Long­time coach Stone parts ways with Storm

Times Colonist - - Sports - CLEVE DHEENSAW

Lee Stone, one of the most suc­cess­ful head coaches and gen­eral man­agers in Van­cou­ver Is­land Hockey League his­tory, has abruptly left those po­si­tions with the de­fend­ing league-cham­pion Camp­bell River Storm.

The Storm tweeted the an­nounce­ment this week, say­ing the club and Stone have “mu­tu­ally agreed to part ways.”

The tweet, how­ever, added he would re­main with the Storm in an­other ca­pac­ity: “Stone, while pur­su­ing other op­por­tu­ni­ties, will stay on board as a se­nior ad­viser to the owner and staff, shift­ing his fo­cus to run­ning a suc­cess­ful Cy­clone Tay­lor Cup. There will be no fur­ther com­ment from the club.”

The Storm are host­ing the 2019 Fred Cy­clone Tay­lor Cup tour­na­ment, to de­ter­mine the B.C. Ju­nior B cham­pion, from April 11-14 at Rod Brind’Amour Arena.

The Storm said as­sis­tant coach Cam Basarab will step up to be­come head coach and as­sis­tant coach Bill Brett will as­sume the GM du­ties.

Nei­ther Stone nor Storm owner Linda Lahti­nen ad­dressed the rea­sons for the move.

“My time in Camp­bell River was ab­so­lutely amaz­ing and I can’t thank ev­ery­one there enough for the years I had,” Stone said in an email Fri­day to the Times Colonist.

“If you told a 23-year-old Lee Stone that he’d get five years of in­cred­i­ble re­la­tion­ships and mem­o­ries like I have had, I’m not sure I would have be­lieved you. I am very proud to say we brought that team back to the top. Camp­bell River de­served that.”

Lahti­nen also reached the Times Colonist by email.

“I would like to thank Lee Stone for his hard work, ded­i­ca­tion and un­wa­ver­ing sup­port not just for my­self, but the en­tire Storm pro­gram,” she wrote.

“I will al­ways be grate­ful for his ef­forts to help save the Storm pro­gram over the past four years and re­turn it to the top where it be­longs. I am look­ing for­ward to con­tinue work­ing with Lee . . . to bring Camp­bell River an ex­cep­tional Cy­clone Tay­lor Cup in April. I am ex­cited to see what the fu­ture hold for Lee as he is an ex­cep­tional coach and per­son.”

Head­ing into Fri­day night’s league games, the Storm led the North Divi­sion at 14-6-1 and were sec­ond over­all in the VIJHL be­hind the Vic­to­ria Cougars.

The Storm are in Parksville tonight to play the Ocean­side Gen­er­als.

Stone guided Camp­bell River to the 2015, 2017 and 2018 VIJHL ti­tles and the Storm has made four con­sec­u­tive trips to the VIJHL play­off fi­nal un­der Stone. He led Camp­bell River to both the Cy­clone Tay­lor Cup B.C. cham­pi­onship and Key­stone Cup West­ern Cana­dian ti­tle in 2015 while his Storm lost in the 2017 Cy­clone Tay­lor Cup pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship game to the Beaver Val­ley Nite­hawks.

Stone ar­rived in Camp­bell River say­ing it was his goal to re­vive the echoes from a pre­vi­ous era in which the Storm won seven con­sec­u­tive VIJHL cham­pi­onships from 1998 to 2005, with a bronze medal in the 1999 Key­stone Cup and sil­ver medal in 2006. Among the fans of that hal­cyon era who flocked to what has since been re­named Rod Brind’Amour Arena, in hon­our of the home­town Stan­ley Cup cham­pion, were Kurt Rus­sell and Goldie Hawn. Their son, Wy­att Rus­sell, played goal for the Storm be­fore mov­ing to the Rich­mond Sock­eyes and Co­quit­lam Ex­press of the B.C. Hockey League.

“We wanted to get back to the era where play­ers from not only all over the Is­land, but from across B.C. and Canada, wanted to play in Camp­bell River and where peo­ple in the town wanted to come to the rink to watch,” Stone told the Times Colonist in 2015.

“We brought the glory back to Camp­bell River Storm hockey, but we one-upped it [be­com­ing the first VIJHL team to win the Key­stone Cup gold medal in 2015].”

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