Is he a worth a pile of cash or a pile of crap?
That is what the Chesapeake Bayhawks will have to decide over their star player Lyle Thompson.
He was one of the best players ever to grace the field of college lacrosse. However, his outdoor professional game has not been as successful.
Accompanied by only the legendary Mikey Powell as a two time winner of the prestigious Tewaaraton Award, expectations were extremely high right from the start. Thompson was selected first overall in the 2015 Major League Lacrosse Draft by the Florida Launch.
Yet, the new lacrosse franchise opted to take a Philadelphia 76ers “process” type of move and ship Thompson to the Chesapeake Bayhawks for some draft picks and a bag of chips. The Launch’s unproven roster saw them plummet to the bottom of the league standings, allowing them to select Dylan Molloy of Brown with the number one pick in this past year’s draft.
Florida clinched their first playoff berth on the back of their star rookie’s play. Molloy’s goal-scoring presence and ability to coexist with Kieran McArdle has propelled him into the conversation for Rookie of the Year with Josh Byrne of the Bayhawks.
Thompson’s individual success however, has yet to transfer over to the professional game. (His indoor success can be marked with his 2017 National Lacrosse League MVP Award.)
Touted as the next best player in the world, Thompson has failed to deliver any success to his teams as he is yet to play a game in the postseason. Something is definitely missing from this kind of magical season at Albany.
In his third season in a league where the fast-paced and up tempo style lacrosse would presumably suit his flair for the spectacular, the questions begs: why is this the case?
The answer is quite simply he has not played enough. With the insane stick skills and box lacrosse background that he has had, Lyle has flourished in the indoor lacrosse league called the National Lacrosse League played during the winter months.
The overlapping schedules of the NLL and MLL is the major problem in this. Players who play in both and do well in the playoffs of indoor cannot commit to playing full time in the MLL. Thompson had a long playoff run of his own this past year, winning the championship with this game-winning assist to his brother Miles. Lyle and a select group of players who play in both leagues come into the outdoor season with half of the season already played, especially the ones who make the deep runs in the long NLL playoffs.
This time commitment is what swayed the Florida Launch clear of Lyle Thompson, and the decision to part ways has payed off.
Thompson, a guy who practically sleeps with his lacrosse stick, always preaches team chemistry to being the key to success.
“Chemistry with the team is huge,” Thompson said in a Lax Sports Net post-game interview after he erupted for a four-goal performance at home. “Knowing what each other likes to do is very important for me and the team.”
That team chemistry only comes with time, and with Thompson coming into the league halfway into the season, that is something he simply does not have.
Chesapeake now have missed the playoffs the past four seasons. The big choice to make is to keep such a talented player who can only commit to play half of the season in Thompson, or follow in Florida’s footsteps.
Whether Thompson, who has now won all there is to win in the NLL, will commit to playing outdoor full time remains to be seen, but his skill in both leagues still astounds fans every game.
One thing is for certain: some reform is needed with the overlapping schedules of the MLL and NLL schedules. Like, “What the Sports” is up with that?!