by Dale Mackenzie…….
The letter I received (above) confirmed a phone call from John Ferguson in 1974. His voice on the phone was clear and firm. I had been drafted 2nd by the Montreal Quebecois Lacrosse Club of the NLL. My life changed at that moment.
Now 45 years later I reflect on that decision. A decision that was considered by over 100 other pro hopefuls across the new 6 team league as well. To abandon everything else and take a chance on the life of a professional athlete. The tradeoff in my case was the completion of a Kinesiology degree or playing lacrosse in the Montreal Forum for money! The decision also considered the fact that I had just made the Canadian Field Lacrosse Team that was to go to Australia for the World Field lacrosse championships. Amateurs! The choice was made.
Looking back, I wouldn’t trade the experience for any other. It was an adventure from Day 1. Training camp and media adoration for this new and exciting league was unforgettable. We changed for home games in the Montreal Canadians locker room. Pictures around the room of all the legends of hockey were motivational and inspiring.
The Rocket, Beliveau … all of them amazing. The Forum fans were supportive and loud! Every event, trip, game was unreal. Playing lacrosse, aspiring to be the best you could be was what professionalism was all about to me. Perform or lose your spot. Perfecting skills, learning from others like John Davis, Gaylord, Ross Jones … it was surreal for a 24 year old.
Getting back to the letter, it was forwarded to me by my father after I had asked him to open it. His comment on the bottom gave his approval and cautionary advice.
So I migrated to Quebec and immersed myself in the world of Lacrosse until the rug was pulled out in the fall of 1975 when the league ceased operations. A brief but life changing career was gone too soon and it was time to pick up the pieces.