DENVER – The National Lacrosse League (NLL) is set to welcome the next wave of lacrosse legends into the illustrious NLL Hall of Fame Friday night.
Set to take place inside the beautiful Burlington Convention Center in Burlington, Ontario on Friday, September 15 at 3:30 p.m. MT, Colorado prepares to shower a trio of Mammoth legends with love, including the likes of John Grant Jr., Casey Powell and Steve Toll.
“This group of gentlemen has made a tremendous impact on the turf and throughout the lacrosse community during their respective playing careers,” Mammoth General Manager Brad Self shared.
“Furthermore, as individuals, they continue to showcase their respect and appreciation for our sport by continuing to mentor, coach and grow the game we love. We’re thrilled they have been recognized, deservedly so, and look forward to celebrating their accomplishments.”
With the Hall of Fame Dinner set to kick off an action-packed weekend, the NLL will then host the 2023 NLL Entry Draft inside the Toronto Rock Athletic Center in Oakville, Ontario on Saturday, September 16 at Noon MT.
Mammoth fans can stay tuned to coloradomammoth.com and Colorado Mammoth social media channels for live coverage throughout the weekend and keep an eye out for the team’s 2023-24 schedule in the near future!
In the meantime, let’s take a look back at three very special lacrosse legacies:
John Grant Jr.
“A League-feared, dominant scoring threat”
John Grant Jr. played 17 seasons with Rochester and Colorado after being selected first overall in 1999. He retired in the top 10 all-time with 668 goals (second), 778 assists (sixth) and 1,446 points (second) and was also 12th all-time with 1,202 loose ball recoveries. The forward won the 2000 Rookie of the Year Award and won league MVP twice (2007 & 2012). He was named to the All-League First Team six times and Second Team three times and paced the league four times in goals (2005, 2006, 2007 & 2012). He was also named the Championship Game MVP in 2007. He set the record for points in a season in 2012 at 116, which has since been surpassed and now ranks tied for fourth highest in league history. Grant’s 37 goals as a rookie is still tied for fourth best. In his 2012 MVP season, he averaged 8.29 points per game, an NLL record (at least 4 games played).
“John is a lacrosse icon who’s played the game at the highest level on a variety of stages and his accolades speak for themselves,” Self shared. “It was a pleasure playing with and against Jr. over the years and we’re glad to see him recognized for his impressive NLL career.”
Whether you’re a Mammoth diehard, casual lacrosse goer or have access to the internet in North America, you’ve likely heard of a forward by the name of John Grant Jr. Some would say he was raised by a lacrosse-forward family. Others would literally yell “HELP” every time he penetrated the O-zone.
“Growing up in the same town as Jr., a few of my first sticks were strung by either John Grant Jr. or Sr.,” Self shared. “They were the folks you looked up to and strived to emulate when you’re on the turf.”
The NLL legend evolved the box game for nearly two decades, helping the sport gain its increasing popularity and recognition as the “fastest game on two feet.” Having logged 17 seasons in the NLL, Jr. collected a variety of individual, team and league-bests.
As the first overall selection in the 1995 Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL, later became the NLL) and later the first overall selection in the 1999 NLL Entry Draft (after opting to play collegiate lacrosse from 1995-98), the league and its teams had expectations for the Grant bloodline, but Jr. was never one for meeting expectations. He was known for setting and exceeding expectations, at the team, league and overall professional sporting level. His skillset became immediately evident when Grant Jr. captured the 2000 NLL Rookie of the Year title. The rest … is history.
Before joining the Mammoth in 2010 as part of one the league’s biggest blockbuster trades, Jr. began crafting his professional box resume with the Rochester Knighthawks. After earning league MVP honors in 2007 en route to leading the Knighthawks to the 2007 NLL Champion’s Cup Championship, Jr. was also named MVP of the Champion’s Cup game.
Fast forward to when he joined the good guys (us) and became one of the most decorated Colorado athletes to wear the Mammoth crest. Constantly connecting with the community and putting up big numbers on the board, a star was born within the Loud House.
The forward kicked it up a notch in 2012 when he set the NLL single season scoring record by logging 116 points with the Mammoth during the regular season. Recording his 1000th point and 500th goal during the historic season, Grant Jr. went on to collect his second NLL MVP award in 2012, joining Gary Gait as the only Mammoth player to receive the honor.
The nine-time All-Pro concluded his career in 2017, where he sits as the all-time leader in Mammoth goals (235) and ranks second in both franchise assist (317) and point (552) totals. Jr. finished his career with 668 goals and 1,446 points in 238 regular season appearances, both of which rank second-most in NLL history. The forward added 111 points (60g, 51a) in 20 postseason appearances and ranks sixth all-time with 778 career assists.
“A fiercely competitive lacrosse pioneer, advocate and icon”
Casey Powell played 11 seasons with Rochester, Anaheim, New York (Titans), Orlando, Boston, and Colorado after being selected first overall in the 1998 Entry Draft. In 2010, the forward became the only American player to win the MVP award, he finished second in the NLL in goals scored and led the Orlando Titans to an 11-5 record as their leading scorer. He retired 10th All-Time with 33 playoff goals in only 13 playoff games. Powell is the all-time leader in points by an American in league history.
Not to much surprise, most of the nominees from this year’s NLL Hall of Fame class have spent some time in the limelight. Lacrosse legend Casey Powell is surely no exception. An American ambassador to the game, a leader on the turf and in the locker room, the face and presence of lacrosse video gaming … the list goes on.
“As one of the first American players to transition some of those field skills to the box game, Casey is an American lacrosse icon,” Self shared. “His ability to implement his knowledge of the game was very important to the success and growth of U.S. box lacrosse and continues to impact the way guys approach and produce in the NLL today.”
The fellow first-overall selection (1998 NLL Entry Draft) competed in 11 NLL seasons as one of the first American-born players to find success in the league. The five-time NLL All-Star and four-time All-Pro forward spent time with several NLL teams before finding a great fit with the Orlando Titans in 2010. As one of the featured threats on the team’s productive offense, Powell was named the 2010 NLL MVP, becoming the first American to earn the award.
In a league dominated by Canadian talent, Powell offered a refreshing skillset that kept defenseman on their toes.
“Casey was an extremely athletic guy with a great imagination for the game,” Self said. “He regularly did things that Canadian box players weren’t used to and it made him hard to play against.”
Powell recorded 57 points (17g, 40a) in 11 games with the Mammoth in 2013 and 2014 and finished his career with 739 points, the most recorded by an American in NLL history. The forward continues to stay connected with the lacrosse community as an ambassador and entrepreneur for the game.
“Between the impact he made as a scorer in our league and the large role he played in paving the way for Americans in the box game, we knew it was only a matter of time before he was nominated for the NLL Hall of Fame.”
From inventing the NLL highlight reel to adapting an American game to a Canadian-influenced league, John Grant Jr. and Casey Powell left their mark on the game in unique ways.
“A game-changing, position-creating hybrid menace”
Steve Toll played for 15 seasons with Ontario, Toronto, Rochester, San Jose, Colorado, and Edmonton after being drafted in the sixth round of the 1997 Entry Draft. The defenseman is a five-time champion: four with Toronto (1999, 2000, 2002, & 2003) and one with Rochester (2007). He was named the first winner of the Transition Player of the Year Award in 2007. He retired in the top 10 all-time with 1,562 loose ball recoveries in the regular season and an additional 160 in the playoffs. Toll played in 188 consecutive games between 2000-2011, which ranks tied for the third longest streak of all-time.
Steve Toll helped influence the game in a different way, essentially helping to create the league’s position known as transition players.
“A while back, before the league shifted toward a more specialized approach, players used to play on both ends of the floor,” Self shared. “Even as the league began to shift toward the specialized aspects, Toll was such an important factor to teams that he would play defense and then take it up the floor and play an O-set too.”
Toll began his NLL Career playing beside Mammoth Head Coach Pat Coyle in 1998 as the Ontario Raiders debuted in Hamilton before transitioning the next year to the Toronto Rock.
A master at both ends of the floor, Toll spent most of his career with the Rock (1998-2004) and the Rochester Knighthawks (2005-2009) where he won four championships with the Rock and one with Rochester. Toll spent the 2011 season with the Colorado Mammoth where he recorded 13 points (2g, 11a) and 75 loose balls in 16 appearances.
The Hall of Fame nominee finished his career with 1,562 loose balls, which qualifies for fourth in NLL history. Toll also appeared in an impressive 188-consecutive NLL games, which ranks fourth among NLL players all-time.
“You can still see today how important Steve was to the evolution of the NLL,” Self said. “He was the first player to win the NLL Transition Player of the Year award – I think that says a lot about the player he was and all that he’s done for our league.”
A well-rounded, high-IQ player, Toll naturally transitioned into a series of lacrosse coaching and mentoring opportunities following his retirement. The NLL veteran most recently served as a Pro Scout for the Mammoth organization from 2019-2021 before accepting his current role as Defensive Coordinator with Fort Worth.
“Hats off to Toller for a historic NLL career and the impact he’s had on the game – We’re thrilled he’s been nominated and wish him continued success with Panther City as he continues to craft his legacy.”
“We’re extremely proud of and happy for each of these gentlemen and their families as our League recognizes them for their historic careers,” Self concluded. “Our organization looks forward to celebrating their achievements and we applaud them each for continuing to grow and evolve the sport of lacrosse.”
For more updates on this year’s NLL Hall of Fame Dinner, 2023 NLL Entry Draft and all Colorado Mammoth news, stay tuned to coloradomammoth.com and Colorado Mammoth social media channels.