2020 WLA Season and Mann Cup Canceled

by Dan Marshall

Due to the ongoing and evolving impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Western Lacrosse Association (WLA) in British Columbia and Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) in Ontario have made the difficult and disappointing decision to cancel both their 2020 seasons and the Mann Cup national championship.

Initially, both leagues planned to delay the beginning of their 2020 regular season play, which was to have kicked off in late May; revised schedules were drafted as the two commissioners worked towards the planning of the Mann Cup series, which was to be held in September in Ontario. Their focus was to ensure the greatest calibre of lacrosse in the world would be played when it was safe for players, staff, volunteers and fans.

However, WLA commissioner Paul Dal Monte and MSL commissioner Doug Luey, in consultation with the Canadian Lacrosse Association and while considering directions from government and public health authorities, have now concluded that it would not be possible or responsible to play box lacrosse in 2020.

According to the WLA’s Dal Monte, a number of factors went into the decision to cancel, including:

  • statements by B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer that legal restrictions on gatherings of more than 50 people would be unlikely to be lifted this summer;
  • provincial guidelines about eliminating all non-essential travel that would make it difficult for players to travel to their summer clubs and reduced BC Ferries sailings that would have impacted teams’ abilities to travel between the mainland and Vancouver Island;
  • and the serious economic impacts on the WLA’s many business partners, whose support its member clubs rely on for operations.

“While we know this is a huge disappointment for everyone involved in lacrosse — in particular, all of the players, coaches and fans — our primary responsibility is the health and safety of the competitors, volunteers and thousands of fans who will attend and contribute to the success of the Mann Cup,” said the WLA’s Dal Monte. “This unprecedented cancellation reflects the gravity of situation the world currently faces.”

“As disappointing as it is cancelling the 2020 Mann Cup,” said MSL’s Doug Luey, “without question, it is the absolute correct decision.

“We look forward to welcoming back lacrosse fans to the 2021 Mann Cup, which will be hosted in the East by the MSL champions,” Luey said.

Since the modern era of the Mann Cup began in 1926, this will be the first time the trophy will not be awarded to the best Senior A lacrosse club in Canada. The Mann Cup series is held each September, with the WLA and MSL champions facing off in a best-of-seven competition (for more Mann Cup information, see attached backgrounder).

In 2019, the Peterborough (Ont.) Lakers won the Mann Cup — their third straight — four games to one over the Victoria Shamrocks in B.C.’s provincial capital.

About the Mann Cup

  • The Mann Cup, emblematic of Canadian lacrosse supremacy for more than a century, was donated by railroad tycoon Sir Donald Mann in 1910 as a challenge trophy for senior men’s field lacrosse.
  • In 1925, the New Westminster Salmonbellies turned the trophy over to the Canadian Lacrosse Association, which instituted the current national playoff system.
  • In 1932, the Mann Cup changed from a field lacrosse championship to a box lacrosse championship. The first box lacrosse Mann Cup was played at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens in October 1932, when the Mimico (Ont.) Mountaineers defeated the Winnipeg Argos two games to none in a best-of-three series.
  • The original trophy is made of solid gold and is valued at approximately $177,000.
  • The original trophy was awarded until 1985, when it was permanently retired to the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in New Westminster. The first replica trophy was awarded from 1985 until 2004, when the replica was destroyed in a “bonfire mishap.” A second replica trophy has been awarded since 2005.
  • The New Westminster Salmonbellies hold the record for most Mann Cup titles with 21. The Peterborough Lakers (previously known as the Peterborough Trailermen) hold the record for consecutive titles with four (1951-1954).
  • Throughout its history, the Mann Cup has been:
    • a one-game final from 1910 through 1926, and in 1973 and 1974;
    • a best-of-three series from 1927 through ’32, and in 1975;
    • a best-of-five from 1933 through ’49;
    • and a best-of-seven from 1950 through 1972, and again from 1976 to the current day.
  • Excluding the one-game finals, the Mann Cup has gone its maximum length only 17 times and its winners have swept their opponents 32 times.
  • The Mann Cup was not played five times in the Challenge Cup era: in 1915, 1921 and 1924 due to no challenger; and in 1916 and ’17 because World War I was ongoing. Until 2020, the Mann Cup had been played without interruption from 1925 to 2019.
  • Although teams from outside B.C. and Ontario have occasionally played in the Mann Cup, only teams from those two provinces have ever won the trophy; Ontario teams have won 59 titles and B.C. clubs 52.
  • The 2019 Mann Cup was hosted in Victoria, British Columbia’s capital city, as the Victoria Shamrocks took on the Peterborough Lakers — the 11th time the two clubs have battled for the Mann Cup. Peterborough won the series 4-1, giving them the all-time edge with six titles to the Shamrocks’ five.