Brett Bucktooth is going to have a rather lengthy commute to get to one of his jobs, but the 30-year-old Oneida, who lives on the Onondaga First Nation in upstate New York, is not complaining. He’s done longer commutes before.
Bucktooth is gearing up for his eighth season of playing pro lacrosse, and he's now playing for the National Lacrosse League's Vancouver Stealth. The organization moved across the border into Canada during the off-season. The franchise was previously known as the Washington Stealth, and played its home contests in Everett, Washington, near Seattle.
Bucktooth had logged his share of miles the previous two years travelling to the Stealth practices and home games. He'd hop on a flight in Syracuse, New York, and travel to either Detroit or Minneapolis where he'd catch a connecting flight to Seattle. After that, he'd still have about an hour drive to get to Everett.
For the coming season, Bucktooth will fly from Syracuse to Toronto (about a 60-minute flight) and then on to Vancouver (a journey of about 4.5 hours).
"I'm actually a good flyer," said Bucktooth, who renewed a one-year contract with the Stealth last week. "I enjoy flying, which makes it easier. It's almost like a bit of time travel. I fall asleep almost as soon as we take off and then I wake up in a new city."
During his first five years as a pro, Bucktooth had a considerably shorter commute – a two-hour drive from his home to play with the Buffalo Bandits.
The nine-team NLL also includes the Toronto Rock, Rochester Knighthawks, Philadelphia Wings, Calgary Roughnecks, Edmonton Rush, Minnesota Swarm and Colorado Mammoth.
Since the NLL is primarily a weekend circuit, Bucktooth holds down a pair of other jobs. He manages a hockey/lacrosse shop and he also sells life insurance.
Bucktooth is eagerly anticipating the 2014 NLL campaign. That's because he's coming off his best season in the pro league.
Bucktooth had 44 points (16 goals, 28 assists) in 16 regular season games with the Stealth last season. He added 14 points, including four goals in three games when the Stealth advanced to the NLL final (Stealth lost to Rochester).
Bucktooth has had his two best NLL seasons while playing for the Stealth organization."I'm starting to find my role," he said. "And I've been getting more confidence with the guys."
Bucktooth is hoping the franchise is well received in its new home. The franchise will now play out of Langley – a suburb of Vancouver – that has an arena with 5,500 seats.
The Stealth will begin its 18-game regular season on January 4.