Features | 12/3/2012 4:32:22 PM | Alex Beilman
|Training Camp (Photo: Bandits.com)|
The start of the Buffalo Bandits 2013 season came that much closer on Saturday with the opening of the team’s training camp at First Niagara Center. But this was a little different than most of the recent team’s camps.
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS FROM TRAINING CAMP
The Bandits are coming off their first losing season since 1999, and new general manager Steve Dietrich made it fairly clear that he knew changes had to be made after last season.
“We knew we wanted to get rid of some guys. Not just to send a message, but bring in some new, younger guys to bring the passion back,” Dietrich said after Saturday’s workouts. “I don’t think the passion was here. We set forth to bring back the glue guys, but also bring in some new guys that are going to be amazed to play in front of 18,000 people and realize it’s honor to put on that jersey every week.”
The coaching staff and front office was not happy with the way last season shook out, and they began making moves immediately. The primary goal was to become faster and younger. Head coach Darris Kilgour feels the changes were necessary because not only are other teams getting younger, but also because he felt some of the veterans had become complacent.
One player who generated a lot of buzz during this weekend’s sessions was 2012 first-round pick Dhane Smith. It was not unwarranted, either. Smith fit right in with the veterans, scoring some pretty impressive goals and making veteran-looking plays during drills and scrimmages.
“It’s really a dream come true,” Smith said after his first professional training camp. “It’s totally different from senior (lacrosse). It’s a lot faster. Buffalo’s camp is one of the toughest, so I knew I had to be ready for this.”
The Bandits first opportunity to once again reach the top of the league will begin with their season opener on Friday, January 11 in Philadelphia. Although nothing will be decided until the season gets underway, people around the team are confident about how this year’s squad will shape up.
“I think we have a championship caliber team based on what I’ve seen,” Dietrich said. “But it’s about what we do out on the floor. It’s going to depend on how they gel and how we look come January.”