The Major Indoor Lacrosse League announced yesterday that Paul and Gary Gait will not be playing for the Baltimore Thunder this coming season.
The Canadian superstars, who had played the past two seasons with the Detroit Turbos, live and work in Baltimore but will play for the Philadelphia Wings in 1993.
"It was a tough decision," said MILL president Chris Fritz. "Someone wasn't going to be happy, but we have to do what's best for the league."
Fritz, who co-owns all seven MILL teams with Russ Cline, said the deciding factor was the MILL's cable television contract with Prime Network.
"Prime is broadcasting 10 games of the week, and three of them are from Philadelphia," said Fritz. "In addition, [the Wings] are the visiting team in two other games, so 50 percent of the games will feature the Gaits. When you have two big stars, and they're not on television, you're missing the boat."
The Gaits, who grew up playing box lacrosse in Canada, led Syracuse to three straight NCAA championships from 1988 to 1990 and led the Turbos to the title in their first year in the league.
"I was very interested in playing in Baltimore," said Gary Gait. "It would have been nice with this being such a big lacrosse town, but [Fritz and Cline] have to do what's best for the league."
In compensation for getting the Gaits, Philadelphia gave up its five draft picks in this year's draft. Because MILL teams draft from a regional pool of players, Baltimore and the Pittsburgh Bulls got to choose from a larger number of players.
The Thunder used its five picks to draft Jim Blanding (Loyola College),Tom Stanziale (Delaware), Adam Wright (Johns Hopkins), Garth Appelt (Virginia, Loyola High School) and Brian Burlace (Maryland, St. Mary's High School).
"I would have given up my five picks for the Gaits," said Thunder general manager Darrell Russell. "But we got some good players. I had a list of five players, and I was able to get four of them."
Jim Buzcek (North Carolina, Loyola High School), would have been Russell's second choice, but he was drafted with Pittsburgh's first pick.
The Bulls also drafted Lindsay Dixon (Towson State, Broadneck), John Blatchley (Towson State, Loyola High School), Jeff Wills (Johns Hopkins, Loyola High School) and Steve Marohl (UMBC, South River).
"I've got to live with [the Gait decision]," said Russell. "Russ and Chris have made this [league] possible. The bottom line is that we have to survive, and it's important that Philadelphia does well."
Said Fritz: "I think it worked out well for everyone."