Credit goes to the players during this run of 3 straight National Lacrosse League championships for the Rochester Knighthawks. But veteran forward Dan Dawson said team owner and general manager Curt Styres deserves praise as well. “We’ve been very blessed to have a visionary like Curt, who’s allowed us to be successful and we just try to repay him every year with, obviously, a championship,” Dawson told The Canadian Press as the Knighthawks prepare for tonight’s season opener
One could accuse Dawson of playing the company line. And even if he is, can you blame him? Winning a championship is all any NLL player wants. But winning 3 straight titles and being set up for a shot at a fourth is the stuff of dreams, and Dawson’s been a big part of the title run in Rochester. But, he says, the Knighthawks are set up to be more than champions on the floor.
“We’re pretty blessed that we get to spend a lot of time with each other, with our itineraries,” said Dawson. “The way Curt likes to structure things, eating as a team, travelling as a team, and that goes a long way. You get to know each other off the field which directly translates into success on the field.”
For as much success as the Knighthawks have had, though, they’re not taking anything for granted heading into the 2015 season, which they open at home tonight against the Toronto Rock.
“Our mindset as an organization is every year there’s something different,” Dawson said. “We cannot reinvent what was successful last year. Player movement, rules of the game, situations, they change every year. So the only thing that’s stayed constant with us is family and hard work and that’s really what we focus on.”
It’s constant re-invention like that which keeps the Knighthawks on their toes, along with constant pressure from other NLL teams that are surely gunning to knock off the champs.
“Calgary was one goal away from winning a championship last year and I think on paper they’re the most talented team in the league,” said Dawson. “You look at what Toronto’s done in the East and I think with Philadelphia moving to Connecticut, that’s going to spark some new blood and some new life in that organization. Vancouver made some outstanding moves in the off-season.
“You look across the board there’s so much parity which makes this league so very special. I think it could be anyone any given night.”