National Lacrosse League (1975)
Born: 1975 – The Rochester Griffins relocate to Long Island, NY.
Died: February 1976 – The NLL ceases operations.
Arena: Nassau Coliseum (14,300)
Owner: Bruce Norris
The Long Island Tomahawks were a pro box lacrosse team that played at Nassau Coliseum in the summer of 1975. The team’s ancestry is a little convoluted. Owner Bruce Norris, who also owned the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League, was an original investor in the National Lacrosse League. During the league’s first season in 1974, Norris owned the league’s Toronto Tomahawks franchise. The Tomahawks floundered at Maple Leaf Gardens and the team was shifted to new ownership in Boston for the 1975 season. Norris, meanwhile, kept the Tomahawks name and logo and bought the 1974 league champion Rochester Griffins franchise and moved it downstate to Long Island.
Despite the name lifted from Norris’ old Toronto club, the Long Island Tomahawks traced their history to the Griffins and you can see on their game program (above right) that they promoted themselves as the “1974 World Champions” of pro lacrosse.
Modern day box lacrosse fans are familiar with the game played on Astroturf carpets, but the National Lacrosse League of the 1970’s played on wooden courts laid over the ice at hockey arenas. The Tomahawks’ court was painted an unusual white color, which you can see in the video below. The league’s other teams typically played on green wooden surfaces.
The Tomahawks were the best team in the 6-team NLL during the 1975 season with a 31-17 record. But they lost to the 4th-place Quebec Caribous 4 games to 2 in the semi-final playoff series in September 1975. Doug Hayes (104 goals, 126 assists) led the league in scoring.
In February 1976 the National Lacrosse League went out of business, saying that only the Maryland, Philadelphia and Quebec franchises were prepared to move forward with a third season. Pro lacrosse returned to the Nassau Coliseum in 1989 with the arrival of the New York Saints (1989-2003) of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League.
==Long Island Tomahawks Games on Fun While It Lasted==
|4/28/1975||@ Boston Bolts||W 19-17 (OT)||Program|
|5/14/1975||vs. Maryland Arrows||??||Program|
|5/27/1975||vs. Quebec Caribous||W 19-17||Program|
The Long Island Tomahawks host the Philadelphia Wings at Nassau Coliseum. August 29, 1975