Keenan was originally selected first overall in the 2016 Entry Draft.
YORKTON – The Saskatchewan Rush are certainly headed to a season of transition, if not a complete rebuild.
Gone are the likes of Mark Matthews and Kyle Rubisch, but, there will be some familiar faces returning including forward Ryan Keenan.
The Rush recently signed Keenan to a two-year contract, taking him through the 2024/25 season.
“It was something I wanted to get done,” he told Yorkton This Week in a recent interview. “There is no where else I’d like to be.”
The 6’1 lefty forward posted 72 points last season, just one shy of his career high which was set back in 2018.
Now with 107 games under his belt, 135 goals and 239 assists to his name, the National Lacrosse League champ will be looked upon to lead the charge with the youth movement in Saskatchewan, noted a Rush release.
“It’s a younger core,” he said, adding it is also a core he thinks has the potential to surprise and “make a big push back to the playoffs.”
Certainly the team will look different in the post Matthews era, since much of the Rush offence flowed through him for years.
“Mark was one of the best of all time to play the game,” said Keenan.
However teams evolve too.
“It was time to move in a different direction,” said Keenan.
That said Keenan noted there is still some dominant holdovers too, pointing to Robert Church who he noted “is one of the best players in the league.”
Recently, the Rush also resigned Church to a one year contract, pending league approval.
Church led the team with 51 goals and 103 points last season in one of the best statistical campaigns of his career.
But change means the Rush will look different this upcoming season.
“It will be different,” said Keenan, adding that might not be bad as teams won’t be able to just focus a plan around defending Matthews as the team’s quarterback.
“Teams will have to approach us different.”
The revamped Rush are likely to be an overall faster crew and that should be seen in the off-ball game, “and the pace of play,” suggested Keenan.
The Rush are bigger now too.
“We needed some more size up front,” offered Keenan.
It is likely to put some added emphasis on Keenan too.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity – the challenge,” he said, adding it’s likely to be “a little more balanced on offence.”
There will also be more of a leadership role for veterans like Keenan. He said he wants to lead “by being ready to play. I pride myself in being one of the guy’s ready to go going to camp. I always try to be ready.”
And, Keenan said the team needs to be ready, after two seasons of looking back at where a close loss or two had them out of the playoffs come season end.
“We’re there to win,” he said, adding the last couple of season there were games “we just kind of let slip away.”
Keenan was originally selected first overall in the 2016 Entry Draft. The Quinnipiac and Whitby Warrior alumni is heading into his seventh NLL season.