Wings' Impending Move to Connecticut Means Change
Familiar faces will be missing when the yet-to-be-named reincarnation of the Philadelphia Wings makes its NLL debut in the Mohegan Sun Arena in southeastern Connecticut.
Wings GM Johnny Mouradian told Lacrosse Magazine that he will not be involved and a prominent player declined comment on the relocation of the franchise because he does not expect to make the move. As well, veterans Tracey Kelusky, Stephen Hoar and Kyle Sweeney were allowed to become unrestricted free agents Aug. 1.
While Wings majority owner and chief executive Mike French has sold controlling interest to the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, he retains about one-half ownership and will be president, and head coach Blane Harrison carries on.
Harrison has been to the MTGA's world-class casino and resort and is excited about what it offers as a base for his team. He's confident ''other teams will feel the excitement when they come to play us.'' While others might see leaving a large NHL arena in Philadelphia to play out of a 7,700-capacity-for-lacrosse venue as a comedown, Harrison foresees it as a plus to play next season in an intimate environment that fans will love.
He's not averse to a longer commute once weekend training sessions begin in November on the Mohegan reservation.
''I live in New Jersey and, as the crow flies, this move means another hour on the road so my travel time will be three hours 45 minutes (each way),'' he says. ''But the drive will be well worth while just to get to that facility.''
The new season could begin during the Dec. 26-27 weekend, and Harrison says that at least two of the six or seven American players who sat out last season have told him they want to return to the fold.
While Harrison has a longer commute, veteran transition player Jordan Hall, who lives in Baltimore, hopes for a more conducive travel schedule.
''I will no longer be driving solo,'' says Hall. ''After some players sat out or got traded last season, I had some lonely drives from Baltimore to Philly. I am looking forward to a few guys coming with me this year, or at least being chauffeured or shuttled by someone else.
''I have yet to play in the arena but I've heard it's incredible. I looked online and checked out everything.
''I hope some of the old fans make it up for a game. I think this could be really special. You have a group that owns the shuttles, the hotel, the rink, the meals and he postgame. It has the potential to be great for the fans and the players.''
Free-agent forward Gavin Prout played in the 2002 league all-star game that took place in Mohegan Sun Arena. This project can be successful if marketed the right way, he suggests.
''Like any city, if the game is promoted well enough it can and will work since lacrosse is an extremely exciting sport to watch for both vetean lacrosse fans and new fans alike,'' he says.
Prout, who last played in the NLL in 2013 for Colorado, is good enough to make a comeback, and the new team will be holding free-agent tryouts in early November in Toronto, where Prout works.
So, who'll they be?
The Mohegan Mustangs? The Connecticut Croupiers?
One thing is certain: there will be no roulette wheel in the new team's Mohegan Sun Arena dressing room. MTGA employees are not allowed to gamble on the premises.
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