To state that the Toronto Tomahawks’ National Lacrosse League play throughout the last week of June and the month of July was a total disaster would be putting it mildly.
Between June 22 and July 27, the Tommies won only two of their 14 games. Included in the losing stretch were eight consecutive defeats on the road.
The nosedive saw Toronto drop from second place, three points out of the NLL’s top spot to fifth place, three points out of the NLL’s cellar.
General manager and coach Jim Bishop was forced to juggle his lineup on numerous occasions to compensate for an injury riddled roster.
At one point all three of Toronto’s centres were sidelined.
Chuck Li and Duffy McCarthy each missed a half dozen games with groin injuries. Joe McCrea will be lost until playoffs with torn ligaments in his right knee.
By the first week of August almost the entire team had missed at least two games with injuries of some sort.
Jim Quigg missed three weeks with a partially separated shoulder. Brian Thompson, Bram Wilfong and Charlie Marlowe were all out of uniform with hand injuries, but only because they couldn’t handle their sticks with accuracy while wearing casts.
Stan Cox, Tim Havens, Jack Kastelein, Sandy Lynch, Gary Brezany and Jack Chisholm all were forced out of combat or played while on the limp.
Only in the last few weeks has the team returned to their winning form prior to the injury blitz.
In their last five games prior to August 9, the Tomahawks won three contests while losing two.
With eight games remaining in the regular schedule and six points out of the fourth and final playoff berth, the Tommies will have to put it all together if they hope to knock out either the Maryland Arrows or Montreal’s Les Quebecois, who are currently tied for third place.
During the interim of convalescene [sic], Bishop was forced to shop around for talent in an attempt to bring his club out of their tail spin.
Unfortunately, none of the opposing teams were willing to part with any of their players, unless they were getting something of value in return.
Veteran netminder Bob McCready, 34, along with youthful left shot Jim Quigg, arrived in Toronto via Syracuse Stingers is return for goalie Rick Palla and forward Frank Oda.
To shore up the defence, Tomahawks sent Sandy Lynch to Montreal in return for 26-year old rearguard Bill Langley and the rights to 21-year-old forward Bob Bolitho.
Goaltender Roger Williams went to Maryland to complete the deal for forward Ziggy Musial and a future player from the Arrows to be named at a later date.
Jim Hinkson was dealt to Philadelphia for 34-year-old veteran forward Terry Davis and another Wing player to be named at a later date.
Bill Armour, a 30-year-old left shot was picked up from Maryland’s protected list in return for future consideration.
Ron Hill, 25, was signed as a free agent after being released by Syracuse. Hill came right back to haunt his former teammates. His first game for the Tommies against the Stingers, Hill scored the winning goal late in the contest to give Toronto the victory.
Goaltender Bob Ball, 23, transferred from Les Quebecois’ protected list to Toronto, immediately joined the Tommies.
All-American college field players John Sheffield and Peter Graham, both 22, added strength to the Tomahawks’ attack.
In their latest swap, Toronto sent Brian Wilson to the Rochester Griffins in return for 24-year-old right shot centre Dave Johnson.
Only recently have these trades started to pay full dividends, posting victories in the win column for the Tomahawks.
There is a lot of truth to the adage “you can’t tell the players without a program.”
Some Toronto fans have been surprised at seeing new names in the roster.
Out of the playing lineup are: Williams, Hinkson, Wilson, Palla, Oda, Lynch, Musial, Chisholm, Brezany, Ed Travis and Ron Thomas.
The new names and faces seem a little strange at first, but their actions on the lacrosse floor quickly make their names household words among Tommies’ fans.
Now it’s up to the entire team to put it all together if they hope to participate in post-season playoff action.