MAK­ING MAGIC

Former Is­land Storm bench boss Joe Salerno has been hired to coach Monc­ton Magic.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY NEIL HODGE

The Monc­ton Magic were fo­cused on land­ing a head coach and gen­eral man­ager with a proven track record as they pre­pare for their first sea­son in the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League of Canada.

They ac­com­plished that with Wed­nes­day’s an­nounce­ment that Joe Salerno has been hired to fill both po­si­tions. He was head coach and vice-pres­i­dent of player per­son­nel of the Is­land Storm the past six sea­sons and that team was con­sis­tently in the up­per half of the NBL Canada through­out his ten­ure.

Salerno guided the Storm to four At­lantic Di­vi­sion fi­nals, two of which they won, and also two trips to the league fi­nal. He was named the league’s Coach of the Year in 2013, all-star head coach in 2013 and 2014, and he’s the only per­son who’s been a head coach in this league for its en­tire six-year his­tory.

“It’s ex­cit­ing to come to Monc­ton and take on a new chal­lenge,” he said. “I re­ally look at this as a great op­por­tu­nity with the Monc­ton Magic. It’s ex­cit­ing to come to an ex­pan­sion fran­chise and work from the ground floor and try to put your own stamp on a brand­new team.

“I met with a few NBL Canada teams af­ter my time was done with the Storm and I was re­ally im­pressed with the own­er­ship group and up­per man­age­ment in Monc­ton. I just felt that with this own­er­ship group and up­per man­age­ment the Magic would be a great team to work for. They’re 100 per cent com­mit­ted to mak­ing this a winning team and so am I.”

The Monc­ton Mir­a­cles were in the NBL Canada for the past six sea­sons and they had a bleak ex­is­tence with just one .500 record, one play­off se­ries win, fi­nan­cial strug­gles and un­sta­ble own­er­ship.

They were op­er­ated by the league last sea­son and they strug­gled partly be­cause they were un­der funded.

The Mir­a­cles folded two weeks ago and the league then awarded Monc­ton an ex­pan­sion fran­chise. The Magic, who are un­der the new own­er­ship of prom­i­nent Monc­ton busi­ness­men Jon Man­ship, David Booth and Jeremy Mil­burn, will be­gin play when next sea­son starts in Novem­ber.

The Magic have a new seating plan which in­cludes 52 prime seats in the lower bowl. These prime seats and sea­son tick­ets are now on sale at the Monc­ton Coli­seum box of­fice.

Salerno has nine sea­sons of coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at the pro­fes­sional level, in­clud­ing six in the NBL Canada. He was the first head coach to reach 100 ca­reer wins in reg­u­lar sea­son in the NBL Canada.

Salerno is leav­ing this week on a player re­cruit­ing trip to Chicago, Las Ve­gas and Toronto. He points out that re­cruit­ing is a year-round process and he stayed in con­tact with play­ers even when he was in be­tween jobs in P.E.I. and Monc­ton.

“There’s a lot of play­ers I’ve coached in re­cent years that were in­ter­ested in know­ing where I would be coach­ing next sea­son,” he said. “I’ve had some talks with play­ers, but ob­vi­ously we’re wait­ing for the pro­tected lists to come out from the league so you’ve got to be care­ful about who you’re talk­ing to (so that you’re not fined for tam­per­ing).”

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Joe Salerno is pic­tured here coach­ing an Is­land Storm prac­tice in this Guardian file photo. He was let go by the Storm fol­low­ing this past sea­son and has just signed on with Monc­ton’s new Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League of Canada fran­chise.

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