Following Saturday’s 7-6 home loss to Manchester Storm, Edinburgh Capitals player-coach Riley Emmerson opened up on a turbulent week in which two of his star forwards quit the club.
Edinburgh allowed unsettled top-scorer Ryan Hayes to join Sheffield Steelers on Wednesday and just 24 hours later David Rutherford, the club’s highest paid player, had showdown talks with club bosses and demanded to be allowed to leave in a similar fashion or he would simply walk away and return home to Canada. By Saturday afternoon a switch with Belfast Giants had been agreed. Rutherford is the fifth import to leave the club since the start of the season.
It is believed Rutherford offered to play on Saturday night, but a furious Emmerson showed him the door.
He said: “I’m looking forward to bringing a couple of guys in who are excited to be here and want to be here.
“I told everyone (the players) before the start of the year what they were getting themselves into, I told them we didn’t have a nice locker room, I told them the rink was old, I told them the way the club was run was unorthodox.
“It’s been a kick in my teeth. I’ve worked so damn hard to try and keep everyone happy here. The guys we had on the ice Saturday night worked their tails off and that’s what we need to see.”
Rutherford, who’s start to the season was blighted by injury and suspension, scored 16 goals and 16 assists in 32 games for the Caps and Emmerson continued: “Rutherford had his mind to leave before now, maybe the Hayes thing put the wheels in motion faster which is sad because I stuck my neck out all year for David, he was the highest paid player on our team.
“Scotty (club co-owner Scott Neil) cautioned me about him and I said ‘I’ve seen the player he can be, let’s stick with him’. But obviously he just didn’t want to be here.
“He just said on Thursday, ‘I’m going to go to North America and you’ll get nothing unless you release me to a team in Hungary’ – a move that his agent had lined up for him. We called the Hungarian team and they said they didn’t want to pay anything for him, and luckily Belfast came in and we got some compensation which makes it easier to bring in a decent replacement.
“Scotty’s been paying these guys a lot of money, so let them leave. They’re nice guys off the ice and I wish them the best but I’m worried about my Edinburgh team and I want us to rally and finish the season strong.”
Edinburgh looked like a team in disarray on Saturday at Murrayfield for the opening 20 minutes at least, trailing 5-1 after the first period although goalie Carsen Chubak did not look fully fit and had one of his poorest games for the club.
Four goals were shared in the second period. But trailing 7-3 with 20 minutes left, a short benched Caps, who were also missing the injured Jacob Johnston and Jordan Steel, mounted a furious come back in the third period. They were lead by superb performances from Trevor Gerling who scored a hat-trick and Paul Zanette who scored twice and picked up four assists, Kyle Bigos completed the scoring for the home side who ultimately fell just short of snatching an unlikely point.
With the win Manchester, who scored through Mathew Sisca with a hat-trick, a double for Matt Paton plus goals from Patrik Valcak and Vinny Scarsella, overtake Edinburgh at the foot of the Elite League table.
In conclusion a defiant Emmerson said: “We had another terrible start, just like last week against Coventry and that’s killing us.
“However, I’m going to work my ass off in every game for the rest of the year. I’m not the most talented player but at least I play with my heart on my sleeve and the guys we had playing Saturday all did that.
“Gerling was playing under the weather, he’s sick and he goes out there and scores a hat-trick. I love that kid to death.”