The St. John’s Edge announced their 12th off-season player signing Tuesday, but the team’s most noteworthy addition this week could be someone who won’t play a minute during the upcoming National Basketball League of Canada season.
The Cape Breton Post, which along with The Telegram is part of the SaltWire Network, reported Tuesday that Tyrone Levingston, who had been the president and general manager of the NBLC’s Cape Breton Highlanders the last three seasons, has signed a one-year contract as the Edge’s new president.
In confirming the news, Levingston said his new duties officially began this week.
Levingston brought professional basketball to Cape Breton in 2016, but after three seasons in the NBLC, the Sydney-based Highlanders announced they would be taking a one-year leave of absence from the league because of financial problems.
The Cape Breton franchise first announced in July it would be suspending operations, although it later began a season-ticket drive with a goal of getting 1,500 season-ticket holders in a last-ditch attempt to operate during the 2019-20 season. The team was able to sell 700 seats in less than a week, but didn’t meet its stated goal, and resumed its plans to take a one-year hiatus.
Thee Highlanders didn’t post an above-.500 record during their three seasons, going 15-25 n 2016-17, and 12-27 in 2017-18, finishing out of the playoffs both years. Last season, the 19-21 Cape Breton team diid get into the post-season, but was bounced by the Halifax Hurricanes in the first round.
The Highlanders averaged 1,238 fans per game last season, compared to the league-leading 3,794 averaged by the Edge, whose majority owner is Cape Breton native Irwin Simon, who is also the owner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Cape Breton Eagles.
The term of Levingston’s one-year contract is significant in that he isn’t ruling out the return of the Highlanders next year.
“Our goal is to revitalize the Highlanders next season if the funds are there,” said Levingston in an email to the Post. “I would love to see them back.”
Levingston is the son of Andre Levingston, who was one of the founders of the NBLC and owner of the Halifax Rainmen, who preceded the Hurricanes.
As for the Edge’s latest player signing, it’s six-foot-nine, 235-pound forward Mike Edwards, a professional rookie out of the University of Georgia
A 22-year-old native a Westland, Mich., Edwards appeared in 111 career games while at Georgia and had career averages of 2.6 points and 2,7 rebounds per game for the Bulldogs.
But despite what aren’t eye-popping stats, Edge head coach Steve Marcus is high on Edwards.
“Mike is one of the best athletes I have ever seen on a basketball court,” said Marcus in a team release. ”The way he runs, jumps and moves is unlike anything we have ever had in St. John’s.”
While the Edge now have a dozen signed players — the amount in a normal NBLC game-day lineup — they can be expected to sign at least one more Canadian player. A team must have the league-mandated minimum of five domestic players in order to dress a full complement of 12 players for a game.
Right now, St. John’s has four Canadians — returnees Murphy Burnatowski and Junior Cadougan, as well as newcomers Cassidy Ryan and Tyrone Watson.
The Edge open their 2019-20 regular season Dec. 27 on the road in Moncton, N.B., against the Magic, who swept St. John’s in last season’s league final. The first home game for the Edge is Jan. 7 versus the K-W Titans.
St. John’s has one pre-season game scheduled. That’s set for Dec. 15 at Mile One Centre, with the visiting Magic providing the opposition.
Withe files from The Cape Breton Post