Blast Plans for Uncertain Future
By Patrick Abbondandolo
Ed Hale joined the front office of the Baltimore Blast Tuesday afternoon in what was jokingly called a post-mortem press conference. Following president and general manager Kevin Healey and head coach Danny Kelly, Hale laid out his thoughts on the season, and it appears that this summer is going to be a summer of change.
Ed Hale laid out his thoughts on the season during the Blast Tuesday press conference.
Three new teams -- Orlando, Newark and Monterrey, Mexico -- will join the MISL for the 2007-08 season.
"[The Mexico franchise] gives our league a good geographic spread, and it allows our game to grow," Hale said. The fourth possible site for a new franchise is Kansas City, which had a team until this year when they suspended operations.
The June 5 expansion draft will be the driving force behind the Blast's offseason changes. League rules for the draft have not been released, but the Blast could lose as many as 11-13 players -- a big cut when the active roster is only 20 players deep.
"There are a lot of opportunites for some of your friends to go find their places to be a rookie or a star," Hale said as he looked at his current players.
With the opportunity for a 10-team league by the fall, the MISL's future is bright. The future for the Blast, however, remains uncertain with the chance of several players leaving the team. Regardless of what happens in the draft, the makeup of the Blast, which finished 15-15 this season, will change dramatically.
Kelly was obviously unhappy about the Blast missing the playoffs in his first full year as head coach. "We did not get the job done. We need to work on staying focused, finishing opportunities in the offensive third, and playing better team defense," Kelly said. "I take full responsibility that we did not get it done."
Hale and Healey both added that the team struggled to overcome a rash of injuries.
Players like Adauto Neto, David Bascome and Giuliano Celenza missed a majority of the season, and then losing John Paul Steele at the end of the season didn't help the team make a playoff push. Steele, who drew a season-ending suspension for poor locker room conduct, will be able to play next year. Healey was unsure if that meant as a member of the Blast.
The Blast's season did not end on a totally negative front. Goal keeper Sagu was named to the second-team All-MISL squad, and Baltimore's own Mike Lookingland earned a spot on the All-MISL Rookie team.
"[Sagu] made saves we asked of him, and several that he should not have made," Kelly said. "That is what a good goaltender does."
Despite the team's struggles, the Blast still averaged nearly 7,500 fans per game at 1st Mariner Arena.
"We are the best organization we can be and the greatest within the framework of the league," Hale said. "Continuity is important. We have that, and we will be successful."
Posted April 11, 2007