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One of the greatest defenders in NLL history is taking his talents to sunny California next season.

On July 26th, the San Diego Seals traded Frank Scigliano to the Saskatchewan Rush in exchange for the 18th and 26th selections in the 2023 Entry Draft and the playing rights to Kyle Rubisch. On August 12th, Rubisch made it official by signing a one-year deal with the Seals, which closed the chapter on an 11-year campaign as a member of the Rush.

[The Seals are] a competitive team,” Rubisch said. At this point in my career, I want to win another championship. Theyre a very strong team, obviously, and as we saw last year, they came very close to pushing it in the playoffs. They are ready to win now, which is enticing.”

Obtaining Rubischs playing rights before free agency allowed the Seals and Rubisch the right to begin negotiating a potential deal with the team, seeing as Rubisch was set to become an unrestricted free agent on August 1st. Rubisch had the right to explore offers from other teams but ultimately decided that the Seals were the best fit for him. Rubisch admitted that some consideration was made to move closer to home in Ontario. 

Rubisch is widely regarded as one of the best defensemen to ever play in the NLL. Over his 12 seasons in the league, he has amassed a league record of 429 regular season caused turnovers – thats 167 more caused turnovers than any other player. He has also scooped up the 10th-most loose balls in NLL regular season history with 1,569.

But Rubischs talents go far beyond what the numbers tell us. 

Head coach and general manager Patrick Merrill has seen Rubischs approach to the game, on and off the floor, first-hand. They were teammates on the Brampton Excelsiors in Major Series Lacrosse in 2010 before playing with each other at the 2011 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship in Prague.

Merrill has seen just how good Rubisch can be, both as a teammate and an opposing coach – Rubisch has played 10 games against the Seals in his career. He knows how Rubisch attacks game prep and how seriously he takes his role as a leader on the floor. Merrill firmly believes that Rubisch had all the tools to help the Seals become a better defensive team.

Hes a bear of a man,” Merrill said. If you get caught in his trolley tracks, its pretty hard to escape. But what really separates him as a defender from most others is his IQ. Its how he sees the play unfold and studies the opposing teams offensive structures and personnel. Fundamentally, hes almost flawless with the way he plays – the way he moves, the way he forces turnovers, the way he protects the middle of the floor and channels guys down the wall – I think hes one of the best to ever do it.”

The decision to officially sign Rubisch is one the latest of the defensive moves made by the Seals this offseason. They traded for Trevor Baptiste and shipped Mike McCannell to the Philadelphia Wings, which moves Danny Logan into a more prominent defensive role. The team also made other signings, including some newcomers, as well as many Seals players from last season including Tre Leclaire, Eli Gobrecht, and most recently, Patrick Shoemay.

Note: As of this writing, Brodie Merrill has not decided if he plans on retiring. Neither Coach Merrill nor Rubisch wants to influence Brodies decision, and they are letting him figure out his playing situation with his family.

During the teams assessment meetings after the conclusion of last season, the Seals determined that defensive changes needed to be made if they wanted to achieve their ultimate goal of winning a championship. Looking back at their single-elimination West Conference Quarterfinals matchup, which the Seals lost heartbreakingly to the Colorado Mammoth, Merrill and some of his players acknowledged that the team didnt play up to their standard, particularly on defense. 

At the end of the 1st quarter of that game, the Seals were down 3-1, and by halftime, they were losing 7-3. Despite a valiant comeback attempt in which the Seals outscored the Mammoth 9-6 in the second half, the hole that they had dug for themselves was too deep to crawl out of. The Mammoth won the game 13-12 off of an Eli McLaughlin power play goal with two seconds left in the game.

With many changes already made, Merrill and the rest of the coaching staff believe they have most of the pieces set in place to make a deeper run into next years playoffs. Rubisch will hopefully play a significant role in making that happen. 

Weve made a bunch of changes, but with the majority of our core still in place,” Merrill said. I think what Trevor [Baptiste] and Kyle do is… stabilize things back there in areas we felt like maybe lacked either some of the experience or the tools that they bring.

The Seals’ moves have excited Rubisch, a future NLL Hall of Famer. Rubisch has won three NLL championships. He and the Rush formed an elite dynasty, winning the trophy in 2015, 2016 and 2018 with a combined regular season record of 52-20 over four seasons.

Im really excited to play with a bunch of guys,” Rubisch said. Ive played on Team Canada with Cam Holding, and hes been around the league for a long time and is obviously a talented veteran. Baptiste is a stud faceoff guy and a growing defender in our league, so thats another exciting piece, and Danny Logan is an up-and-coming stud that will be a really good player in this league. Patrick Shoemay, who just played for Team Canada at the Worlds in San Diego. Its a good mix of some veteran talent and some youth that are ready to take on bigger roles, it seems.”

While this move was primarily made as the best lacrosse decision for Rubisch, the prospect of spending more time with his wife and soon-to-be three-year-old son in sunny San Diego was very intriguing. 

After spending more than a decade battling through the brutal winters in Saskatchewan, Rubisch and his family, based out of Brampton, Ontario, can now enjoy more suitable outside weather together as they explore their new city as a family (when everyone can make it down from Ontario for games).

It gives my family an opportunity to share some more time down [in San Diego] as a family,” Rubisch said. With my son getting a bit older, it gives us time to go on a bit of an adventure before he starts school and sports.”

It will be odd to see Rubisch in a different uniform. Last season, Rubisch played in his 183rd game as a member of the Rush, the most games played in franchise history. Since 2012, Rubisch has embodied everything it meant to be a leader of the Rush. 

Now, hell have the opportunity to show a new set of teammates and fans what it means to have Kyle Rubisch anchoring down your defense. Winning a beautiful, shiny piece of hardware for the team at the end of this upcoming season would surely do the trick.