The NLL today announced that Buffalo Bandits General Manager Steve Dietrich has been selected as the league’s General Manager of the Year. The award was voted on by team executives from each franchise that participated in the 2018-19 season. This marks the second time that Dietrich has won the award, after also being tapped as the league’s top general manager in 2016.
Dietrich helped build a Bandits team that advanced to the NLL Finals for the first time since 2016, adding key pieces such as Corey Small, Chris Cloutier, Ethan O’Connor and Bryce Sweeting via trades and signing legendary goaltender and Goaltender of the Year nominee Matt Vinc in free agency. Dietrich also made a splash at the 2018 NLL Entry draft, selecting transition players Matt Gilray and Rookie of the Year nominee Ian MacKay with back-to-back picks in the first round.
After finishing in last place in the 2017-18 season with an 8-10 record, the Bandits saw a six-win improvement that propelled them to the top of the NLL standings with a 14-4 record, setting a new franchise record for wins (14) and road wins (7) in a season. Their six-win improvement from the 2017-18 season to the 2018-19 season was the best total win improvement from any NLL team and is also the best season-to-season improvement in franchise history.
The team finished the regular season leading the NLL in goals scored (244), goals allowed (186), goal differential (plus-58) and power-play goals (46) and boasted a roster with 10 different double-digit goal scorers, which also led the league. Their plus-58 goal differential set a new franchise record and the 244 goals scored are the third-most in franchise history. The Bandits also had the NLL’s top penalty-killing unit, operating at a 61.3 percent, and were the only team this season to beat every other team in the league at least once.
Dietrich was named the Bandits’ General Manager in 2012 after spending the previous two seasons as an assistant coach for the NLL’s Toronto Rock. He retired from professional lacrosse after an illustrious 18-season career that saw him earn NLL All-Pro honors four times, win back-to-back Goaltender of the Year Awards (2005, 2006) and become the first, and to this date only, goaltender in NLL history to be named the league’s Most Valuable Player (2006). Dietrich was inducted into the NLL Hall of Fame in 2012.