Marcis Zembergs today revealed his relief at being back playing ice hockey for Edinburgh Capitals after a proposed move to Kazakhstan turned sour.
The winger, who re-signed for Caps at the beginning of this month, admitted that he almost quit the sport after his experiences during the summer.
As the city outfit prepared for tomorrow’s trip to in-form Braehead Clan, Zembergs said: “I was in talks at the end of last season about coming back to Edinburgh, but I asked to think about it, as I was looking at the possibility of playing somewhere else – just to try something different.
“My agent told me he’d got me a year’s deal in Kazakhstan, and they even had a month’s pre-season training camp near my home town in Latvia. It turned out to be a one-month trial contract that I didn’t even get paid for, and when the team moved to their Kazakhstan base in August they cut me. If I’d known that at the beginning I wouldn’t have taken it because there were other teams who I had been speaking to. I was released very late and it was difficult to find a spot on another team because everybody’s roster was full.”
Zembergs was looking for a job away from hockey when a call from former Capitals forward and current Dundee Stars player-coach, Jeff Hutchins, turned his fortunes around.
Zembergs continued: “Things can change very fast in hockey; I hadn’t played or even practised in six weeks and I was looking for a job, and then Hutch (Hutchins) called me and told me the Stars were looking to cover for a couple of injuries and 24 hours later I was in Dundee. I was only supposed to stay for two weeks but I was there for a month and I was glad to be able to help the team out.”
Zembergs had back-to-back 20-goal seasons in his first two years with the Capitals and when player-coach Richard Hartmann and team co-owner Scott Neil heard of his availability they swooped to bring him back to the club.
Zembergs, who has now played seven games with Edinburgh and scored the team’s only goal in a 4-1 loss to Nottingham on Wednesday, said: “It was quite straightforward coming back, obviously I knew a lot of the players who were here last year and the systems Richard likes to play. It’s been great going on a line with (Jade) Portwood and Cingy (Martin Cingel), and we work well on the ice together.”
On tomorrow’s opponents Braehead, who have moved up to second in the league off the back of seven wins in their last eight games, Zembergs said: “I’m not surprised. I have played against them a lot this season and I’ve been impressed. They’re full of hard working players who play physical hockey and that’s really tough to play against but we’re ready to give it everything.”
Edinburgh complete their weekend with a home game on Sunday against Coventry Blaze (face-off 6pm).