The National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame was established to honor those who have made immeasurable contributions to the league and the sport of lacrosse. As of 2016, there are 27 members in the NLL Hall of Fame. Below is more information on the five charter members of the Hall of Fame.
Russ Cline and Chris Fritz helped found the original Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League (now NLL) in 1986. Neither had experience with box lacrosse but saw highlights of the old NLL (1974-75) and considered it the “sport of the future”. Their vision eventually led to the rebrand to Major Indoor Lacrosse League and eventually the National Lacrosse League as we know it today.
Fritz and Cline would eventually be co-owners of the Philadelphia Wings once the ownership model was introduced. The Wings continue to be one of the most successful and well-known franchises in the NLL
Paul and Gary Gait were undoubtedly the first “superstars” of the National Lacrosse League. The twins from British Columbia would take the league by storm by winning awards and setting all sorts of records on their way to being the first NLL players inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Some of their notable achievements include:
- 7 MVP’s (6x Gary, 1x Paul)
- 11x leading league in goals scored (4x Paul, 7x Gary)
- Each have a share for most goals in a game (10)
- 22x 1st Team All-NLL Selections (14x Gary, 8x Paul)
- 6 Championship rings (3 each)
Les Bartley passed away prior to his induction to the Hall of Fame after an 18 month battle with colon cancer but became the first coach inducted and deservedly so. He took over the expansion Bandits franchise after an 0-3 start and led them to a 22-game winning streak (including back-to-back championships in 1992 and 1993).
From 1992-1997 with the Bandits, Bartley recorded a 36-13 regular season record. In 1998, he took over the expansion Ontario Raiders (now Toronto Rock). His first season in Ontario was his worst as a coach with a 6-6 record. From 1998-2003 with the Raiders/Rock, Bartley recorded a 57-25 record.
Bartley would finish his career with a regular season record of 93-38 (.710-win percentage) and a post season record of 18-4 (.818-win percentage). He would get his teams to 11 championship games and win seven (1992, 1993, and 1996 with BUF and 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2003 with TOR). The Coach of the Year award was named in his honor.
The class was inducted on 2-23-2006 during All-Star Game weekend in Toronto.