Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan
The floodgates have opened, the MLL offseason is in full swing, and the Florida Launch franchise is supplying some major fuel to the fire. You knew the Floridafication of the Launch was imminent, and now that we’re airborne, let’s review the moves that have been made, and why they were made. But before I get to that (and the moves the Launch should make moving forward), I think we have to talk about this “expansion/contraction/moving an entire roster of players to a new team” move by the league.
It’s genius, and few other pro leagues could pull it off.
Usually in pro sports, when a team closes up shop, like Hamilton recently did, their players are dispersed with a draft. And usually, when a new franchise enters a league, they have an expansion draft, and the other clubs protect their best players. But in this MLL scenario, the players from the folding franchise were simply gifted to the new franchise. It’s actually kind of amazing. Major League Lacrosse can do this because they pay the players, and contracts go through the league.
Expansion drafts are tough, and expansion teams are rarely able to compete right away, in almost any sport, but the Florida Launch did not have to go through that, and were basically given a fully stocked team from the get go. For a league that wants competitive games (who doesn’t?), it’s a smart move. That being said, the Launch need to make this team their own, bring in some local guys, and cut down on the number of players flying in to every game from Canada or upstate NY. It’s simply not sustainable to have zero local presence.
Cue LaxDirt tweeting the Brodie Merrill to Boston trade, which is big news for a couple of reasons. It makes Boston the most “veteran” team ever, but more importantly for Florida, it brings Lee Coppersmith (a young FLA native with huge potential) and PT Ricci (a very competent long pole) down to South Florida. The trade also brings Martin Cahill to the Cannons, which makes sense given he is a Malden, MA native. People going “home”… it makes sense.
Just to back that going home thought up a bit, it was announced today that Cam Flint was traded from Boston to… you guessed it, Denver, where he played his college lacrosse. Mangan is a New Jersey native, and lives in the Tri-state area, but Boston is closer than Denver!
I would expect quite a few more transactions to go down before the Supplemental Draft and College Draft, and then a couple more moves afterward, many of them involving Florida. I’d be shocked if the Launch look much like Hamilton by Week 1 of the season. So who will get traded, and who will stay on? It’s hard to say, but if we stick with the “home” style player mentality, we might get some ideas.
Hamilton was loaded with upstate NY and Canadian players. Flying all of them in for every home game is probably not an ideal option. Could any of these players be worth a look by the Bayhawks? Casey Powell coaches at North Broward Prep in Florida… and I bet the Launch would love to have him on board. Could Garrett Billings or Cody Jamieson go to Chesapeake to make that happen? Powell would be a great addition to this team, but the Bayhawks are looking like a dynasty right now. Would he leave that at this point in his career?
But there are more pro players with ties to Florida than just Chazz and CP. The Bernhardt brothers both played their high school ball in Orlando. Could they be enticed to play for their home state MLL team? What about Doug Shanahan? That guy just doesn’t age it seems… so could he make his way on to the roster? There are a couple of other guys in this position.
And then you get to the fact that a decent number of players might actually be willing to move to Florida. Playing MLL a couple days a week and enjoying the Sunshine state the rest of the time doesn’t sound too bad. Lacrosse is growing still in Florida, and where there is coaching to be done, there is money to be made. That’s just the truth of it. I don’t think the Launch will struggle to find interested players.
I’d expect a number of the Canadian players to find new teams, and a lot of the upstate guys might as well. If any of them are willing to move to Florida, I am willing to bet that they’ll be kept on, but a local base of players is an absolute must for a franchise to be successful over the long-term, and for the league to work. We’ll see a lot more from Florida in the comings weeks and months. I’d guarantee it.
I think offensive stars like Crowley, Keough, and Jamieson could make the cut, as it can be hard to find scorers like that, but outside of those three (and if CP would go to FLA all bets are off) it’s hard to say anyone will stay on, except maybe Brett Queener. He’s a showman, and people in Florida seem to love him. If I were Hamilton, I’d keep guys like Durkin and Lovejoy too, but you just never know what exactly will go down. I do think the midfield is a spot to really keep an eye on, but all I really know is that more change is coming.