The National Lacrosse League has announced the establishment of the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame will open with five charter members who have made immeasurable contributions to the league and the sport of lacrosse. The five charter members are league founders Russ Cline and Chris Fritz; legendary lacrosse stars Gary Gait and Paul Gait, and the late Les Bartley, the winningest coach in league history. The establishment of the Hall of Fame received unanimous approval from the league's Board of Governors, who concluded two days of meetings at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas earlier today. The charter members will be formally inducted into the Hall of Fame during the 2006 NLL All-Star Weekend in Toronto (February 24-26).
'Our charter members bring us the best of the league from every aspect', said Commissioner Jim Jennings. 'Russ Cline and Chris Fritz had the vision and courage to create a professional indoor lacrosse league nearly twenty years ago. If not for them, none of this would have ever happened.'
'Gary and Paul Gait were incredible players who were just as great for our game off the floor as they were while playing. Les Bartley was a one-of-a-kind coach, a winner, motivator, teacher and a true gentleman. The Hall of Fame will ensure that the contributions to the game made by all of these men will live on forever', said Jennings.
All future Hall of Fame inductees will be voted on by the league's Board of Governors. Voting shall be based upon the individual's record, ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) that individual was affiliated with or the league. The field of candidates will consist of players, coaches, referees and team or league executives. The league will also recognize the contributions of journalists, broadcasters and other who have made a contribution to the game of professional indoor lacrosse.
NLL Hall of Fame Charter Members:
Russ Cline & Chris Fritz
Russ Cline, along with Chris Fritz, co-founded of the Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League, incorporated on March 13, 1986. Fritz served as President, and Cline served as Executive Vice President of the league. The Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League later became known as the Major Indoor Lacrosse League. The league became the National Lacrosse League in 1997.
As a co-founder of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League, President of the Philadelphia Wings, and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Lacrosse League, Cline has had a distinguished career in the development of lacrosse in North America. He and partner Chris Fritz have been the architects of the way indoor lacrosse has been presented and promoted since the league's inception.
For the past nineteen years, Cline and Fritz have been strategically involved with the Philadelphia Wings and indoor lacrosse. Together they pioneered and promoted the sport of indoor lacrosse in the United States and are largely responsible for the games growth and development today. Cline and Fritz have retained ownership of the Philadelphia Wings where Cline serves as Owner, President and Governor, while Fritz serves as Owner and Executive Vice President. The Wings have won six league championships, the most of any franchise in league history.
Cline also serves as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Lacrosse League and was recognized as the 2001 NLL Executive of the Year. Fritz serves as Chairman of the league's Properties Committee.
Gary Gait, who recently retired after playing fifteen seasons in the league, is the National Lacrosse League's all-time leading scorer with 1,091 points and the all-time leading goal scorer with 596. Gait also tallied an all-time second best 495 assists in his career. Among his many accomplishments Gait was the 1991 Rookie of the Year, a six-time winner of the league's Most Valuable Player award (1995-1999, 2003), seven-time league scoring champion, and was a First-Team All-Pro selection in fourteen of his fifteen seasons.
Gary Gait also holds several season and single-game records, including the three best single-season goal totals of all-time (61 in 2003, 57 in 1998, 55 in 2004). Gait holds the record for most points in a game with 14 on January 9, 1999. Gait scored ten goals in that game, which tied the single-game goal record set by his brother Paul in 1994. Gait, who played the last three seasons of his career with the Colorado Mammoth, has been a model ambassador for the league and the sport of lacrosse for nearly twenty years along with brother Paul.
Paul Gait played is the league's fourth all-time leading scorer with 712 career points, and is third all-time in goals scored with 410 and ninth all-time in assists with 302. Gait was named league MVP in 2002 and was an eight-time First Team All-Pro and a three time Second Team All-Pro during his thirteen seasons of play. Gait holds the second highest single season points total in league history with 114 in 2002, and led the league in goals in four seasons (1991, 1992, 1994, and 2002). Gait was also outstanding in the playoffs, scoring a record-setting eight goals in the 1994 Championship Game for the Philadelphia Wings, the most goals ever scored in a league championship game. Gait also holds the record for most career championship game goals with 23. After retiring following the 2002 season, Gait, made a brief comeback with the Colorado Mammoth in order to play again professionally with his brother Gary before Gary's retirement this past season. Paul Gait has been a model ambassador for the league and the sport of lacrosse for nearly twenty years along with his brother Gary.
Les Bartley served as Head Coach and General Manager of the Buffalo Bandits between 1992 and 1997 and the Toronto Rock franchise between 1998 and 2003. Since he began his coaching career in 1991 with the Buffalo Bandits, Bartley led his teams to eleven Championship games, winning seven League Championships. Four of those seven were with the Rock; back-to-back titles in 1999/2000 and 2002/2003. Prior to coming to Toronto, Bartley coached the Bandits to titles in 1992, 1993 & 1996. Bartley holds the records for most wins by a coach in regular season (93 wins) and playoffs, where sported an 18-4 record.
Bartley started his NLL coaching career with the Buffalo Bandits and did so with a 22 game winning streak, a league record that still holds today. Bartley took over as head coach for an 0-3 Bandits team in 1992 and lead team to championships in each of his first two seasons (1992 & 1993) including an undefeated season in 1993. (With Bartley as coach, the Bandits were also undefeated in 1992 at 5-0 after the 0-3 start before he took over) Bartley and the Bandits also appeared in the championship game in 1994, 1996, and 1997, winning their third title in 1996.
Bartley took over as Head Coach for the expansion Ontario Raiders in 1998 and lead the team to a 6-6 record. After 1998 the team moved to Toronto and became the Rock. With the Rock, Bartley led the team to four championships in five seasons before being diagnosed with colon cancer prior to the 2004 season and he stepped down from coaching. Bartley succumbed to his illness and passed away on May 15, 2005.
Les Bartley Coaching Record:
Career Overall Record: 111-42
Career Regular season Record: 93-38
Career Post Season Record: 18-4