I've been following indoor lacrosse for the past five years, and there were basically two teams in the National Lacrosse League where the coach and franchise seem linked at the hip. One of them was Buffalo, where always fired-up Darris Kilgour certainly met that standard. The other was Toronto, where Troy Cordingley brought the same sort of attitude and approach to the job in the past four years. (Admittedly, I don't see the Western teams as much.)
Imagine my surprise, then, when word came out Friday that Cordingley had lost his coaching job with the Rock.
You could just see the intensity that Cordingley brought to each game behind the bench. When Toronto played Buffalo, I wondered if the two coaches competed to see who could yell the loudest. I've heard Cordingley rage after games despite having a locker room wall between us. It' was difficult to picture Cordingley in his day job - kindergarten teacher - at such times. Still, his interviews were always interesting. He knew the game and had a sense of humor.
When word filtered around the lacrosse world that Cordingley had been shown the door, I assume I had the same reaction as every other lacrosse follower in Buffalo: Hmmmmm.
The Bandits are coming off a season in which they were the only team to miss the playoffs, which certainly didn't go over well. General manager Steve Dietrich was essentially told that former general manager Darris Kilgour would stay on as coach no matter who got the job. That's unusual and potentially awkward, although both men have said in public that their arrangement worked fine and haven't hinted about changing it.
Meanwhile, Cordingley is a former player (a rookie in the perfect season of 1993) and assistant coach with the Bandits. And Dietrich is a former Toronto assistant coach under Cordingley.
Add all that together, and it's easy to at least wonder if Cordingley could have a role for the Bandits at some point in the future. It's hard to believe that Cordingley would return as an assistant coach under Kilgour; the reaction might be "been there, done that" - although I've heard the two were a very good combination in terms of coaching here. But maybe there's an immediate fit somewhere else in the organization. And if nothing else, if Kilgour does depart at some point in the relatively near future for any reason, everyone will be wondering if Cordingley is swinging a bat in the on-deck circle if he didn't have a job at the time.
I thought it would be interesting to see how the Bandits reacted to their 10-loss season before Cordingley's departure. That news bulletin adds just a bit of additional drama to the offseason.
--- Budd Bailey