BACK WHERE IT ALL BEGANFeatures | 3/16/2012 8:06:52 AM | Chris Ryndak
Scott Self has played for many different NLL teams the last few years, but he hopes that his second season in Buffalo is the second of many.
The Bandits defenseman, in his 12th season in the league, is actually back where he started. Buffalo drafted Self in the fourth-round of the 1999 NLL Entry Draft as a forward. He was playing hockey for the University of Guelph at the time and while he took lacrosse seriously – he played Junior ‘A’ in his hometown of Peterborough, Ont. – it was still only really a summer sport for him.
“I don’t even know if they called me right away but it was exciting,” Self said of getting drafted. “I went to camp the next year but I had already committed to playing hockey. My second year, I went back to camp and I became a practice player. When I didn’t have hockey, I was able to make the practices. ”
He played one game for the Bandits in 2001, collecting five loose balls and two penalty minutes. He played for New York the next season and they moved him to defense halfway through the year. He’s primarily stayed back in his own end ever since.
However, Self has shown at times that he’s more than capable of coming down the floor to score. This season, he scored a breakaway goal in the season opener and added a season-high four assists that night. He has two goals and 10 points for far in 2012 and that helped his case to make a third career All-Star appearance last month.
He joined teammates John Tavares, Luke Wiles, Billy Dee Smith, Chris White and Mike Thompson on the East’s roster as an injury replacement. Since the game was at First Niagara Center, it was almost like a home game for the Bandits.
“It was great, actually. I didn’t get picked to play in it and then when they asked me to and asked me to be a filler-in, it was awesome. To have 14-15,000 fans at an All-Star Game cheering you on, it was great. It was a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s nice to just go out there and play lacrosse. It was kind of a relaxed setting. I got to do some things that I don’t usually get to do. I got to run up the floor a lot more and handle the ball a lot more. I had a great time out there.”
He even added his first All-Star goal during the affair when he followed up on a Tavares breakaway in the second quarter.
“J.T. was on a break away. I was just coming in, chasing him so I could congratulate him after he scored,” Self said. “And then it just so happened the goalie made the save and it popped out to me so I closed my eyes and threw it at the net, I guess. ”
You might be able to call Self a veteran of the NLL Dispersal Draft. He’s been through four such drafts after the teams he played for decided to suspend operations for the upcoming season. After a season with New York, he moved onto Ottawa in their last season. He eventually wound up in Arizona where he would play for four seasons and make two trips to the championship game. In his second season, they upset reigning champion Calgary in the playoffs before losing to Toronto in the final. They would make it to the title game again in 2007, but fell to Rochester.
When Arizona shut down after that season, he was drafted by Chicago but would enter into another dispersal draft after the season. He went to Edmonton for a year before being traded back to Buffalo before last season.
“It’s definitely not fun bouncing around as much as I have, but I think of you look at our league, it’s kind of the nature of our league,” he explained. “There are so many guys with similar resumes as me as far as number of teams played for. I guess after awhile, you get used to it as much as you wish you wouldn’t have to, but you do get used to it.”
Self said that the travel was difficult on him because he commuted each week from Ontario. Playing in Buffalo again, most of the games are only a car ride away.
“It’s definitely a lot easier now playing in the East in Buffalo,” he said. “…What I found with the travel out West, with the different time zones and airports, it really wears on you over 16 games. It’s better now that I’m in the East, especially later on in my career. I don’t bounce back quite as well as I used to when I was a young guy.”
Self’s brother Brad is a transition player for the Rochester Knighthawks so the two see each other quite often in competition. When the two went head-to-head last weekend, Brad walked away on top with a team victory and a goal and two assists.
“We’re definitely competitive against one another. Last week was actually the first time I’d ever lost to him head-to-head in this league,” Self said. “But it’s good. It’s fun. It’s great to see him playing, too, and he’s having a great year for Rochester. It would be a lot more fun to play with him.”
While Self is happy to be in Buffalo, his experiences tell him that it may not last. With the team’s 2-6 record and the trade deadline looming on Tuesday, Self knows that anything can happen after this weekend’s slate of games. For now, though, Self is enjoying it all and working hard to get the Bandits back on the right track.
“It’s great. As much as we’ve struggled here, it’s nice to feel as if you’re part of something and you’re going to be a part of it for a while, I hope so. I know if we don’t start winning, that could change,” Self said. “I had a good run in Arizona for four years. It was nice just to get comfortable and feel like you’re building towards something every season with the same group of guys. ”