John Grant Jr. wasn’t able to end his Canadian senior lacrosse career the way he wanted to. His Peterborough Lakers fell short of hosting the 2016 Mann Cup after a game seven loss to the Six Nations Chiefs in the MSL final last month. The Chiefs went on to host and win the Mann Cup in five games over the Maple Ridge Burrards.
Grant, a native of Peterborough and a long time Laker, took the 2015 season off to rest but returned for the 2016 season. Before the summer started, he announced it would be his last. He’ll continue to play professionally for the Colorado Mammoth, but at 41 it’s time to slow down. He wanted to go out on top, as all competitors do.
Grant has always expressed his love for his hometown, and this season Peterborough showed their love right back. The Lakers held a jersey retirement ceremony on August 2 and raised a banner in Grant’s honour. Of course he still wore his #24 throughout the remainder of the playoffs but no Laker will wear the number again. On August 21 mayor Daryl Bennett presented Grant with the key to the city.
Unfortunately, with the Lakers unable to advance past the Chiefs, Grant felt that he let everyone down.
“I’m appreciative they brought me back, they did a lot of great things with the banner, the key, and I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain,” he said after game seven. “That’s all I care about is helping the team win, and I didn’t do it.”
Grant is notoriously hard on himself and in August, experienced double disappointment as his Ohio Machine lost in the MLL final to the Denver Outlaws, the team that traded him earlier in the season. It remains to be seen whether Grant will return to the MLL next season.
“You try to go out with a win and we didn’t,” he said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do. I didn’t do what I needed to do to help the Lakers win a game and it’s going to haunt me forever. That’s two really important games for me this summer and maybe that’s the way it goes. It’s time to hang them up when you can’t do what you need to do to help your brothers win.”
Longtime friend and teammate Tracey Kelusky said that Grant is absolutely as hard on himself as he presents to the media.
“That’s what has made him one of the best players of all time. He’s a student of the game but he’s also very critical of himself,” Kelusky said. “Good or bad, he always reflects and he always
looks back at it. He loves scoring goals and he loves being that guy and that’s one of the things that has enabled him to have success and essentially be the guy, is that he’s critical, 100%.”
Grant was part of a solid core of Lakers veterans who have been around since the team began their resurgence in 2004.
Shawn Evans was still in junior lacrosse at that time but has always looked to Grant.
“I’ve been playing with him for the last ten years. The bond that we have together on and off the floor has been great. Even though he’s ten years older than me, its like we’re the same age,” Evans said. “I’m going to miss him. I’m going to miss the friendship on the floor.”
Scott Self, longtime Lakers captain, is just a few years younger than Grant and grew up playing with him.
“I’d like to congratulate John on a great career,” Self said. “He’s had an unbelievable career. We started our run here in 2004 and John’s a big part of why that got rolling… It would have been nice to finish with a championship, not just for him but for all of us, but obviously for Johnny because it was his last shot at it. Some of these younger guys will get another chance.”
“This one will hurt,” Grant said. “My last two game sevens at home that I’ve been a part of we lost, and that’s not the way I wanted to end. We were asked to do certain things and we were all trying to win the game. It’s not like we weren’t trying, we just weren’t doing what we were asked to, and that starts with me. When you don’t stick to the game plan against a good team that’s the result.”
Grant had 31 points in six regular games season for the Lakers and 23 points in five playoff games including two goals and three assists to lead the team in game seven. He finished his CLA career with five Mann Cups.
He’ll be keeping an eye on the Lakers of the future, and even if he’s not living here, he’ll never really leave his hometown behind.
“We’re a family,” he expressed. “That’s part of the reason why everyone wants to come here and that’s why the guys who play here stay here. From the fans all the way down to the water guy, we’re all in this together. It’s the best place to play in the world. I love this team. I think the sky’s the limit for them. They’re a very young squad and there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for them down the road. I can’t wait to cheer for them.”