In any sport, it’s generally a challenge for an expansion team to put a competitive product on the field during their inaugural season. But the New York Riptide just might be the atypical expansion team when they play their begin play in the National Lacrosse League in December of this year.
General Manager/Head Coach Regy Thorpe and Assistant General Manager Lance Basler selected the first eleven players in franchise history last week during the NLL Expansion Draft including defenseman Dan MacRae in the fourth round. This past season, MacRae captained the Calgary Roughnecks to the NLL title.
In MacRae, the Riptide get an immediate leader in the locker room and on the field as well as someone who knows what it’s like to win a championship. After nine seasons in Calgary, MacRae has inked a two-year deal with the Riptide and will now call NYCB Live, Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum his new playground.
“It’s fantastic,” said MacRae during a phone conversation with New York Sports Day. “It’s definitely been a surprise coming off of a championship season with Calgary and celebrating with the guys at our stampede parade a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know it it’s all settled in, but I’m super excited to be joining a new team.”
Calgary left MacRae, who was due to become an unrestricted free agent in August, unprotected and available for either the Riptide or the Rochester Knighthawks to take in the expansion draft. Once the unprotected names were made public, it didn’t take long for MacRae to get a good feel as to where he was going to wind up.
“After the list came out, Regy gave me a call and asked me what my plans were,” said MacRae. “We had a good conversation and things went from there.”
And now, MacRae goes from winning a championship in Calgary to being a part of a new franchise on Long Island, a geographic area that loves lacrosse.
During his time in Calgary, MacRae played in 145 games for the Roughnecks and scored 100 points. The 6-1, 202 pound native of Ontario was Calgary’s captain the last two years and now relocates to Long Island and brings with him some roots to the New York area. MacRae played college lacrosse at Rochester Institute of Technology and is well aware of the lacrosse hotbed he is about to play in.
He’s also intrigued about being part of a new team starting out, but one that will be playing in a building that has an indoor lacrosse history including the New York Saints who called the Nassau Coliseum home from 1989 to 2003.
“It’s definitely an exciting time,” said MacRae. “We’re building from the ground up and I get to be involved from the get-go which is amazing. I’m excited to meet the fan base there and put on a good show for them and have a good first successful season. It’s great when you have knowledgeable fans because that’s when you have have passionate fans and you have great interaction after the game.”
It’s certainly possible that Dan MacRae could be named the Riptide’s first captain after handling those responsibilities very well the last two years in Calgary. But regardless of whether he is given the title of captain, MacRae will be a vital part of an expansion team and will certainly be a leader for a club that already has good management in place, solid selections in the expansion draft, and the first overall pick in the upcoming NLL Entry Draft.
Welcome to Long Island Dan!