When Kevin Crowley got the call from New England Black Wolves general manager Rich Lisk that he was traded to the Philadelphia Wings, Crowley was more than excited. He was relieved.
His hold out with New England was over and he’d be coming back to play in the city – Philadelphia – where he started his NLL career after being chosen No. 1 overall by the Wings in the 2011 NLL draft.
Crowley was on his way to practice for the Penn Lax All-Stars, Pennsylvania’s premier youth box travel team that he coaches, when he got the call.
“I didn’t know when I got the phone call what was going to happen,” said Crowley. “Was my GM trying to get me to play again? Was I traded? It’s a pretty anxious time any time you get a call from your GM at any point in the season. But in the end it was excitement.”
Crowley was a staple on the first incarnation of the Wings in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Those were hard times for the franchise – they finished under .500 all three years and they lost both playoff games they appeared in in 2012 and 2013. After the 2014 season, the Wings moved to New England. Crowley followed with. His heart, however, was still with the city of Philadelphia.
“I hate to be cliche,” said Crowley, “But you never realize what you have till it’s gone and I felt that way about Philadelphia and being an athlete here.”
Crowley, who is from New Westminster, British Columbia, moved to Philadelphia after he was drafted by the Wings in 2011. He first lived in the Fairmount area and then moved to Northern Liberties. Even after being traded to New England, Crowley stayed in the city.
He took up coaching duties with the varsity lacrosse team and the junior varsity basketball team at the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr. He also owns and coaches at Fusion Lacrosse (a youth club lacrosse team) and is a coach with Penn Lax, a winter youth box travel team.
His favorite cheesesteak place is Joe’s steaks in Fishtown and his order is wiz with onions. Having lived here for seven years, he’s practically a local.
“I was so young and naive that I didn’t even think it was even an option that the team would move,” said Crowley. “Maybe you saw it in the crowd in the numbers but I never experienced anything like that. I wanted to stay here. I started a company up (Fusion Lacrosse). So it was a big shock for me.”
Nicknamed “The Big Cat,” Crowley was traded from New England to Toronto during the 2015 season, and then was traded back to New England in the offseason, where he played until 2018. He totaled 90 points in 2016 and 85 in 2017. Last year, he led the league in goals with 51 and added 25 assists.
The Black Wolves finished a combined 30-34 in Crowley’s three and a half seasons in New England, and they advanced to within one round of the NLL Cup in 2016 before being swept by the Buffalo Bandits in the East Finals.
In Crowley’s first game with the Wings after the trade in early January, he scored two goals and had two assists in a 13-11 loss to Georgia. The loss dropped the Wings to 0-4. But the Wells Fargo Center drew 12,688 people that Saturday night, a good reminder that he was now living and playing in his adopted city of Philadelphia.
“(That reception) was awesome,” said Crowley. “There were a lot of people there for the first warm-ups and a lot of people giving me a thumbs up and pulling my jersey up. It was really cool to see. It’s a testament to how good the fans are and the support the Wings get here.”
The Wings would lose two more games to fall to 0-6 before getting their first win, a 15-14 overtime thriller against the Rochester Knighthawks.
In Crowley’s five games with the Wings this season, he has ten goals and 14 assists. He scored four times in the Wings’ 14-10 loss to Buffalo and had four goals and six assists the following week, a one-point heartbreaking loss at home to Toronto.
“We feel good,” said Crowley. “Getting that first win was a big step for us. I think that gives us that confidence that we can win those tough games. That proved that we can get it done and we will be more confident moving forward.”
Though the season hasn’t gone the way the Wings or their fans had hoped it would – they are 1-7 and are 3.5 games behind New England for the final playoff spot in the East – the Wings are loaded with young, offensive talent. They sit in the top half of the league in goals scored.
Next week, Crowley will face his former team for the first time. The Wings host New England on Saturday night and are in New England on Sunday afternoon.
“I have fond memories playing in the casino,” said Crowley, about the Black Wolves home arena, Mohegan Sun Arena. “I have a lot of good memories. The fans were great to me (and I have) good friends on the team.”
Crowley and the Wings host New England Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center at 7 pm EST and travel up to Mohegan Sun Arena to take on New England Sunday at 3 pm EST in the second game of a back to back.