By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
Anthony Cosmo turned 40 a couple of weeks ago. The milestone might have been a sign to him to move on with his life.
The Buffalo Bandits’ goaltender announced on Friday afternoon that he was retiring after a long career in the National Lacrosse League. It was easy to wonder if he’d ever leave. After all, it took him quite a while to find a home, and he was happy once he found one.
Cosmo first entered the league in 2001 as a member of the Toronto Rock. He was the backup to Bob Watson; it’s funny that Cosmo eventually broke some of Watson’s career records in the National Lacrosse League. Once Cosmo got his chance to be a No. 1 goalie, he kept it through 2017.
The catch was that he didn’t play for many great teams. That’s something of a very minor tragedy as these things go. You can be the best goalie in the world, but if the team in front of you isn’t very good, you aren’t going to pile up much glory. Cosmo became a regular on a 4-12 San Jose team in 2005. The Stealth went on to finish 5-11, 9-7 and 9-7 during his other years there.
Barnstorming around the NLL
Cosmo was then traded to Chicago, only to see that franchise close its doors before he could play a game for it. So it was on to Boston for three years, where the teams were better – .500 or above – but not quite good enough to make any noise in the playoffs. Two of those first-round postseason losses were against the Bandits – in Buffalo.
The Blazers folded before the 2012 season, and Cosmo was grabbed by Minnesota in the dispersal draft. The Ontario resident didn’t feel like commuting on weekends to suit up for the Swarm, so he stayed home with his growing family. That caught the attention of the Bandits, who needed a goaltender badly. Buffalo sent a pair of first-round picks to Minnesota for Cosmo, which then and now seemed like a high price for a 34-year-old goalie who would never play for the Swarm. Darris Kilgour loved veterans, and definitely took more of a “win now” approach as a general manager.
A good fit in Buffalo
But to his credit, Cosmo made it work reasonably well. He played almost six full seasons for the Bandits. Cosmo showed up for virtually every game, and was dependable and occasionally spectacular. Eventually he kicked away the idea that he wasn’t a good playoff performer, picking up four of five career postseason wins in a Buffalo uniform. Once again, it helps to have a good team in front of you. Anthony even gave a very honest answer to the media when asked about retiring late last season – he was definitely leaning that way – and seemed to take in as many moments as possible as he reached the end of his year.
Cosmo leaves the game with those NLL records, which probably will help him reach the Hall of Fame. It would have helped to have won a couple of championships as a starter, but that wasn’t in the cards. The Bandits wisely prepared for this day by acquiring Alex Buque from Colorado earlier in the offseason. He will battle Dave DiRuscio for the starting job in training camp.
But in the meantime, Cosmo will still be around the team as a goalie coach. No doubt the team will benefit from having his experience, dedication and friendly manner.