Edinburgh Capitals co-owner Scot Neil has hit back at fans who have criticised the re-signing of defender Michal Benadik.
The Slovakian has been contracted until the end of the season. In his first stint for the club he scored four goals and made 18 assists in 111 games.
He spent two years at Edinburgh before returning home at the end of last season.
Some fans expected a player with a higher profile and went on social media to register their dismay. But, ahead of Capitals’ crucial Elite League clash with Cardiff Devils at Murrayfield tonight (face-off 7.30pm), Neil defended the club’s decision.
He arrived in the city yesterday and replaces countryman Lukas Bohunicky who left the club last month for personal reasons. Prior to icing for Edinburgh, Bohunicky made more than 250 appearances in the Slovakian top-flight.
Neil said: “We spoke to numerous players, but the truth is it’s difficult for a club on our budget to add to their squad at this time of year, they’re really wasn’t a lot out there. Our priority was a stay-at-home defenceman to replace Lukas. Michal knows the club and the systems we play and will be able to slot in to the line-up quickly. We’re confident Michal can do a good job for us and his defensive qualities along with that of Kyle Flemington compliment the more attacking style of Marcel Petran and Loren Barron.”
Neil is even more convinced Benadik was the right choice after injuries to Petran and Flemington in Wednesday’s 5-3 defeat by Sheffield Steelers left the club with only four fit recognised defenders – Barron, David Beatson, plus teenagers Jay King and James Wallace.
“We made the decision to bring Benadik back prior to the Sheffield game,” continued Neil. “In the end it was close between him and a Czech forward, but we felt if we suffered any injuries on defence we would struggle for cover.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing but we’ve been proven right after Petran and Flemington both got hurt. Kyle will hopefully be able to play tonight, but at the moment we don’t know how long Marcel will be out for.
“Benadik is the best player we could bring in for our specific needs at this time, and he is ready to go tonight in what is a very important game.”
The Evening News has learned that Caps made ambitious attempts to bring back fan favourites Michal Dobron and Curtis Leinweber but failed due to the pair’s club commitments in France and Denmark.
Tonight’s game, which will be televised live on Premier Sports, will be preceded by an emergency Services challenge match between Police Scotland and the UK Fire Fighters Ice Hockey Club, which gets under way at 5.15pm. Entry is included in the Capitals game ticket and a percentage of gate receipts will be donated by the club to the city’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children.
Neil continued: “We’re pleased to support Police Scotland and the Fire Service by hosting their charity game and help raise some money for a fantastic cause. It’s also the first time the Premier Sports cameras have been at Murrayfield and hopefully our fans and the Devils support can create a great atmosphere in the building.”Meanwhile, Sean Beattie’s knee injury picked up in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s match in Sheffield would appear not as serious as first feared.
The game was delayed by several minutes and Beattie was taken by ambulance to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital where tests revealed suspected ligament damage and he was allowed to return home with the rest of the squad later that night.