Even though the MLL only ended its season about a month ago, and the NALL doesn’t even open its doors for another couple months, there is still a lot of movement in both Leagues. The NLL has been a little more quiet lately, but as training camps start up, and players start to scramble to find a home (with a great draft class and Boston shutting its doors for a year that will be tougher than ever!), I’m sure the news will pick up in that pro league as well. For now we’ve got MLL trades, management moves in both the MLL and NALL and some insight into how the NALL will most likely function for their inaugural season.
The MLL (Major League Lacrosse)
Brian Reese is no longer the GM of the Denver Outlaws. He was out there for years, and did a fantastic job for the team and its players. But eventually, the pull of home and family drew Reese back to Baltimore full-time. And then the Bayhawks stepped in and snapped him right up. So now Reese is the GM of the Chesepeake Bayhawks, which are much closer to home for BR. I feel bad that Denver no longer has Reese, but if a move like this keeps a guys like Brian Reese in the MLL, I’m all for it. Tony Seaman was named as Reese’s replacement in Denver.
The Charlotte Hounds named Mike Cerino as their new head coach. Cerino is probably best known for taking Limestone (NCAA D2) from nothing to National Champion. If he can make it work at a 750 person school in Gaffney, SC, I think he can make it work in Charlotte. He pulled in Canadians to Limetone WAY before most other schools were doing it, and he’ll need to be creative to make Charlotte competitive right away. As an added bonus, UNC and Duke grads now have a real reason to stay in North Carolina after they graduate.
Bill Daye stepped down as Head Coach of the Boston Cannons. He won the MLL Championship this past season, and now wants to spend more time with his family. Fair enough to go out on top! But being the class guy he is, Daye has agreed to stay on and assist the Cannons until they name his successor. I used to play with Billy in the Brine Elite League in Concord, MA over the Summer and he was a class act then, just like he is now.
On the players side of things, Ohio and Rochester banged out a BIG time trade. Ohio gave up some draft picks, and in return, they got some PLAYERS! But not just any players, or even big-name guys… Ohio picked up LOCAL players. Great move by the Machine/MLL/David Gross/Whoever came up with this idea. Anthony Kelly, Greg Bice, and Stefan Schroeder are ALL Ohio State alums, and they’re ALL going to be playing for the Machine. Considering the home games will be played in Columbus (where OSU is), this move makes a TON of sense. The Machine also picked up Brett Garber, Ted Garber’s son. Ted is the HC at Ohio. Now if the Machine would only change their colors to red, white and silver!!!!! There’s still time for that. Talk about instant allegiance!
The NALL (North American Lacrosse League)
The Hershey Haymakers have announced that Hunter Francis will be their first Head Coach. Francis runs the Baltimore Indoor Lacrosse League, has coached at the highest levels of Men’s Club Ball, and has been involved with pro teams before, like the Bayhawks. Hershey has been named one of the best areas for minor-league sports teams in the country, so it seems like these guys are primed to succeed. I just hope they don’t wear brown and silver uniforms and change their names to the Kisses. Actually I’m fine with the jerseys. Just don’t call them the Hershey Kisses. Can we make that promise now?
Down South, in North Carolina, the “other” Charlotte franchise also named a coach… and they pulled in a pretty big name with Tom Ryan. Ryan is the all-time leading scorer at Bowdoin College, has played in the NLL and MLL, has coached the Boston Blazers, and is the US Indoor Team Coach as well. Quite a resumé! And unlike the other teams in the NALL, Ryan will be the Head Coach AND General Manager of the team.
So while the other Head Coaches and GMs will have other jobs, and other responsibilities, Ryan will be full-time Copperheads lacrosse. This is his job, and that’s it. To me, this is an absolutely genius move by Charlotte. By hiring Tom to run their front office AND control the product on the field, they have taken a step out of the equation, and instead of entrusting two part-time people, they have just invested in one full-time guy. And they were able to find someone with experience at just that. Charlotte hiring Tom Ryan full-time, and getting him to relocate to North Carolina can not be overlooked. None of these teams have a single player on their rosters yet… and somehow Charlotte is already my pick to tear it up. I love a wholistic approach to creating a lax team. Yes, I know wholistic isn’t a real word.
Charlotte will play in an approx 9,000 seat arena, and look to get as many out of town players to move to the area for at least the season as possible. Ideally, these guys will live together (like the Blazers did in the early days) and quickly build up a strong team bond. I don’t think of Charlotte as a lax hotbed right now… but in a couple years, that could definitely change! If the two NC franchises (MLL and NALL) can work together, build up a solid local fan base, and really make lacrosse a rising star, the future there is as bright as it is anywhere.
Photo courtesy Tom Ryan’s MySpace. Seriously. Unreal photo though!