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
Inaugural season 2011–12
CEO Dave Magley
Motto "It's Showtime!"
"C'est Showtime!"
No. of teams 10
Country  Canada
Continent FIBA Americas (Americas)
Most recent
Halifax Hurricanes
Most titles London Lightning and Windsor Express (2 titles)
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. The NBL was founded in 2011, when three teams formerly of the Premier Basketball League joined with four new franchises to form the NBL's "Original Seven". By 2016, the league had grown to ten teams, with five located in the Maritime provinces and five in Ontario. The current champions are the Halifax Hurricanes, having defeated the London Lightning 4–3 in the 2016 NBL Finals.[1]


In May 2011, it was announced that three former members of the Premier Basketball League—the Halifax Rainmen, Quebec Kebs, and Saint John Mill Rats—would come together to form the National Basketball League of Canada. Eventually, following the summer, the newly created London Lightning, Moncton Miracles, Oshawa Power, and Summerside Storm joined the league for its inaugural 2011–12 season. At this time, a professional team based in Kingston, Ontario applied to become a member, hoping to play their home games at the K-Rock Centre. Despite efforts from Andre Levingston and Sam Mitchell, the team would never feature.[2] In August 2011, the league reached a long-term agreement with Pointstreak Sports Technologies Inc., which would provide the NBL with a website, real-time scoring, and statistics. The CEO and president of the service, Scott Secord, said, "The NBL is an ideal flagship account for our new services for basketball organizations."[3]

The team salary cap would be $150,000 and franchises would have an annual operating budget ranging from $500,000 to $750,000. There would be 10–12 players on each roster, with a minimum two Canadians, and they would earn $2,000 to $4,000 per month, a salary similar to the NBA Development League and many international leagues.[4][5] There would be a 36-game schedule, per Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) rules, and the regular season would begin in November following the conclusion of training camp and preseason.[5][6] Teams were expected to see an average of 2,000 fans at each game.[6]

On August 21, 2011, the NBL held its first-ever draft at the Rogers Centre. Morgan Lewis, who led the University of Findlay to a title at the NCAA Men's Division II Basketball Championship in 2009, was selected by the Oshawa Power with the first overall pick.[7] Panola College point guard Jerome Brown, who was taken with the fifth overall by the Saint John Mill Rats, became the first Canadian to be drafted. With the help of Dome Productions, the 2011 draft was live-streamed online and had 6,000 unique viewers from 93 different countries. The league gained 100 followers on Twitter that hour.[8]

The Quebec Kebs defeated the Moncton Miracles on October 29, 2011, with a score of 102–97, at the Colisée de Laval. Yannick Anzuluni and Boubacar Coly, who were from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Senegal respectively, debuted as the first international players in the league's history.[9] Within a week, every team in the league had featured in at least one game.[10] The regular season stretched until March 4, 2012. Six different players with past experience in the National Basketball Association (NBA) competed in the inaugural NBL Canada season as well: Will Blalock, Rodney Buford, Soumaila Samake, Orien Greene, Eddie Robinson, and Dontell Jefferson. On April 1, 2012, the league held its first-ever All-Star Game at the Halifax Metro Centre, appointing Joey Haywood and Eddie Smith as captains for the two teams. In the playoffs, the top four teams qualified for the best-of-three semifinals and advanced onto the 2012 NBL Canada Finals, which was played in a best-of-five format. The London Lightning topped the Halifax Rainmen for the title under head coach Micheal Ray Richardson.[8]

For its second season, the league welcomed the Windsor Express and began using 2 Four-team divisions, the Central and the Atlantic.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13]


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 called the Montreal Jazz.[14]

Following the season, the Oshawa Power relocated to Mississauga and was renamed the Mississauga Power.[15]

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.[16]

The league added the Brampton A's and Ottawa SkyHawks as new expansion teams for the 2013–14 season.[17]

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.[18] 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."[19]

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 began play in the 2015–16 season, at the Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines, Ontario as the Niagara River Lions.

On June 29, 2015, the Toronto Raptors officially announced the creation of an NBA D-League team, the Raptors 905, which began 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.[20]

In July 2015 the Halifax Rainmen filed for bankruptcy and folded. That September it was announced that a new team called the Halifax Hurricanes would take their place for the 2015–16 season. The Hurricanes would go on to win the NBL championship in their very first year in the league.

On September 15, 2015, the Brampton A's announced their relocation to Orangeville, Ontario, for the upcoming 2015–16 season as the Orangeville A's, citing the impending arrival of the NBA D-League in nearby Mississauga as one of the principal factors in their decision.[21]

On September 22, 2015, it was announced that a new team would begin play in Sydney, Nova Scotia, for the 2016–17 season. On November 24, 2015 it was revealed that the new franchise would be called the Cape Breton Highlanders.[22]

On June 28, 2016, the NBL announced that an expansion franchise had been awarded for Kitchener, Ontario, to begin play in 2016–17, representing the Waterloo Region.[23] A name-the-team contest was held resulting in more than 500 entries, and on July 28 it was revealed that the new team would be called the KW Titans.[24]

Current teams[edit]

  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]

Franchise relocations[edit]

  • Brampton A's – moved to Orangeville for 2015–16 season as the Orangeville A's
  • Oshawa Power – moved to Mississauga for 2013–14 as the Mississauga Power.
  • Summerside Storm – moved to Charlottetown for 2013–2014 as the Island Storm.

Timeline of teams[edit]

KW Titans Cape Breton Highlanders (basketball) Halifax Hurricanes Niagara River Lions Ottawa SkyHawks Orangeville A's 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 camp. Each team's 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 currently begins in late December and runs to the end of April. As of 2015–16, each team plays 40 games, divided equally between home and away matches.[27]


At the conclusion of the regular season, the playoffs begin the first week of May and end in mid-June. Eight teams qualify for a best-of-five first round series, with the four victorious teams moving on to the best-of-seven division finals. The Atlantic Division champion then meets the Central Division champion in the best-of-seven NBL Finals.

NBL Championship[edit]

Season Champion Finalist
2011–12 London Lightning Halifax Rainmen
2012–13 London Lightning Summerside Storm
2013–14 Windsor Express Island Storm
2014–15 Windsor Express Halifax Rainmen
2015–16 Halifax Hurricanes London Lightning

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 1 3 2012, 2013 2016
Windsor Express 2 0 2 2014, 2015
Halifax Rainmen 0 2 2 2012, 2015
Summerside/Island Storm 0 2 2 2013, 2014
Halifax Hurricanes 1 0 1 2016

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 (California) 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) during the season, took home NBL Canada's Most Valuable Player in the second season.

2013–14 Winner:

  • Anthony Anderson, Saint John Mill Rats

2014–15 Winner:

  • Quinnel Brown, Windsor Express [28]

Former Canadian basketball leagues[edit]


  1. ^ Lipscombe, Kristen. "Halifax Hurricanes topple London Lightning to win first-ever NBL Canada title". Metro Halifax. Free Daily News Group. Retrieved 13 June 2016. 
  2. ^ Edmiston, Jake. "Talks become more serious". Kingston Whig-Standard. Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  3. ^ "Pointstreak Captures New Market With Signing of National Basketball League of Canada". Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  4. ^ Grange, Michael. "A league of our own?". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "NBL Canada finalizes league rules". Metro News. Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "NBL: Does Moncton believe in Miracles?". Journal Pioneer. Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Kleps, Kevin. "Pro basketball: Harvey grad Morgan Lewis is drafted first overall in Canadian League". The News-Herald. Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "NBL Canada 2014-15 Media Guide" (PDF). Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  9. ^ "Moncton Miracles 97, Laval Kebs 102". RealGM. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  10. ^ Gay, Carlan. "First Ever NBL Power Rankings Released!". Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  11. ^ "History". Retrieved 2012-10-04. 
  12. ^ "NBL Canada lands historic deal". 2014-04-23. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "NBL Canada Announces New Team in Montreal". NBL Canada. October 26, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Power Basketball Relocates To Mississauga". NBL Canada. April 26, 2013. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "The National Basketball League of Canada Approves Ottawa". NBL Canada. November 13, 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Montreal Jazz to Sit Out 2013–2014 Season". NBL Canada. August 5, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Ottawa SkyHawks kicked out of National Basketball League of Canada". 31 July 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Halifax Rainmen file for bankruptcy". Global News. 2015-07-06. 
  26. ^ "Professional basketball returning to Halifax for 2015-16 NBLC season with local ownership" (PDF). Halifax Hurricanes. 2015-09-03. 
  27. ^
  28. ^

External links[edit]