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12/17/2013 - 10:50am

(December 17, 2013)… The only player to win three championships with the Rochester Knighthawks, Mike Accursi, has accepted a position in the team’s front office. The 38-year-old forward stands as one of the best players in National Lacrosse League history.

“Whatever role I am going to play with the team, I am going to give my heart and soul to the Knighthawks, Curt (Styres) and this organization,” said Accursi.

The Knighthawks announced their roster Monday, which was limited to just 20 active roster players due to the parameters of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Accursi was a free agent this offseason and could have signed with any of the NLL teams, but chose to stay with the Knighthawks. His commitment to the organization was recognized by the team’s Owner and General Manager, Curt Styres.

“With Mike joining the front office, his experience will create a huge amount of opportunity for all of us,” said Styres. “The professionalism that Mike carries will spread to all who come in contact with him.”

Accursi will make the transition from playing to the front office, joining an all-star staff that includes former NLL Coach of the Year winners Mike Hasen and Paul Day, NLL Hall of Famer Pat O’Toole, along with Chris Driscoll, Andy Secore and Jason Johnson.

“He has a wealth of knowledge and game experience,” said Head Coach Mike Hasen. “We are constantly adding ways to be successful. Having his views and abilities will go a long way in helping make us better.”

In 16 seasons in the NLL, Accursi won four Champion’s Cups – three of those with the Rochester Knighthawks. His first stint in Rochester was from 2005 to 2007 and ended with a championship. His final tenure was from 2011 to 2013 and ended with back-to-back championships.

“Mike is the epitome of a Knighthawk. He was a fearless leader who always knew what to say and what to do to get the guys going,” said Knighthawks Assistant Captain Mike Kirk. “Anything he said or did was for (the good of) the Knighthawks. He led young teams to back-to-back championships.”

His success was contagious and inspired a promising lacrosse star named Cody Jamieson.  

“He was the guy who was the glue that held everything together in the locker room. He was a vocal leader because he had been there before and had done everything possible in the NLL. When he talked, everyone listened,” said Jamieson, the back-to-back Championship Game MVP and Knighthawks Assistant Captain. “When I came into the league he showed me how to be a professional and take the next step. We became very close and I think that showed with our chemistry on the floor. He was a great leader and a great teammate.”

In 2013, Accursi notched 18 goals and added 18 assists in 13 games in his third straight season as one of the team’s assistant captains. That allowed him to move into third place on the team’s all-time assist list with 221. He also took over fourth in team history with 358 points and seventh for goals with 137.

In his NLL career, Accursi played for teams in Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, Ontario and Edmonton. He was deadly accurate, especially diving to the net, scoring 386 goals, while adding 435 assists for 821 points in 233 games. He stands 10th in NLL history in goals (386).

More importantly, Accursi’s teams qualified for the playoffs in 12 of his 16 seasons in the NLL. He leaves the game as one of the most prolific point producers – especially in the playoffs – in NLL history. He was simply a force on the offensive side of the ball when it was playoff time. He ranks third in goals (58), fourth in games played (26) and fifth in points (99).

“Mike’s legacy will be that he was a clutch guy. Every game we needed that big goal it was Accursi who was raising his hands after he scored, especially in 2007,” said former teammate and current Knighthawks Assistant Coach Pat O’Toole. “Junior and I get all the credit for winning the championship, but I think if you go back and look at the film, it was Accursi who stepped up and got that big goal. He will always be remembered for that.”

Accursi won his first two Champion’s Cups in back-to-back seasons, winning in 2007 with the Knighthawks and in 2008 with the Buffalo Bandits. In Knighthawks’ playoff history, he ranks second in goals (28) and third in points (43). The 2007 season, which included a 17-2 record and 15 straight wins, still remains one of the greatest years of his career.

“It was really special. We started out really slow and we ended up winning 15 straight. Talent-wise that was one of the best teams I had ever played on,” said Accursi. “It was a magical year. To win 15 straight in this league is unheard of.”

On Wednesday, Accursi will commute to the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena from his job as a school teacher at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School in St. Catharines, Ontario. The drive will be the same as it has for the past three years, but practice will be a different feeling walking into the arena without his equipment. He admitted he will miss the brotherhood that comes with being a professional athlete.

“I am going to miss a lot of moments like the locker room and traveling with the guys. It’s those types of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet,” he said. “You really become a family over a season. You go to war with your brothers, you travel with them and you eat with them. What happens on the floor is a small part of what it means to be a Knighthawk and is what I will miss the most.”

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