Rush cap­tain glad to get back to play­ing

With NLL’S labour dis­pute in the past, team set for Satur­day’s pre-sea­son game

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - KEVIN MITCHELL [email protected]­media.com twit­ter.com/kmitchsp

Chris Cor­beil dropped his stick, held tight to his phone, and fol­lowed the bounc­ing num­bers dur­ing the Na­tional Lacrosse League’s re­cent labour dis­pute.

Cor­beil, a Saskatchewan Rush de­fender and the team cap­tain, is also the squad’s player rep­re­sen­ta­tive. It was “quite stress­ful” — es­pe­cially since both sides feared they might lose the whole sea­son, he said.

“As a player rep, you’re on a lot of con­fer­ence calls, you’re re­lay­ing a lot of in­for­ma­tion to the guys, try­ing to keep ev­ery­body in­formed,” re­lates Cor­beil, whose Rush — now that the dis­pute is over — will host a Satur­day pre-sea­son con­test against the Cal­gary Rough­necks.

“You an­swer ques­tions, re­lay ques­tions to the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee on be­half of the play­ers ... all that stuff. It took up a lot of time — time I’d rather spend out on the floor, play­ing with my guys.”

The NLL and Pro­fes­sional Lacrosse Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion agreed to terms on a five-year agree­ment Nov. 24. They’d al­ready can­celled the first two week­ends of ac­tion, start­ing Dec. 1, but have since tacked the miss­ing games onto the rest of the sched­ule.

“Any­time there’s any kind of can­cel­la­tion of the sched­ule, it can leave a poor taste in the fans’ mouths,” Cor­beil said. “And at the stage the NLL is at, we don’t need to be do­ing any harm to it. Hope­fully the hold­out and can­cel­la­tion of the games didn’t cause too much dam­age — I don’t think it did — and from the play­ers’ point of view, we get a full 18 games in, which is what we were hop­ing for. In the end, we’re sat­is­fied.

“Both sides had to com­pro­mise to reach an agree­ment, and I think that’s im­por­tant in ne­go­ti­a­tion. You never want one side feel­ing like they won or they com­pletely lost. Both sides have to give up a lit­tle bit, and that’s what the fi­nal con­clu­sion was.”

The de­fend­ing Nll-cham­pion Rush held their first train­ing camp last week­end in Toronto, and they tied the Toronto Rock 12-12 dur­ing a Sun­day scrim­mage. They’ll also prac­tice Fri­day in Saska­toon be­fore head­ing into Satur­day’s pre-sea­son match with Cal­gary (7:30 p.m., Sask­tel Cen­tre).

Cor­beil notes Saskatchewan’s de­fence has un­der­gone more turnover than they’re used to. They shored up the corps by ac­quir­ing eight-year vet­eran Travis Corn­wall from Van­cou­ver on Thurs­day for a 2020 sec­ond-round draft pick.

Corn­wall’s brother, Rush de­fender Jeff Corn­wall, is sit­ting out the sea­son while join­ing the Burn­aby Fire Depart­ment. Fel­low de­fender Ryan Dilks will also miss the 2019 cam­paign af­ter ac­cept­ing a fire­fight­ing job in Ed­mon­ton, and the team lost Adrian Sorichetti to San Diego dur­ing the NLL ex­pan­sion draft.

“We have holes to fill on our back end. Those are big shoes to fill,” says Rush head coach and gen­eral man­ager Derek Keenan. “We could roll the dice and go with all young guys, but we felt bring­ing in a vet­eran like Travis is a wiser thing to do at this stage. He’s a re­ally good ath­lete who will fit our sys­tem well. At the same time, we can de­velop a cou­ple of the young guys on our roster and on our prac­tice roster. It was a good move for us.”

Mean­while, Saskatchewan has a new de­fen­sive coach. Jeremy Tal­levi is in, af­ter Jimmy Quin­lan stepped away dur­ing the off-sea­son. And with some Rush play­ers un­able to play this past week­end while ne­go­ti­at­ing their con­tracts — the team has an­nounced a rash of sign­ings the last few days — Cor­beil counted just four holdovers, and six new faces, in the de­fen­sive crew that faced the Rock on Sun­day.

“It was more of a change than it had been in years past, in terms of fa­mil­iar faces that weren’t there, and new faces that were,” Cor­beil says.

Ev­ery­thing gets more fa­mil­iar this week­end, then the sea­son starts. Saskatchewan gets a bye the first two week­ends, and opens Dec. 28 in New Eng­land be­fore play­ing their home opener Jan. 5 against San Diego.

“It’s go­ing to be an im­por­tant busi­ness week­end for us in that it’s prob­a­bly our last week­end be­fore we get go­ing against New Eng­land,” Cor­beil says.

“There’s no time to waste when you’ve got a cou­ple of prac­tices and a game in one week­end. It sounds a lit­tle daunt­ing when you think of the lim­ited amount of time we’ve got with each other, but ev­ery­body’s in the same boat. All the other teams in the league are deal­ing with the same stuff. It’s no-non­sense, and it’s get­ting as much done in a short amount of time as we can.”

Both sides had to com­pro­mise to reach an agree­ment, and I think that’s im­por­tant in ne­go­ti­a­tion. You never want one side feel­ing like they won.

MATT SMITH/FILES

Saskatchewan Rush de­fender Chris Cor­beil, left, not only cap­tains the de­fend­ing NLL cham­pi­ons but also serves as their player rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

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