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To The Victoria Veteran: Thank You, Chris Wardle

DENVER – With the 2024 NLL Trade Deadline having passed and the Mammoth opting to send a pair of veterans away in exchange for future draft capital, the team said goodbye to a pair of veterans in Paul Dawson and Chris Wardle.

While Dawson is very likely to make his way into the NLL Hall of Fame a few short years after retiring, has been an amazing player and person in his own right and was truly a treat to be around and play alongside during his season in Colorado, it was the departure of Chris Wardle which may have caused a few tears to drop for Mammoth fans Tuesday.

Originally welcomed to the squad in 2016, Wardle has embodied the Mammoth way since day one. Head down, stick up and always looking to improve. Just a few of the many reasons why he was such a great fit in burgundy and black for eight great seasons. A natural playmaker and even better mover, Wardle averaged more than 35 points per season during his time in Colorado. Oddly enough, the 6-0, 175-lb. talent racked up a career-high 51 points (18g, 33a) during the league’s shortened 2020 season, eventually cancelled due to the pandemic status.

Posting a career-high 19 goals back in 2017, his all-time assist figures also came during the shortened 2020 period, while his campaign-best 57 loose balls were earned in 2022. Prior to the swap, the veteran had amassed 27 points (8g, 19a), totals he will look to improve on during his remainder of the season donning purple and yellow.

Forever an instrumental member of the 2022 NLL Championship squad, Wardle’s 46 regular season points (17g, 29a) will forever be cemented in NLL history. But it was his epic 25-point (3g, 22a) performance throughout the seven-game postseason gauntlet that will make him one of the franchise’s most celebrated and appreciated members.

Having logged 105 goals (8th most in franchise history), 176 assists (5th most in franchise history), 281 points (7th most in franchise history), 328 loose balls, 46 caused turnovers and 40 penalty minutes over the course of his 125 games (8th most in franchise history) representing the Tusk Up contingent, he ends his Mammoth career ranked within several of the organization’s record books.

Adding 50 points, 15 goals, 35 assists, 45 loose balls, two caused turnovers and two penalty minutes throughout 21 postseason competitions with Colorado, the veteran has thrived in a variety of on-field roles. But his best may be as a friend, leader and overall professional.

To call Wardle a “glue guy” would be a bit unfair, as “glue guys” are typically known for doing more as leaders in the locker room and in the community than they are for showing up on the scoreboard. And as we all know by now, Wardle was regularly featured on the scoreboard. More often for assists than goals during his time in Colorado, he was known by not only his teammates, but defenseman around the league, for being one of the hardest-working body bangers in the business.

Which is a direct salute to his effort, as the man himself wasn’t the biggest or strongest player on the floor in many, if any, of the games in which he participated. His gritty, unrelenting ability to move men around with the best of them often left Mammoth fans in disbelief, as his dedicated approach has proved dividends for teammates Eli McLaughlin and Connor Robinson since the trio was forged three seasons back.

Perhaps just as impressive, Wardle was one of the least retaliatory players not only on the team, but throughout the league, as the veteran’s uncanny ability to stay composed after being constantly whacked, harassed, swatted and beyond each time he was on the floor. Specifically, after his well-known dive and dunk attempts, he’d embrace an extra shove or two and generally refuse to dish it back out. Especially when drawing a penalty for his patience, as Wardle was ultimately a team guy and always understood the importance of going with the flow rather than creating a new river.

There was just something about his calm demeanor that both allowed the youngsters on the team to know he’d be there to listen and reflect while typically serving as the veteran presence in the most mature of situations when needed. Typically hanging with fellow humble talents in Tim Edwards, Zed Williams and beyond, the B.C. boy has made more than friends during his eight seasons in burgundy and black. He’s established and become part of the Mammoth brotherhood, just as the 20-some men who had to say goodbye to their dear comrade this week have.

Often referred to as the “Most Interesting Man Alive,” by the boys, he wasn’t much of an actual Dos Equis guy, but the resemblance to the calm, cool and collected approach were definitely there. So were the sly smile and fashion-forward approach. And for as sad as Mammoth fans, players and staff alike are to see the skilled scorer lace them up with the San Diego Seals for the rest of the season, we know two things:

  1. He’s now got a shot to earn what would be his second NLL Championship in three years alongside some Canadian talent he’s gone to war both with and against for more than 10 years, and …
  2. This is far from the first time Wardle has “left” the squad, as he was selected in a pair of NLL Expansion Drafts dating back to the creation of the Rochester Knighthawks and later Panther City Lacrosse Club. While it’s the first time the organization has traded Wardle away, the club has traded for the Victoria native twice (sending players to both Rochester and Panther City in order to return the veteran to Colorado). Given the fact Wardle’s contract is set to expire with San Diego at season’s end, there’s always a chance he returns to the Mile High City in the near future! And if it’s not in the cards, it’s still been a hell of a run!

The entire Colorado Mammoth organization wishes Chris Wardle the best with his future endeavors and thanks him for his eight seasons of dedicated professionalism at the LOUD HOUSE!

Colorado Mammoth Pro Lacrosse Team