The Denver Outlaws picked up a win over the New York Lizards last night for their record tenth straight win. Now at 10-0, it’s the best start in Major League Lacrosse history. But are they the most dominant?The last time we saw a 9-0 team was in 2005 with the Baltimore Bayhawks. But over the history of professional lacrosse, almost every single time there is extreme parity. Other than the Outlaws and maybe the Hamilton Nationals, the 2013 MLL season has been a very tight race.
If you look at the National Lacrosse League in 2013, though eight of nine teams do make the playoffs, the Rochester Knighthawks have won the last two championships without ever reaching ten wins.
What makes the Outlaws so dominant in a field where parity is usually the norm? The only lacrosse team in history to go an entire season undefeated is the 1993 Buffalo Bandits in the then Major Indoor Lacrosse League. However, those Bandits just went 8-0, while the Outlaws are already past them at 10-0.
That Bandits team was led by stars such as John Tavares, Derek Keenan, Jim Veltman, Kevin Alexander, Darris Kilgour, Randy Mearns and Bob Hamley. But were those Bandits really a dominant team?
They won their first game at Pittsburgh 17-10, and then Detroit 18-14. After that they blew out Baltimore at home 23-13 in their widest margin of the season. They then defeated Boston on the road 17-13 and at home 16-14. Baltimore was then a 19-18 game, their closest of the season along with their 13-12 win over Philadelphia the next week, and finally a 20-14 win over Detroit.
MLL is a different game with less scoring than we see in indoor lacrosse, but let’s compare the wins for the Outlaws. They started the season out with a 21-16 win over Charlotte. Then 13-8 over Ohio and 14-10 over Boston. Not huge margins, but then they defeated Rochester 20-7. Next it was 24-14 over Boston, 22-9 over Hamilton, who at 7-2 is in second place, and 19-5 over Ohio, then 13-9 over Chesapeake. Last week they defeated Charlotte 17-11 and this week New York 16-7.
That means Denver has a win margin of about 8 while the Bandits were 4.3, a huge difference. But does that stem from the competitiveness of the league? In MLL this season, Hamilton is 7-2 but the next best team is Chesakeae at 5-4, and the rest are under .500. In the 1993 MILL season, the Bandits division saw Detroit at 3-5, Boston at 2-6 and Pittsburgh was 1-7. In the other division Philadelphia was 7-1, New York 5-3 and Baltimore 2-6.
Buffalo defeated Boston 12-10 in their playoff game and then Philadelphia 13-12 in the championship, a terrific match of two of the best all time teams. But will playoff games with Denver be so close? Denver’s closes games were against 5-4 Chesapeake and 4-5 Boston, and those were four goal wins.
That 1993 season Tavares led the league with 53 points and behind him were the Gait brothers on Philly. In fact, all of the stats were led by Buffalo and Philadelphia until the ninth leading scorer Lindsay Dixon on Pittsburgh. This MLL season, Chris Bocklet leads the league in scoring with 42 points, six ahead of second place while Denver’s Brendan Mundorf is tied with. Drew Snider is fourth and Jeremy Sieverts sixth.
Are the Outlaws the most dominant lacrosse team ever? The only team that comes close is those 1993 Bandits, so you be the judge.