Editorial: Summer lacrosse is in full swing… almost

2018 Minto Cup. (Photo credit: Cliff McCaig)

Memorial Day weekend is here and that means that summer ball is underway! The National Lacrosse League is heading into its final round of playoffs and the NCAA has crowned their champions. The Premier Lacrosse League kicked off training camp this weekend, the Western Lacrosse Association held their first games, and then of course, Ontario’s junior and senior leagues have already been playing for a few weeks.

But, there’s one exception in Ontario, and it’s one of Canada’s most prominent summer leagues.

Major Series Lacrosse (Ontario), which competes in September with the WLA (British Columbia) for the Mann Cup – Canada’s most prestigious lacrosse trophy – announced this past week that their season is on hold due to potentially litigious circumstances. There is no set timetable for their return.

ILWT followed the MSL and OLA’s troubles with Brampton and Owen Sound early on in this now years-long saga, starting shortly after Joe Norton announced his intentions to move the Excelsiors franchise to Owen Sound in late 2020.

We scaled back our coverage of the issue when it became clear there could be repercussions for the MSL’s other teams (such as the now postponed 2022 season), and I have a clear conflict of interest due to my position on the Peterborough Lakers communications team. Greg Cowan (Owen Sound Sun-Times), Mike Davies (Peterborough Examiner) and Paul Tutka (The Lax Mag) have done an excellent job covering the latest developments in the story and I encourage you to read their stories to keep up to date.

But now the worst has happened. Well, I guess I shouldn’t say that – it can ALWAYS get worse. I have no insider knowledge to share – nobody is talking anymore – just my own fears. I’m absolutely terrified that we’re going to lose another season – the third in a row. If this ends up in court, it might take months or years to come to a conclusion. The Canadian court system is not speedy.

What do we do in the meantime? How long can the MSL sustain itself, continuing like this, without playing regularly? How much are the other teams willing to give up as the fight between the MSL and OLA continues? Will the Mann Cup be played by the two best WLA teams this year? I’m hopeful that each party – the MSL, OLA, Brampton and Owen Sound – are still at the table negotiating, but from articles in the press and comments on Twitter, it doesn’t seem like anyone is willing to give an inch here. It’s a mess.

If it were up to me? Play with five teams this season while things get figured out, and hopefully increase to seven teams in 2023. I just want to cheer for my hometown team.

That said, I’m lucky to still be surrounded by lacrosse, and chances are, you are too. Lacrosse is exciting at ANY level, and there are plenty of junior and senior teams playing good lacrosse right now. Ontario has both Sr. B and Sr. C and what the games may lack in the talent levels of MSL, they make up for 10 times over in heart. Summer lacrosse is a point of pride in Ontario. There are also many Jr. A, Jr. B and Jr. C teams to support, with players always striving to be their best and get noticed by scouts.

If you’re elsewhere in Canada, this still applies. Junior and senior lacrosse at any level is worth watching and supporting. Other Canadian championships, including the President’s Cup (Sr. B) and Minto Cup (Jr. A) will still be played. Players are eager to leave their mark on the game.

Alberta, especially, has a growing and dedicated lacrosse program. See https://rockymountainlax.com for junior and senior schedules.

Those in BC are lucky to be able to watch the WLA, featuring many pro stars. The Victoria Shamrocks, defending WLA champions, featuring Jesse King, just defeated Mitch Jones and the New Westminster Salmonbellies in the season opener 14-10 in a packed Q Centre on Vancouver Island.

Every WLA game is streamed live (pay-per-view, I think, although I’m watching Langley and Maple Ridge for free right now) at https://www.wlalacrosse.com/wlatv.

BC also has a thriving junior and senior program just like Ontario. Find links and schedules at https://www.bclacrosse.com/index.php.

And then of course there is the PLL, which has a great streaming deal this season – games can be watched in more than 170 countries. The PLL also announced a new partnership with Champion Data this season – here’s hoping they’ll give us traditional box scores, the only aspect of the game in which the PLL was lacking. Every year the PLL has increased their product so I expect a fun summer from them.

These are just the teams/leagues that are closest to me, and easiest to follow, but there are so many more out there, both box and field. Got a team playing this summer that could use some support? Hit us up on Twitter @LacrosseWeTrust and we’ll happily RT!