Hockey and lacrosse have long been connected. Newsy Lalonde, one of the NHL's first superstars when the league was born in 1917, was also among Canada's top lacrosse players.
Over the years, John Tavares, Brendan Shanahan and Adam Oates were among the NHL stars who were also standouts in box lacrosse.
In fact, if you are hoping that your kid might make it big on the ice, you might want to let them put away their skates for the summer and exchange the hockey stick and puck for a lacrosse stick and ball.
“For me, it was always hockey in the winter, lacrosse in the summer,” Calgary Flames forward Sean Monahan told EliteLevelHockey.com.
Monahan grew up playing lacrosse in Brampton, Ontario. “The two really work together really well," he explained. “I think hockey and lacrosse are two sports that complement each other well."
Certainly, there are skills that cross over between the two sports. Setting screens and engaging in quick ball movement are part and parcel of creating offense on the lacrosse floor. The footwork and dexterity required to play defense are also similar to the demands of lateral movement placed upon a hockey defenseman. And the cardio workout from all the running is beneficial, much like skating all-out during a hockey shift.
“It’s such a great sport,” Monahan said. “I played it growing up and loved it. It’s my favourite sport to watch.
“You don’t realize how much goes into the game to play it. It’s aggressive and skilled – it’s a real treat to watch.”
The multi-sport approach works both ways. USA Lacrosse is emphasizing the pursuit of multi-sport athletes when it comes to the assembly of national team squads.
U.S. college lacrosse features more life-long multi-sport athletes (37%) than any other NCAA sport. Penn State lacrosse coach Jeff Tambroni acknowledged that when recruiting, he's partial to multi-sport athletes.
"I really believe multi-sport participation increases the athletic IQ of players," Tambroni told USA Lacrosse. "Being a member of different teams provides opportunities to develop game instincts that produce more athletic players.
"There are parallels between certain sports, and we'll look at a player's athleticism in another sport and project his potential as a lacrosse player."