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Bandits' notebook: Mammoth's Grant ready to get going

The top two scorers in the history of the National Lacrosse League gather in the KeyBank Center Friday night. Only one of them will  play.

John Grant Jr. will be on the floor for the Colorado Mammoth, who face the Buffalo Bandits in the season opener. Grant is No. 2 on the all-time scoring list with 1,441 points. That's still more than 300 points behind John Tavares, who retired after the 2015 season and is now an assistant coach with the Bandits.

Grant turned 42 last month. He's always happy when the start of a new season arrives, particularly because it means the preseason workouts are over.

"Training camp is the hardest part for me," he said before the game. "Practicing three or four times a week isn't awesome, but what an awesome opportunity to start in an unbelievable place to play like Buffalo. I've spent a lot of time here, having played my first 10 years in Rochester. It's exciting to be back."

Few athletes plan to play professionally until the age of 42; too much can go wrong along the way. Grant is well beyond the point of taking things from year to year.

"It's game to game," he said. "I wanted to play forever, but my body seems to have other ideas. I've been riddled with injuries, but I do what I can to try to be able to play. I'm going to give it all I've got, I guess."

Grant's first connection to professional indoor lacrosse came in 1995, when he was drafted by the Bandits. The history books might have looked a little different had Grant signed with the Bandits, but he went to college instead. Rochester took him first overall in 1999, and he was rookie of the year for the Knighthawks in 2000.

After 10 fine years with Rochester, Grant moved on to Colorado. The offensive production followed him to Denver, as he still averaged five points per game for the Mammoth in 2016.

"I used to be a bolt-to-the-net guy who would drag a couple of guys with me and then feed. Now I have to be more cerebral and learn from the best that's ever played in this building," Grant said, referring to Tavares. "I try to be smarter and use the mind more than anything."

Good things usually happen when Grant has the ball. Veteran Craig Point of the Bandits says Grant still has terrific hands.

"He's may be in the top three in the league," Point said. "There are so many great players with the stick in their hands. He's one of those guys, and he can make a team better."

Grant has a new offensive mate in Zack Greer this season. Colorado traded Adam Jones to Saskatchewan for Greer before the season started.

"I think they did a good job in getting Zach," Grant said. "He brings more than goal-scoring. He brings leadership. Obviously he has a championship pedigree. I'm excited to be working with him."

...

Anytime a coach gets fired, the rest of the coaching fraternity feels a little anguish.

Troy Cordingley of the Bandits knows a little bit what Rex Ryan is feeling these days. Ryan lost his job as coach of the Buffalo Bills earlier in the week.

"No, it's not a fun day, but you have to move on from it," said Cordingley, who was fired by Toronto before his hiring by Buffalo. "That's part of the job. You get rid of one guy, you can't get rid of all the players. The finger is always pointed at you."

Every pro coach knows the rules when he takes the job, and one of them is that departures can be sudden.

"You are hired to win - that's the bottom line," Cordingley said. "You are the leader of the group. You have to lead in the right direction, or you are going to be going in the other direction.

"It's funny, but as a player I never paid much attention to it. But as a coach, you look at" firings of other coaches. "I shake my head at some of the decisions over the years. But I say it had nothing to do with me, so I need to focus on my own job."

 

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