Burrard Ben McIntosh is a player who had also been playing in the new PLL. (Paul Evans Photography)

Burrard Ben McIntosh is a player who had also been playing in the new PLL. (Paul Evans Photography)

WLA lacrosse could lose star players to new U.S.-based league

Canadian leagues say the tradition of Canada’s Mann Cup should be respected

The best players in the world play in the Western Lacrosse Association each summer, but that may be about to change.

Elite players could formerly play in the televised National Lacrosse League (NLL), then be part of the summer lacrosse Senior A leagues – Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) in Ontario and the WLA in B.C. They would compete for the coveted Mann Cup.

But with new summer pro leagues saying they don’t want their players taking the floor with any other teams, these players will be sidelined for the Mann Cup.

The WLA and MSL recently issued a statement about the new, U.S.-based Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) and its player contracts.

“Lacrosse occupies a truly unique and historical place in Canadian sport. Identified as the Creator’s Game, Lacrosse is wholly a product of North American Indigenous peoples, and as Canada’s official national summer sport, Canadian athletes of all races and origins play lacrosse with passion and pride,” they said. “For the past 110 years, the best box lacrosse teams in Canada have battled for the Mann Cup, one of the most significant and prestigious championships in Canadian sport.”

It notes the PLL has added a provision to its standard player agreements that would prohibit any PLL player from competing in non-PLL sponsored lacrosse events and other sporting events during the PLL season.

Over the past several seasons, approximately 50 Canadian players played in both the PLL and the Canadian summer leagues, and if this restriction is put in place this season, they will be unable to do so.

Maple Ridge Burrards GM Lance Andre said it’s a huge change in the sport, and he acknowledges most pro sports put similar restrictions on their athletes.

If it stands, he believes it will pull a lot of star players out of the WLA, and away from the Mann Cup.

However, he does not expect the Burrards to lose players this year, following the trade of Ben McIntosh, who had been playing for the Waterdogs Lacrosse Club of the PLL, and the Philadelphia Wings of the NLL.

READ ALSO: Burrards trade sniper McIntosh in deal with Adanacs

Andre said the move would see the transition of the WLA to a “truly amateur league,” with fewer teams trying to fly top pros in four league games, so they can be eligible to play in the playoffs and Mann Cup.

The Senior A leagues are seeking a compromise.

“Major Series Lacrosse and the Western Lacrosse Association respectfully ask that PLL leadership engage in good-faith discussions with its Canadian players and our leagues to find a solution to this situation that is preventing Canadian players from playing with their hometown amateur teams and competing for the Mann Cup, one of the most iconic and prestigious championships in all of Canadian sports,” said the statement, which is signed by commissions Paul Dal Monte (WLA) and Doug Luey (MSL).

READ ALSO: WLA rule changes designed to speed up the game

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