Everybody Loves Wray: Rush Assistant Coach Gets Defensive
from press release
EDMONTON, Ab. -- Devan Wray was already a hometown lacrosse hero before he returned to Edmonton and joined the Rush coaching staff in early November. And now the City of Champions' product aims to get defensive with the Rush in preparation for the 2012 National Lacrosse League season.
The former Calgary Roughneck standout retired in the off-season after eight NLL campaigns and 89 regular season games under his belt, plus another 10 playoff contests and Champion's Cup victories with the Roughnecks in 2004 and 2009. He now has the opportunity to add his wealth of experience, knowledge and championship pedigree to the hometown Rush in his new role as Defensive Assistant Coach.
"I couldn't be happier to be where I'm at with the team right now," said Wray. "Bruce (Urban) always runs a first-class organization and I saw that firsthand last year at training camp. It's clear again, in my role in the coaching staff, that the organization is doing things right."
"First and foremost, Devan is a quality person," said Rush head coach and general manager Derek Keenan upon Wray's announcement.
"He's a very knowledgeable lacrosse guy and I believe he is an excellent fit for the coaching staff. I always liked Devan's game as a player and I think he'll bring all those same attributes as a top-notch coach."
Alongside Keenan and Offensive Assistant Coach Todd Lorenz, Wray and the Rush continue to prepare for the upcoming 2012 campaign as the club returns to Six Nations, Ontario, Dec. 3-4, for the second phase of training camp that includes a scrimmage against the defending NLL champion Toronto Rock.
Wray admits the Edmonton defense needs an upgrade as the club wants to improve on its league-worst goals-allowed over the past two seasons with a makeover in the back end that features a young core of athletic D-men in Kyle Rubisch, Chris Corbeil joining Brett Mydske, and more.
"It's an exciting group of athletes to be working with," said Wray. "They're really a young group of talented players.
"There's tons of potential there. We have lots of intelligent, athletic, young defenders. These are guys that have bright futures in the league and I couldn't be happier working with this group."
Although Wray made his way northbound along the QE2 Highway from Calgary, he also brought along a defensive system similar to that of the Roughnecks and will work in the new strategies with the Rush charges during Edmonton's training sessions.
After seeing first-hand the capable defensive systems in other NLL markets, Wray is now implementing a style in Edmonton that's had success on the backend of the carpet, elsewhere.
"We're going to institute a system that's similar to what they've been doing in Toronto, Calgary and Buffalo for the last few years," Wray said. "It's a pressure defensive system.
"It's an up-tempo style of defense. We're going to make teams play faster that they're used to. Make guys make decisions under pressure and make the offensive guys work when we're covering them."
"I'm really excited to be working with him," said Mydske, Edmonton's top defender in 2011. "He's been playing that Calgary-style defense for a while and he's bringing that to Edmonton. I think we have the right group of guys to run it and he's very knowledgeable on that type of defense, so it should work out well for us."
And while Wray now sports black and silver colors, rather than the red, white and black of the Roughnecks, he admits it'll be interesting when the two clubs clash in the 'Battle of Alberta', especially him on the other bench in Calgary.
"It'll be a little odd the first time I walk into the Saddledome and step onto the bench on the opposing side," he said. "But, I couldn't be happier to where I am now and the role I'm in. I had a great career with the Roughnecks and they always treated me well.
"The most important thing now is to start getting some wins for the Rush and I think we have a right mix of players in place to put together a contender."
The club wraps up the final segment of camp December 16-18 at the Leduc Recreation Centre, before the Edmonton opens regular season play Friday, Jan. 20 against divisional rival, the Colorado Mammoth at 7 p.m. at Rexall Place.