The St. John’s Edge play their first-ever home game tonight as the National Basketball League of Canada expansion team hosts the Niagara River Lions at Mile One Centre before what is expected to be a sell-out crowd. As of Thursday evening, there were only about 200 tickets available for the Edge’s debut at Mile One, which is configured to hold 4,860 for basketball, not including suites.
As a follow-up to The Telegram’s Thursday primer on the NBL Canada and the Edge, here are some more questions and answers concerning St. John’s new pro team:
Where do the Edge players come from?
There are 12 players on the Edge’s playing roster, six Americans and six Canadians. (NBL Canada teams are required to have at least five Canadians.)
Those from the U.S. include guards Desmond Lee, Marcus Lewis, Rashaun Broadus and Colton Ray, and forwards Charles Hinkle and Jarion Henry. The Canadians are guards Alex Johnson, Jarryn Skeete and Newfoundlander Carl English, centre Rudolphe Joly and forwards Jordan Jensen-Whyte and Grandy Glaze (who also plays centre). Joly is a native of Haiti who moved to Quebec when he was 17. He acquired his Canadian citizenship last year.
And while we’re on the subject of citizenship, here’s an interesting note: Broadus, who has played extensively in Europe, became a citizen of Albania while playing in that country.
Almost all the players on the Edge are products of NCAA Division One basketball programs, including English, who was a star at the University of Hawaii. The exceptions are Jensen-Whyte, who went to the University of British Columbia, and Joly, who attended the University of Quebec at Montreal (Joly did play for an American junior college before UQAM).
While former Memorial Sea-Hawks star Noel Moffatt, who attended the Edge’s training camp, isn’t on the active roster, the St. John’s native does practise with the team and will have a place on the bench for home games, although he won't be permitted to play.
How were they acquired?
NBL Canada does hold a two-round pre-season draft, but the vast majority of players coming into the league do so as the result of recruitment by individual teams/coaches. In some cases, the players themselves make the first contact with teams in hopes of finding a roster spot.
It’s noteworthy that neither of the two players the Edge took in this year’s NBL draft — forwards Aaron Williams and Zach Gordon — are still on the roster, although Gordon did appear in three recent road games for St. John’s while Glaze was away from the team and playing for Canada’s national squad.
Prior knowledge and the basketball grapevine also play big roles in bringing in players. For example, two players on the Edge — Johnson and Lee — attended North Carolina State University during the time that St. John’s head coach Jeff Dunlap was an assistant there.
Some players on St. John’s — Johnson, Lewis, Joly and Skeete — have played in the league. As well, Dunlap has a good resource when it comes to NBL Canada in Doug Plumb, one of his assistant coaches. Plumb was previously an assistant with the London Lightning, the defending NBL Canada champions.
No player on the Edge was drafted by a National Basketball Association team, but English attended NBA training camps.
Others on the Edge have played in the G-League, which is the NBA’s development circuit and considered the top minor-league operation in North American professional basketball. And Steve Marcus, the other assistant coach for St. John’s, once worked in basketball operations with the G-League’s Maine Red Claws, the affiliate of the Boston Celtics.
Is it true the annual salary amount for the entire team for a season is $170,000?
That’s right, and that actually represents an increase from the former amount of $150,000.
Players don’t get rich in NBL Canada, although it must be pointed out that living expenses are also covered and there is additional compensation for players whose teams make the playoffs.
As well, it is common knowledge that some of the league’s higher profile players — like English — often receive additional remuneration, apart from their player contract, for off-court work.
But yes, if split evenly among the dozen players, the average annual salary under the cap would be something less than $15,000.
In some cases, players will attempt to double up on earnings by playing in an international league whose season runs in the summer and early fall. Joly, for example, joined the Edge after playing in a league in Vietnam.
However, in most cases, players see the NBL Canada as a way of starting or continuing a professional career, and as a potential springboard to higher-paying circuits in Europe or elsewhere.
Will the Edge have a mascot?
As it stands, there will be none for the opening weekend, which sees St. John’s and Niagara playing again Saturday night.
However, on its Facebook site, the team is asking fans for suggestions as to who the Edge mascot should be.
Some had expected the Edge to use Buddy the Puffin, the long-time mascot for AHL teams in St. John’s. But there doesn’t appear to have been any deal struck between the Edge and St. John’s IceCaps, who owned the Buddy brand, to acquire his rights.
The Edge will have a dance group from the Coastal Dance Company and in-house deejays NWatts and JBillz.
Anything else worth noting heading into the opening game?
As with the IceCaps, the Edge and Metrobus have arranged for a Park N’ Ride shuttle system from Bowring Park and Confederation parking lots, with 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m departures ($5 cost).
If you don’t have tickets for tonight’s game or can’t make it to Saturday’s rematch (that game, which will feature the NTV Teddy Toss, also has a 7 p.m. start), it’s worth noting the Edge will be live-streaming all their games through the team website (sjedge.ca), with Steve Power and former Memorial Sea-Hawks women’s basketball coach Doug Partridge calling the games.
Do you use ‘Edge’ as a singular or plural?
Despite the absence of an ‘s’ in the team’s nickname, we in the Telegram Sports Department are treating it as a plural, sort of like ‘Moose.’
So it will be ‘the Edge are …” and the “Edge have their …” in our stories.
What we haven’t figured out is how to attach the nickname to individual players. What do you call a player on the Edge? An Edger? Maybe you have a suggestion.
St. John’s Edge numerical roster
No. Name Pos
3 Alex Johnson G
5 Desmond Lee G
6 Jordan Jensen-Whyte G/F
7 Jarion Henry F
10 Jarryn Skeete G
12 Marcus Lewis SG
16 Rashaun Broadus G
23 Carl English SG
24 Charles Hinkle SF
30 Colton Ray G
40 Rudolphe Joly C
55 Grandy Glaze PF