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Shawn Evans ready to change fans' minds after years with Bandits rivals

Shawn Evans knows he isn't joining the Bandits as the most popular man in Buffalo.

His reputation as one of the most irritating agitators in the National Lacrosse League goes back years, and Buffalo fans have seen it up close. He's spent most of his career with two Bandits rivals, the Rochester Knighthawks and New England Black Wolves, consistently getting under players' and fans' skins while filling up the stat sheet.

So really, the distaste just means he's been doing his job.

"If fans hate you, you're kinda doing something right," Evans said.

Evans, acquired by the Bandits in a blockbuster trade on Wednesday, will make his debut in the black and orange Saturday night on the road against the Colorado Mammoth (9 p.m., 1250 AM). After a whirlwind week, he's just ready to get back to playing lacrosse.

"I'm super excited," Evans said. "It's a talented bunch of players on the team, like Dhane Smith, Mitch Jones, Josh Byrne. I'm just hoping to jump in and do my part to help this team win and hopefully mesh with the offense."

Bandits general manager Steve Dietrich shook up the offense with the move, sending forward Callum Crawford and a 2019 second-round pick to New England for Evans and a 2019 fourth-round pick.

Evans, a two-time NLL Most Valuable Player, scored 18 goals and 51 points in nine games with the Black Wolves this season. He's tied with Jones, now his teammate, for seventh in the league in points and is on pace for his sixth straight 100-point season.

Dietrich said Wednesday the team's performance last week, a 17-10 loss to the Rochester Knighthawks, played into his decision to acquire Evans. He said he was frustrated with the team's compete level, especially after going down 7-0 to a divisional foe.

"Shawn Evans is exactly the kind of player this team needed," Dietrich said. "I was just disappointed in the whole team effort. There was no pushback and players like Shawn Evans don't accept games like Saturday night."

Bandits acquire two-time NLL MVP Shawn Evans

There is one red flag when it comes to Evans' leadership. He entered the season as the Black Wolves' captain but lost the letter in his final month with New England. The team opted to make Kyle Buchanan the captain instead.

"I think they were trying to make a change within the room," Evans said. "They were probably gearing up for something like this. They were trying to go in a different direction. I honestly don't know."

Evans was surprised by the trade but isn't unhappy with the result.

"Buffalo has always been a spot where I wanted to play," Evans said. "Its a great organization and a fan base that's unbelievable. Not only that, it also gives a chance for my family to come down and watch me play and enjoy it as well. It's good for everybody."

He figures Bandits fans will change their minds on him once he starts helping their team win.

"After playing in Rochester for six years, I'm sure I was a hated player," Evans said. "I'm hoping the fans are going to embrace me and take me in and know that I'm fighting for them."

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