawks general manager is taking this time to learn to further value the opportunity that he has had to be able to work in lacrosse over the years.
“You find things that make you who you are, and lacrosse is a big part of that for me. It puts things into perspective and gives you an opportunity to be grateful for what you have. When we do get back to some type of normalcy, it’ll be important to try not to forget this time that we went through.”
Although it’s now official that Rochester’s inaugural regular season campaign has come to an end, there are still so many things that we can take away from their first year of play. Again, the Knighthawks are a team with a brand-new identity here in the Flower City, a team with rookies and veterans alike that all had the same end goal, and most importantly, a team that kept the game of lacrosse right here in Rochester.
Normalcy seems to be something that we are all looking for at this current moment, and the sooner we get there, the quicker sports – like lacrosse – can make a triumphant return.
Until then, Carey leaves you all with this:
“I would ask our fans to stick with us. We know that there were some low points this year, and for me, you just have to try and not ride the lows too low and the highs too high. We have to try and stay even with our approach. We appreciate all of our fans support. It certainly doesn’t go unnoticed and it’s really important to us.”