Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/10/12
This is part of a series of exclusive interviews with players, coaches and executives from the National Lacrosse League’s Philadelphia Wings.
Last season was Johnny Mouradian’s first as the Wings General Manager, having previously served as President, General Manager, and then an Advisor to the 2010 World Champion Team, the Washington Stealth. This season, Mouradian also assumed the role of head coach and has the Wings within a half game of first place through three games.
Mouradian has won nine professional World Indoor Championships in various roles as an executive, GM and shareholder (Buffalo in 1992, 1993 and 1996; and Toronto in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2005, and Washington in 2010).
Question: This season in addition to serving as general manager you have assumed the role of Head Coach. What changes have you implemented this season as part of the change?
Coach Mouradian: We moved Blane Harrison to the defensive end of the floor and added Jim Milligan to our coaching staff at the front door and feel really good with the way each of us are contributing and feel that we compliment each other.
“Obviously the trade to acquire Brodie Merrill along with Dan (Dawson) and Kevin (Crowley) and building out our talent depth was easier to accomplish by having me in both the general manager and head coach role. We are very happy with the talent level and now have to polish our principles.
Question: Early on you have talked quite a bit about chemistry and cohesion on and off the floor. How does this year’s locker room atmosphere compare to years’ past?
Coach Mouradian: “Having the experience with other NLL Championship teams in Buffalo, Toronto and the San Jose Stealth that moved to Washington and my experience with the Canadian National Indoor World Championship teams, I had the opportunity to experience that Championship feeling in the locker room for many years. Everyone in the room must look at one another and know that we have the talent and character to win.
“The locker room really feels like a family this year. The guys have stressed in the locker room that the team will stick together through thick and thin and we know the guys all have one another’s back.
“Our task cohesion needs some work; however; socially we are in great shape. Having a mix of veterans like Tom Hajek and Taylor Wray along with a core of solid role players and the right mix of Canadian and American talent is the key.”
Question: Currently sitting at 2-2 and just a half game out of first place in the East Division, your team has seemed like Jekyl and Hyde at times. How do you explain the team’s sporadic play thus far?
Coach Mouradian: “Let’s keep in mind that we had 18 new players last season and eight new ones this season so we are young from that standpoint and we are a new coaching staff. We are working to establish our identity and we are getting there.
“Our cohesion on the floor with our new players is only going to get better as the season progresses. We just ask the Philadelphia fans to stick with us as we adjust to the playing styles and roles of our new players and work to effectively work together.
“In the two losses we had challenges catching our breath. The game was moving too quick for us to respond and our reaction time to situations needs to be sharper. It takes a bit of time to arrive at a place where you play subconsciously and so we have hit a couple games where the goal differential of three and four goals were tough to recover from.”
Question: You have a lot of new faces on the team this year. Can you talk about what Brodie, Dan and Kevin bring to the table?
Coach Mouradian: “Talent and character, talent and character, talent and character! Dan and Brodie bring a high level of leadership and it spreads throughout the club. Dan is a veteran player and he is taking Kevin under his wing and it’s really nice to see how they are interacting, joking and learning from each other.”
Question: In addition to your role with the Wings, you are also the president of American Indoor Lacrosse. What advantage can young players gain by playing indoor as well as outdoor?
Coach Mouradian: “We are firm believers that playing indoor lacrosse is a very important component for the growth and development of all field lacrosse players. The features of playing with a shot clock, smaller goals and goalies with equipment and playing in a variety of read and react situations help to develop clever stick skills and clever lacrosse minds.
“There is a lot of attention now by U.S. college coaches to attract Canadian players to their schools. In the early 70s, there were only four Canadians at U.S. colleges. Mike French was at Cornell and I was an Ithaca College. Now there are close to 300 attending and more coming each year. By learning indoor, the young field players will have the capability to watch the Wings players from a new perspective and learn from watching.”