George Daniel, the commissioner of the National Lacrosse League, seems to be a reasonably happy man these days. He believes the league took some good steps forward during the 2012 season.
"It's been a terrific season for us," he said during a conference call with league media members Wednesday afternoon. "It's been the most competitive season in the 26-year history of the league. No one could have predicted the outcome of the season -- Washington missing the playoffs, the emergence of Minnesota, the wonderful story in Edmonton, the emerging young players in Rochester. ... We've made a lot of strides."
Daniel will be at Saturday's championship game between the Rochester Knighthawks and the Edmonton Rush, as he'll present the Champion's Cup to the winner. What's more, he'll do it live on the CBS Sports Network.
"The national television deal was a major stride," Daniel said. "It's the first time we've been on live television in prime time in the history of the league. ... I know some people, like our Canadian fans, complain that they don't get the channel yet. CBS has some work to do in Western Canada, but they will get there."
Daniel doesn't know just how many people out there are watching the games; CBS started its broadcast schedule in early April and the numbers haven't been compiled yet. He does know that the live broadcasts have created some buzz through email and social media sources.
The biggest rule change in 2012 centered on forcing teams to move the ball across the halfcourt line in eight seconds instead of 10. That, along with smaller goalie equipment, seems to have picked up the pace of the game.
"All the feedback around the league from coaches and Governors say they are happy with the changes," Daniel said. "I'm very pleased with increased scoring and game flow."
Once the championship game ends Saturday night, the league moves into offseason mode. Daniel said the biggest issue concerns the labor agreement with the players. The two sides had the option to opt out of the current deal last November 1, but the deadline was postponed until some grievances were settled through arbitration. That should happen in the near future.
"We believe in the bargaining process," Daniel said. "We want to get a better system in place. This is year five of the agreement, and there are changes we need to make. We signed it in a different economy, and there are some things we'd like changed.
Meanwhile, NLL rookie of the year Adam Jones of Colorado -- formerly of Canisius College -- headed the all-rookie team. The other members of the team were Kevin Crowley of the Philadelphia Wings, Jordan MacIntosh and Evan Kirk of the Minnesota Swarm, and Johnny Powless and Stephen Keogh of the Rochester Knighthawks.
--- Budd Bailey