The Black Wolves have had a very busy offseason, and as the NLL Draft quickly approaches, general manager Rich Lisk wanted to take a few minutes to discuss the offseason and what is to come. Below are his comments on four separate areas – the coaching staff, offseason signings, trades and the upcoming draft picks.
On the departure of Jim Veltman and the hire of Clem D’Orazio
We had Jim Veltman leave us and take a sabbatical. We are all sad to see Jim leave and he will always be part of the Black Wolves family, but we support him and his family in this decision and his upcoming adventures. That being said, we are very happy to have Clem D’Orazio join the staff as our Defensive Coordinator. Clem has been with us for the past two seasons, first as our Scout and then as Scout/Director of Player Personnel. He has been around the team, helped build our talent pool and participated in practices. He are very happy that Clem will be joining us on the coaching staff in the Black Wolves family. We are all very excited for Clem to get going and put his stamp on the defense.”
On extending the contracts of Glenn Clark and Tracey Kelusky
The biggest piece of the puzzle was signing head coach, Glenn Clark, to a three year extension. When Glenn and I got together we designed a five year plan for what we wanted to accomplish with the Black Wolves. The first two years were to get back to the playoffs and we accomplished that. Now, we will spend the next three years completing the plan and getting into the Champions Cup, with the ultimate goal of bringing the championship to Mohegan. I couldn’t think of a better person to guide this ship then Glenn. We are also thrilled we were able to secure Tracey for the next three years as our offensive coach. He has one of the best offensive minds in the game and, as a teacher, he is second to none. Our offense has benefited tremendously under Tracy’s guidance and we’re glad that will continue for at least the next three seasons.”
On the offseason signings
I’m happy to say that at this juncture we are 99% done with re-signing all of the vital pieces from last year’s team. I’m also happy to say that most of them (again 99%) are on long term deals. We know that the successful teams in the league have found pieces they like, signed them to long term deals and let them play and grow together. Our guys believe in what we are doing and want to be here and win. In the offseason we identified our weak points and worked to correct them. We added to the left side and improved our defense. We wanted to be more athletic and push the pace.
One such signing was Garrett Thul. He is a player who signed with us last year, but had to sit out due to commitments with the U.S. Army. This year he is able to work his schedule so he can play with us. For those who haven’t see him, we had Garrett in Philadelphia his rookie season. He is 6’3”, 235 pounds and can score. He had 21 goals his rookie year; he’s physical; and extremely athletic. He will add a dimension on the left side that we were looking for – size and physicality – and (I say it again) he can score. He will open space for the other lefties and if they leave him alone he will beat them one-on-one. I am excited to have him back and excited for the fans to see him play.
Another huge signing for us was the signing of David Brock. David is a veteran in the NLL, entering his 8th season. He is 6-4′ 223 pounds and again he fits the mold we were looking for — big, athletic and can transition the ball. His veteran leadership will be a huge plus for our locker room as well, as he played for the Champions Cup two years ago. He’ll be a great addition.
With the signing of David Brock and the trade for Bold and LaFontaine, we not only added valuable on the field pieces but we added players who have played for and won the ultimate trophy — The Champions Cup. The knowledge and experience they will bring to our locker room will no doubt contribute to our success. We can never underestimate the winning culture that we need to reach our goal, and these guys were great pick ups.”
On the trades
In the offseason we made a huge trade, based on what our needs were. With the Thul signing we addressed the left side now we had to address the defensive side. We made a trade with Saskatchewan to acquire the following: John LaFontaine, Aaron Bold, the 8th pick in the draft (which now gives us two picks in the first round) and a second round pick in next year’s draft. We had to trade Evan Kirk to get that done. Trading Evan was a hard decision. We love Evan, he was an original Black Wolf and was Goaltender of the Year two years ago, but sometimes you have to give up quality to get quality and we had to address our needs. First, we got Aaron Bold, who is an elite goaltender in the NLL. He was runner up twice for Goaltender of the Year, but most importantly he won the trophy we all want to win and he won it twice in the last three years. (He actually took the third one to overtime and lost by one goal.) He won a gold medal with Canada at the last World Indoor Championships. He is a winner and we are extremely happy to have him. He adds the veteran leadership we are looking for; he adds the championship experience we are looking for; and he’s in great all around shape. We are extremely happy to have Aaron as out goaltender. We also received John LaFontaine in the trade. John is a 6’2”, 205 pound lefty defenseman that can move the ball, and play good, hard, defense. He was an important piece of this trade and someone we insisted on having.
Our second trade kept right in line with addressing our needs – get better, stronger, faster and more athletic on the back end. We traded the 14th pick in this draft and the rights to Brandon Robinson for Adam Bomberry. Adam was the 15th pick in the 2015 draft. He is 6’1”, 215 pound lefty defenseman and he is only 23 years old. He is big; he can run the floor and be very physical; and he can grow and gel with our other young defensemen for a long time.”
On the upcoming draft
One of the other pieces of the trade with Saskatchewan was that we received the 8th pick in this draft, giving us two first round picks (8 and 10) and the 17th overall pick. We are now in good position to address our immediate needs while keeping the core of the team together to grow and play together for many years to come.”