THROWBACK THURSDAY WITH DAN TEATJun 15, 2017
By Craig Rybczynski -- After years of playing lacrosse in his hometown of Brampton, Ontario, Dan Teat finally got his shot at pro lacrosse in 1997. Back then, at 25 years old, Teat was an undrafted free agent who made the Rochester Knighthawks following an impressive showing in rookie camp.
At the time, the Knighthawks were already an established franchise having advanced to playoff berths – including one Finals appearance – in their first two seasons of operation. The roster was full of future Hall of Famers with the likes of Paul Gait, Duane “Dewey” Jacobs, Steve “Chugger” Dietrich and Tim Soudan leading the way.
“Joining a team with the likes of ‘Gaiter,’ Dewey and Chugger was amazing,” said Teat. “Being able to learn the pro world and learning from those guys made it easier.”
The rugged righty forward made his pro debut on Jan. 4, 1997 in a 19-17 Knighthawks win over the defending champion Buffalo Bandits. In his inaugural campaign, he played in nine of the team’s 10 regular season games. It was in the postseason, however, that Teat upped his game, posting seven points in two games. In the Major Indoor Lacrosse League Finals, he scored two goals and dished out three assists as Rochester captured the 1997 championship. Winning a title in his first season of pro lacrosse made the experience even more memorable.
“Winning the 1997 championship as a rookie was a great feeling, especially knowing a lot of people never gave us a chance,” he said. “Buffalo was a great team and it was in Buffalo. We believed…and we had Paul (Gait), Chugger and Dewey.”
Teat would spend four seasons in Rochester, making two more trips to the Finals. He registered 41 goals, 44 assists and 158 loose balls in 42 games with the Knighthawks. In 1998, he was named the team’s Unsung Hero after finishing sixth on the team with a career-high 29 points.
“Winning the Unsung Hero Award was great considering so many guys on the team deserved it as well,” he said. “We had (great team) guys like Jeremy Hollenbeck, Regy Thorpe and Chris Driscoll.”
After wrapping up his tenure in Rochester with back-to-back trips to the National Lacrosse League Finals, Teat signed with the Albany Attack. His career would also take him to Buffalo, Edmonton and Philadelphia. In 2009, he led one of the league’s newest teams, the Edmonton Rush, in goals, assists and points. He would play a total of 14 seasons of pro lacrosse, collecting 298 goals and 332 assists in 195 games.
Teat, who announced his retirement in 2011, said playing in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League – which became the NLL in 1998 – was a dream of his when he first started playing in Brampton.
“The best part about being a pro lacrosse player was being able to do something I grew up playing,” he said. “It's something we love and dream of playing, on a larger stage, when we are in our small summer arenas.”
His lacrosse heroes growing up were guys like Tom Patrick, Bob Burke and Jim Veltman.
His lacrosse idol, however, was his late father, Jeff. It was his dad who signed him up for the sport shortly after moving the family to the lacrosse hotbed. Jeff was a fixture in the Brampton lacrosse community for over 40 years, serving as a volunteer, coach and parent. Jeff was the longtime equipment manager for the Major Series Lacrosse Brampton Excelsiors. During four of those seasons, he and Dan raised the Mann Cup together.
“My dad was my biggest influence, along with so many great coaches,” said Dan.
Dan has followed in his dad’s footsteps when it comes to teaching and mentoring young players. Teat has worked in the NLL and at the junior and senior levels. An auto mechanic at Mississauga Toyota, he stresses hard work but also the importance of having fun.
“I pass on to players that it doesn't last forever,” he said. “You have to put your most into it and really focus on enjoying it. And (most importantly) always have your stick in your hand.”
It was 20 years ago that Teat broke in with the Knighthawks. The father of three boys now spends his time tracking the progress of his eldest son, Jeff, who is a lacrosse phenom. The 20-year-old attackman was Inside Lacrosse Magazine’s No. 1 rated in-coming freshman in 2016. He recently completed his first year at Cornell University with a team-leading 72 points.
“I am extremely proud watching Jeff play at the level he does, from summer lacrosse in Brampton, to a great experience at the Hill Academy, to his freshman year at Cornell,” said Dan. “I'm a little biased, but he is one of the best young lacrosse players I have ever watched and it’s fun being a part of it.”