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John Tavares, Rich Kilgour to serve as co-head coaches for Bandits

The Buffalo Bandits are turning to a pair of former franchise legends to coach the team in 2018-2019.

John Tavares and Rich Kilgour, who served as assistants on Troy Cordingley’s staff, have been elevated to co-head coaches, while Cordingley has been reassigned to assistant general manager with a focus on scouting, the team announced Thursday.

Tavares, the franchise’s all-time leader in goals, assists, points and games played, has been an assistant with the Bandits since his retirement in 2015. He's primarily focused on the offense since moving behind the bench.

Kilgour, a former defenseman who captained Buffalo to a championship in 2008, joined the Bandits as an assistant coach when his brother, Darris, was the head coach in 2011. He has experience as a head man, running the show at Niagara County Community College from 2009 to 2014 and in Major Series Lacrosse, the Senior A Canadian summer league.

Both coaches have had their number retired by the Bandits.

“Based on their experiences within our organization, both as coaches and high-caliber players, we are excited to welcome Rich and John into head-coaching roles,” Bandits General Manager Steve Dietrich said in a statement. “We are confident that their talent and rich history within our organization will propel our team and help us to achieve our organizational goals.”

Joining Tavares and Kilgour on the bench is Rusty Kruger, another former Bandit. Kruger has been an assistant coach with Buffalo since 2013 but wasn’t previously on the bench during games. He played for the Bandits for one season in 2008.

Bandits retain Steve Dietrich as general manager

Buffalo isn’t the only team in recent National Lacrosse League history to opt for the co-coach approach. The Colorado Mammoth had three co-coaches, Pat Coyle, Chris Gill and Dan Stroup, from 2014 until 2017.

Cordingley spent five seasons as the Bandits head coach, posting a 46-44 record. Only Darris Kilgour, who was the head man from 2003 to 2013, has coached and won more games than Cordingley in franchise history. He led Buffalo to an NLL Finals appearance in 2016, but the team was bested two games to none in the three-game series by the Saskatchewan Rush.

Before his time with Buffalo, he also served as the head coach of the Toronto Rock and Calgary Roughnecks. He won the Les Bartley Award, given to the top coach in the league, in 2009 and 2013.

Cordingley will oversee scouting at the NLL and amateur ranks and assist in player transactions, according to a news release.

“After multiple conversations and a great deal of reflection, Troy and I felt it was the right move for him to shift from a coaching role to a scouting one,” Dietrich said in the release. “We are thrilled to keep Troy within the organization. His lacrosse mind will continue to be a valuable asset to our staff.”

Buffalo is coming off an 8-10 season and a second-straight year without a playoff appearance. The Bandits' season kicks off at home on Dec. 1 against Toronto.

Bandits will open 2019 season at home on Dec. 1

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