(Rochester, NY) … The Rochester Knighthawks, in conjunction with the National Lacrosse League (NLL), unveiled today the team’s logo and operations staff during a franchise launch event at The Blue Cross Arena.
Under the ownership of Pegula Sports and Entertainment (PSE), the Knighthawks enter their inaugural campaign as one of two expansion teams in the NLL following the relocation of the original Knighthawks franchise to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the team will operate as the Thunderbirds.
“The history and community impact of professional lacrosse in this market is strong and well storied,” said Rob Minter, vice president of business operations for the Knighthawks. “We’re thrilled to finally unveil the next chapter of that story as we introduce the new look and feel of our expansion club. This is another exciting step in our continued investment and support of sports and entertainment here in Rochester.”
Today’s announcement comes eight months after PSE officials, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and New York State elected officials collectively announced the acquisition of the Knighthawks through an expansion agreement with the NLL. The new Knighthawks become the second NLL team under the ownership of PSE, which also operates the Buffalo Bandits as well as the Buffalo Bills (NFL), Buffalo Sabres (NHL) and Rochester Americans (AHL). Additionally, PSE oversees all aspects of operations for the downtown Blue Cross Arena.
The addition of the Knighthawks and New York Riptide expansion franchises will bring the NLL to an all-time high 13 teams for the 2019-20 season. Since 2016, the league has experienced substantial growth under the leadership of Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz, who has been instrumental in introducing the game of lacrosse to new markets while being a driving force behind the overall expansion efforts across North America.
“The Knighthawks and the city of Rochester have played an enormous part in the NLL’s history and have created some incredible memories for more than two decades,” said Sakiewicz. “We are excited the Knighthawks name will remain as we look forward to a new era of more great moments the fans and organization will create in the coming seasons. As we continue to expand our league, it is important to remember our roots and the communities that got us here.”
The team’s colors will be predominantly a mix of a military-style green, black and white with silver accents. Rochester’s primary logo is a winged “R” outlined in the team’s main colors while the secondary logo features a flying hawk with gold accentuations in the bird’s beak, talons and feathers. Both representations will be prominently featured on the team’s home and away jerseys, which will be unveiled at a later date.
Overseeing the Knighthawks operations will be Dan Carey, who was appointed the team’s first general manager and vice president of lacrosse operations this past December. In his new role, Carey will manage and oversee all aspects of lacrosse operations of the Knighthawks expansion franchise, including team services, player acquisitions and contracts, and personnel development.
“Today is a monumental day for our organization as we enter a new era of Rochester Knighthawks lacrosse,” said Carey. “I’m excited for the opportunity that lies ahead as we begin to shape our organization over the next several months through both the NLL Expansion Draft and Entry Draft. The city of Rochester has a deep-rooted history of lacrosse with a strong, passionate fan base, and I look forward to building a franchise that the city and fans alike can be proud of.”
Carey joins the Knighthawks after spending the previous three years with the NLL’s Colorado Mammoth, most recently serving as general manager. Named just the second general manager in Colorado franchise history on July 13, 2017, Carey was instrumental in assembling a Mammoth roster that posted two straight winning seasons, culminating in back-to-back postseason appearances. During the 2018 season, Colorado finished second in the Western Division with an 11-7 record, marking its second runner-up finish in three years, while advancing to the NLL’s Champion’s Cup Playoffs for an unprecedented eighth straight season.
The 36-year-old was elevated to general manager from his role as the team's director of player personnel, a position he assumed in October 2015. In that role, Carey was responsible for overseeing all collegiate, club and professional scouting activities and operations, and worked closely with the coaching staff and team management to address the team’s on-field needs. He originally joined the organization as the team's eastern scout following five seasons with the Mammoth as one of the most prolific and decorated players in team history.
A native of Peterborough, Ontario, Carey was the Mammoth’s first-round selection (seventh overall) in the 2005 NLL Entry Draft. He was named an NLL All-Star in each of his first three seasons in the league, and as a rookie, was instrumental in Colorado winning the Champion’s Cup in 2006. In 60 career regular-season games with Colorado, Carey scored 89 goals and assisted on 147 others before adding 25 points in 12 games with the Toronto Rock during the 2012 campaign to close out a six-year professional playing career. He posted his best season in the NLL in 2007 when he tallied career-highs in goals (32), assists (44), points (76) and points-per-game (4.75) before being named the recipient of the 2008 NLL’s Sportsmanship Award a year later.
His extensive lacrosse resume also includes back-to-back Ontario Lacrosse Championships with St. Peter’s in 1997 and 1998 and a three-time Mann Cup champion with his hometown Peterborough Lakers. He helped the Lakers to three titles over a four-year span (2004, 2006, 2007) and was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2006 Mann Cup, Canada’s top prize in senior men’s box lacrosse. Internationally, Carey also won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2007 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships and has served as an executive for the Canadian national team at numerous other events since his retirement as a player.
Joining Carey on his staff is Craig Rybczynski, who will transition into the role of lacrosse operations manager after serving as director of communications for the former Knighthawks franchise for the past 20 years. Rybczynski will assist Carey in all day-to-day operations and will oversee all game-day operations and logistics for all lacrosse-related events.
His primary responsibilities will include monitoring news sources to stay current with the changing lacrosse environment, assisting in travel accommodations and player payroll, and overseeing game day operations for the building, league officials and the opposing team. In addition, he will maintain all alumni connections and communication, assist with youth programming, and connect players with various team promotions. Rybczynski will also remain as the radio and TV voice of the Knighthawks for all home and away games, keeping him the longest-tenured broadcaster in NLL history.
“Craig recently finished his 20th season with the former Knighthawks organization, and his wealth of knowledge and experience is certainly a great addition. I’m looking forward to seeing him contribute to our success,” said Carey.
Rochester will have the first overall pick in the upcoming NLL Expansion Draft in July as determined by a coin toss held earlier this month between the Knighthawks and New York Riptide during halftime of Game 1 of the NLL Finals. The Riptide will select first overall in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft to be held in September.
As part of the Expansion Draft, NLL teams can protect up to 11 players with a maximum of one goalie and five forwards from their current roster while all remaining unprotected players will be eligible for selection. Each existing NLL franchise will lose no more than two players and teams will not be allowed to protect additional players after losing a player in the Draft. Additionally, expansions teams are not required to select one player from each of the other 12 teams, allowing the opportunity to draft multiple players from the same team, and will also receive additional draft picks to solidify the active roster. A full list of eligible players will be available beginning on Tuesday, June 25 leading up to the NLL Expansion Draft on Tuesday, July 9.
Fans can stay up-to-date with the latest Knighthawks news and information by visiting the team’s official website, www.rochesterknighthawks.com, or by connecting with the team on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.