The Toronto Rock announced the retirement of forward Blaine Manning who spent all 12 seasons of his career with the team. (Photo: Graig Abel)
Toronto Rock forward Blaine Manning has announced his retirement following a 12-year NLL career that saw him cement his legacy as one of the all-time greats of the game with four NLL Championship titles to his credit. The 33-year-old and Sherwood Park, Alberta native spent his entire professional lacrosse career with the Rock.
“The last couple of years the game was kind of wearing down my body,” explained the 2002 NLL Rookie of the Year. “I have been thinking about it over the last couple of years and I’m excited to move on with the next chapter of my life. My wife Christine has made a lot of sacrifices to allow me to enjoy such a successful career. Without her support and that of my two children Madison and Jake, I would not have been the player I was.”
After being selected with the second overall pick in the 2001 NLL Entry Draft by the Calgary Roughnecks, Manning was traded to Toronto in exchange for Kaleb Toth and a first round pick in the 2003 NLL Entry Draft before ever suiting up for a game with the team that drafted him.
“At the time, there was only a couple of guys who had ever made the NLL from Alberta so I was just hoping to make the team,” said Manning. “It’s been a great ride with a lot of incredible team achievements and a couple of individual ones, so it has been better than I could have ever imagined.”
Over his 12-year run in the NLL, Manning played with some of the most decorated players in league history in the form of Colin Doyle, Bob Watson and Jim Veltman.
“They are a group of pretty special players not only to the Toronto Rock but to the game of lacrosse,” said Manning of playing with two NLL Hall of Famers in Veltman and Watson and another that is surely destined for enshrinement in Doyle. “I am happy to have had the opportunity to play with those great players who are all tremendous in their own right.”
The right-handed forward played a total of 181 career regular season games amassing 307 goals, 526 assists and 833 points. He sits second all-time in Rock history in all three of those offensive statistical categories behind Doyle and his games played total is good for third best behind Doyle and Watson. With 841 career loose balls, he’s second only to Veltman in Rock history.
Manning was no stranger to postseason success as Toronto made the playoffs in 10 of his 12 seasons. In 18 playoff games, he scored 23 goals and added 41 assists for a total of 64 points and collected four Champion’s Cup rings (2002, 2003, 2005 & 2011) in the process.
New Rock Head Coach John Lovell will be faced with trying to return Toronto to a championship in 2014 without one of their long-time leaders.
“Blaine is the ultimate pro,” said Lovell. “The way he carries himself both on and off the floor and his overall level of professionalism are the standards this franchise will continue to hold itself to for a long time. There will be a significant void to fill, but know that Blaine Manning’s influence on the way the Toronto Rock take care of the business of playing lacrosse will impact us long into the future.”
Manning recently began both his youth and summer lacrosse coaching career in the community of Oakville, a place he now calls home.
“I want to stay involved,” said Manning who's serving as an assistant coach in Oakville this summer. “Coaching at a higher level this past summer has really made me want to stay involved. My family loves the game, so I really hope I can stick around the game of lacrosse for a long time.”
While not on the NLL Hall of Fame ballot this year, Manning will no doubt be a prime candidate for induction when next year’s class of legends is selected.
The Rock plan to honor the career and contributions of Blaine Manning at a 2014 regular season home game. Details will be announced in the fall following the release of the NLL schedule.