Edinburgh Capitals have released former Czech international defenceman Martin Lucka ahead of tomorrow’s home game with Hull Stingrays.
The move did not come as a complete surprise, as player-coach Richard Hartmann had promised fans changes would be made following Sunday’s 4-3 home defeat by Fife Flyers, which left the Caps moored to the bottom of the ten-strong Elite League with just one win in 14 games in all competitions.
Prior to Lucka’s departure, and with the recent re-signing of last season’s star defenceman Michal Dobron, Edinburgh had 12 foreign players and with league rules stipulating a maximum of 11 in the line-up for any one game, the luxury of a “spare player” was something the small budget club were unlikely to maintain long-term.
Lucka, whose career included a seven-year stint in the Czech Extra Liga, renowned as one of the best leagues in Europe, had initially been brought in as Dobron’s replacement and was one of the highest paid players on the Edinburgh books.
Questioned by the Evening News, club co-owner Scott Neil declined to say whether Lucka’s release was to free up wages for further changes, saying only: “We have two important fixtures this weekend with conference rivals Hull Stingrays. It is imperative that results improve, and we must find ways to start winning games.”
Long-serving team captain Martin Cingel admitted the players have been expecting changes and that they only have themselves to blame.
He said: “Every player feels that something needs to be done. We have simply not been getting results. When the coach says he wants to make changes, yes it makes you nervous, especially the younger guys on the team, but the more experienced players realise this kind of pressure comes with the job.
“I think a professional sportsman, especially in team sports, very rarely goes through his career without getting sacked. It could be you that goes, or your best friend on the team. Yhat’s the way it is in professional sport and nobody is going to change that. You just have to live with it. Most of the time, players respond positively to this kind of pressure and will give even more out on the ice. We all know that any change that comes about has only been done for one reason and that’s to make the team better.”
Prior to tomorrow’s Stingrays clash at Murrayfield (face-off 6pm) for which Capitals are offering fans half-price tickets if purchased on-line via the club website, Cingel will attend a special dinner honouring his long service with the team.
Now in his 11th season with the Capitals, Cingel said: “After playing in Edinburgh for so many years, it’s really nice to be recognised in this way by the club and hopefully everyone will enjoy their evening, and I’m hoping the boys can get the win and put two points on the board. That would be fantastic.
“It’s all been kept a secret from me. Everything has been planned by the club, so what’s happening on the night I have no idea. Obviously I’ll need to remain professional. I’ll be making a speech, but then I’ll have a game to focus on. I’m still going to enjoy myself though; I think there are a few surprises planned for me. ”
The 37-year-old Slovakian, a permanent Edinburgh resident, refused to be drawn on any long-term plans, adding: “I’m fully focused on playing with the Capitals and I have not thought any further ahead than that. If I’m still enjoying playing at the end of the season I might look to carry on for another year. I’m currently assistant coach of the Murrayfield Under-10 side which is something I really enjoy.”