Even though Toronto is just over an hour away from Peterborough, the Rock are notorious for not having Lakers in their lineup which has many viewing the Evans release as just another shot at (arguably) the lacrosse capital of the world.
Earlier this week the Toronto Rock shocked several people when they let go of some key players including veteran Mike Hobbins and the talented “Rocket” Roger Vyse; but the biggest surprise was the release of the wily veteran and certified sniper Scott Evans.
Evans is coming off a mediocre season with the Rock but in fairness to him he was never really given the chance to prove himself in Toronto. He was scratched from the lineup multiple times and when he did dress, Coach Troy Cordingley didn’t give him the floor time he deserved.
He didn’t see much powerplay time and was rarely put out on the floor in the final minutes, the times when he excels most. As one of the hungriest players in the league, Evans salivates at the opportunity to be on the turf helping his team in the dying minutes of a game.
In the last few seasons weight has been an issue for Evans but whether a guy is overweight or underweight, it shouldn’t matter; as long as you can put the ball in the back of net, who cares. Evans proved last summer with the Peterborough Lakers that he is still one of the games best scorers, leading the Major Series Lacrosse league in goals (tied with Cody Jamieson) with 34 in just 19 games.
Evy isn’t just a goal scorer either; he’s also one of the grittiest and toughest players in lacrosse. He’s one of those guys that you love to have as your teammate but you absolutely hate to play against and that’s the sign of a great player. He’s a major distraction on the floor as opponents are always aware of his presence. Whether he has the ball or not the opposition is always keeping an extra eye on him which gives his teammates some extra wiggle room on the floor.
At 32 years old Evans has been playing organized lacrosse for a staggering 28 years, practically his entire life. At 4 years old he played tyke all-star with his older brother Stephen who is a former Rock player and was an assistant coach with the now defunct Chicago Shamrocks. Although his teammates were 6 and 7 years old Evans did not look out of place at all as he established himself as a player to watch for the next three decades.
Evans would continue to play all-star lacrosse in Peterborough for the next 17 years and was always either his team’s top scorer or a close second to Brad Self, currently of the Rochester Knighthawks and one of the best two way players to ever pick up a lacrosse stick.
Yes the Toronto Rock still have a lot of fire power in Colin Doyle, Garrett Billings and Stephen Leblanc but guys like Scott Evans are irreplaceable and releasing him really makes no sense for the Toronto Rock. It’s a move that will most likely come back to bite them as it did for the Edmonton Rush after they released him two seasons ago.
Evans was Edmonton’s fourth leading scorer in 2012 and a big reason why they were so successful during the regular season. Playoffs rolled around and what did they do? They scratch Evans from the lineup for the duration of the playoffs. Yes the Rush made it to the Champion’s Cup final but only to lose to the Rochester Knighthawks 9-6. Put Evans in the lineup and the game is a different story. He would have been good for at least three goals which would have given the Rush a chance to take the title.
Not only is Toronto losing a goal scorer but they are also losing the bulk of their toughness. Evans is an intimidating presence on the turf and he will stick up for any teammate at the drop of a hat; without him Toronto doesn’t have anyone who can replace that intimidation factor.
Evans has so much passion for lacrosse and he will do anything to help his team win. That is something you can’t teach, you’re born with it. Guys like him are few and far between and the Rock will not be able to find anyone to fill his shoes. Evans is one of a kind and hopefully he’ll find a home with another National Lacrosse League team soon. The old saying goes “everyone is replaceable” but I’d like to wish the Toronto Rock good luck at finding someone who can replace Evy, a guy that can do it all.
Scott Arnold is Lead Writer for In Lacrosse We Trust, the Director of Broadcasting for The Lacrosse Radio Network and the play by play radio voice for the Peterborough Lakers and the Canadian Lacrosse League. His column, Behind The Back, can be found right here every weekend and you can also follow him on Twitter @ScottArnold12