The Rock have now gone a full season without Colin Doyle. Are they a better
team without him? Well, no, but that may not be all his doing; they also lost
Brad MacDonald and Brian Biesel, and then traded away Rusty Kruger and Phil
Sanderson halfway through the season, and they also had a rookie coach. Benesch,
Fines, and Thompson tallied more points in total than Doyle did, but does that
mean the Rock really won the trade? Hard to say. Doyle played very well with San
Jose, who kind of pulled a Raptors — they were really bad last year (5-11
and a distant 5th in the west), and worse the year before, but this year they’re
9-7 and they made the playoffs for the first time in 3 years — and they didn’t just squeak into the playoffs like the Rock did.
Ryan Benesch looks like the “real deal”, winning Rookie of the Month for
February, Rookie of the Week a couple of times, and is a serious contender for
Rookie of the Year. He will be a great player in the NLL for years to come.
But then again so will Doyle, who already is a great player in the NLL,
and has been for years. Josh Sanderson’s point total dropped by about 15 this
year — he seemed to enjoy passing to Doyle who would just power through
the middle of the defense. Blaine Manning doesn’t do that as much (Manning is
still a very good player, but he’s just not the player he was a couple of
years ago), and Benesch doesn’t either, but man, does that kid have some moves.
Aaron Wilson also continues to improve, and no longer just waits around the left
side of the net for someone to pass it to him; he can score from anywhere.
So with all of these kids doing well, plus veterans like Veltman and Driscoll
(one of the best all-round players on the team, IMHO) around, and the ultimate
clutch goalie Bob Watson in net, do the Rock stand a chance against the 14-2
Rochester Knighthawks this weekend? Nope. I really hope I’m wrong, but I think
they’re gonna get smoked.
Philadelphia is in a rebuilding phase right now — just look at the kids
they have on their roster: Athan Ianucci, Geoff Snider (holy crap, is he ever
good at faceoffs), Kyle Wailes, Ian Llord, Sean Greenhalgh, and Rob Van Beek
— and their goalie Matt Roik is almost 10 years younger than Watson. They
might have sucked just as much as Toronto this year (they ended up with
the same record of 6-10), but let’s see how the Wings are doing, say, two or three
years from now, once all those kids have a few years under their belt. Compare
that to the aging Rock, who will have to deal with the inevitable retirement (or
at least decline) of Veltman, Watson, Ladouceur, and Driscoll. Wilson and
Benesch have many great years ahead of them, and I believe the Rock got a first
rounder for Phil Sanderson, but that’s a lot of people (and talent) to