The Buffalo Bandits announced defenseman Steve Priolo was chosen by his teammates as the team's captain this season. The two assistant captain roles will be alternated between transition player Kevin Brownell, forward Dhane Smith and forward Craig England.
Priolo has spent all eight years of his career with the Bandits, developing into one of the most feared defensemen in the NLL. The St. Catharines, Ont. native was a finalist for the league's Defensive Player of the Year award the past two years. Last season he totaled seven goals and 22 points in 18 games while serving as an assistant captain.
When Priolo received the honor, he thought about the stature of the Buffalo captains he's played with and been coached by: Rich Kilgour, Chris White, Billy Dee Smith and John Tavares. All four played vital roles in the franchise's success, setting a high bar for Priolo.
"It's a legacy," Priolo said. "It's a lot to carry. I think I've been groomed by Richie, Billy, Whitey and JT to be my own type of person, my own player. I think the way I carry myself is reflective of my leadership on this team."
Billy Dee Smith, the Bandits' previous captain, signed with the Rochester Knighthawks in free agency after 15 seasons in Buffalo. Like Priolo, he was named captain based on a player vote when he earned the leadership role in 2015.
"To me, that's the only way to do it," Priolo said. "If you're not respected in the locker room, there's no point in wearing a letter on your jersey."
Buffalo opens its season at home Friday night at 7:30 against the Toronto Rock.