National Basketball League of Canada

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For other organizations with a similar name, see National Basketball League (disambiguation) and NBL (disambiguation).
National Basketball League of Canada
Ligue Nationale de Basketball du Canada (NBL Canada)
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2015–16 NBL Canada season
Logo NBL Canada
Sport Basketball
Founded May 5, 2011
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
CEO Dave Magley
Claim to fame "The pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in Canada"
Motto "It's Showtime!"
"C'est Showtime!"
Inaugural season 2011–12
No. of teams 8
Country  Canada
Continent FIBA Americas (Americas)
Most recent champion(s) Windsor Express
Most titles London Lightning and Windsor Express (2 titles)
TV partner(s) beIN Sports
EastLink TV
The Score
Rogers Media
Official website

The National Basketball League of Canada (NBL Canada) (French: Ligue Nationale de Basketball du Canada) is a Canadian professional men's basketball league founded in 2011. For the first season, three teams formerly of the Premier Basketball League joined, with four expansion teams officially joining to form the NBL's "Original Seven". In 2012, an eighth franchise based in Windsor, Ontario joined the league. The current champions are the Windsor Express, having defeated the Halifax Rainmen 4–3 in the 2015 NBL Finals.


In May 2011, the Saint John Mill Rats, Halifax Rainmen and Quebec Kebs came together to form the National Basketball League of Canada. The London Lightning, Moncton Miracles, Oshawa Power and Summerside Storm rounded out the roster for the inaugural 2011–12 36-game season. The London Lightning won the inaugural NBL Canada Championship Series by defeating the Halifax Rainmen.

For its second season, the league welcomed the Windsor Express and began using 2 Four-team divisions, the Central and the Atlantic.[1]

Following the 2013-14, the league announced its first national broadcast deal with beIN Sports. Starting with the 2014-15 season, 2 regular season games will be aired each week with special coverage for playoffs and special events such as the All Star Weekend. The deal runs through the 2016-17 season.[2]

The 2014-15 NBL Season ended in controversy as the Windsor Express were declared winners of the Championship series after the Halifax Rainmen failed to show for the seventh and deciding game. The Rainmen organization claimed that their players feared for their safety following a physical altercation earlier in the day with the Express for not playing the game. [3]


The NBL of Canada started in 2011 with seven teams. Halifax, Saint John and Quebec moved from the Premier Basketball League while the other four teams started the 2011–12 season as new expansion teams (London, Moncton, Summerside and Oshawa).

For the 2012–13 season, the Windsor Express were added and the Quebec Kebs relocated to Laval. But before the Kebs saw any action, the league terminated the team after issues with team management arose. The league replaced the Kebs with a team based in Montreal, Quebec called the Montreal Jazz.[4]

Following the season, the Oshawa Power relocated to Mississauga and was renamed the Mississauga Power.[5]

On July 7, 2013, the Summerside Storm announced that the team will play out of the Charlottetown Civic Centre in Charlottetown for the 2013–14 season. The team was renamed the Island Storm. [6]

The league added the Brampton A's and Ottawa SkyHawks as new expansion teams for the 2013–14 season.[7]

On August 5, 2013, the NBL Board of Governors announced that the Montreal Jazz would sit out the 2013–2014 Season of NBL Canada after failing to secure new ownership.[8] The Montreal Jazz eventually folded, finishing their only season at 2-38.

On July 31, 2014, the NBL Board of Governors announced that the Ottawa SkyHawks would not participate in the 2014–2015 Season of NBL Canada for failing to "adhere to league standards as set out in the operating agreement, and deadlines set forth to prepare for the season."[9]

On April 8, 2015, an expansion franchise was officially announced for the Niagara region, with the name to be determined in a name-the-team contest. The team will begin play in the 2015-16 season, at the Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines, Ontario. On June 29, 2015, the Toronto Raptors officially announced the creation of an NBA D League team, the Raptors 905, which will begin play in the 2015-16 season at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. The expansion of the D-League into Mississauga forced the Mississauga Power to cease operations, bringing the league to eight teams, with four in Ontario and four in the Maritime Provinces. [10]

  1. An asterisk (*) denotes a franchise move. See the respective team articles for more information.
  2. The Halifax Rainmen, Quebec Kebs and Saint John Mill Rats all joined the NBL Canada in 2011 from the PBL.

Folded Teams[edit]

Name changes[edit]

  • Summerside Storm - moved to Charlottetown for 2013–2014 as the Island Storm.
  • Oshawa Power - moved to Mississauga for 2013–2014 as the Mississauga Power.

Timeline of teams[edit]

Niagara River Lions Ottawa SkyHawks Brampton A's Windsor Express Montreal Jazz Quebec Kebs Island Storm Summerside Storm Mississauga Power Oshawa Power Saint John Mill Rats Moncton Miracles London Lightning Halifax Rainmen

Regular season[edit]

Following the summer break, teams begin training camps in late September. Each teams training camp roster will eventually be pared down to a 12-man roster, with which they will begin the regular season. After training camp, a series of preseason exhibition games are held. The NBL Canada regular season begins in the first week of November.

During the regular season, each team plays 32 games, 16 each home and away. A team faces opponents in its own division eight times (24 games), and the remaining four teams two times (8 games).


The NBL Canada Championship Playoffs begin in late March, with the top three teams going for the Championship. The two division winners are given first round byes.

The second and third seeds meet each other in the first round of the NBL Canada Playoffs. The winners of these best-of-three series go on to meet the first seeds in a best-of-five semi-finals series. The winners of the two semi-finals series will meet in a final best-of-five series, known as the NBL Finals.[11]

League championships[edit]

The London Lightning and the Windsor Express have the most championships with 2 wins each. The Halifax Rainmen and the Island Storm have appeared in two league finals failing to win the trophy.

Teams Win Loss Total Year(s) won Year(s) lost
London Lightning 2 0 2 2012, 2013
Windsor Express 2 0 2 2014, 2015
Halifax Rainmen 0 2 2 2012, 2015
Summerside/Island Storm 0 2 2 2013, 2014

Current teams that have no NBL Canada Finals appearances:


Most Valuable Player (Regular Season)

2011–12 Winner:

  • Gabe Freeman, London Lightning

Freeman, a 6'10, 256-pound small forward from Costa Mesa (Calif.) Jr. College, was named NBL Canada Player of the Week three times and led the League in rebounds with a season total of 425 rebounds, 12.5 rpg. Freeman was also the league’s third leading scorer with a season total of 627 points, 17.9 ppg.

2012–13 Winner:

  • Devin Sweetney, Moncton Miracles

NBL Canada’s Scoring Champion, Devin Sweetney, from the Moncton Miracles, who scored 1,173 points (24.9 points per game) this season, took home NBL Canada’s Most Valuable Player in the second season.

2013–14 Winner:

  • Anthony Anderson, Saint John Mill Rats

Former Canadian basketball leagues[edit]


External links[edit]