By Gord Kurenoff, Vancouver Sun. Our balls are harder. Chicks dig the long pole. My other stick is at your mom’s. Wanna ruck? Sticks to the ribs, whacks to the back.
Cover Photo: The Vancouver Stealth play the the Minnesota Swarm in the final minute of the second quarter of a regular season National Lacrosse League game in Langley on January 11, 2014.
Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann , PNG
Editor’s Note: Former award-winning editor of The Abbotsford News and now-closed Times, Gord Kurenoff of Langley covers the National Lacrosse League for his employer, The Vancouver Sun. As the ‘Stealth Writer’ here’s his Idiot’s Guide for Stealth Nation.
Welcome to game night at the bustling Langley Events Centre, where lacrosse aficionados with those slogan-filled T-shirts, chat and chow down before the Vancouver Stealth home opener.
It is a close-knit community, a Cheers-like club, where everybody knows your name and business. They are pumped to see pro-LAX back in B.C. Many have kids playing on or coaching minor-league teams. Some even have Ravens jerseys in memory of the first National Lacrosse League team (2002-04) to set up shop in B.C.
In another area of the sleek 5,276-seat arena, newbies with deer-in-the-headlight stares, programs, hot dogs and ticket stubs in hand are huddled asking such things like: Why does a team named after military aircraft have a fox for a mascot? Why is the team called Vancouver when it plays in Langley? Why the Stealth? How long did it take you to get here? What does LAX mean?
And in another corner, the loyal Everett crew — those staunch souls who braved border lineups and grillings from guards who say “eh” a lot to get here — question if their relocated Washington sons will like the new home, where a Jumbotron, Mikey C, loud music, contests and Bombshells are needed to encourage reserved fans to cheer and make noise.
Comcast Arena, the American visitors insist, needed no such gimmicks to get the party started for their team. They wonder how many NLL championship banners will hang from the LEC “ruff” and where aboot that Joe guy from the Molson commercial is sitting.
So, it is with the latter two groups in mind that we serve up this free Idiot’s Guide to Stealth Nation, a starter kit if you will, to address some of the questions, the criticisms, the first couple weeks of the nine-team NLL and spell out the lay of the land in easy terms — or e-zed terms for our Everett friends.
And please, feel free to email us with your questions and suggestions for the next instalment of this sporty service, when we include such things as popular drinking holes, how much NLL players earn, lacrosse pick-up lines and why Calgary and Edmonton matter.
Cue the Michael Buffer ditty Let’s get ready to rumble with our fan-friendly guide, Part 1:
• NO-LOAN PARKING:
You’ll pay tolls, gas tax, transit tax and other silly fees to get to Langley Events Centre, but the parking is free.
You’ll be able to spot the out-of-town vehicles as they’ll have Garmin GPS systems, different licence plates and BMW logos. The locals will have bumper stickers that say I’m hung like Einstein and smart as a horse or Trust me, that squirrel was an ass anyways.
• THE NAME THING:
If you can have the Greater Vancouver Game Farm in Aldergrove, a SkyTrain that travels underground, “safe” injection sites but no legal smoking in public places, why not a team in Langley called Vancouver? It’s called marketing to bigger audiences, we’re told. Hmmm. Wonder why Rochester isn’t called the New York Knighthawks then?
As for the Stealth, there was initial talk about changing the name when the squad moved to B.C., especially in a country where we have screen windows on our submarines and military helicopters that can’t fly. But for now it’s the Stealth.
Suggestions along press row to give Langley Events Centre a nickname drew a blank stare as scribes munched on TimBits and guzzled coffee. How about The Hangar, Township Terminal, the Boom Box or LLAX?
Rejected names, so far, are The Cockpit, The Bomb Shelter and The Cheese Factory (thanks Everett!).
• UNSOCIAL MEDIA:
The Bombshells, a sweet crew of twerking, dancing Stealth cheerleaders, were criticized on Twitter and lacrosse forums for a few things after Week 1: Obstructing views and not being “drool worthy.”
C’mon, man! Not only are these Lower Mainland women talented, beautiful and friendly, but they also volunteer for local charities and assist at fundraising events.
Twitter, which is basically 140 characters of rope in the wrong hands, can be extremely crude. But the fool who said the women weren’t cute likely has a girlfriend who looks a little like Charlize Theron and a lot like Dog the Bounty Hunter.
Those in the know like to shorten lacrosse to LAX, so you know they are in the know! They like to say chill-LAX, re-LAX and LAX-adaisical. Guess if the team soils the sheets on game night they can add EX-LAX to the jargon.
• MAYOR IN THE HOUSE:
Township Mayor Jack Froese, one of the first to purchase Stealth season tickets, is kind of like Toronto Mayor Rob Ford when it comes to supporting local sports. He’s also different in so many ways!
The crack Township mayor has embraced the NLL and loves the entertainment value. He’s a former turkey farm operator and Vancouver police officer who was elected in 2011. A year later he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal.
His council is currently talking about raising taxes, so on game nights you know where to find him! If he considers your issues a provincial matter that’s cool — MLA and Deputy Premier Rich Coleman has an office right in the arena.
Despite Froese’s passion for sports and health, the Township’s motto “A community of communities” is kind of lame. But “Eat Right, Stay Fit, Die Anyways” was probably rejected.
• FUR FLIES OVER FOX:
Almost three-quarters of the Township of Langley is in the Agriculture Land Reserve. The area is also an equestrian hotbed, with fine wineries and a nifty fort that attracts movie-makers and a rowing facility that attracts world-class athletes.
While a cow, horse or drunken lacrosse mom likely won’t make for an ideal mascot, the fox is a puzzling choice for a team named after an elite aircraft.
Perhaps worth considering down the road are Scud the Stud missile, Pilot Pete or David Booth, you know flying under the radar or out of sight!
• BRINGING SEXY BACK:
Expect Stealth T-shirts to be launched into the crowd as part of the contest craze. There will be interactive games and trivia on the Jumbotron, a 50-50 draw prize that will easily cover the month’s mortgage, and ticket/swag giveaways.
At the Pepsi Center in Denver earlier this month, they had rink-side hot tubs with bikini-clad girls soaking in them “watching” the Stealth and Colorado Mammoth play. Heck, if we really wanted to sex it up that desperately we’d all go to Abbotsford to see the Lingerie Football League (see me later for those exact dates!).
• THE MUSIC FACTORY:
The LEC becomes a loud jukebox on game day with the usual arena rock selections. So far the Stealth doesn’t have a favourite theme song, albeit anything from Top Gun would work. Please ignore requests for more Justin Bieber, the Baha Men or the extended version of Gangnam Style.
• THE RIVALS:
Nine teams, two divisions, four Canadian teams.
The East: Toronto Rock, Rochester Knighthawks, Buffalo Bandits, Philadelphia Wings, Minnesota Swarm.
The West: Vancouver Stealth, Edmonton Rush, Calgary Roughnecks, Colorado Mammoth.
The defending champions: Rochester Knighthawks, winners in 2012 and 2013.
• STEALTH HOME SCHEDULE:
Jan. 17: Colorado at Vancouver, 8 p.m.
Jan. 25: Edmonton at Vancouver, 7 p.m.
Feb. 8: Colorado at Vancouver, 7 p.m.
March 21: Calgary at Vancouver, 8 p.m.
March 29: Buffalo at Vancouver, 7 p.m.
April 5: Toronto at Vancouver, 7 p.m.
April 19: Philadelphia at Vancouver, 7 p.m.
April 26: Calgary at Vancouver, 7 p.m.