December 21, 2017 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Toronto Rock
Toronto, ON - Toronto Rock Owner, President and GM Jamie Dawick has announced a trade with the New England Black Wolves that sends veteran Rock forward Stephan Leblanc and Toronto's 2018 3rd Round NLL Draft pick to New England for transition player Sheldon Burns and a 2018 2nd Round NLL Draft pick. The 2nd round pick acquired in the trade originally belonged to the Saskatchewan Rush and was previously acquired by the Black Wolves.
"There's a few factors here," said Dawick about the decision to make a move now. "This season has not started the way we wanted and we are not to putting that on Steph by any means. I feel we need to improve our back end and transition game and in this league you always have to give something to get something."
Burns was originally selected in the 3rd round of the 2014 NLL Draft, 22nd overall by New England. He has quickly established himself as a steady defender and a threat in transition through just three seasons in the league. In each of his last two seasons, he's scored nine goals and in 2016 he scored a career-high 20 points while ending up just shy of that mark with 19 points in 2017. His 90 loose balls were third on the team in 2017 and he set a career high with 104 loose balls in 2016, ranking second on the Black Wolves. He has played in all 18 games in each of the last two seasons.
The 26-year old from Whitby, ON played his NCAA lacrosse at Dowling College and spent his Jr. A career with his hometown Whitby Warriors. Burns captured the Minto Cup Canadian Jr. A Lacrosse Championship in 2011 with Whitby.
"He's a younger defender in this league," said Dawick of Burns. "He is an excellent transition player who can score goals from the back end and that is something we're struggling with right now. I'm excited to bring Sheldon in and have him help us get things back on track."
Leblanc leaves a tremendous legacy behind him in Toronto. Originally selected in the 1st round, 9th overall in the 2009 NLL Draft, the Dundas, ON native won the NLL's Rookie of the Year Award in 2010 and followed that up by scoring the game-winning goal for the Rock in the 2011 Champion's Cup final. He ranks fourth all-time in Rock scoring with 601 points behind only Colin Doyle, Blaine Manning and Josh Sanderson and is third in goals with 249 and fifth in assists with 352.
"It's the toughest deal I've had to make in my tenure with the team," expressed Dawick who has owned the Rock since the 2010 season. "Steph has been here since day one with me and he's been a warrior and a loyal guy to the franchise. It's very tough, but in professional sports a lot of variables come into play. Circumstances change and there is also expansion looming, this is the time I had to do something. It is difficult to say goodbye to him."
The trade now leaves the Rock with just two holdovers from the team's last championship in 2011 in defender Sandy Chapman and forward Rob Hellyer.
The Rock have a bye week and return to action at home on Saturday, December 30th against the Buffalo Bandits at Air Canada Centre. Toronto Rock season and single game tickets are on sale now. For more information, please visit torontorock.com/tickets or call 416-596-3075.
Mike Hancock | Director of Communications & Lacrosse Operations
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