Free agency has been open for a few weeks now in the National Lacrosse League, and although the Rochester Knighthawks have made significant moves to improve their play on the floor, their biggest move may be the one that they’ve made behind the bench.
Last week it became official that the Knighthawks hired six-time NLL All-Star forward and former NLL champion Gavin Prout as their new assistant coach. He replaces Mat Giles and will work alongside head coach Mike Hasen and fellow assistant Pat O’Toole.
“I’m just as fiery as a coach as I was as a player,” stated Prout when asked how his prolific career in the league adds some responsibility to his new title. “I’m just as dedicated. I’m just as passionate about it. So, I think the guys in the dressing room will start seeing my true personality come out throughout the year. I like to keep things professional, of course, but sometimes there’s times that people need to be fired up and there’s times they need to be calmed down.”
This isn’t the first time Prout will be behind the bench. The Knighthawks new assistant coach spent the past four seasons as the head coach and general manager of the expansion Whitby Steelhawks of the Arena Lacrosse League (ALL), twice leading the team to an appearance in the ALL Championship game, including guiding the Steelhawks to a league championship during the team’s inaugural campaign in 2018. After navigating through a rebuild year the following season followed by nearly two years of dormancy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prout led the Steelhawks to a dominating return in 2022 and another trip back to the ALL Championship game only to fall short to the Six Nations Snipers.
Prout is also still an assistant coach with the Brooklin Lacrosse Club of Major Series Lacrosse (MSL), a team he played parts of seven seasons with as a player and won a Mann Cup with in 2000 as a rookie. Prout was awarded the Gene Dopp Memorial Trophy as the league’s Rookie of the Year. Following the 2022 season, Prout along with head coach Jason Crosbie and fellow assistant coach Derek Suddons collectively received the Terry Sanderson Coaching Staff of the Year Award for MSL.
“I mean, having the understanding of the league in the first place, I think, is paramount when it comes to preparation for your players, knowing what they’re going through and where they’re going to be,” said Prout when asked how his time in the NLL can be translated to what he does behind the bench. “I think it gives you a little bit of an edge and an advantage when it comes to coaching. There’s a lot of coaches out there that maybe haven’t had the experience that I’ve had in the NLL, and I think that experience will translate quite well on the floor and off the floor.”
Being an offensive minded player when in the NLL, Prout plans to work intricately with the Knighthawks offense when arriving in Rochester.
“I was an offensive player on the floor and plan on being the offensive coach for the Rochester Knighthawks, and I think, having some plays that worked for me in the past and some great coaches in the past have been mentors to me all allowed me to kind of evolve my coaching style.”
Prout transitioned into coaching following an illustrious 13-year playing career that saw him become one of the most dynamic and prolific scorers in NLL history. A six-time NLL All-Star, Prout amassed 922 points (301+621) in 184 career games with the New York Saints, Colorado Mammoth and Edmonton Rush while also adding 61 points (22+39) in 12 playoff contests. Prout reached the 70-point mark in nine seasons, including his first eight in the league, while also totaling 1,006 loose ball recoveries.
He spent the majority of his career with the Mammoth, playing nine of his 13 seasons in Denver over two separate stints with the Mammoth.
From his time in the NLL as a player, Prout is familiar with Rochester and The Blue Cross Arena, especially the fans, who Prout is excited to coach in front of for the hometown team.
“I’m looking really forward to getting back and really settling into a position that I’m familiar with as an offensive coach and hopefully back and meeting new friends as well as the fans. The fans always seemed to be passionate when I went to Blue Cross Arena and hopefully they’re just as passionate for cheering for me versus booing for me.”