AILING VETERAN HOLDS STEALTH’S PLANS IN CHECK
Stay-at-home defender Harnett could be lost for the NLL season
The stay-at-home defenders aren’t staying in the Vancouver Stealth lineup.
Team general manager Doug Locker admits checking specialist Jon Harnett could be lost to the Stealth for the entire National Lacrosse League campaign after suffering a knee injury during their training camp at the Langley Events Centre complex. The Stealth medical staff is currently deciding how to proceed.
Vancouver opens the regular season Dec. 8, when the Colorado Mammoth visit the Langley Events Centre.
The Stealth already lost veteran defender Curtis Hodgson, 36, to retirement in the off-season, while fellow rearguard John Lintz, 31, opted to take the campaign off due to groin-injury concerns. Both are working as assistant coaches with the Stealth, with Lintz handling the defensive co-ordinator duties.
Harnett, 29, had been picked up by the Stealth in April after he was released by the Calgary Roughnecks. He’s a scrappy, hardnosed type, evidenced by his 207 penalty minutes in 140 career regular-season games in the league. Oddly enough, he joined the team in large part to make up for the loss of Lintz, who missed the final six games of the regular season with injuries.
Harnett specializes in shutting down opposing snipers, like Hodgson and Lintz had done. Combined, Hodgson, Lintz and Harnett have played 450 regular-season games in the NLL and have scored 47 goals between them. Corey Small led Vancouver in goals last season with 46.
Box lacrosse has become a threeposition sport for non-goalies: forwards, defenders and transition.
Transition is shorthand for players who start in the defensive end, but have the green light to join the offence. Vancouver head coach Jamie Batley has preached team speed since joining the Stealth a season and a half ago and Locker has said he’s not worried about the goals against rising if Batley opts for even more transition players in the lineup because “you’re not a (transition) guy for Batley unless you’re a good checker.”
The Stealth’s camp roster lists 33 players, including four goalies. It also features six defenders besides Harnett and nine transition specialists.
Come the regular season, NLL teams have a 20-man active roster and dress 19 for games. The 17 runners are often split between six forwards and 11 defenders/transition types.
The Stealth are slated to play an exhibition game against the Roughnecks in Calgary on Saturday.
Among the other injury concerns for the Stealth are sidelined righty forwards Rhys Duch and Joel McCready. Locker wasn’t getting into specifics, but McCready hurt his knee during the New Westminster Salmonbellies’ Mann Cup appearance in September and Duch had trouble with his Achilles over the summer with the Victoria Shamrocks. Locker said both will be practising this weekend and should be ready for the start of the regular season.
Duch was second on the team last year in goals (38), while McCready was fifth (19).
The Stealth finished 9-9 last season and made the playoffs for the first time since moving to the LEC for the 2014 season from Everett, Wash. They lost 13-12 to the Mammoth at the LEC in the West Division semifinal.
The Stealth could be without Jon Harnett, centre, for the season after he suffered a knee injury during training camp.