Kurt Silcott's decision to leave his position as general manager of the Buffalo Bandits for a similar post with the rival Calgary Roughnecks was actually three years in the making.
As the National Lacrosse League expanded across the United States and Canada, he watched as others followed their dreams to "go West, young man." Former Bandits players Bob Hamley (Arizona Sting) and Derek Keenan (Portland LumberJax) relocated from Southern Ontario, as did the Bandits' first GM, John Mouradian (San Jose Stealth).
So when the Roughnecks -- owned by his friend, Brad Banister -- called, Silcott was convinced the time was right to accept a new challenge.
"I knew the day would come that I'd finally be leaving Buffalo," said the 38-year-old, who on Thursday was officially introduced as the Roughnecks GM after seven seasons on the job in Buffalo. "I saw Bob Hamley make his move, I watched (Colorado GM) Steve Govett go (from Washington to Denver) and I knew that someday, going to a new city and a new lifestyle, would be right for me.
Silcott was named the NLL's GM of the year in 2003, after one of the four seasons under his direction that the Bandits made the playoffs. The Westchester County native and former St. John Fisher football player and coach began his professional career in Buffalo working in a ticket booth at Memorial Auditorium in September 1994. He was part of the transition into HSBC Arena and later named that facility's director of amateur athletics. Six games into the 1999 season, Silcott replaced Marty Cooper as the Bandits' GM.
Calgary, which defeated Silcott's Bandits in the 2004 Champion's Cup final, was in need of a new GM after Dave Bremner resigned earlier this summer.
"Kurt has one of the brightest minds in the NLL," said Banister, whose franchise entered the league in 2002. "And we can count ourselves lucky to have signed him. . . . With Kurt's acumen and detailed knowledge of the game I can only see us getting better."
The Roughnecks went 10-6 last season and won the West Division regular season title before losing to Arizona in the semifinals.
Silcott's accomplishments with the Bandits included hiring former All-Star player Darris Kilgour (Niagara-Wheatfield) as head coach in 2003; trading for Steve Dietrich, the franchise's all-time winningest goaltender, in 2002; dealing for the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2004 and using it to select Delby Powless; reaching the postseason the last three seasons and seeing average home attendance increase from 7,002 in 2003 to 8,929 the next year and 10,288 last winter.
"Winning that semifinal game in Toronto (in 2004) stands out as the best moment for me," said Silcott, referring to the contest that denied the Rock a chance to string four consecutive championships. "Nobody expected us to do that and not only did we do it, we did it in grand style (by a 19-10 score)."
"It's fortunate he left us in really good shape, both player-wise and with the coaching staff," said Dan DiPofi, the Bandits' governor to the NLL. "I was surprised that he left but not stunned by it."
DiPofi said the Bandits will replace Silcott with two hires -- a GM who will make player personnel decisions and a director of lacrosse operations, who will be responsible for business aspects such as marketing, promotions, scheduling and corporate structure.
DiPofi said he expects to fill the latter position first, possibly by Sept. 26, and the GM job within three weeks. He said the new GM will have strong connections to the lacrosse scene in Western New York and Southern Ontario, and that he presently has three candidates.
"It's safe to say this was by far the toughest decision of my professional life," Silcott said. "I've been in Buffalo a long time and had a wonderful time but there just comes a time to move on. I really wanted to win a championship with the group of guys in Buffalo now and a part of me will still be pulling for them.
"Except for when they play against Calgary in the championship game."