Talent parity among National Lacrosse League teams is so pronounced that there has not been a repeat champion since 2003. However, the Rochester Knighthawks could buck the trend in 2013.
Rochester grabbed a lot of attention after winning the Champion's Cup last spring by adding former league MVP forwards Dan Dawson, acquired in a huge December trade, and Casey Powell, who is making a comeback after a year off.
The only team among the nine with a new head coach is the one that had the best regular-season record last year. The Calgary Roughnecks dumped Dave Pym and gave assistant Curt Malawsky the top job after being upset in the West semis.
Here's a glance at the teams in the order in which they finished the last regular season:
1. TORONTO, 9-7; lost division final at home 17-13 to Rochester.
Last title: 2011
Season opener: Jan. 12 at Calgary
GM: Terry Sanderson
Head coach: Troy Cordingley
Returning players: G Nick Rose, D Sandy Chapman, D Patrick Merrill, D Cam Woods, D Damon Edwards, D Jesse Gamble, D Bill Greer, D Mike Hobbins, D Stephen Hoar, D Rob Marshall, F Kasey Beirnes, F Garrett Billings, F Colin Doyle, F Rob Hellyer, F Stephan Leblanc, F Blaine Manning, F Josh Sanderson.
In: G Zack Boychuk, D Chris White, T Kyle Belton, F Scott Evans, F Brandon Ivey, F Scott Johnston.
Out: G Pat Campbell, D Bruce Codd, D Glen Bryan, F Jamie Rooney, F Dan Carey.
Quote: "The way we exited from the playoffs last year, I can't see how any of the veterans can't come in with a little chip on their shoulder and be hungry." -- Cordingley
Notes: Veteran D Phil Sanderson, who missed the last portion of the 2012 season and the playoffs due to a concussion, is on injured reserve. ... F Brenden Thenhaus, D Brad Kri and G Tyler Glebe are on the practice roster. ... Johnston won't be available for the Jan. 12 season opener in Calgary as he'll be serving a one-game suspension for an illegal cross-check during a Dec. 8 Edmonton-Toronto scrimmage. ... Hellyer appeared in only one game last year before concussion symptoms wiped out his season. He's back, and looking good on the attack. ... D Mike Lum-Walker, a second-round 2012 draft pick, is on the injured reserve list and is to undergo knee surgery this month.
2. ROCHESTER, 7-9, won Champion's Cup with 9-6 home win over Edmonton.
Last title: 2012
Season opener: Jan. 5 at Washington
GM: Curt Styres
Head coach: Mike Hasen
Returning players: G Matt Vinc, G Jake Henhawk, D Sid Smith, D Mike Kirk, D Rory Glaves, D Scott Campbell, D Dylan Evans, D Jamie Batson, D Tyler Burton, T Brad Self, T Alex Kedoh Hill, F Mike Accursi, F Craig Point, F Stephen Keogh, F Cody Jamieson, F Joe Walters, F Cory Vitarelli, F Johnny Powless.
In: D Paul Dawson, T Joel McCready, T Matt Hummel, F Dan Dawson, F Casey Powell.
Out: D Pat McCready, T Jarrett Davis, T Jordan Hall, T Joel White.
Quote: "We want to go out there and show teams that we were for real last year," says Vinc. "We will work hard every shift and are looking to defend our title. That all starts Game 1."
Notes: It has been 3 1/2 years since Styres bought the `Hawks for $5,575,000, the highest price paid for a team in league history, and his work since has been nothing short of brilliant. ... Joel McCready returns after a year off learning to be a firefighter. His uncle Pat decided he'd had enough of the travel and bruises. ... D Ian Llord, D Cody McLeod and T Tom Montour are on the practice roster . . . D Ryan Cousins is listed as physically unable to perform. ... Veteran D Kyle Laverty has yet to come to a contract agreement so is classified as a non-roster holdout.
3. BUFFALO, 7-9, lost division semi 7-6 in Toronto.
Last title: 2008
Season opener: Jan. 11 at Philadelphia
GM: Steve Dietrich
Head coach: Darris Kilgour
Returning players: G Anthony Cosmo, D Billy Dee Smith, D Scott Self, D Steve Priolo, T Jon Harasym, T Mark Steenhuis, T Jay Thorimbert, F John Tavares, F Tracey Kelusky, F Chad Culp, F Luke Wiles.
In: G Kurtis Wager, D Derek Suddons, D Glen Bryan, D Michael McNamara, T David Brock, F Shawn Williams, T Hayden Smith, F Mike Hominuck, F Dhane Smith, F Aaron Wilson, F Nick Cottter, F Carter Bender.
Out: G Mike Thompson, D Chris White, D Ian Llord, D Darryl Gibson, D Brandon Francis, T Tom Montour, T Jeremy Thompson, F Kevin Buchanan, F Roger Vyse.
Quote: "I'm looking forward to playing with all these new young players and seeing if we can get back to being a championship-calibre team like we had in the past." -- Tavares
Notes: It's a complete Bandits makeover with a new GM, a multitude of lineup changes and new throwback uniforms. ... One thing remains the same: Tavares is at the heart of the offence. At age 44, the Mississauga high school math teacher begins his 22nd pro indoor season. ... F Derek Hopcroft, T Kevin Brownell and T Craig England are on the practice squad. ... F Mat Giles, F Jamie Rooney and T Jordan Critch are on injured reserve. ... D Jimmy Purves is physically unable to perform.
4. PHILADELPHIA, 7-9, lost division semi 14-13 in Rochester.
Last title: 2001
Season opener: Jan. 11 at home vs. Buffalo
GM-coach: Johnny Mouradian
Returning players: G Brandon Miller, D Brett Manney, D Jeff Reynolds, D Pat Heim, D Steve Holmes, T Brodie Merrill, T Max Seibald, F Kevin Crowley, F Ned Crotty, F Drew Westervelt, F Brendan Mundorf.
In: G Kevin Croswell, G Jake Lazore, D CJ Costabile, D Brian Teuber, D Chad Wiedmaier, D Michael Manley, T Kyle Hartzell, T Paul Rabil, T Jordan Hall, T Joel White, F Kevin Ross, F Kevin Buchanan, F Ethan Farrell, F Will Harrington.
Out: G Kurtis Wagar, D Paul Dawson, D Tom Hajek, D Chris Schiller, D Taylor Wray, T David Brock, T Jordan Sealock, T Matt Danowski, F Dan Dawson, F Mike Hominuck.
Quote: "We gave up Dan Dawson but we needed Paul Rabil in this league and we're really excited to have him." -- Mouradian
Notes: Mundorf, a 28-goal scorer last season, and D John McFadyen are classified as physically unable to perform so are not yet on the active roster. ... Easing the pain is the addition of Ross, who was a 28-goal man with Minnesota last season. ... D Dan Hardy and D Matt Alrich are on injured reserve. ... Mike French of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., has bought out longtime co-owners Chris Fritz and Russ Cline and now is majority owner as well as president of the Wings.
1. CALGARY, 12-4, lost division semi 19-11 at home to Edmonton.
Last title: 2009
Season opener: Jan. 12 at home vs. Toronto
GM: Mike Board
Head coach: Curt Malawsky
Returning players: G Mike Poulin, G Frank Scigliano, D Mike Carnegie, D Scott Carnegie, D Greg Harnett, D Jon Harnett, D Nolan Heavenor, D Curtis Manning, D Dan MacRae, D Andrew McBride, D Peter McFetridge, T Travis Cornwall, T Scott Ranger, T Jeff Shatler, T Geoff Snider, F Curtis Dickson, F Dane Dobbie, F Shawn Evans, F Daryl Veltman.
In: D Matthew Dinsdale, D Brad Richardson, F Joe Resetarits, F Jackson Decker, F Aaron Pascas.
Out: D Mike Kilby, F Kaleb Toth, F Cory Conway.
Quote: "We still have a bad taste in our mouths over that playoff loss," Board says of last spring's first-round playoff loss to Edmonton. "Everybody is fired up and ready to go."
Notes: Former head coach Dave Pym now is Toronto's Western Canada scout. ... With Malawsky promoted to head coach, Bruce Codd, who helped the `Necks win the title in 2009, gets the vacated assistant's job. ... Dobbie is suspended for the season opener as a result of an incident late in his team's May 5 playoff loss to Edmonton. ... Dinsdale was the B.C. junior league's scoring champion playing for the Coquitlam side that Malawsky coaches during the summer.
2. COLORADO, 11-5, lost division semi 14-10 at home to Minnesota.
Last title: 2006
Season opener: Jan. 12 at home vs. Washington
GM: Steve Govett
Head coach: Bob Hamley
Returning players: G Chris Levis, D John Gallant, D Rory Smith, D Jon Sullivan, D Dan Coates, D Mac Allen, D Creighton Reid, D Cam Holding, Mat MacLeod, T Ilija Gajic, T Joey Cupido, F John Grant Jr., F Gavin Prout, F Jordan McBride, F Adam Jones, F Sean Pollock, F Jamie Lincoln.
In: G Matt Roik, T Rich Morgan, T Chet Koneczny, T Jaeden Gastaldo, F Brad Dalgarno, F Colton Clark.
Out: D Ian Hawksbee, D Jed Prossner, T Scott Stewart, F Cory Conway, F Derek Hopcroft
Quote: "Our team was solid last year and we think the new faces give us a great chance to be even better in 2013," says Hamley.
Notes: Roik is eager to prove he can win in the NLL again after being unceremoniously dumped by Toronto 10 games into the 2012 season. ... To make room for Roik in the crease, Tye Belanger was designated as physically unable to perform. ... Six-foot-eight Morgan has been a terrifying D-man but Colorado aims to use him to set picks for league MVP John Grant Jr. ... Jarett Park is on injured reserve ... Dalgarno returns after a year off earning some seniority as a British Columbia firefighter. ... D Eric Martin and F Alex Demopoulos are on the practice squad.
3. MINNESOTA, 9-7, lost division final 15-3 at home to Edmonton.
Last title: None
Season opener: Jan. 12 at Buffalo
Returning players: G Evan Kirk, G Tyler Carlson, D Dan Ball, D Mitch Belisle, D Nik Bilic, D Greg Downing, D Jeff Gilbert, T Andrew Suitor, T Andrew Watt, T David Earl, T Tyler Hass, T Jordan MacIntosh, F Ryan Benesch, F Jay Card, F Callum Crawford, F Joel Henry, F Pat Smith, F Corbyn Tao.
In: D Alex Crepinsek, D Mike O'Brien, T Kyle Matisz, F Matt Gibson, F Shayne Jackson.
Out: D Joe Cinosky, D Brendan Doran, D Rich Morgan, F Kevin Ross, F Josh Gillam
Quote: "When you can find speed and size in five or six new players, that's really exciting," says Sullivan. "Our fans are going to be thrilled with the tempo of our play."
Notes: Suitor to sit out first two games serving league suspension. ... T Brock Sorensen, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 entry draft, is not on the active roster as he's still not fully recovered from a knee injury suffered playing NCAA field lacrosse at Ohio State last spring. ... T Tyler Tanguay, G Zach Higgins and G Ryan Masters are on the practice roster. ... The Swarm had four first-round 2012 draft picks and they'll have four more this year.
4. EDMONTON, 6-10, lost Champion's Cup game 9-6 in Rochester.
Last title: None
Season opener: home Jan. 13 vs. Toronto
Returning players: G Aaron Bold, G Brodie MacDonald, D Brett Mydske, D Kyle Rubisch, D Chris Corbeil, D Ryan Dilks, D Jarrett Toll, D Jeff Cornwall, D John Lintz, T Jim Quinlan, T John Lafontaine, F Zack Greer, F Tom Johnson, F Ryan Ward, F Cory Small.
In: T Jeremy Thompson, T Jarrett Davis, F Mark Matthews, F Curtis Knight, F Cory Conway, F Mitchell Banister, F Michael Burke, F Alex Turner.
Out: D Derek Suddons, D Tyler Codron, T Steve Toll, F Shawn Williams, F Aaron Wilson, F Scott Evans.
Quote: "We have reached our objective of infusing youth, speed and athleticism in all areas while at the same time maintaining some veteran leadership," says Keenan.
Notes: Codron has joined the Burnaby, B.C., fire department and due to an evaluation period is unable to commit to weekend games. ... Davis was a valuable contributor in Rochester's late-season run to the title and the Rush got him for a player, Paul Rabil, who had refused to suit up for them. ... Knight was Canadian junior player of the year in 2012. ... Knight, Matthews and returnee John LaFontaine were teammates on Whitby, Ont., junior teams Keenan coaches in the summer.
5. WASHINGTON, 4-12, missed playoffs.
Last title: 2010
Season opener: Jan. 5 at home vs. Rochester
GM: Doug Locker
Head coach: Chris Hall
Returning players: G Tyler Richards, D Kyle Sorensen, D Jeff Moleski, D Curtis Hodgson, D Matt Beers, D Mike Grimes, D Chris O'Dougherty, D Chris McElroy, T Bob Snider, F Rhys Duch, F Lewis Ratcliff, F Athan Iannucci, F Brett Bucktooth, F Dean Hill, F Cliff Smith.
In: G Nick Patterson, D Tyler Garrison, D Justin Pychel, D Tim Henderson, D Pat O'Meara, D Dave Joyce, T Mitch McMichael, F Kyle Buchanan.
Out: G Kevin Croswell, D Kyle Hartzell, D Eric Martin, D Kyle Ross, T Jason Bloom, T Chet Koneczny, F Cam Sedgwick, F Jeff Zywicki.
Quote: "I'm very excited about this team," says Hall. "Our general lacrosse intelligence has improved a ton since last season. We're awfully happy with these kids. We're more energized. We're bigger, faster and stronger."
Notes: Zywicki once scored 48 goals in a season but competition for jobs was so intense he couldn't hang onto one after being plagued by injuries in 2012. ... Sorensen takes over as captain from Bloom, who joins the coaching staff. ... F Brett Hickey, F Mike Mallory and T Justin Salt were placed on the practice roster. ... On injured reserve are rookies Billy Hostrawser and Drew Snider.