Marchand takes over as head coach
Mike Leslie is excited about his new role with the Halifax Hurricanes but admits he’s going to miss walking the sidelines at Scotiabank Centre.
On Friday, Leslie was named the president and general manager of the Halifax franchise in the National Basketball League of Canada. Leslie has been the Hurricanes head coach since 2016 and guided the team to three Atlantic Conference appearances and two NBL Canada championship series.
“The competitive piece you want to be in the middle of it, but now there are so many other pieces that you are responsible for that you just have to shift to that right away,” said Leslie.
“I love coaching and being around players and that aspect of the game, but from the management side and from that executive position, it’s something I have done before (in my career) and I look forward to doing here as well. I thoroughly believe in the (Hurricanes) organization and I invest in it. I believe it can be successful in Halifax and I’m excited to be able to do it on a full-time basis in that position.”
Mark Lever, managing partner of the Halifax Hurricanes, made the announcement on Friday that included naming Ryan Marchand as the team’s head coach.
“Mike has always been the cornerstone of the business,” said Lever. “He’s been a basketball coach his whole life and professionally he was an educator and ultimately a manager, so he has always had these organizational skills.”
Leslie replaces Kevin Sanford, who directed the business operations of the team for the past three years.
Lever praised Sanford, who is also a leader in The Chronicle Herald’s community partnership and promotions department, for the work he put into the organization.
“Kevin Sanford, really on a part-time basis, tried to take care of the business side and did an incredible job.”
The decision to promote Leslie in the organization was made easier by the emergence of Marchand, who joined the team in November as an assistant coach.
“He (Marchand) was more advanced than we thought, he really connected with the players early in camp and even the response today, the players got the news today and it seemed seamless,” said Lever. “Ryan is a head coach and we’re really excited to have him here. We will be the only team in the league with that type of institutional knowledge from coach Leslie to help mentor a guy who is really ready to head coach now.”
Marchand, a 31-year-old from California, was an assistant coach with the Iowa Wolves, the NBA G-League affiliate team of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He also coached the Timberwolves team in the 2018 NBA Summer League Showcase,
Leslie said Marchand was recommended to him by a friend in the Saint John Riptide organization.
The two coaches hit it off immediately.
“Ryan and I started a backand-forth dialogue back in October and got to the point later that we were exchanging names of players back and forth and he was researching players that I had signed to the training camp roster and was giving me his feedback about what he knew about them. By the time he hit the ground here in November he had a pretty good knowledge of what we were working with in training camp.
“He’s probably more prepared from a knowledge, tactician standpoint of where the game of basketball is now than I would have been when I was hired here three years ago. He has been so close to the NBA game and that style of game. He comes in instantly with that, has the respect of the players just because the language he talks is what they see in the game they watch.”
And Leslie, in his new role, is ready to help mentor Marchand and bring the organization to a new level.
“I think the other piece of that is I have the intimate knowledge of the league and organization and what we need to do to be successful and to be a door away (from Marchand) and support that process,” said Leslie. “I think that is good for us as an organization.”
The Hurricanes, who are expected to name their final roster on Monday, open their NBA season on Saturday, Dec. 28 in Charlottetown against the Island Storm. Their home opener is the next day (Dec. 29) at 2 p.m. at Scotiabank Centre against the St. John’s Edge.
Mike Leslie was named the president and general manager of the Halifax Hurricanes on Friday. Ryan Marchand was named replace Leslie as the head coach of NBL of Canada team. to