Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dectective story

When I was thrown into the job of covering the Buffalo Bandits in December, I discovered that trying to get a sense of the team's history was difficult. It's not like there are books on the history of the National Lacrosse League's history on sale at the local Borders. Tom Borrelli had lived and memorized it all, of course, but he tragically wasn't around to help.

What's a reporter to do? Write that history himself, naturally.

I did have some media guides from the team and league, thanks to Tom's wife. Karen gave them to me when we cleaned out Tom's library. There was always the Internet, of course, and I have access to The Buffalo News electronic library -- which covers the entire history of the team.

I've been researching the team's history, year-by-year. (The blog, which is a work in progress for now, can be reaching by clicking here.) That first year of 1992 proved particularly odd. The team lost its first three games, pretty standard stuff for an expansion team. Then it won five straight to close the regular season, took three straight playoff games and captured the league title.

The following summer, head coach Buff McCready was relieved of his duties and formally replaced by Les Bartley, according to the News archives. Odd, but OK.

Then I noticed in some of the reference material a few years later that Bandits' all-time coaching records had McCready at 0-3 for 1992, and Bartley 5-0. Hmmm. Bartley and McCready have both died since then. So I asked Bob Summers of The News, who covered the team for most of the first season. He said when he asked for the coach for interviews, McCready always came out.

Then I wrote the team's former public relations director, Bruce Wawrzyniak, an e-mail and asked if he knew the story. He did. He said general manager Johnny Mouradian called him over after Game Three and told him a change had been made. Bartley would be in charge of the team, while McCready was the coach of the goaltenders. But there was some internal debate on who should be the public face of the franchise, and the "switch" was never announced.

Sometimes indoor lacrosse has a reputation for making things up as it goes along. Apparently it has been practicing that for some time.

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