|2008 NLL season|
|League||National Lacrosse League|
|Duration||December 29, 2007 – May 17, 2008|
|Number of games||16|
|Number of teams||12|
|Season MVP||Athan Iannucci (Philadelphia)|
|Top scorer||Athan Iannucci (Philadelphia)|
|Eastern champions||Buffalo Bandits|
|Eastern runners-up||Minnesota Swarm|
|Western champions||San Jose Stealth|
|Western runners-up||Colorado Mammoth|
|Finals MVP||Mark Steenhuis (Buffalo)|
The 2008 National Lacrosse League season, the 22nd in the history of the NLL, began on December 29, 2007, and concluded with the Buffalo Bandits winning the championship game over the Portland LumberJax on May 17, 2008.
In an odd coincidence, all four eastern division teams that made the playoffs finished with identical 10–6 records. Due to tiebreakers, the Buffalo Bandits clinched first place overall, followed by the Minnesota Swarm, New York Titans in their playoff debut, and the Philadelphia Wings in their return to the playoffs after a five-year absence.
There was also a tie atop the west division standings, as the San Jose Stealth and Colorado Mammoth both finished with 9–7 records. The Stealth won that tiebreaker and clinched their first western division title. The Calgary Roughnecks and Portland LumberJax finished out the playoff teams in the west despite having losing records.
History was made in 2008 as neither the Rochester Knighthawks nor the Toronto Rock made the playoffs, for the first time in the history of either team (though the Toronto franchise, then the Ontario Raiders, missed the playoffs in their inaugural season in 1998). The Knighthawks broke a 13-year streak of making the playoffs, the Rock streak was stopped at 9 years.
Philadelphia Wings second-year stars Athan Iannucci and Geoff Snider set a number of new league records in 2008. Iannucci eclipsed Gary Gait's record of 61 goals by scoring 71, and Snider set or tied marks in loose balls (244), face offs won (318, tied with Peter Jacobs in 2005), and penalty minutes (103).
The 2008 season almost never happened. On October 16, 2007, the league released a statement officially cancelling the season, after no agreement could be reached on a new collective bargaining agreement. However, negotiations continued, and on October 25, the league announced that a new CBA has been agreed on, and that the season would proceed. The new revised schedule was released on November 2, 2007, but only included 12 of the expected 14 teams. The expansion Boston Blazers and 2007 Western division champion Arizona Sting had decided for "a number of business reasons" to opt out of the 2008 season and return in 2009. Due to the short time frame between the agreement on a new CBA and the start of the season, the New York Titans were unable to secure 8 home dates for the revised schedule, and thus both the Toronto Rock and Buffalo Bandits hosted a Titans home game in their own arena.
An expansion franchise for Boston, Massachusetts was announced on May 9, 2007. It was expected that the team would play at the TD Banknorth Garden, which is also home to the NBA's Boston Celtics and the NHL's Boston Bruins. On October 3, 2007, the Boston franchise was officially named the Boston Blazers.
When the revised schedule was released on November 2, 2007, it was announced that both the Arizona Sting and Boston Blazers were suspending operations for the 2008 season, returning in 2009.
In the off-season between the 2007 and 2008 seasons the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the National Lacrosse League and the Professional Lacrosse Players' Association expired. The owners announced that if there no deal was in place before midnight, October 15, 2007 the 2008 season would be cancelled. On the morning of October 16, the league announced that no agreement had been reached, and that the season was cancelled. The next day, commissioner Jim Jennings even said that the league would not change its mind about the cancellation, saying:
There's no hope due to the fact that we've released our dates. It's very difficult to get dates in places like (New York's) Madison Square Garden and (Toronto's) ACC Centre and places like that. To try to restart this thing up on a moment's notice is an impossibility.
However, the negotiations continued, and on October 25, the league announced that a new seven-year agreement had been reached, and that the season would be played.
Before the initial cancellation of the season, the Versus network announced that it would not carry a game of the week, as they had in 2007, even if an agreement was reached before the deadline.
|1||Buffalo Bandits – xyz||16||10||6||.625||0.0||7–2||3–4||203||174||+29||12.69||10.88|
|2||Minnesota Swarm – x||16||10||6||.625||0.0||6–2||4–4||199||196||+3||12.44||12.25|
|3||New York Titans – x||16||10||6||.625||0.0||5–1||5–5||197||186||+11||12.31||11.62|
|4||Philadelphia Wings – x||16||10||6||.625||0.0||7–1||3–5||225||220||+5||14.06||13.75|
|1||San Jose Stealth – xy||16||9||7||.562||0.0||4–4||5–3||185||172||+13||11.56||10.75|
|2||Colorado Mammoth – x||16||9||7||.562||0.0||6–2||3–5||184||167||+17||11.50||10.44|
|3||Calgary Roughnecks – x||16||7||9||.438||2.0||5–3||2–6||183||178||+5||11.44||11.12|
|4||Portland LumberJax – x||16||6||10||.375||3.0||3–5||3–5||179||194||-15||11.19||12.12|
x: Clinched playoff berth; c: Clinched playoff berth by crossing over to another division; y: Clinched division; z: Clinched best regular season record; GP: Games Played
W: Wins; L: Losses; GB: Games back; PCT: Win percentage; Home: Record at Home; Road: Record on the Road; GF: Goals scored; GA: Goals allowed
Differential: Difference between goals scored and allowed; GF/GP: Average number of goals scored per game; GA/GP: Average number of goals allowed per game
|Divisional Semifinal||Divisional Final||Champion's Cup Final|
On January 11, the Minnesota Swarm defeated the Toronto Rock 17–16 in overtime, in a game which saw three Swarm players and one Rock player given game misconducts. After the game, Rock head coach Glenn Clark was involved in an altercation with Minnesota forward Sean Pollock outside the Rock dressing room. Clark was later charged with assault by Toronto Police and suspended indefinitely by the NLL. The Rock announced that assistant coach Terry Bullen would serve as the interim head coach and Bullen led the Rock to a 2–2 record.
On February 6, the charges against Clark were dropped by Toronto Police, and the NLL lifted the suspension on February 13.
The 2008 All-Star Game was held at Rexall Place in Edmonton on March 16, 2008. The East division All-Stars defeated the West division 17–16 in overtime, as Shawn Williams scored the winner 31 seconds into OT. Philadelphia Wings' transition player Geoff Snider was named MVP.
|Eastern Division starters||Western Division starters|
|Athan Iannucci, Philadelphia||Jeff Zywicki, San Jose|
|John Tavares, Buffalo||Dan Carey, Colorado|
|John Grant, Jr., Rochester||Gavin Prout, Colorado|
|Mark Steenhuis, Buffalo||Brodie Merrill, Portland|
|Ryan Cousins, Minnesota||Eric Martin, San Jose|
|Nick Patterson, Minnesota (goalie)||Gee Nash, Colorado (goalie)|
|Eastern Division reserves||Western Division reserves|
|Scott Evans, Rochester||Mike Accursi, Edmonton|
|Casey Powell, New York *||Dan Dawson, Arizona|
|Andy Secore, Minnesota *||Colin Doyle, San Jose|
|Geoff Snider, Philadelphia||Ryan Powell, Portland *|
|Steve Toll, Rochester||Lewis Ratcliff, Calgary|
|Jim Veltman, Toronto||Jeff Shattler, Calgary|
|Peter Lough, Toronto||Josh Sims, Colorado *|
|Jarett Park, New York||Jimmy Quinlan, Edmonton|
|Scott Self, Chicago||Andrew McBride, Calgary|
|Chris White, Buffalo||Chris McElroy, Edmonton|
|Taylor Wray, Philadelphia||Bruce Murray, Colorado|
|Bob Watson, Toronto (goalie)||Anthony Cosmo, San Jose (goalie)|
|Ryan Ward, Minnesota (replacing C. Powell)||Dan Stroup, Edmonton (replacing R. Powell)|
|Shawn Williams, Rochester (replacing Secore)||Nick Carlson, Colorado (replacing Sims)|
* Unable to play due to injury
|Reebok Most Valuable Player||Athan Iannucci||Philadelphia|
|US Navy Goaltender of the Year||Bob Watson||Toronto|
|Edge Defensive Player of the Year||Ryan Cousins||Minnesota|
|Transition Player of the Year||Mark Steenhuis||Buffalo|
|Rookie of the Year||Craig Point||Minnesota|
|Sportsmanship Award||Dan Carey||Colorado|
|GM of the Year||Marty O'Neill||Minnesota|
|Les Bartley Award||Adam Mueller||New York|
|Executive of the Year Award||Tom Garrity||Minnesota|
|Tom Borrelli Award||Paul Tutka|
The NLL gives out awards weekly for the best overall player, best offensive player, best transition player, best defensive player, and best rookie.
|December||1||Jason Wulder||Jason Wulder||Gord Nash||Josh Sims||Dane Dobbie|
|January||2||Blaine Manning||Blaine Manning||Rob Marshall||Bobby McBride||Bobby McBride|
|3||Jeff Zywicki||Jeff Zywicki||Nick Patterson||Johnny Christmas||Craig Point|
|4||John Tavares||John Tavares||Bob Watson||Pat McCready||Merrick Thomson|
|5||Sean Pollock||Sean Pollock||Ryan Avery||Geoff Snider||Jordan Hall|
|February||6||Jeff Zywicki||Jeff Zywicki||Aaron Bold||Jimmy Quinlan||Craig Point|
|7||Pat O'Toole||Shawn Evans||Pat O'Toole||Jarett Park||Craig Point|
|8||John Grant, Jr.||John Grant, Jr.||Bob Watson||Brodie Merrill||Jordan Hall|
|9||Casey Powell||Casey Powell||Daniel Sams||Rob Van Beek||Daniel Sams|
|10||Shawn Evans||Shawn Evans||Curtis Palidwor||Mark Steenhuis||Steve Hutchins|
|March||11||Ken Montour||Luke Wiles||Ken Montour||Mark Steenhuis||Frank Resetarits|
|12||Gavin Prout||Mike Hominuck||Matt Vinc||John Orson||Craig Point|
|13||Bob Watson||Brian Langtry||Bob Watson||Mitch Belisle||Sean Morris|
|14||Cody Jacobs||Cody Jacobs||Rory Glaves||Chris McKay||Matt MacLeod|
|April||15||Jeff Zywicki||Ryan Ward||Scott Self||Mark Steenhuis||Bobby McBride|
|16||Athan Iannucci||Athan Iannucci||Pat O'Toole||Nolan Heavenor||Tom Johnson|
|17||Pat Maddalena||Pat Maddalena||Matt Vinc||Mark Steenhuis||Jordan Hall|
|18||Jim Veltman||John Tavares||Greg Peyser||Brad Self||Peter Jacobs|
Awards are also given out monthly for the best overall player and best rookie.
|January||Athan Iannucci||Merrick Thomson|
|February||Athan Iannucci||Craig Point|
|March||Curtis Palidwor||Jordan Hall|
|April||Athan Iannucci||Peter Jacobs|
Bold numbers indicate new single-season records. Italics indicate tied single-season records.
|Penalty Minutes||Geoff Snider||Philadelphia||103|
|Shots on Goal||Athan Iannucci||Philadelphia||253|
|Loose Balls||Geoff Snider||Philadelphia||244|
|Save Pct||Ken Montour||Buffalo||.808|