Derek Malawsky – Multiple champion with multiple teams
Editor's Note - The pandemic has resulted in activities across the World being delayed or cancelled for the past 20 months, including countless events in the Canadian lacrosse community. However, on Saturday, November 13, 2021 - the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame held a double cohort Induction ceremony for the years 2020 and 2021. A total of 4 players, 2 builders, 1 veteran and 1 team were inducted for each year.
This is the 6th of 16 feature articles pertaining to the most recent teams, players, builders, or veterans inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame. The following article highlights the player Derek Malawsky who was a slick playmaker and a fierce competitor - savvy enough to play on both the powerplay and the penalty kill. He played in two Minto Cup championships over his 3 years of Junior lacrosse. Derek was a member of 2 Mann Cup championship teams. He played 10 full seasons in the WLA along with 11 seasons of professional lacrosse. Derek Malawsky was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2021 honoured in the Player category.
Born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Derek Malawsky began playing lacrosse at the age of six in the Coquitlam Minor Lacrosse Association. Lacrosse is part of the family heritage. – Derek’s brother Curt was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2015. Derek and Curt played on the same team in 3 different leagues - WLA, MSL and NLL.
Having completed minor lacrosse, Derek moved up to play Junior “A” lacrosse with the Coquitlam Adanacs from 1991-1994 where he excelled. In 78 games, he notched 133 goals, added 134 assists for a total of 267 points, along with spending 117 minutes in the penalty box. In 1994, he was a 1st Team All-Star and was the Top Scorer in the BCLA Junior “A” league totaling 83 points in 19 games. Also played in 2 Minto Cup Championships out of the 3 years in Junior.
Derek Malawsky had a stellar career at the Senior Level playing ten full seasons in the WLA. He was a slick playmaker who was a fierce competitor savvy enough to play on both the powerplay and the penalty kill. He was a two-time WLA First Team All-Star (2000 and 2001) and the league’s top scorer in the 2000 season.
His career included three seasons with the New Westminster Salmonbellies (1995-1997), one season with the North Shore Indians (1999), that transferred to the Okanagan Thunder (2000-2001) and five seasons with the Victoria Shamrocks (2002-2006) where he played in five consecutive Mann Cups. The only WLA Team to be in 5 consecutive Mann Cups to date. Derek sits 5th overall in all time Mann Cup points in WLA. The highlight of his Senior career included winning two Mann Cups with the Shamrocks (2003 and 2005). In the 163 games he played in the WLA, he scored 199 goals and added 379 assists.
Mann Cup Champion
Derek also played an eleventh year of Senior Lacrosse spending a season in Ontario (1998) with the Buffalo Gamblers. Overall, Derek Malawsky played 288 games of WLA/MSL lacrosse scoring 325 goals, adding 583 assists for a total of 908 points while accumulating 478 penalty minutes.
In addition, Derek Malawsky played professional lacrosse for 11 seasons, which included dressing for Ontario Raiders (1999), Buffalo (2000 – 2001), Rochester (2002 – 2004), San Jose (2005 – 2006), Arizona (2007), Portland (2008 – 2009), and Colorado (2010). This included playing in three NLL Champions Cup finals with Rochester (2003), Arizona (2007) and Portland (2008). Twice selected to the NLL All-Star game. Derek continued his scoring prowess in the NLL where in 182 total games, he amassed 745 points.
Furthermore, Derek Malawsky was a member of Team Canada field lacrosse in 2002. The team won a Silver Medal at the World Championships held in Perth, Australia. As well, he was a gold medalist on the 2003 Team Canada Indoor Box Lacrosse Champions.
When informed he was part of the Class of 2021 for induction into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, he responded, “To be honest, it caught me a bit off guard at the time of the call and then I was like this is so awesome. I’m very humbled and grateful to be recognized in such a class of individuals. It was a very rewarding lacrosse journey and I attribute my success to all my teammates, coaches and family. What a way to close the book on my playing career”.
Reflecting upon his career, Derek was quick to note the highlight was the Mann Cup – “Winning My first Mann Cup in 2003 was the pinnacle of my career. There had been plenty of blood, sweat and tears leading up to that and to share that with your teammates was like no other feeling I’ve had before-pure exuberance!”
Derek Malawsky knows he had the support of many others throughout his career. He shared his thoughts – “There are so many great individuals that contributed to my career. My parents support and especially my brother Curt who pushed me to another level every time we went to “The Box” or during our backyard battles. My minor lacrosse league coaches for believing in me and my abilities. They helped me to shape my craft at a young age – this includes the Bailuks, Mr. Putrus and Mr. Tory to name a few. My Junior “A” coach Frank Neilson had a major impact on catapulting my game to an elite level. Mark Valastin’s words of wisdom had a positive impact on me. And of course, all the Bellies and Shamrock veterans that passed on their experience so I could translate it into my game. Along with the coaches, all of the trainers who helped me prepare – we battled together and for each other”.
In assessing the lacrosse career of Derek Malawsky, the evidence is abundant - he had a lengthy and successful career. He was always dangerous when the ball was in his stick. Derek played with and against some of the greatest players in the history of the game. He achieved significant personal and team success. Certainly, Derek Malawsky is worthy of induction into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in the Player category – Class of 2021.
Written by Rad Joseph - Member of Major Series Lacrosse Media team