A fan favourite will be missing today when the Island Storm opens training camp.
Forward Doug McKinney will not be at camp for the first time in the franchise’s five-year history.
“We did make the decision this year to part ways and move on,” head coach and vice-president of player personnel Joe Salerno said Tuesday.
Salerno said the team is proud of what the Charlottetown native brought to the organization since its inception.
“He did great things for us both on the court and certainly in the community,” he said. “He should be very proud of his accomplishments.”
McKinney, a former Charlottetown Rural Raiders and UPEI Panthers standout, averaged 1.6 points and 0.6 rebounds per game in nine games last season. It was a year hampered by an elbow injury that eventually required surgery.
McKinney said not being able to practice or play took a toll on him mentally.
“I was depressed, essentially,” he said.
A summer surrounded by people who care about him has changed things dramatically and McKinney said he is happy where he is now.
McKinney said he was fortunate to have a lot of positive role models, including coaches, growing up and he wants to stay active in the community. McKinney made it clear he was not retiring.
“I’m going to stay involved in the game that I love and I hope that one day I can be back in a Storm uniform,” he said.
While his statistics may not jump off a stat sheet, the reaction when he entered the game was unmistakable.
“He always gave us a great spark off the bench there and the crowd certainly enjoyed seeing him,” Salerno said.
McKinney set a league playoff record for most points in the least amount of time on April 17, 2014. He scored 18 points in 14 minutes, going 7-for-8 from the field, including 4-for-4 from behind the three-point line, during Game 7 with Windsor.
The Storm has six Canadians, but no Islanders, battling for one of four roster spots.
“Trying to replace a Doug McKinney? It’s virtually impossible until you sign another guy from P.E.I.,” Salerno said.