The ink on Curt Malawsky’s contract to be general manager and coach of the Vancouver Warriors wasn’t likely completely dry when the team announced goalie Aaron Bold had put pen to paper to come back for another season.
There wasn’t an ounce of coincidence in any of that.
Malawsky made keeping Bold in the fold a priority, signing him to a one-year deal on July 19, which was the day after the Warriors had announced that Malawsky had signed on to run their club following a 10-year turn for Coquitlam as bench boss of the rival Calgary Roughnecks. It was also 13 days before the opening of NLL free agency, which could have included Bold.
The Vancouver Canucks, who own the Warriors, believe that Malawsky can spearhead a turnaround for the club. The Warriors have made the playoffs just once in the past nine seasons and are coming off a 4-14 campaign that left them one spot out of the basement in the 15-team loop. Bold was one of the bright spots, backstopping the team to three of its victories after being added as a free agent midway through the season.
He is prepping for his 18th season in the league, highlighted by making it to three straight (2015-17) league championship series with the Saskatchewan Rush, and winning two of those. At 38 years of age, there’s an argument he’s beyond his best before date. He also happens to be a personal trainer and nutrition coach by trade, and he’s undoubtedly in the best shape of any of the Warriors, according to Malawsky.
Vancouver has its final exhibition game of this preseason Saturday (7 p.m.), when they host the Las Vegas Desert Dogs at the Langley Events Centre Field House. Regular season play begins Dec. 1 at Rogers Arena, with the Warriors hosting the Panther City Lacrosse Club, who are the NLL’s entry from Fort Worth, Texas.
“Goaltending is the most important position in lacrosse. And when you have the opportunity to sign someone with the pedigree of Aaron Bold you jump at it,” Malawsky said. “It’s a great fit for us.”
This is a goalie driven league. It’s much like the CFL with quarterbacks. Malawsky knows that as well as anyone. His Roughnecks teams featured Christian Del Bianco, 26, who’s the reigning league most valuable player.
Vancouver’s ask of Bold to start is to be steadying and stabilizing. They need him to help the team find its footing.
Malawsky rebuilt the defence in free agency, bringing in noted veterans Ryan Dilks, Matt Beers and John Lintz, among others. Malawsky believes that the seasoned rearguards and its seasoned goalie can work well in unison.
“It’s not all on Aaron. We’re going to try to dictate where the shots are coming from and he knows what those expectations are and how his play is going to be conducive to our system,” Malawsky said.
This is a second stint with Vancouver for Bold, who signed on as a free agent with the Warriors for the 2019 season. He confirmed midway through that season his wife Michelle had suffered a cancer recurrence.
The Warriors announced the following January that they had released Bold. He sent out messages on social media thanking the Warriors staff and players for the opportunity. He also stated via a text message with Postmedia then that he would look to get back in the league at some point.
He would sign on with the Halifax Thunderbirds in October 2021 and he saw minimal duty there. Halifax released him last November.
Michelle died May 18, 2020. She was 35.
“He and his family had a horrific tragedy,” Malawsky said. “I don’t know if you ever really get by something like that, but time helps you heal, and I know he’ll always have Michelle in his heart.
“I think we’re going to see a real good version of him this season.”
Malawsky is keen as well on Bold mentoring Vancouver’s next group of goalies. The team’s roster includes NLL sophomore Aden Walsh, 22, who was the starter last year until Bold arrived, and rookie Connor O’Toole, 20, who was a first-round pick, No. 18 overall, in September’s NLL Draft. O’Toole was one of four Vancouver first rounders.
The Warriors inked Bold last February and he wound up 3-5, with an 11.95 goals against average. Walsh was 1-6, with a 14.88 goals against average.
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