December 15, 2012 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Rochester Knighthawks
Paul Dawson sat in a private railcar Friday night en route to Montreal to play in Saturday's lacrosse game at the Bell Centre. As the train pulled out of Toronto, he was finally able to relax after a hectic morning that began with a voice mail message.
"I was in bed last night and my phone was ringing a bit, but I just kind of slept through it. I woke up this morning and actually there was a text message from (Head Coach Mike) Hasen just saying, 'Hey, can you make the train (to Montreal) today?' I just figured it was to the wrong guy," said Dawson, who plays for Hasen in the summer in Major Series Lacrosse. "Then I checked my voice mail, and I guess that text was for me. So I found out at 5:00 this morning when I woke up."
What he found out was that he and his brother Dan were involved in a late-night blockbuster trade between the Rochester Knighthawks and Philadelphia Wings. Paul and Dan were heading to Rochester, along with a first round pick in 2016, in exchange for Paul Rabil, Jordan Hall, Joel White, Robbie Campbell and a 2014 second round pick.
"It's no secret, we love playing together. We're pretty close," said Paul Dawson, who was on the same train as his brother. "It's great that we are both still together. It's a big positive of the trade. I talked to him and we're pretty pumped up."
The phone call changed what would have been a relaxing day in Toronto, spent at the gym and shopping at the holiday market. At least he did not have long to travel to meet the team for the 6:00 p.m. departure, living just five minutes from Union Station.
"It sent me into a whirlwind," said Dawson, who said he was more relaxed once he joined the team. "Everyone was very welcoming. There is a lot of overlap (with playing in the summer)."
In fact, he and his brother sat with Brampton teammates Mike Accursi, Dylan Evans and Mike Kirk, along with Brad Self and Knighthawks Assistant Coach Andy Secore.
The 2013 season will mark the third time that the brothers are on the same NLL team. Equally excited about the trade was Knighthawks Head Coach Hasen, who has coached them with the Brampton Excelsiors.
"It feels good. They are talented players and are also character guys on the floor and in the locker room," said Hasen. "Curt (Styres), Landon (Miller) and Jody (Gage) are always trying to improve our team. They stay on top of things to always make us better."
"I played under Hasen all this summer too. He's becoming one of the game's best coaches and was one of the game's best defenders when he played," said Dawson. "He's won a Mann Cup and he just won the Champion's Cup. Any tidbit I can pick up from him is a plus."
Dawson will bring a tough defensive style to the Knighthawks. The 27-year-old enters his seventh season in the NLL in 2013, and joins his fourth team. Originally drafted as a goaltender, the defenseman registered career numbers in 2012. Last season in Philadelphia, he was third in the league with a career-best 67 penalty minutes. He also collected 53 loose balls and forced eight turnovers. Now he joins one of the Wings' fiercest rivals.
"Anytime you go to the defending champions it's obviously pretty exciting," added Paul Dawson. "It's a great organization and they have a lot of history like the Wings, but anytime you can go to the best team, it's obviously a huge positive.
"Rochester is a great organization. Curt Styres is one of the best owners in the league," he added.
In the summer, Dawson has won two Mann Cups with the Excelsiors (2009 and 2010). He also played 100 Junior "A" games with Burlington (2002-04) and Brampton (2005-06) as a goaltender. Dawson was drafted with the seventh overall pick in the 2006 NLL Entry Draft by the San Jose Stealth. He made the switch to defense in his second season, and has steadily improved on the backend. He grabbed a career-high 75 loose balls in 2010 with the Boston Blazers. Then in 2011, Dawson notched a career-high five goals and 14 points (5+9).
"I'm getting older now so I guess I can consider myself a veteran. I consider myself a bit of a leader and just bring like a calming presence back there. I'll bring my game, which is kind of big, rough and pretty gritty," he said. "I also like to chip in a few goals. I hopefully make us harder to play against. That's what I try and pride myself on, making big offensive guys' jobs miserable to play against me just through hard, physical defense."
Dawson joins a team poised at defending its 2012 NLL Championship. He cannot wait to put on the Knighthawks jersey Saturday in Montreal to take on the Toronto Rock. Right alongside him will be Dan, as Rochester closes out its preseason and prepares for a new era of Knighthawks lacrosse.
"In this league, like in any league, it's hard to repeat. Every team in this league is really good with only nine teams around. If I can be a huge part of this team repeating, that's why we play the game," he said. "We play to win championships. We play for the love, but at the end of the day you measure yourself by what you won, by how many rings you have on your fingers. There's nothing more that I want than to hoist the Champion's Cup. If we can repeat, I'll be nothing but ecstatic."