The Toronto Rock are a professional box lacrosse franchise based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. They are members of the North Division of the National Lacrosse League (NLL). The team was the first Canadian franchise in the NLL. Oakville resident Jamie Dawick is the current owner of the Rock, purchasing the team after the 2009 season. Since 2014, Dawick has also served as their general manager. The Rock play their home games at FirstOntario Centre which they currently share with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL.
|League||National Lacrosse League|
|Based in||Hamilton, Ontario|
|Colours||Blue, red, silver, white|
|Head coach||Matt Sawyer|
|General manager||Jamie Dawick|
|League titles||6 (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2011)|
|Division titles||9 (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2015)|
|Local media||TSN / TSN2|
TSN Radio 1050
The franchise was founded in 1998 as the Ontario Raiders in Hamilton. The Raiders played at Copps Coliseum before being sold to a group of investors led by then Toronto Maple Leafs Assistant GM Bill Watters, who relocated the franchise to Toronto. They were subsequently renamed the "Toronto Rock", and began play at Maple Leaf Gardens in the 1999 season. The Toronto Rock won their 6th league championship on May 15, 2011. They hold a tie for the most championships in league history with the Philadelphia Wings. In the 2001 season, the Rock moved from the Maple Leaf Gardens to Scotiabank Arena (then known as Air Canada Centre) where they played for 20 seasons. On May 11, 2021, the team announced the relocation from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto to FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, beginning with the 2021–22 NLL season in December. The team continues to represent Toronto while playing home games in Hamilton.
The franchise was founded as an NLL expansion team in Hamilton, Ontario and began play in the 1998 season. They were known as the Ontario Raiders, and played their home games at Copps Coliseum. Former Buffalo Bandits coach Les Bartley was hired to coach the new team, and he lured former Bandit Jim Veltman to join him, becoming the Raiders' captain. The team finished a respectable 6–6 in their inaugural season, but missed the playoffs on a tie-breaker. Following the season, losses of $250,000 forced owner Chris Fritz to look for partners. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment considered purchasing the team, but ultimately a group which included Bill Watters, the then Assistant General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Paul Beeston, former president of the Toronto Blue Jays, Tie Domi, player for the Maple Leafs, and Bobby Orr, former NHL player, bought it for $250,000 and promptly relocated the team to Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens where they rebranded it the Toronto Rock, a name chosen to reflect the city's lively rock music scene.
Championships/Dynasty era (1999–2005)Edit
In 1999, their first year in Toronto, the Rock won their first NLL Championship, defeating the Rochester Knighthawks 13–10 in Toronto. The next year, the Rock became the first team since the 1994-95 Wings to win back-to-back championships, once again defeating the Knighthawks. That game featured Kaleb Toth's dramatic game-winning goal with a second left on the clock, in the last-ever professional sporting event held at Maple Leaf Gardens.
2001 saw the Rock follow the Leafs to the Air Canada Centre, where they advanced to the championship game once again. But the visiting Philadelphia Wings held the Rock to just eight goals, and won their sixth championship. The next season, the Rock recovered from the championship game loss by finishing first overall for the fourth straight year. They advanced to the championship game once again, but for the first time as the visiting team. The Rock defeated the Albany Attack in Albany 13–12. 2002 was also one of the most productive years for the Rock in terms of awards; in addition to winning the Champion's Cup, three players were honoured by the league. Blaine Manning was named Rookie of the Year, Pat Coyle was named Defensive Player of the Year, and captain Jim Veltman was given the Sportsmanship Award.
In 2003, Toronto advanced to the championship game for the fifth straight year, once again as the visitors. The game was held in Rochester, where Rock had never won a game, but they prevailed in the lowest-scoring championship game in NLL history, winning 8–6.
Shortly before the 2004 season began, head coach and GM Les Bartley announced that he was fighting colon cancer, and was stepping down. Assistant coaches Ed Comeau and Derek Keenan were named interim coach and interim GM respectively. After a 2–4 start to the season, Comeau and Keenan were fired, and the Rock hired Terry Sanderson to try to turn the team around. The Rock went 8-2 the rest of the season, earning a first round bye after clinching the East Division regular season crown. However, the Buffalo Bandits came to town and upset the Rock 19–10, sending the Bandits to the first NLL championship game not featuring the Rock since they joined the league. Jim Veltman was honoured by the league by being named league MVP. This was the first year in the 10-year history of the award that it did not go to Gary Gait, Paul Gait, or John Tavares and the first Toronto Rock player to be named league MVP.
In 2005, the Rock defeated the Rochester Knighthawks in the East Division Final by a score of 12–10 in front of approximately 17,200 fans at the Air Canada Centre. The Rock went on to defeat the Arizona Sting with a 19–13 win in front of an NLL record crowd of 19,432, becoming NLL champions for the fifth time in seven years and solidifying their distinction as an NLL dynasty. Colin Doyle was named league MVP, the second straight year that the award was won by a Rock player.
Despite the championship, the season ended on a sad note for the Rock franchise, as Les Bartley died of cancer at the age of 51 the day after the championship game. Bartley is remembered as an exceptional coach, having led the Toronto Rock to NLL Championships in 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2003.
Kloepfer era (2006–2009)Edit
From 1999 to 2005, the Rock finished either first overall or first in their division every year, winning five championships. The next few years, however, would bring the franchise back down to Earth. The Rock struggled during the early part of the 2006 season; however, their record balanced out to 8–8 at season's end. They made the playoffs, only to be defeated by the first place Knighthawks at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester by a score of 16–8. Head coach and GM Terry Sanderson was fired after the season, and was replaced by new Director of Lacrosse Operations Mike Kloepfer and new head coach Glenn Clark. Clark had played eight seasons with the Rock and had just finished an All-Star season as a member of the Philadelphia Wings, but retired from playing to take the head coaching job with his old club.
Kloepfer made his mark on the team quickly, trading perennial All-Star, former Rookie of the Year and league MVP Colin Doyle to the San Jose Stealth along with Darren Halls and a draft pick for first overall draft pick Ryan Benesch, Kevin Fines, Chad Thompson and two draft picks. Benesch had a very good rookie year, scoring 33 goals and winning the Rookie of the Year award, but the Rock under rookie coach Clark struggled to a worst-ever 6–10 record, barely making the playoffs. They lost the division semifinal against Rochester, who would go on to win their first championship since 1997.
In 2007, the Toronto Rock established an award also called the Les Bartley Award, given to "the Rock player that best exemplifies Les' emphasis on the importance of character and commitment to the team". The first winner of this award was team captain Jim Veltman.
Toronto's struggles continued in 2008, as the Rock lost their last five games of the season. They finished below .500 for the second straight year, and for the first time since their move to Toronto in 1999, the Rock finished out of the playoffs. Despite the losing season, goaltender Bob Watson was named Goaltender of the Year. 2008 also featured the final season of the only captain the Rock franchise had ever had, Jim Veltman. Veltman retired after fifteen seasons in the NLL, winning seven championships (two with the Bandits and five with the Rock). Chris Driscoll was named the new Rock captain.
After starting the 2009 season with a 1–2 record, the Rock relieved Clark and assistant coach Veltman and Terry Bullen of their coaching duties, and hired former Chicago and Colorado coach Jamie Batley as the new Rock head coach. Clark and Bullen were fired, and Veltman was retained in an advisory position. The coaching change was not enough to propel the Rock back into the playoffs, however. They finished last in the East and out of the playoffs for the second straight year. Director of Lacrosse Operations Mike Kloepfer resigned shortly after the season ended.
Jamie Dawick era (2009–present)Edit
On June 10, 2009, the Rock announced that former GM and coach Terry Sanderson had been brought back as the new GM. Jamie Batley was also told by the Rock that he would not be returning as head coach. At the end of the month, the team announced that the Rock had been sold to Oakville-based businessman James Dawick, with Waters saying the price was "in the seven figures." Two weeks later, former Calgary Roughnecks head coach Troy Cordingley was named as the new coach, giving the Rock an entirely new staff from ownership on down.
Sanderson wasted no time in the rebuilding efforts, most notably re-acquiring Colin Doyle from Washington in exchange for Lewis Ratcliff, Tyler Codron and Joel Dalgarno. He also traded Luke Wiles to Washington and Bill McGlone to Philadelphia, and re-acquiring former Rock defender Sandy Chapman from Rochester. He then traded team captain Chris Driscoll to the Buffalo Bandits for another former Rock defender Phil Sanderson, and acquired Mike Hominuck from Edmonton and Pat McCready from Buffalo, both for draft picks.
The moves paid off immediately, as the Rock began the 2010 season 6-1 en route to a 9–7 record. This was good for second place in the East and the Rock's first playoff berth in four years. In the playoffs, the Rock defeated Buffalo and Orlando on their way to their seventh Championship game, and first since 2005. The Washington Stealth, in their first season in Everett, Washington, proved too strong for the Rock and won the Championship 15–11.
In 2011, the Rock found themselves in the Championship game for the second straight year against the Washington Stealth, this time winning 8–7.
In August 2011, Dawick broke ground on constructing the new $20 million-dollar, privately financed Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (TRAC) in Oakville. The lacrosse facility, which opened in 2012, features two pads, one of which seats 500 fans, and serves as the Rock's practice facility as well as the team's offices. The arena has played host to exhibition NLL games, the NLL Entry Draft and the NLL Combine.
On May 11, 2021, Dawick announced that the Rock would relocate from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto to FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Ontario with a five-year arena lease with an option to extend the agreement afterwards. Their relocation will commence in time for the beginning of the 2022 NLL season in December 2021. The team name will not be changed despite the relocation to Hamilton due their branding as a team that has "always represented the GTHA".
Awards and honoursEdit
|7||Colin Doyle||March 11, 2017||1999–2006, 2010–16|
|29||Bob Watson||February 24, 2012||1999–2011|
|32||Jim Veltman||April 12, 2019||1999–2008|
NLL Hall of Fame membersEdit
|Active (21-man) roster||Inactive roster||Coaches|
|1999||9||3||1st||6–0||3–3||157||139||Les Bartley||Won NLL Championship|
|2000||9||3||1st||5–1||4–2||162||130||Les Bartley||Won NLL Championship|
|2001||11||3||1st||6–1||5–2||168||125||Les Bartley||Lost final|
|2002||Northern||11||5||1st||8–0||3–5||223||176||Les Bartley||Won NLL Championship|
|2003||Northern||11||5||1st||6–2||5–3||195||164||Les Bartley||Won NLL Championship|
|2004||Eastern||10||6||1st||5–3||5–3||202||176||ED Comeau/Terry Sanderson||Lost division final|
|2005||Eastern||12||4||1st||6–2||6–2||227||190||Terry Sanderson||Won NLL Championship|
|2006||Eastern||8||8||3rd||5–3||3–5||182||179||Terry Sanderson||Lost division semi-final|
|2007||Eastern||6||10||4th||3–5||3–5||187||183||Glenn Clark||Lost division semi-final|
|2008||Eastern||7||9||6th||4–5||3–4||172||174||Glenn Clark/terry bullen||Did not qualify|
|2009||Eastern||6||10||6th||3–5||3–5||194||218||Glenn Clark/Jamie Batley||Did not qualify|
|2010||Eastern||9||7||2nd||6–2||3–5||197||156||Troy Cordingley||Lost final|
|2011||Eastern||10||6||2nd||7–1||3–5||187||168||Troy Cordingley||Won NLL Championship|
|2012||Eastern||9||7||1st||3–5||6–2||198||196||Troy Cordingley||Lost division final|
|2013||Eastern||10||6||1st||5–3||5–3||194||176||Troy Cordingley||Lost division semi-final|
|2014||Eastern||9||9||2nd||6–3||3–6||219||213||John Lovell||Lost division semi-final|
|2015||Eastern||14||4||1st||7–2||7–2||230||185||John Lovell||Lost final|
|2016||Eastern||5||13||5th||4–5||1–8||190||224||John Lovell||Did not qualify|
|2017||Eastern||9||9||2nd||4–5||5–4||219||200||Matt Sawyer||Lost division final|
|2018||Eastern||8||10||4th||3–6||5–4||237||216||Matt Sawyer||Did not qualify|
|2019||Eastern||12||6||3rd||8–1||4–5||213||207||Matt Sawyer||Lost division final|
|2020[a]||North||7||4||2nd||4–2||3–2||122||106||Matt Sawyer||No Playoffs Held[a]|
|2021||Season cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic|
|2022||Eastern||13||5||2nd||7–2||6–3||207||166||Matt Sawyer||Lost conference final|
|Playoff Totals||16 Appearances||20||14||16–7||4–6||370||361||6 championships|
- 2020 regular season shortened and playoffs cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
|1999||Semifinals||Philadelphia 2||Toronto 13|
|Championship||Rochester 10||Toronto 13|
|2000||Semifinals||Philadelphia 10||Toronto 14|
|Championship||Rochester 13||Toronto 14|
|2001||Semifinals||Washington 9||Toronto 10|
|Championship||Philadelphia 9||Toronto 8|
|2002||Semifinals||Washington 11||Toronto 12|
|Championship||Toronto 13||Albany 12|
|2003||Semifinals||Colorado 11||Toronto 15|
|Championship||Toronto 8||Rochester 6|
|2004||Division Final||Buffalo 19||Toronto 10|
|2005||Division Final||Rochester 10||Toronto 12|
|Championship||Arizona 13||Toronto 19|
|2006||Division Semifinals||Toronto 8||Rochester 16|
|2007||Division Semifinals||Toronto 6||Rochester 10|
|2010||Division Semifinal||Buffalo 11||Toronto 13|
|Division Final||Toronto 15||Orlando 10|
|Championship||Toronto 11||Washington 15|
|2011||Division Semifinal||Rochester 8||Toronto 10|
|Division Final||Toronto 12||Buffalo 11|
|Championship||Washington 7||Toronto 8|
|2012||Division Semifinal||Buffalo 6||Toronto 7|
|Division Final||Rochester 17||Toronto 13|
|2013||Division Semifinal||Minnesota 20||Toronto 11|
|2014||Division Semifinal||Buffalo 15||Toronto 13|
|2015||Division Final||Rochester 1||Toronto 2|
|Championship||Edmonton 2||Toronto 0|
|2017||Division Semifinal||New England 10||Toronto 18|
|Division Final||Toronto 0||Georgia 2|
|2019||Division Semifinal||Toronto 16||Georgia 14|
|Division Final||Toronto 8||Buffalo 12|
|2022||Conference Semifinal||Halifax 13||Toronto 14|
|Conference Final||Toronto 17||Buffalo 18|
|Buffalo 10||Toronto 9|
Head coaching historyEdit
|5||Terry Bullen †||2008||4||2||2||.500||—||—||—||—|
† Bullen served as head coach during Clark's suspension.
- "Coaching Staff – Toronto Rock". torontorock.com. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
- Fuller, Dave (September 15, 1998). "Watters' group brings lacrosse to the Gardens". The Outsider's Guide to the NLL. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- "Rock relocate home games to Hamilton". Toronto Rock press release. May 11, 2021. Retrieved 2021-05-12.
- Kernaghan, John (1998-08-20). "Raiders call it quits in Hamilton". Hamilton Spectator.
- Milton, Steve (1998-07-07). "Hamilton's pro lacrosse is going, going...". Hamilton Spectator.
- Kernaghan, John (1998-07-14). "Three-way toss up for Ontario Raiders". Hamilton Spectator.
- Brown, Josh (1998-12-04). "Watters, Beeston, Domi, Orr bring pro lacrosse to town". Toronto Star.
- Stevens, Neil (1998-12-24). "Rock will test Toronto's taste for pro lacrosse". Waterloo Region Record.
- Koreen, Mike (May 6, 2000). "Rock win title on last-second shot by Toth". The Outsider's Guide to the NLL. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- Philly, R.A. (May 3, 2003). "Rock wins fourth title in 8-6 defense-athon". The Outsider's Guide to the NLL. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- "Rock appoint Sanderson as coach & GM". NLL.com. February 17, 2004. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
- "Toronto wins Edge NLL Championship game, 19-13". NLL.com. May 14, 2005. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- Girard, Daniel (May 7, 2010). "Toronto Rock goalie Bob Watson 'enjoying the ride' again after train-wreck '09 season". The Star. Toronto.
- Philly, R.A. (May 15, 2005). "Les Bartley, 51, loses battle with cancer". The Outsider's Guide to the NLL. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- "Remembering Les". NLL.com. May 16, 2005. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- "Rock Search for New Head Coach". NLL.com. May 9, 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-29.
- "Rock Completes Coaching & Operations Staff". NLL.com. May 23, 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-29.
- "Colossal Trade as Season Nears". NLL.com. December 27, 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-29.
- "Benesch Named Rookie of the Year". NLL.com. May 8, 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- "Rock Establish Award in Bartley's Honor". NLL.com. March 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-14.
- "Rock announce Chris Driscoll as new captain". Toronto Rock web site. November 6, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- "Toronto Rock hire new coaching staff". TorontoRock.com. January 20, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- "Breaking News: Toronto Rock Director of Lacrosse Operations Mike Kloepfer resigns". NLL Insider. April 29, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
- "Sanderson Leaves Roughnecks To Become GM Of Rock". TSN. June 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-11.
- Davies, Mike (June 11, 2009). "Batley won't be back with the Rock". Peterborough Examiner. Retrieved 2009-06-11.
- Grossman, David (2009-07-01). "Poker pro takes a gamble on revitalizing Rock". Toronto Star.
- "Rock Name Cordingley Head Coach". NLL.com. July 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- "Dissecting the Doyle Trade, Who wins? | NLL Insider". www.nllinsider.com. Archived from the original on 2010-01-21.
- "Busy Day on Trading Front". NLL.com. July 7, 2009. Archived from the original on June 12, 2011. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- "Rock and Bandits Swap Driscoll, Sanderson". NLL.com. July 31, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- "Hominuck Heads to Toronto". NLL.com. July 27, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- "McCready Heading to Rock For Draft Picks". NLL.com. August 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- "Dawick Unveils Lacrosse Facility Plans". Toronto Rock. 11 August 2011.
- "Dawick building year-round lacrosse facility in Oakville". 2011-11-17.
- "Toronto Rock owner Jamie Dawick 'all in' despite challenges". Toronto Star. 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
- "Toronto Rock Athletic Centre Grand Opening Saturday". Toronto Rock. 19 December 2012.
- "Oakville, not Toronto, is true home of NLL's Rock". 2012-12-06. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
- "Rock ready for preseason game at new practice facility". National Lacrosse League. 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
- "NLL Draft Set For September 16 At The TRAC". Toronto Rock. 12 August 2013.
- "Benesch Named Rookie of the Year". NLL.com. May 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-08.
- "Watson Named US Navy Goalie of the Year". NLL.com. May 7, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
- "Stephan LeBlanc Named NLL Rookie of the Year". TorontoRock.com. May 13, 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
- "Rock's Billings wins 2013 NLL Sportsmanship Award". NLL.com. April 29, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- "Rock's Dawick wins 2013 NLL Executive of the Year award". NLL.com. May 28, 2013. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
- "2014 NLL Sportsmanship Award". NLL.com. June 9, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
- "2015 NLL GM of the Year". NLL.com. June 23, 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- "2017 Transition Player of the Year". NLL.com. June 24, 2017. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
- "NLL announces 2018-19 season award winners". NLL.com. July 19, 2019. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
- "TORONTO ROCK CAPTAIN COLIN DOYLE RETIRES". National Lacrosse League. 2016-11-09. Retrieved 2020-03-22.
- "Rock Will Retire Bob Watson's Number 29". Toronto Rock. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
- "ROCK WILL RETIRE JIM VELTMAN'S NUMBER 32". Toronto Rock. 2019-03-08. Retrieved 2020-03-22.