Former Powell River Kings head coach and general manager Kent Lewis is suing the hockey club.
Lewis directed questions to his lawyer, Lawrence Robinson of Vancouver, because “this matter is very personal for him and he is reluctant to discuss it publicly,” said Robinson.
The suit was filed in Supreme Court in the Powell River Law Courts on March 2.
Lewis is seeking compensation in respect of breach of contract and damages for the circumstances in the manner his contract and engagement as head coach were terminated, according to Robinson.
Lewis was fired from his duties on January 29. At the time, Powell River Kings Hockey Club Society president Rob Villani said the move was in the best interest of the club and “requirements of the league and team have grown beyond a part-time coach and general manager, and that's the impetus behind the move.”
Lewis does not relish initiating the lawsuit, according to Robinson.
“He'd hoped that, first of all, he'd obviously not have lost his job,” said Robinson.
Robinson said Lewis feels he has been forced into a decision to seek legal recourse because of what transpired between him and the club.
“He led this team for a long time, successfully, clinched a playoff spot this year, and then in circumstances where a playoff spot has been clinched and they're on the cusp of the playoffs, he is unceremoniously and summarily terminated from his employment,” said Robinson. “That inevitably leads to speculation running wild and people are questioning what happened and, in fact, to this day Kent Lewis is not sure what precipitated him being dismissed from his job.”
Villani said the team attempted to sort the matter out directly with Lewis.
“He decided to proceed in this fashion,” said Villani. “We disagree with many of the claims and assertions, and out of respect for due process we will file our response to his allegations in due course.”
Villani added that the hockey club is confident Lewis was treated fairly by its board of directors and that it acted in the best interest of the team and society by letting him go.
Robinson said the hockey club will have a timeframe to file its response.
“It's a 21-day period they have to file a response after they were served with notice of civil claim, so that will arise shortly, within a couple of weeks,” said Robinson. “As far as I know, nothing has been filed yet.”
Robinson said Lewis wanted an opportunity to meet with the board to discuss and find out a reason for its decision, and perhaps clear the air, but the board was unwilling to do so.
Villani disputes the claim that the club has been unwilling to meet.
“We have been unable to facilitate any meeting,” said Villani. “We've asked, he’s asked, and nothing has transpired. We were the last to ask for a sit down and we have had no response but the writ.”
Since being dismissed by the Kings, Robinson said innuendo and speculation as to what Lewis may have done has been rife around his dismissal.
“As much as anything else, Kent Lewis isn't in this for the money; he doesn't like taking this adversarial position in a civil lawsuit, but he really doesn't have a choice,” said Robinson. “He has to, in some respects, clear his name and address the rumours and speculation.”
The notice of civil claim lists Lewis as plaintiff and Powell River Kings Hockey Club Society as defendant.
No other documentation or dates of hearings are currently available.