Just over a month ago, the NLL confirmed the announcement that the 2020 season wouldn’t continue due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of the abbreviated season, the Philadelphia Wings finished third in the Eastern Division. Tied with the Georgia Swarm just a few games behind first place, the Wings were still battling for a playoff spot. A true champion may be unknown, but credit is still due. Philadelphia’s Paul Day earned the Les Bartley Award for Head Coach of the Year and General Manager of the Year honors.
No Stranger to Coach of the Year
It is the second time that Paul Day has earned the Les Bartley Award. Bartley, who the award’s named after, is the most successful coach in the history of the NLL. In just one season, Day helped turn the Philadelphia Wings franchise from a 4-14 record into 8-6. With four games remaining in the 2020 season, the Wings could’ve made the playoffs after not qualifying the season prior. Under Day’s guidance, Philadelphia has only begun to take flight.
While earning the Les Bartley Award in 2020, Paul Day was also named the 2020 NLL General Manager of the Year. It’s the first time that Day won this award. Day is the first coach to simultaneously be named the General Manager of the Year since Derek Keenan in 2014. Only three coaches have been able to accomplish this feat in NHL history. Those coaches are Day (2020), Keenan (2014, 2010, and 2006), and Bob Hamley (2005).
To earn the Les Bartley Award, Paul Day surpassed two other finalists. Those two other coaches were Mike Accursi of the Halifax Thunderbirds and Glenn Clark of the New England Black Wolves. The first time that Day won the Les Bartley Award, he was the head coach of the Rochester Knighthawks in 2004. Last season, the Black Wolves were a playoff team, and this season, the Thunderbirds were too. Day’s coaching put the Philadelphia Wings in the NLL playoff hunt after not qualifying a season ago.
All Eyes on the Captain
In addition to his well decorated coach, Wings’ Captain, Kiel Matisz, deserves an honorable mention as well. Matisz was one of three players nominated for Transitional Player of the Year and was named to the NLL All-League Second Team in 2020. He’s the only Philadelphia Wings player to earn an All-League honor. Finishing fifth on the Wings in scoring, Matisz’s hustle is what stood out. Matisz started every game and secured the second most ground balls, only trailing Trevor Baptiste.