Buffalo Bandits fans have not seen the last of National Lacrosse League Hall of Famer Gary Gait.
On Wednesday, the 41-year-old announced his intention to return as an active player for the 2009 season and his rights were obtained by the Rochester Knighthawks in a trade with the Colorado Mammoth. The Knighthawks are hoping Gait will help replace some of the scoring void left because of the absence of John Grant Jr., who will miss the upcoming season as he continues to recover from a potentially life-threatening infection.
"The interest was sparked because the Knighthawks had an interest," said Gait, who is the head women's lacrosse coach at Syracuse University. "I told my kids [Taylor and Braedon] and they got really excited and told me I had to play, and I don’t like turning down my kids. As an athlete I am looking forward to competing again at the highest level."
It's been more than 3 1/2 years since he has played at the NLL level. He retired following the 2005 season as the NLL's top career scorer with 596 goals, 495 assists and 1,097 points, marks all since eclipsed by Bandits forward John Tavares.
He coached the Mammoth to a 22-10 record in the 2006 and '07 seasons, winning the '06 championship at HSBC Arena against the Bandits.
Gait has scored more points against the Bandits than any other foe: 72 goals, 68 assists and 140 points in 21 career games. In five postseason games against Buffalo, he has 13 goals, 12 assists and 25 points.
This will be Gait's seventh NLL team. He has previously played for the Detroit Turbos, Philadelphia Wings, Baltimore Thunder, Pittsburgh CrosseFire, Washington Power and the Mammoth, winning championships as a player in 1991 with the Turbos and 1994 and '95 with the Wings. He was a member of the NLL's inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2006, along with his twin brother Paul.
The Bandits and Knighthawks are scheduled to meet three times in 2009: Jan. 16 and April 10 in HSBC Arena and March 14 in Blue Cross Arena.