But the world loves to see the champion beaten. And you can be assured that the 1974 regular season champions of the NLL will not find it easy no matter where they play.
The Wings were a very classy team last year when they compiled a 27-13 mark and pulled away from the rest of the loop the final two weeks of the season. Even though the Wings were upset by the Long Island Tomahawks (then the Rochester Griffins), it was obvious that the talented Philadelphia team was neither mentally nor emotionally prepared for the Nations Trophy playoff finals.
This year, it figures to be a lot different. The entire team is now living in Philadelphia, and the players should be able to concentrate solely on playing pro lacrosse — something they weren’t able to do before.
Also, the Wings are younger, faster and stronger. They have a new coach in Jim Hinkson, and it seems as if the future of pro lacrosse in Philadelphia just couldn’t be any brighter than it is at the moment.
Hinkson, who played on last year’s team, has a solid nucleus of veterans returning in Captain Carm Collins, goalie Wayne Platt, forward Larry Lloyd and center John Grant. Platt and Lloyd made the NLL first all-star team and Grant the second team.
Platt was the best goalie in the league last year during the regular season, although he did slump a little in the playoffs. Lloyd led the team in scoring with 173 points in 40 games while Grant improved so much he was the best man on the team at the end of the year.
Other veterans who will help are: forward Terry Lloyd (Larry’s younger brother), who just missed “Rookie of the Year’’ honors; Jim Wasson, the best little man in the NLL; steady defenseman Zeny Lipinski, face-off specialist Jim Hickey, Glen Ferguson, Bob Goulding, Brian Robinson and Terry Rowland.
Of the new players picked up in the loop draft, the ones figuring to help the most are Ross Jones, Jim Rickbeil and Rick Boucher. Carm Collins already has predicted that Jones will score more than 100 goals this year barring injury.
Other new players who could help are: goalies Grant Bryck and Brian Bremner, forwards Peter Guerin, Daryl McColl and Steve Shipley, center Jim Patterson and defenseman Wayne Spooner.
The Wings have their sights set definitely on the Nations Trophy in 1975. There’s no guarantee they’ll win it, but if they don’t there’s going to be an awful lot of disappointed young pro lacrosse players in the City of Brotherly Love.