Johnny Mouradian in his second season with the Philadelphia Wings. He spent last year as the team’s GM. This year, he is serving as both GM and head coach.

The team kicks off the 2012 National Lacrosse League season Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center. They’ll be taking on division rival Rochester.

Johnny, we have a lot of competitive teams here in Philly. Why should fans come see the Wings this weekend?

For the fans investigating the Wings for the first time, they really have to understand that there’s nine teams in NLL. And the best teams, players and coaches in the world are on those nine teams. If you put that in perspective, you got the best of the best.

What are your expectations this season?


Well, we’ve been in the basement the last couple of years, but we added 18 new players last year and eight more this year. We realigned our coaching staff and made significant changes to address the fact we haven’t made the playoffs. Playing tougher, playing with a will to win is what we’re emphasizing. Now, we have a group of guys focused on winning.

Give us some names, standout players to watch for.

Brodie Merrill is our captain, we got him via trade. He’s one of the best defenseman/transition players in NLL. Then, there’s Kevin Crowley, Dan Dawson, Ned Crotty, Jordon Sealock, Max Seibald and Matt Danowski. I’m really happy with the mix of Canadian and American ballplayers. We have the highest number of U.S. ballplayers on any NLL team.

Do you set any goals before the season starts?

Our ultimate goal is to host playoff games. Reunite old Wings fans with the Wings and introduce new fans to the Wings. That, and having character guys. If you’re winning and doing good things in the community, the fans are going to jump on board, especially here in Philadelphia.

Describe the atmosphere out there when two NLL teams are going at it.

It’s a rugged game. Indoor lacrosse is a cross between field lacrosse, basketball and hockey. It’s a battle, there are only two sports where you are allowed to fight: hockey and indoor lacrosse. I mean, it’s actually legal. And any time you get guys with weapons in their hands — in this case, a stick — they’re going to go at it.

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