News | 12/3/2013 9:38:59 AM | Alex Pagliano
The process of selecting the 2014 Buffalo Bandits roster continued on Saturday as the team hosted their second camp date of the season at First Niagara Center. Entering the day of work, the selection process had become no less challenging for Bandits general manager Steve Dietrich and head coach Troy Cordingley than in the previous week.
“We are going to have some tough decisions to make. The process, right now, is as clear as mud,” Cordingley said. “There’s competition in all areas. There are some guys who have played in this league for seven or eight years who do not want to lose their spot.
“Everyone’s been warned that this is going to be tough. I’ve been impressed with both the young guys and some of the old guys. Everyone’s battling, so it makes our job a lot tougher.”
Dietrich, entering his second season as general manager, concurred with Cordingley’s early assessment of the roster.
“There are probably going to be three or four guys who could play in the NLL that will not make our team,” he said. “Nothing is going to be handed to anyone. We have told all of the guys that. Just because they may have a contract does not mean anything [at this point].”
Looking at the roster presented to him, Dietrich made several notable moves over the course of the past week.
On Monday, the team announced that Ryan Benesch came to terms on a two-year contract. The 28-year-old forward from Kitchener, Ont., joins Shawn Williams, 39, and John Tavares, 45, as expected contributors on offense.
“Ryan is not going anywhere,” Dietrich said. “Ryan, along with [defenseman] Dhane [Smith] and some of our younger guys, are going to be the face of this team for hopefully the next 10 years. With [John Tavares] and Shawn Williams getting up there [in age], the talent that Ryan brings to the table can help us.”
Despite the assurance, Benesch commented on the importance of competing.
“You cannot approach [it as if you are safe]. You have to have something to prove every night on the floor. You cannot take a night off,” Benesch said. “With the league the way that it is, it is open game for everyone.”
On the other end of the floor, the team announced that defenseman Derek Suddons had reached an agreement on a two-year contract. Suddons and the team had reached an impasse at the end of last week, but the two sides were able to reach an agreement on Wednesday.
“We made our final offer. They rejected it. We walked away from the table,” Dietrich said. “But, lo and behold [after knowing this was our final offer], they accepted the offer that we had made and we gladly welcome Derek back.”
Suddons, who recorded 33 loose balls last season, noted that the communication between his representative and the team remained open and expressed confidence in his preparation for the upcoming season.
“Players are becoming more skilled [every year]," Suddons said. "[It becomes more] important to stay in shape and be ready to go into camp and show that you can run the floor and help this team score goals.”
Suddons was also pleased to return to Buffalo for a second season.
“The building is phenomenal. The fan base is phenomenal,” he said. “Buffalo fans deserve a winning lacrosse team here.”
The Bandits return to First Niagara Center for training camp on Saturday, Dec. 7 and will scrimmage the Philadelphia Wings at noon. The event is open to the public. Admission and parking for the day are both free.