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Bandits tweak roster, dump Vyse and Montour

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Immediately when new Bandits general manager Steve “Chugger” Dietrich was hired to replace Darris Kilgour, who then assumed only the head coach’s role, it was reasonable to expect the outlook of an aging team to change considerably.

When the team placed the franchise tag on 37-year-old Tracey Kelusky, traded for 38-year-old Shawn Williams and welcomed back 44-year-old legend John Tavares, Bandits fans scratched their heads. What’s the direction of this team? In an NLL that’s placed recent emphasis on quick transition and athleticism, why are the Bandits bucking the trend?

The picture is a little clearer now given recent roster moves by Dietrich. Through the NLL’s transaction page—the Bandits haven’t confirmed this news with a press release yet—veteran transition player Tommy Montour and attacker Roger Vyse were reportedly released from the team.

While Vyse found himself inactive for much of last season—he’s basically a one-trick pony with his howitzer of an outside shot—the release of Montour comes as more of a surprise. Rumors from last year’s training camp suggested that Montour was in danger of being cut, and his alternating on the active roster with struggling rookie Jeremy Thompson spoke volumes about Darris Kilgour’s dissatisfaction with the talented transition player. How much of his departure was due to locker room friction? We’ll learn that soon.

In addition, oft-maligned Darryl Gibson and sturdy-if-declining goalie Mike Thompson retired this summer, and the team released Ian Llord, who suffered a serious shoulder injury in the 2012 East Division Semifinal vs. Toronto.

Seven players from the Bandits’ active playoff roster have departed, and a deep pool of rookies will immediately vie for playing time. Hayden Smith, Joel Mathews, Jordan Critch, Kevin Brownell and Wenster Green have already inked one-year deals (more a product of the NLL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement), while top pick Dhane Smith, cousin of Billy Dee, has been placed on the “Inactive Draft List.”

After a little digging, here’s the definition of the “Inactive Draft List,” courtesy of the Examiner’s Katherine Hasenauer Cornetta:

This designation is for players who were drafted by a team but have never signed a contract with that team. The drafting team holds the players rights for one year from the date of the draft.

Since Dietrich chose Dhane Smith due to his potential to develop, it will be worthwhile to monitor contract negotiations. At the same time, Smith has expressed excitement about teaming up with a family member, so it would be logical that a deal will get done soon.

Last year, the Rochester Knighthawks’ highly-touted rookie Johnny Powless was placed on the “Inactive Draft List” for over a month after being drafted—he soon inked a three-year contract and started the campaign on the active roster. Also, it took the Boston Blazers almost two months to sign Kyle Rubisch from the IDL to the active roster in 2010.

Also worth noting was the Bandits’ re-signing of defender Mike McNamara, who was thrown into the fire late last year and endeared himself to the fan-base through physicality and better-than-expected defensive responsibility. He’s a “stay-at-home” type, someone who can step in to fill the shoes of the departed Chris White.

Only two months stand between the present and the onset of the NLL season, which could hold more weight in Buffalo if the Sabres are still embroiled in the NHL lockout. How do you think the new-look Bandits will fare?

(Photo courtesy of Dave Marino from Buffalo vs. Philadelphia 2012 gallery—see the full album here).

TAGGED: buffalo bandits, darris kilgour, dhane smith, lacrosse, nll transactions, roger vyse, steve dietrich, tom montour

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