EDINBURGH CAPITALS are set to be without Canadian imports Craig McCallum and David Rutherford as the pair await clearance to enter the UK ahead of tomorrow’s ice hockey season opener.
The forwards are two of three Caps summer signings to only have their visas approved this week. And, while tough defenceman Kyle Bigos arrives in the city later today, McCallum and Rutherford are still waiting for their passports to be returned to them.
Ahead of tomorrow’s Challenge Cup group match against Belfast Giants at Murrayfield (face-off 5.30pm), Capitals co-owner Scott Neil said: “The guys are packed and ready to go, so there is still a chance we could get them here in time.
“Their visas have been approved but the paperwork is not physically back with the players yet and, until that happens, we can’t book them flights. It’s out of the club’s hands – we just have to play a waiting game.”
The news, will of course, be a blow to new Capitals’ player-coach Riley Emmerson, who failed to see his side register a win in pre-season. However, he admitted that just knowing the remainder of his squad will at least be in the city over the coming days is a huge relief.
Emmerson said: “Getting the ‘ok’ for our final three guys’ visas is a huge weight of our shoulders. We have the core of the squad here and we’ve been working hard all week and improving as a team every day. Everybody is working their tails off and, as a coach, that’s all I can ask of them.
“Kyle Bigos has a reputation as a big tough stay-at-home ‘D’ man but he has a big shot and can play in all situations. We’re pretty excited that he’s on his way over.”
Edinburgh, who last week played three matches in the space of five days, were soundly beaten twice in a home-and-away challenge series against Dundee Stars. Then, a last-minute empty-net goal secured a 6-4 win for Fife Flyers at Murrayfield last weekend.
Emmerson continued: “Our pre-season gave an great opportunity for our young British guys to play big minutes and a lot of them played very well. You can see that we’re improving. We’ve been working hard this week on our defensive game and making sure we don’t turn the puck over. We will be a hard-nosed, fast-paced team, and everyone is ready to go to war for each other and battle every night. Even in pre-season, you could see we had guys willing to get in the opposition’s faces. I liked that. We are going to be a tough team to play against and that’s what I want.”
Edinburgh get their Elite League campaign under way on Sunday when they travel to league new boys Manchester Storm. Emmerson, who stepped up to replace outgoing coach Richard Hartmann, has called for a little patience from fans as both he and the 12 new signings he made for the club get used to their new roles.
Emmerson said: “It’s been tough trying to jiggle lines and still play the game myself, but guys like (assistant coach Jock Hay) have been helping out. He’s going to do a great job helping me run the bench.
“It’s still early days, so we’re still trying to find the best matches for everyone. It’s all about finding guys who click. “The first couple of weeks some guys will still be finding their feet, but once everybody is here we will have a good, deep squad, who we can utilise to react to lots of different situations.”