Down Memory Lane - 2001 Lacrosse Draft
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington

The lacrosse version of a "coming-out" party is set for February 12, 2001.

Some call it a crap-shoot, others a pain where the sun doesn't shine; but, whatever, the Western Lacrosse Association will be conducting its 29th annual draft of overaged junior players.

Officials from the six WLA teams will huddle in their respective corners discussing the attributes of each eligible youngster. Perhaps a general manager will try his hand at good, old-fashioned horsetrading - "you show me yours (offer, of course) and I'll show you mine", so to speak.

And then the selections are made, with last season's bottom-placed team getting first kick at the can.

In recent years, teams, by and large, have done their homework prior to draft night to make certain their selections are willing to play for them. If a player shows reluctance, a team may trade its order of selection or, indeed, the player himself.

But life hasn't always been a tumbler of smooth-pouring tranquility. Take Year One, for example.

League commissioner Colin Cruickshank called the WLA teams together in the Hotel Georgia on February 12, 1973, for the first-ever draft that had been established to bring equality to the league - at least the intentions were good.

Coquitlam Adanacs, with the first pick, surprised no one by selecting Dave Durante from the junior league champions Richmond Roadrunners.

Victoria then stepped up to the podium and announced its choice - highscoring Surrey Salmonbellies' Walt Weaver. And that's when a chill blew in with the draft.

Weaver stated he would not play on Vancouver Island and, if not traded, would sit out the 1973 season.

Victoria eventually complied with the request, sending Weaver to Vancouver for the Burrards' top pick, Roger Dubyna, and its sixth round selection, goalie Grant MacAuley. Still, Weaver was not happy, and so, Vancouver shipped him to Coquitlam for an unspecified amount of money and the ever-present "future considerations".

But, by now, Weaver had dug in his heels - it was New Westminster Salmonbellies or the Senior "B" New Westmisnter Blues. The Adanacs finally complied in time for the 1974 season, sending Weaver, an untried Ron Kulcheskii and Peterborough-product Jim Grady to the Royal City in exchange for goalie  Greg Tomas, Easterner Sandy Lynch and Coquitlam resident Ric Bossley.

The second draft, held March 4, 1974, offered a greater abundance of talent (and fewer headaches), players such as Bob Tasker, Gerry Pinder, Taki Vohalis, Bill Mosdell, Nick Delmonico, Don Brown, Wayne Sutherland and Paul Joseph.

The most prolific crop of graduating juniors undoubtedly went up for grabs at the 14th draft party on February 19, 1986.

This was the year that Richmond Outlaws (now the Burnaby Lakers) was established. In order to stock the expansion Outlaws, the league awarded the new club the first ten selections. Picked to form the Richmond nucleus were Dallas Eliuk, Russ Heard, Keith Cowieson, Brien Juriga, Stu Watson, Dan LeMond, Don McNeill, Brad Henry, Jamie Stewart, and Troy Poelzer. Quality players left over for the regular draft were Todd Katanchik, Tony Malcom, Rob Desormeaux, John Hamilton, Brian Baker, Andy Holland, Scott Leibing, Steve Downie, Steve Goodwin and Ray Hamilton.

But that first-ever draft pick - Dave Durante - paved a road of excellence for future graduating juniors to meet; 1,509 WLA points plus 242 in the now defunct professional National Lacrosse League.

Can this year's Number One Draft pick match Dandy Dave's two decade, 612-game career? Only time will tell!