Ratcliff 'frustrated' over suspension from Nanaimo Timbermen

Greg Sakaki/Nanaimo News Bulletin
With files from Travis Paterson

The Nanaimo Timbermen’s suspension of star forward Lewis Ratcliff could mean the end of Ratcliff’s Western Lacrosse Association career.

On Friday (July 29) Ratcliff was suspended for the rest of the 2011 season by Timbermen’s president Hadi Abassi for missing too many practices and games.

The decision came down from ownership.

“We need the type of player for our franchise that they are here, they practise with us, they play with us and they are fully here,” Abassi said. “He couldn’t be here for all the practices and he missed some of the games and I decided that’s not a very healthy thing for our franchise.”

Ratcliff is 30 years old and is already one of professional lacrosse’s top-10 scorers of all time. But Abassi said it was still important for the star to be at practice.

However, Ratcliff’s absence from Nanaimo’s 10-9 overtime loss in Coquitlam on July 23 seems to have be the tipping point.

"It’s frustrating. I missed an important game but it was one they knew I was going to miss a few months back,” Ratcliff told the News over the phone on Friday.

"I missed (the Adanacs game) because of work. I do my best to be there as much as possible, I’m not in a position to sit around all day, a lot of guys are only 20 and 21 years, they don’t have jobs and families and I have both and it’s hard to juggle, I’ve done my best."

For the Coquitlam game Ratcliff was on a California tour as director and manager Seattle Starz youth field lacrosse program.

“If I played I then I don't take 30 boys for their California trip."

Ratcliff commutes to all Nanaimo games and practices from his home on the West Shore. He also runs a fitness gym and is the director of Spectrum Community school’s lacrosse academy during the school year.

Abassi said there was “miscommunication” between the team and Ratcliff.

“I didn’t like that,” Abassi said. “I felt I wasn’t getting 100 per cent commitment to our franchise. You can’t have two rules for two different players.”

The suspension came on the same day the T-men visited Ratcliff’s hometown and former club, the Victoria Shamrocks on Friday night, the first of a home-and-home that continued in Nanaimo on Saturday (July 30).

“Lewis is a good friend of mine and I know he is upset by this decision,” said Art Webster, Timbermen coach.

Ratcliff had 26 goals and 26 assists in 10 games this summer. Webster said the team will miss the sniper’s contributions, but will try to move on.

With all his commitments he said he doesn’t see a return to the WLA. Ratcliff has one year left on his contract and the T-men say they will seek to trade him for fair value, not simply offer him his release.


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