SAINT PAUL, Minn. - The National Lacrosse League has announced that Joe Sullivan of the Minnesota Swarm is the winner of the Les Bartley Award, presented to the Head Coach of the Year for the 2012 season.
Sullivan, who is also Minnesota’s associate general manager, took over behind the bench as head coach for the first time in his career after he was promoted on February 22 following a 3-3 start. Guiding a club that features a league-high 12 rookies – including first-round picks Jordan MacIntosh and Evan Kirk – Sullivan led Minnesota to a 6-4 finish and four straight wins to close the regular season.
Minnesota's 9-7 regular season finish in 2012 tied a franchise mark for the second best record in team history. This past Saturday, Sullivan helped the Swarm collect their first playoff win in the franchise’s eight-year history with a 14-10 road win against Colorado.
“First I want to thank the Arlotta’s for trusting me with this great team and group of young guys,” Sullivan said. “I want to thank the coaches because without a good staff you’re nothing. Bobby Keast, Aime Caines and all the trainers, doctors, and chiro people that put all of the time into everything do a great of a job and make my job easier. I have to thank my wife, Stacey, and my two kids for their support. It’s nice to know when you’re on the road playing that they’re home cheering for you.”
Sullivan went on to add, “Finally, I want to thank the young team that I have. Every one of them is a special part of this thing. I don’t know how this will all play out, but I know they’re always going to work hard.”
This season, the Swarm implemented new systems on offense and defense in training camp and fielded a team that had 16 new faces see floor time. Predicted by many media members to win only a few games this season, Sullivan’s squad came together faster than anticipated under his leadership.
Minnesota also tied a franchise record six home wins this season and finished with its best record (4-2) against the East Division since switching to the West Division in 2009.
Sullivan will lead the Swarm into the West Divisional Final against the Edmonton Rush at 8:30 p.m. CT Saturday night from the Xcel Energy Center. The game will air live on CBS Sports Network.
“I’d like to congratulate Joe on this well-deserved award,” Swarm Owner & President John Arlotta said. “Joe was given a completely revamped team, and in a very short period of time he was able to implement his systems and execute a game plan. We had 16 new players, and the team gelled together faster than we could have imagined. He has great management and communication skills that allow him to help our younger players navigate their way through the ups and downs of a NLL season.”
Dave Pym of the Calgary Roughnecks and Bob Hamley of the Colorado Mammoth finished in a tie for second.
The Head Coach of the Year award is named in honor of the late Les Bartley, whose contribution to his teams, to the NLL, and to the game of lacrosse is immeasurable. Bartley, who lost his battle with colon cancer in May of 2005, left behind a coaching legacy. He won seven championship rings in his twelve year coaching tenure and tallied an astonishing 93-38 regular season record behind the bench.
The announcements of 2012 NLL Season Awards continues Thursday with the Goaltender of the Year. The awards are voted on by the league's board of governors, general managers and head coaches.