Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Wings embedded in Philly fabric

This past weekend was "throw back" night at the Wells Fargo Center. Before the game we had a moment of silence in honor of former Wings goalie Wayne Platt. Platt was a long time member of the Wings and former league MVP. I'm sorry to say that I had never heard of Wayne. It opened my eyes and reminded me just how long the Wings have been around in Philly.

Wings embedded in Philly fabric

Wings captain Brodie Merrill greets Stevie and Clementine Sanderson -- daughters of the late former Wing Chris Sanderson -- prior to Sunday´s game at the Wells Fargo Center. (Philadelphia Wings photo)
Wings captain Brodie Merrill greets Stevie and Clementine Sanderson -- daughters of the late former Wing Chris Sanderson -- prior to Sunday's game at the Wells Fargo Center. (Philadelphia Wings photo)

This past weekend was "throw back" night at the Wells Fargo Center. Before the game we had a moment of silence in honor of former Wings goalie Wayne Platt. Platt was a long time member of the Wings and former league MVP. I'm sorry to say that I had never heard of Wayne. It opened my eyes and reminded me just how long the Wings have been around in Philly.

In a league that has been unstable for so many years, the Wings have been one of the few constants. Expansion and contraction, expansion and contraction (most players in the league have at least one fallen team jersey in their closet, … RIP Portland). The Wings have persevered and have remained a staple in the league since its inception. That is pretty impressive. That is due to a few factors -- strong ownership and loyal fans. When we had our annual meet-and-greet with the season ticket holders at the beginning of the year, it dawned on me that we have some fans that have been season ticket holders for longer than Kevin Crowley has been alive.

I examined the Wings game day poster highlighting some old championship teams and noticed some recognizable faces -- some of the game's all-time greats: Hall of Fame players like Dallas Eliuk, John Grant Sr., Tom Marechek, the Gait brothers, Hall of Fame coach Tony Resch.

Talk to former Wings Captain Scott Gaberialson, and you quickly get a sense of the pride and the connection that former Wings players still have with the team. It is pretty rare one of the game's all-time greats is your owner (I would mention that guy named Mario in Pittsburgh, but I know better to recognize a Penguin in this city). Mike French lives and breathes Wings lacrosse and I think he remembers every player to have ever played for the organization.

For the Wings, I think it is a balance between remembering and recognizing the past, but not being stuck there. The crowds have started to decrease a little in recent years because we haven't experienced the success that Philly sports fans expect and demand. We hope we can be a team that can help change that and bring back that rich history of success. You can sense some momentum within our locker room and it is group that cares about the Wings and cares about team success. Our fan base has become a cool mix between long-time, loyal Wings fans, and a newer, family oriented fan base that represents the growth of Philly lacrosse at the grassroots level. Wherever you fall as a fan, I hope that you feel a connection to one of the oldest and most-successful franchises in Philadelphia sports history; a franchise that in many ways takes on the solid, hardworking, humble, blue collar identity of its home city.

Before Sunday's game Chris Sanderson's wife Brogann and their two beautiful daughters Stevie and Clementine were recognized and came onto the floor for a ceremonial face off. It was great to see them and their presence injected some energy on our bench. Chris, who lost his battle with cancer last June, was yet another example in the long line of former great players and coaches that have been a part of the Wings organization.

Look forward to seeing you this weekend as we hope to clinch a playoff spot against the division leader and rival Toronto Rock.

Brodie Merrill Philadelphia Wings
About this blog
Wingin' It is the place for up-to-the-minute Wings coverage from Brodie Merrill of the Philadelphia Wings.

As the Philadelphia Wings' captain, Merrill is widely regarded as one of the top players in the NLL and was recently named Best Player in the World by Inside Lacrosse and named NLL Transition Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010. Last season, Merrill was named an NLL All-Star.

Brodie Merrill Philadelphia Wings
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