Edinburgh Capitals legend Martin Cingel admits he’s been hugely impressed by the new-look Caps this season.
Cingel, who stepped down from Elite League ice hockey this season to become assistant-player coach of NIHL side Solway Sharks, has heaped praise on rookie player-coach Riley Emmerson.
Slovakian Cingel, who played in Edinburgh for 11 years and still lives in the Capital, said: “The Cap are my club and I’ll be supporting that team for the rest of my life, I’ve seen a good few home games this year but not managed to get to any away ones as I’m playing for Solway Sharks.
“It’s been a huge transition for Edinburgh this year. Riley has brought in a whole new team and I’ve been very impressed.
“We have a lot of good, fast players and the goal-tending has been pretty good as well. I really like Carsen Chubak – he has made some great saves in the games I’ve seen.”
Edinburgh, who play their third game in four nights tomorrow at Manchester Storm, have missed out on a top-eight finish and play-off hockey for two years running. They currently sit fourth in the league and Cingel reserved some special praise for Emmerson, who this season stepped up from his playing role to replace Richard Hartmann as player-coach.
“The transition from a player to a player-coach is really difficult,” said Cingel.
“You find yourself thinking either too much as a player, or too much as a coach. It really is a fine balancing act to juggle the two jobs.
“I’m assistant player-coach at Solway now and, even though it’s at a different level, I’ve experienced that myself. You’ve just finished playing a shift, your blood is rushing to your head, you’re trying to catch your breath and something happens in the game that as a coach you need to react to and that’s a big challenge.
“I’ve played under (Edinburgh player-coaches) Doug Christiansen, Tony Hand and Richard Hartmann. I’ve seen what a difficult job it can be. As a player, you need to go out there and give 100 per cent. Riley now needs to worry about himself and his team. Especially in Edinburgh, it’s not always just about the hockey. You need to worry about apartments, flights, equipment. There’s so many things to think about and that will be Riley’s biggest challenge. But he looks to be coping extremely well.”
Cingel, 39, spent last season playing at Dundee Stars and believes he chose the right time to step down from top-flight UK hockey.
Cingel said: “I’m still in good shape. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and it’s hard to give up. It was a good move for me to step down (to the NIHL) because of my work commitments. I can spend more time with my family now and still be involved in hockey so that’s great. Last year was crazy. Playing in the Elite league, working full time, and travelling to places like Cardiff and Belfast. I just couldn’t commit to that any more.
“I will be 40 this year. It was the right time to step down.”
And what if the short-benched Caps came calling.
“Well, that’s a tough question,” chuckled Cingel. “If I got a call like that, then I’d need to decide. They had a player leave recently, I had a few joke texts from friends that day telling me I’ll be getting a phone call. I don’t know if I’d be good enough to join Riley’s team – it’s a tough call.”