Will Saturday be remembered as the last time that John Tavares wore a Bandits’ uniform in a game?
That’s liable to be a hot topic of conversation from this point forward, now that the team’s season is over.
Tavares didn’t sound like a man who had made a decision yet.
“I’m going to go home, rest and rethink the season. I’ll talk to the organization, and see how the body feels,” he said. “I’m talking to Peterborough” of the summer league. “I love playing, but I’m not sure I can play as many games as I used to.
No matter what happens, Troy Cordingley has enjoyed the opportunity to coach his former Bandit teammate in the past year.
“You’re not going to replace a John Tavares. Retirement has never come out of his mouth. Can he still play? Oh yeah,” he said. “He’s the smartest player in the game. That’s his decision, and we have to live with it either way.
“That’s a character guy there. I would have liked to have given him another chance.”
The mini-game has been lurking throughout the National Lacrosse League season, a monster that is capable of swallowing up a team’s playoff hopes in a relative instant.
And now, it has arrived.
The National Lacrosse League divisional finals and championship round both feature a “best-of-two” format, with a 10-minute mini-game scheduled to immediately follow the second game if each team has won one 60-minute contest.
Possibility turned into reality on Friday night, when Calgary used the mini-game to defeat Edmonton, 2-1, to advance to the championship round. The Rush had evened the series earlier in the evening by beating the Roughnecks, 15-13, in a full 60-minute game.
The possibility of such another mini-game was on the minds of both the Rochester Knighthawks and Buffalo Bandits, and it came to be, with Rochester winning that mini-game, 2-1, and the series, 2-1.
Under the new format, both participants in the final two rounds of the NLL playoffs do have the chance to host a home game. The bad news is that a 10-minute game can leave a lot to chance.
“I’d rather see a true best-of-three, but I do like the fact that it’s not one-and done,” Bandits General Manager Steve Dietrich said.
“You can go back through the years, and argue that the ’97 Knighthawks weren’t as good as the Wings, let alone the Bandits. But they won because of the one-game format. It will be helpful to eliminate the upsets.”
In 1997, Rochester finished fourth in a six-team league with a 5-5 record. Philadelphia led the league at 7-3, while Buffalo and New York were both 6-4. Yet the Knighthawks beat Philadelphia in the semifinal, and then defeated Buffalo in the final to take the championship.
Bandits coach Troy Cordingley is even less enthusiastic about the idea of a 10-minute game.”
“You can have two teams that battle real hard. They’re very close and both deserving. So why not have another 60-minute game?” he said. “But I understand the logic behind it.”
The possibility of the mini-game does open some interesting strategic doors. For example, Rochester couldn’t think too much beforehand about the difficulty of winning two games in the same night.
No one is denying that a 10-minute game is going to lead to some breathless action. The final judgment may come on what side of the scoreboard your team is on.