Garrett Billings is coming home.
The same way crafty guard Steve Nash should have played for the former Vancouver Grizzlies of the NBA, it seemed like a natural fit for Billings, a playmaking righty, to end up in his hometown of Langley as a member of the National Lacrosse League’s Vancouver Stealth.
The wait for Billings to play pro lacrosse in Langley came to an end this week when the Stealth acquired him in a trade with the New England Black Wolves.
In exchange for Billings, Vancouver sent forward Tyler Digby and a 2017 second round draft pick to New England. Digby just completed his second season in the NLL, compiling 38 goals and 36 assists for 74 points. He was a runner-up for NLL Rookie of the Year in 2014.
In Billings, Vancouver adds the first player in NLL history to record three consecutive 100 point seasons.
He was a finalist for the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2012, ’13 and ’14 and has been the recipient of the league’s Sportsmanship Award in 2013 and ’14. He was also named to the NLL’s first all-star team in 2012, ’13 and ’14.
Billings adds yet another dimension to a Stealth offence that racked up 211 goals in 2015.
That offence already includes Rhys Duch (41 goals, 62 assists, 103 points in 2015), Corey Small (32 goals, 43 assists, 75 points last season), Logan Schuss (22 goals, 44 assists, 66 points), and Joel McCready (30 goals, 21 assists, 51 points).
Billings joined New England in 2015 in a mid-season trade with Toronto and appeared in eight games, registering five goals and 31 assists for 36 points.
“I could not be more excited for this opportunity to join the Stealth, and I know my family is equally happy to drive just a few minutes down the road and watch me play,” Billings said. “Looking at this year’s roster, I am joining a very deep team with some great players, and with that comes great expectations. There is some pressure on me to perform well and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
“Garrett brings great leadership to the offense. His lacrosse IQ is a tremendous asset for us,” Stealth head coach Dan Perreault said. “He is always looking to make his teammates better and puts them in great situations to score.”
Billings played for Burnaby in the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League, where he won two Minto Cups (2004 and 2005) and Langley in the Western Lacrosse Association, leading the senior A team to a Mann Cup appearance in 2012.
Adding Billings to the fold is a win in the marketing department; he will be a prominent member of the Stealth’s community outreach, bringing with him experience in connecting with young lacrosse fans.
“Adding someone of Garrett’s calibre to an already solid offensive unit is huge for us. He brings a different dimension to the weapons we already have and the fact that he is a local player is fantastic,” Stealth president and general manager Doug Locker said.
“He is a familiar face to the public and we are excited to show him off to the community he grew up in.”
It won’t be long before Billings gets to see his former team as the Stealth host the Black Wolves in their home opener on Jan. 9, 2016, at the Langley Events Centre.
Single game tickets for the Stealth’s 2016 regular season go on sale Nov. 10. Visit www.StealthLAX.com.