PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Box lacrosse is coming back to Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Wings were a cornerstone of the National Lacrosse League before moving to New England in 2014.
Now a new Philadelphia team, which will also be called the Wings, will be an expansion franchise and begin play in the NLL in December of 2018.
While the first game for the Wings is still a ways away, the process of putting together a team has already started with the hiring of Paul Day as general manager and head coach.
“It’s a real opportunity for the whole league, myself included,” Day said during a recent visit to the KYW Newsradio studios. “As a young guy growing up north of Toronto in a place called Peterborough in the 70’s, I watched the old Wings as a five, six-year old and a lot of the guys in my neighborhood in their twenties were the guys that were playing on that team. Then spent 20 years in the league coming here as a player and a coach. Everybody loved coming to Philly, this was the flagship organization for the NLL and that’s what we plan on doing again.”
Day’s resume already includes time as a player, coach, and general manager in the NLL. Most recently, he was an assistant coach with the Rochester Knighthawks.
He talks about what he’s looking for in players brought in to play for the Wings.
“Character for one,” he says. “That’s what breeds championships. I spent some time in December talking with the Assistant General Manager, Kelly McCrimmon, with the [NHL’s expansion] Vegas Golden Knights, my good friend works there, talked about their process, what they did the year[leading] up. Which was good, it was really a similar plan to ours and I picked up some things about the veteran leadership that they brought to Vegas. It’s a brand new culture, we’ll be starting from scratch, everybody will be new in that room, but it’s very important that that culture from day one is about breeding success. Success and character of the players, the people that you bring to the city’s going to be very important for us. That’s number one.”
There are still a few months until the roster comes together. Day talks about their approach to acquiring players.
“With the expansion [draft] being first, we’re going to take the best players possible,” he says. “Analytic-wise, I’ve looked at ages for the last six championship teams and I was part of three of them, so I know what we had there. As well as you’ve got to include the entry draft at the same time. There will be some ages we look at, obviously we want to have a good base of 8-10 players that are young, that we can grow with. But it’ll be very important for those veterans that have some championship experience to come in and set the tone from day one. But with the expansion draft, it’ll be the best players we can get possible and then we’ll fill holes from there.”
The Wings will be one of two expansion teams joining the NLL for the 2018-19 season with the San Diego Seals being the other.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @Mattleon1060.