Sports

Eagles banish Basford

The Surrey Eagles will have to play without top centre Adam Basford, after the team suspended him for the remainder of the season and playoffs for what the team described as “inappropriate off-ice behaviour.”

The decision was announced Thursday morning.

“The Eagles endorse the code of conduct for players participating in the B.C. Hockey League... the development of our hockey players, on and off the ice, remains a very high priority,” the team stated in an official release.

Eagles head coach Shane Kuss declined to go into detail about the reasons for Basford’s dismissal, but said the decision was not an easy one – personally or from a team standpoint. Kuss and Basford’s relationship extends to when both were in the junior B ranks.

“It was a very, very tough decision to make,” Kuss said. “Adam is one of our top players, and he’s a guy I’ve coached for a couple years.”

Basford was among the BCHL’s top forwards this season. The 6’1” Richmond native was among the league leaders in points earlier in the year, and is currently fifth in team scoring with 54 points in 49 games.

Though the suspension leaves a hole in the Eagles’ lineup, Kuss said it was still a necessary move. He was confident his team would continue to perform well without one of their top-six forwards

“We can’t allow ourselves to let stuff like this affect our on-ice product,” he said.

Though understandably upset with losing their teammate, Kuss said the rest of the team remains upbeat as they head into the regular season’s final stretch.

“The guys understand,” Kuss said.

“Adam is a guy who’s very respected by his teammates, and we all know he’s going to overcome this, and learn from it.

“Hopefully we can all just move on.”

Basford, 18, is eligible to return to the team next season, but Kuss did not speculate on whether such a move was likely.

“We’re just concentrating getting through this year first,” he said.

The Eagles are at home this weekend, taking on the Langley Chiefs tonight (Friday) before hosting the Trail Smoke Eaters Saturday. Surrey is currently third in the BCHL’s Coastal Conference, but just five points up on the seventh-place Victoria Grizzlies. The top six clubs make the playoffs.

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