Athan Iannucci scored an NLL record 71 goals during the 2008 regular season.
The Washington Stealth has announced today a trade for 2008 National Lacrosse League Most Valuable Player Athan Iannucci. The Stealth receives Iannucci and a second round pick in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft from the Edmonton Rush in exchange for transition player Paul Rabil and a first round pick in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft.
Iannucci, 29, is widely regarded as one of the most dangerous goal-scorers in the game today. In just 54 career NLL games, the 6’4”, 215-pounder has 153 goals, including a NLL record 71 goals during his 2008 MVP campaign as a member of the Philadelphia Wings. A first round draft pick by the Wings in 2006, Iannucci tallied 30 goals en route to All-Rookie Team honors during the 2007 season. In 2011, his final season in Philadelphia prior to being traded to Edmonton, the right-handed forward tallied 29 goals and added 32 assists in just 13 games.
Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall expects the addition of Iannucci will provide a boost to the Stealth’s offense, which is averaging just over nine goals per game this season. The Stealth is off to a 1-4 start.
“It’s no secret that our offense has been struggling so far this season,” said Hall, who has been absent from the Stealth’s bench so far this season as he continues recovery from cancer treatment. “We need some goals, and there was a record-setting goal scorer sitting out there.”
Iannucci played four seasons in Philadelphia, missing a portion of the 2009 season and all of 2010 with a knee injury. After a fantastic 2011 campaign with the Wings, he was traded to the Edmonton Rush, where he was placed on the protected player list after not reporting to camp.
While Edmonton wasn’t the right fit for Iannucci, the Port Moody, British Columbia native is convinced he’s found his home with the Washington Stealth.
“I couldn’t be more excited to join the Stealth,” said Iannucci. “This team consists of players and coaches for which I have the utmost respect. I’m just looking to fit in where I am needed. I’ll score goals, set picks, grab loose balls: whatever the team needs. My only goal is to get the Stealth another NLL Championship.”
Iannucci’s play last summer with the Langley Thunder of the Western Lacrosse Association has also added to the excitement of the Stealth coaching staff, as Iannucci led the team to an improbable run to the Mann Cup Finals. He tallied 58 points (29g, 28a) in 18 regular season games and added 45 points (28g, 17a) in 15 postseason games.
“(Stealth assistant coach) Art (Webster) and I got the opportunity to watch Athan play over the summer,” said Hall. “He made a believer out of us with some absolutely jaw-dropping plays. He’s big, strong and athletic with incredible hands. He’s just a spectacular lacrosse player.”
To make way for Iannucci, the Stealth sends transition player and fan favorite Paul Rabil to the Edmonton Rush. Rabil, who is in his fourth NLL season, tallied three goals and five assists in five games this season. Rabil was a member of the Stealth’s NLL Championship team in 2010. The trade sparks a bittersweet sentiment throughout the Stealth organization.
“It has been a pleasure to coach a player like Paul Rabil,” said Hall. “I enjoyed seeing him through the beginning stages of learning the box lacrosse game and I wish nothing but the best for him as he continues his career. It is an expensive price to pay, but we feel this trade gives us the best chance to win a title in 2012 and beyond.”
There’s a similar mood among the Stealth players as they say goodbye to one teammate and welcome another.
“Paul was a big part of our Championship run and it’s something we’ll always share together,” said Stealth Captain Jason Bloom. “It’s one of the realities of pro sports and it’s never easy to say goodbye to a teammate.”
Bloom grew up playing lacrosse with Iannucci in British Columbia. He added, “Athan is the best goal scorer I’ve ever seen. When you have an opportunity to land one of the greatest goal-scorers of all time, you have to take it.”
Iannucci will join the Stealth in Rochester for its next contest on February 18. It’s the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the All-Pro forward.
“I am excited to be playing close to home and for a team with this much talent in the locker room,” Iannucci added. “I’ve played with and against most of the Stealth guys my whole life and I can’t wait to get out there and battle with them this weekend.”
See Iannucci’s debut with the Stealth on Saturday, February 18 as the team faces the Rochester Knighthawks at Blue Cross Arena. The game is schedule to begin at 4:30pm PST and can be seen live on the NLL Network at NLL.com.