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Keenan plans a new day for Jax

by: , KEENAN

Derek Keenan, the general manager and coach of the Portland LumberJax, already has designs on player personnel for next year.

'I have a list of needs. It's a short list,' he says. 'There will be some (player) changes. We got three wins, and I'm not happy with that. We're going to get better. We have to.'

The LumberJax fell and couldn't get up this season. They are 3-12 going into tonight's season finale at 7 p.m. against Edmonton in the Rose Garden.

Bottom line, the Jax had trouble scoring, with a National Lacrosse League-low nine goals per game.

'Defensively, we've been good at times,' Keenan says. 'We'll find some guys who can score, and guys who we have can be better.'

Keenan wants to add an offensive player via the NLL draft - the Jax will have Edmonton's pick, which could be as high as fourth. Philadelphia owns Portland's top pick, which could be No. 1 overall, if the Jax finish below New York as the NLL's worst team. Philly got the pick when Portland acquired goalie Dallas Eliuk before last season.

Because of cost, immigration issues and logistics, Keenan says he will pursue players from British Columbia and the western United States in the draft, free agency and trades.

Defenseman Brodie Merrill, 25, remains the team's foundation, someone to build around. If he is healthier next season, the offense and transition game should be better.

Another probable returnee is leading scorer Ryan Powell, 29, although 'we would like Ryan to work on his fitness - you can't get by on talent alone,' Keenan says. Powell hails from upstate New York.

Eliuk, 42, the NLL's all-time best goalie, will be a free agent. He wants to return to Portland, where he has been living.

'We still think he has another (good) year in him,' Keenan says. 'I think he's been better this year than last year.'

Because Richie Morgan, 27, lives here, he'll probably be part of the team. As for his brother, Peter Morgan, 30, who lives here during the season, 'we're not sure … he'll be our property, and he's been really committed,' Keenan says.

Bruce Alexander, 34, is a question mark because of family and career commitments. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia. 'We've indicated we'd like to have him back,' Keenan says.

Captain Pat Jones, 28, 'definitely' will return, Keenan says, even though Jones commutes with the coaches from Ontario.

Del Halladay, 34, will be a free agent. 'It's been difficult for him,' Keenan says, 'because he lives in the interior of B.C., and runs his own business.'