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Cody Jamieson Wants to Retire with Thunderbirds

Cody Jamieson is a one-franchise man.

The Halifax Thunderbirds’ captain has signed a new three-year contract to remain with the franchise he has played with for 13 years.

When Jamieson was selected first overall by the Rochester Knighthawks (now Halifax) in 2010, thus began a relationship with the organization that would blossom into one of the most profound bonds of his life.

As Jamieson’s uncle, Knighthawks’ owner Curt Styres knew firsthand what Jamieson could offer his team. They were both so sure that the 23-year-old Syracuse University product would fit the Knighthawks that Styres signed his nephew to an NLL record 10-year contract. Jamieson has never disappointed.

Jamieson posted 53 points in his rookie season – the most by any rookie in 2011. Over the next three years, Jamieson steadily improved his game, and it paid significant dividends to the team. In each of those three seasons, Jamieson led Rochester in scoring. In 2014, he posted a 108-point season, earning him NLL MVP honors.

More meaningful than his individual stats, however – Jamieson will be the first to tell you that he has no interest in talking about his individual stats – was the fact that in each of those three years, the Knighthawks won the NLL championship. To this day, they are still the only NLL team to win three championships in a row.

Cody Jamieson in his early years with Rochester

Those early seasons made a lasting impression on Jamieson, and it gave him tremendous confidence that Styres and the rest of the organization knew how to put together a winning team. In 2015, the Knighthawks flirted with a four-peat but ultimately lost to the Toronto Rock in the East Division Finals.

For Jamieson and the Knighthawks, the result in 2015 was the beginning of a brief period of disappointment and frustration.

Even though Jamieson posted a team-best 99 points during the 2016 season, it was the first year since he joined the team that the Knighthawks didn’t make the playoffs after finishing the regular season 7-9.

It was only the second season during Jamieson’s tenure that the team finished the regular season with a losing record. In 2012, the team went 7-9, but still ended up winning the championship.

The years after the championships were difficult for Jamieson. After missing the 2015 summer season due to an Achilles injury sustained in the playoffs, in 2016 Jamieson tore his ACL. He went through all the necessary steps to ensure he could return in time for the Knighthawks’ upcoming season.

By January 2017, he rehabbed, wore his brace, and was even cleared by doctors to play again. But as luck would have it, only seven minutes into his return to the floor while facing the Toronto Rock in the team’s fourth game of the 2017 season, Jamieson re-tore his ACL while scrapping for a loose ball. Jamieson recorded two assists during those seven minutes of play. He’s proud of that fact.

Before the 2017 season, Jamieson had only missed three games in his professional career. This was an unusual situation for him and one that would require patience and persistence. He was only six years into his NLL career – nowhere near ready to throw in the towel. His passion for the game fueled him to want to come back better than before.

“It was my love of the game and not wanting to be left behind,” Jamieson said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best I could be – that fueled me through rehab. I wanted to be as good as my old self (or as close to that as possible). I still enjoyed it, I still loved to play it, and I still had that passion to play. I wasn’t ready to give up on playing yet.”

When Jamieson was cleared to return for the 2018 season, he was back to his usual self. He posted 89 points that year and was part of a trio with Joe Resetarits and Kyle Jackson that combined to put up 262 of the team’s581 points that regular season. The team’s efforts earned them another spot in the NLL finals – their fourth in seven seasons. To their misfortune, the Knighthawks couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity in the finals and lost to Saskatchewan in three games.

However, it was an important year as it was the first season where Jamieson had teammates like Graeme Hossack, a third-year player at the time, and Jake Withers, a rookie. Those three and several others were the first building blocks of what would become the nucleus of Halifax’s current roster.

Over the years and through the team’s relocation and name change, and the COVID-19 pandemic, those players never stopped growing their bond. In fact, more and more pieces to the puzzle kept coming in, and it was bringing the team plenty of success. Before COVID-19 shut the world down in 2020, the Thunderbirds had an 8-4 record, and Jamieson led the team with 59 points.

Jamieson’s continued leadership on and off the floor, during good times and less than good times, has exemplified his leadership capabilities. Styres, the Thunderbirds coaching staff and the rest of the organization saw this too, and put the “C” on Jamieson’s jersey in 2019.

When Captain Jamieson’s 10-year deal ended in the summer of 2020 (during the pandemic), it was a no-brainer to stay with the club. In both 2020 and 2021, Jamieson signed one-year deals with the club.

In 2022, instead of the team offering Jamieson a one-year contract, they gave him the franchise tag to keep him around. That year, the team again made it to the playoffs but were dealt an early postseason blow and bumped out of the playoffs in a heartbreaking 14-13 OT loss to the Rock.

It was becoming clear that great success was possible. To be having this kind of success in the early days of professional lacrosse in Halifax, an underrated passionate sports city, was an encouraging sign of things to come in the near future.

We’ve come close, or we feel like we’ve come close [to winning the NLL Cup] a few times,” Jamieson said. “It would be amazing to finally get over the hump with this group and in this city… It always feels like we have a chance at winning – that’s why we all play. With the mindset of Curt [Styres], I feel like he’s always given me a chance to win a championship.”

In 2023, they finished the regular season with a 10-8 winning record, including winning five of their last six games. However, the Rock imposed their will on the Thunderbirds and knocked Atlantic Canada’s team out of championship contention for the second consecutive season.

Now Jamieson, who has played close to 12 full NLL seasons since 2010, had to decide: re-sign with the Thunderbirds or move on from the club. There was no real internal debate. Jamieson will stay with this club as long as he is healthy enough to play.

Styres took advantage of Jamieson’s eagerness to want to play for this franchise and offered him a three-year deal, a deal that may be the last of his NLL career.

“It was presented as an option, and I took it,” Jamieson joked. “To be honest, I don’t know how my next little while is going to go. I’ve always said that I’m one major injury from never playing again, and I don’t think my body has it in me to do a year-long process of rehab – I need to stay healthy. At the end of the day, this was a place I didn’t want to leave.”

If Jamieson plays out all three years of his newest deal, that would bring him to 15 seasons with one franchise (nine seasons as a Knighthawk and six seasons as a Thunderbird). He would become the fourth player in NLL history to play 15 or more seasons with one franchise – John Tavares and Mark Steenhuis did so with the Buffalo Bandits and Colin Doyle did it with the Toronto Rock.

Buffalo Bandits vs Halifax Thunderbirds at KeyBank Center, December 28, 2019.
Photo by Bill Wippert

The success that the team has had over the last dozen years has been a motivator for Jamieson to keep coming back. It’s the quality of his teammates (both on and off the floor) that has made it undeniably clear where he wants to be playing lacrosse.

“They have my kind of humor, I guess I would say,” Jamieson said. “Every time we’re together, everyone is always laughing and having a great time, whether at practice, shoot around or team dinners, bus trips, or the airport. There’s so much laughing and having fun at all those times. That’s what’s really important, and that’s what makes this group so special that I didn’t even want to entertain other offers so I could finish my career with this group.”

“This group of guys that we have are pretty special, and I think they’re on the verge of doing something really special. With Withers, Hossack, Clarke Petterson and Randy Staats, that core group of guys are all in their prime years, and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Jamieson loves his team and loves the city of Halifax. He noted just how excited the city was during the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship this past winter. It was a feeling of excitement that Jamieson understood because he’s felt that with his organization. His family loves Halifax, although they do not live in market. There truly is no place that Jamieson would rather be in the NLL. The Thunderbirds are the only team for him.

The three-year contract is likely to be Jamieson’s last hurrah. When the deal expires in 2026, Jamieson will be 39 years old. By the end of the deal, Jamieson will have played in over 250 NLL games (regular season and postseason combined) – a rare feat in this fast-paced and physical league. Jamieson already has the Halifax franchise record for career points and is nearing many other franchise records heading into the 2023-24 season.

With all the success that Jamieson has had over his illustrious career, he is at a stage where he can cherish every moment he gets to play on NLL floors while pursuing a championship for the city of Halifax. He knows that his time is limited and plans on making the most of every moment he has the privilege to play on NLL floors as a member of the Thunderbirds.

“I realize Father Time is coming,” Jamieson said. “I’ve watched all the guys I grew up watching and played against – they’ve mostly all come and gone, so obviously, my time is coming. I hope to enjoy my last ride here for as long as I can.”