The Havoc are losing-long time defenseman Stuart Stefan to retirement, but the team's all-time leader in games played isn't going anywhere. After announcing his retirement on Monday, the team also announced he intends to return to Huntsville as an assistant coach.
Stefan played in 379 career regular-season games with the Havoc over the course of his seven year Southern Professional Hockey League career and looks to start a new legacy on the bench as an assistant where he'll take over for Jesse Kallechy, who recently accepted a job as the new head coach of the Fayetteville Marskmen.
"For as long as I can remember, I have played hockey every winter and truly love the game," Stefan said in a statement released by the team. "Coaching was always something I wanted to do after my playing days, so when this opportunity came along, I could not turn it down. This is the best organization out there and to be able to continue to work with them made this decision so much easier."
Making the transition from player to coach is no easy task but luckily for Stu, he has a pretty good resource to turn to for advice. His new boss, Glenn Detulleo, was a teammate of his in 2011 prior to hanging up his skates to start his coaching career.
"I’m excited to help Stu begin his coaching journey," Detulleo said in a statement released by the team. "He has been a tremendous player and leader on the ice here. His competitiveness, passion, and work ethic were always second to none and I am confident he will bring those attributes to his new position."
A native of Delhi, Ontario, Stefan brings with him a wealth of experience that includes 407 career professional games, nearly all of which were played in the SPHL. In the summer of 2014, he played 28 games with the Perth Thunder of the Australian Ice Hockey League. His remaining 379 pro games, all played for the Havoc, rank fifth all-time in the SPHL.
In his seven pro seasons he was named to the SPHL first or second all-star teams five times and was also named the league's Defenseman of the Year in 2014. He scored 86 goals and had 164 assists in his career with the Havoc, helping lead the team to six playoff appearances, and their second league championship in franchise history in his final season.
What a career. No one embodies Havoc hockey quite like Stuart Stefan.
— Huntsville Havoc (@HuntsvilleHavoc) June 11, 2018
"I want to come in as a coach and try to help my players learn and develop on and off the ice as much as possible," said Stefan. "I want to share the experiences and knowledge I have gained to hopefully make them better players. With some of the guys returning from last season, I will obviously know some of their strengths and weaknesses, so my goal will be to help them refine their strengths and put them into situations where they can succeed."
As Stu steps into his new role he's now tasked with helping the Havoc defend their 2018 SPHL championship which begins with the Havoc Free Agent Camp on August 3-5 at the Huntsville IcePlex.