Gavin Prout was looking forward to returning to Major Series Lacrosse with the Peterborough Lakers this summer after a National Lacrosse League season that didn't end the way he would have liked. Now, as it turns out, his return will be with the Brooklin Redmen, the team with which he won a Mann Cup when he was the MSL rookie of the year back in 2000. Prout was dealt, along with defender Mike Hobbins, to Brooklin in exchange for defender Stephen Hoar.
“I was pretty surprised myself,” the righty forward said of hearing that he'd been traded. “I was actually talking to [Peterborough GM Jamie] Batley about what my role was going to be on the team. I understand where he's coming from. He has a couple of holes back on the defensive end with some of the guys who aren't coming back with injuries and things and obviously that's not my forte. He wanted me to potentially come and play a bit of a transition game but with Steve Hoar he's made a good trade for what's best for Peterborough and I thank him for my time in the Boro and we'll go from there.”
Prout is a veteran player who has shown he can contribute in a variety of ways: scoring, creating space for other forwards, agitating and dropping the mitts when it's called for. So it was tough for him to take when, despite being the captain of Mammoth, he was scratched for Colorado's last few games of the season. But that experience just made him hungrier to get back to the game this summer.
“With the NLL it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, not playing the last few games, and I realized it's an important aspect of my life still. I love competing,” Prout said. Now he's keen to help the Redmen take advantage of the talent they've accumulated to advance beyond the semi-final loss they experienced to the Lakers last August. “My demeanour on the floor, I can go one of two ways. I'm sometimes intense, people call it a sparkplug at times.
“But I also carry a demeanour of calming people down at times when need be. I went to the games last year during the playoffs and there were times that Brooklin needed just that quarterback that can calm things down. There were some key turning points in those games that I think if they had another veteran player they may not have been swept. They have a lot of talented players. I'm looking forward to getting out on the floor next Tuesday for practice. Hopefully we'll take the next step, not just winning the first round of the playoffs but moving on to the Mann Cup.”
Prout should provide a good veteran sounding board for talented young righties Kiel Matisz and Derek Hopcroft. “I haven't played with Matisz. I have played with Hoppy in Colorado,” Prout noted. “It's one of those things where if you can just give them a piece of advice here or a small piece of advice there to give them that extra split second to get their hands free, both of them are great enough players to put the ball in the back of the net. Kiel has come a long way with the NLL season, he had a breakout year, and I'm looking forward to working alongside them.”
He'll also be working with a couple of old friends. He'll be across the floor from Shawn Williams, with whom he had excellent chemistry during his first stint with Brooklin. In 2004, Williams led MSL in scoring and Prout finished second. Williams has been showing his old form of late, winning the last two MSL scoring titles, so it will be interesting to see if Prout's scoring touch is rejuvenated this summer now that the pair are riding together again.
Prout also has familiar face and voice Paul Stewart nearby again, although this time as one of the Redmen's coaches. Prout is encouraged by what he's hearing from Stewart. “I'm good friends with Paul and I had no idea that this was in the works. I respect what Paul does and he said he's going to put me in a position to be successful again.”
The two are close enough friends that Stewart joked that he'd kidnapped Prout's cats and they wouldn't be safe unless Prout agreed to play for Brooklin this summer (at least we think he was joking). “It wouldn't surprise me if he's actually broken into my house and taken my cats,” Prout said with a laugh. “He does have my garage code. We'll see when I get home.”
Whatever it took to get him there, Stewart and the Redmen are thrilled to have Prout back in the fold and they are eager to get the season underway. They won't have to wait long to get the early returns on the trade: their opener is this Sunday, May 26, when they play host to the Lakers at the Iroquois Park Sports Centre in Whitby at 7 pm.